RSS 2.0 Feed

» Welcome Guest Log In :: Register

Pages: (3) < [1] 2 3 >   
  Topic: Arden Chatfield Linguistics Chat< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
stevestory



Posts: 13407
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,20:03   

Everybody, please welcome Arden Chatfield, official linguist of After the Bar Closes. Arden, the other day you said something like 'the kinds of crap people like William Safire say are infuriating'. Like most people here, I have very little knowledge of linguistics. Probably 95% of what I know in the field came from Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct. Can you give us examples of some commonly believed things in the area of linguistics which are very wrong?

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,20:55   

ACK! Talk about no advance warning!

Erm, well, as a starting point, in lieu of just mumbling some stuff I poked around on the internets and found this,, which is a table of contents of a book called Language Myths.

the meanings of words should not be allowed to vary or change
some languages are just not good enough
the media are ruining English
French is a logical language
English spelling is kattastroffik
women talk too much
some languages are harder than others
children can't write or speak properly any more
in the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare
some languages have no grammar
Italian is beautiful, German is ugly
bad grammar is slovenly
black children are verbally deprived
double negatives are illogical
TV makes people sound the same
you shouldn't say 'it is me' because 'me' is an accusative
they speak really bad English down south and in New York City
some languages are spoken more quickly than others
Aborigines speak a primitive language
everyone has an accent except me
America is ruining the English language

There are many others. Chinese characters are pictographic, American Indian languages are 'primitive' and have only a couple hundred words, English is the hardest language in the world, English comes from Latin, Latin is the most logical language there is, all languages come from Sanskrit/Sanskrit is the 'oldest' language in the world, Black English is 'illogical', Eskimo has thousands of words for snow, American Sign Language has no grammar or only a few words, immigrants don't want to learn English, unwritten languages 'have no grammar'. I've heard otherwise intelligent people say and sometimes write all of these things.

This is just off the top of my head. I'm sure I (or any other) could think of dozens more if we tried. This doesn't even count the thousands of bullshit etymologies of place names or English words lying around, or gibberish about stuff like how it's 'illogical' or 'ungrammatical' to split an infinitive, to end a sentence with a preposition.

Hey! That reminds me: my favorite 'grammar joke':

Two travelers are on a plane, a cowboy and a grammarian.

Cowboy: "So where you heading to?"

Grammarian: "Where *I* come from, it's considered bad grammar to end a sentence with a preposition."

Cowboy: "So where you heading to, assho1e?"


(PS: For the record, I have to confess I haven't read Pinker.)

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
stevestory



Posts: 13407
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,21:11   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ April 17 2007,21:55)
ACK! Talk about no advance warning!

Erm, well, as a starting point, in lieu of just mumbling some stuff I poked around on the internets and found this,, which is a table of contents of a book called Language Myths.

the meanings of words should not be allowed to vary or change
some languages are just not good enough
the media are ruining English
French is a logical language
English spelling is kattastroffik
women talk too much
some languages are harder than others
children can't write or speak properly any more
in the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare
some languages have no grammar
Italian is beautiful, German is ugly
bad grammar is slovenly
black children are verbally deprived
double negatives are illogical
TV makes people sound the same
you shouldn't say 'it is me' because 'me' is an accusative
they speak really bad English down south and in New York City
some languages are spoken more quickly than others
Aborigines speak a primitive language
everyone has an accent except me
America is ruining the English language

There are many others. Chinese characters are pictographic, American Indian languages are 'primitive' and have only a couple hundred words, English is the hardest language in the world, English comes from Latin, Latin is the most logical language there is, all languages come from Sanskrit/Sanskrit is the 'oldest' language in the world, Black English is 'illogical', Eskimo has thousands of words for snow, American Sign Language has no grammar or only a few words, immigrants don't want to learn English, unwritten languages 'have no grammar'. I've heard otherwise intelligent people say and sometimes write all of these things.

This is just off the top of my head. I'm sure I (or any other) could think of dozens more if we tried. This doesn't even count the thousands of bullshit etymologies of place names or English words lying around, or gibberish about stuff like how it's 'illogical' or 'ungrammatical' to split an infinitive, to end a sentence with a preposition.

Hey! That reminds me: my favorite 'grammar joke':

Two travelers are on a plane, a cowboy and a grammarian.

Cowboy: "So where you heading to?"

Grammarian: "Where *I* come from, it's considered bad grammar to end a sentence with a preposition."

Cowboy: "So where you heading to, assho1e?"


(PS: For the record, I have to confess I haven't read Pinker.)

Wow. What a bunch of info. Let me note the ones you mention which I've believed.

"the meanings of words should not be allowed to vary or change"

I know this is wrong. Nevertheless, people using 'beg the question' to mean 'suggests the question' pisses me off.

'some languages are harder than others'

Well, doesn't it take longer to learn some languages, than others?

'in the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare'

I've heard this one. Not true?

'black children are verbally deprived'

Listening to black english does piss me off.

'Aborigines speak a primitive language'

that seems dumb. Some 'primitive' languages are really complex.

'everyone has an accent except me'

I've been guilty of that one.


'Chinese characters are pictographic'

Uh,...what? that's not true?

'Eskimo has thousands of words for snow, American Sign Language has no grammar or only a few words, immigrants don't want to learn English'

Crap, crap, crap.

'like how it's 'illogical' or 'ungrammatical' to split an infinitive, to end a sentence with a preposition.'

I like to regularly split infinitives, that's what language is for.

   
Richardthughes



Posts: 11177
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,22:48   

ARDEN, IS IT TRUE YOU AND OTHER HOMOS LISP AND HAVE A SECRET HANDSHAKE?


HAR HAR ARDEN CHATTERBOX.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,22:52   

Quote
I know this is wrong. Nevertheless, people using 'beg the question' to mean 'suggests the question' pisses me off.


Some 'new' things people say is language change. Some shit is just wrong. ;) Until EVERYONE says it. Then it's language change.

   
Quote
   
Quote

'some languages are harder than others'


Well, doesn't it take longer to learn some languages, than others?


It's totally relative based on what your first language is. For an English speaker, Finnish is a motherfucker. For an Estonian, it's a walk in the park. For an English speaker, Dutch is a challenge but not THAT hard. Dutch would be vastly harder for a speaker of, say, Chinese.

   
Quote
   
Quote

'Chinese characters are pictographic'


Uh,...what? that's not true?


No, they're logographic:

 
Quote
The Chinese written language employs Chinese characters (??/?? pinyin: hŕnzě), which are logograms: each symbol represents a sememe or morpheme (a meaningful unit of language), as well as one syllable; the written language can thus be termed a morphemo-syllabic script.
They are not just pictographs (pictures of their meanings), but are highly stylized and carry much abstract meaning. Only some characters are derived from pictographs. In 100 AD, the famed scholar X? Shčn in the Hŕn Dynasty classified characters into 6 categories, only 4% as pictographs, and 82% as phonetic complexes consisting of a semantic element that indicates meaning, and a phonetic element that arguably once indicated the pronunciation.
 

   
Quote
   
Quote

'in the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare'


I've heard this one. Not true?


Nope. Appalachian has rural English archaisms, and it also has weird stuff  it did on its own, which is what we'd expect. Not Shakespeare.

   
Quote

'black children are verbally deprived'    
Quote

Listening to black english does piss me off.


You're far from alone, but that still doesn't mean that black children are verbally deprived or that black English is 'illogical'.

   
Quote
   
Quote

'Aborigines speak a primitive language'

that seems dumb. Some 'primitive' languages are really complex.


All languages are complex, most languages of 'primitive societies' are incredibly complex.

 
Quote
ARDEN, IS IT TRUE YOU AND OTHER HOMOS LISP AND HAVE A SECRET HANDSHAKE?


However, you know that notion that Englishmen all talk like homosexuals? That actually is true.  :angry:

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 11177
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,23:02   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ April 17 2007,22:52)
However, you know that notion that Englishmen all talk like homosexuals? That actually is true.  :angry:

That is a thooper, *fabulous* lie, Arden.

Mwah.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
snoeman



Posts: 109
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 17 2007,23:27   

Arden:
Quote
It's totally relative based on what your first language is. For an English speaker, Finnish is a motherfucker. For an Estonian, it's a walk in the park. For an English speaker, Dutch is a challenge but not THAT hard. Dutch would be vastly harder for a speaker of, say, Chinese.


How about Romance languages vs. Germanic languages for English speakers? I took French in highschool and German in college.  Personally, I found German much easier for me to learn than French, but I've wondered if my experience was not typical based on some anecdotal comments I've heard over the years.

Out of curiosity, if it's not too silly a question, do languages exhibit any kind of patterns or preferences in how new words or concepts are added over time? (e.g., tending to adopt from other languages, creating them based upon older words (or whatever the proper way of expressing that would be))

I ask because I've always liked the German version of "vacuum cleaner," i.e., "Staubsauger" or "Dust Sucker."  Equally descriptive, and more pithy, in my opinion.

  
oldmanintheskydidntdoit



Posts: 4999
Joined: July 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,03:06   


My favourite language book, "Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language"
I'm currently reading Douglas Hofstadter's latest, "I am a strange loop", amazing so far.

--------------
I also mentioned that He'd have to give me a thorough explanation as to *why* I must "eat human babies".
FTK

if there are even critical flaws in Gauger’s work, the evo mat narrative cannot stand
Gordon Mullings

  
Amadan



Posts: 1337
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,03:58   

My onw favourite is the idea that The King James Bahbble of 1611 proves that English is the Lawd's Chosen Langwudge.

http://members.citynet.net/morton/kj-outline.htm

Other delights include the dribbling lunacies perpetrated by British-Israelites ("Saxon" is derived from "Isaac's-son") and their ilk;

http://www.orange-street-church.org/text/lost-tribe-migration.htm

http://jahtruth.co.uk/ireland.htm
The second one isn't really about liguistics etc but it's so daft I had to share it with this august company.

--------------
"People are always looking for natural selection to generate random mutations" - Densye  4-4-2011
JoeG BTW dumbass- some variations help ensure reproductive fitness so they cannot be random wrt it.

   
huwp



Posts: 172
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,04:38   

Ooh, a thread I can join in more easily!

On the whole I lurk, as you chaps really know your onions, although I'm always fascinated in what is said.

My degree is in French and Italian and I have a very rusty acquaintance with Welsh, the language of my ancestors.

Language does, of course change.  In fact it changes constantly.  Sometimes we get stuck with unpleasant barbarisms which need to be resisted.  In the UK at the moment there is a horrid tendency for people to write or say "would of" which is a misinterpretation of "would've" from "would have".  It's ugly and illogical.

However, I completely agree with Arden that some things are just plain silly.  Why not split an infinitive if the balance of the sentence demands it?  Fowler was pretty clear on this.

Likewise, not ending a sentence with a preposition is just nonsense!  I read somewhere that Churchill was wrote in the margin of a particularly dense piece of legalese that "this is the sort of English up with which I will not put".

Language is a wonderful thing but we should always remember that translation is very much an art; sometimes there are no exact translations.  For example, in English we have a clear distinction between the words "glance" and "glimpse".  In Italian there is no such distinction there is only "occhiata" meaning a short sight of something.

Huwp

PS Watching afdave trying to claim that Portuguese was a mixture of French and Spanish was simply hilarious

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,09:52   

Quote
   
Quote
It's totally relative based on what your first language is. For an English speaker, Finnish is a motherfucker. For an Estonian, it's a walk in the park. For an English speaker, Dutch is a challenge but not THAT hard. Dutch would be vastly harder for a speaker of, say, Chinese.


How about Romance languages vs. Germanic languages for English speakers? I took French in highschool and German in college.  Personally, I found German much easier for me to learn than French, but I've wondered if my experience was not typical based on some anecdotal comments I've heard over the years.


I personally found German easier than French. Since German and English are both Germanic and French is not, I guess that's what one would expect, tho the massive amount of French loanwords no doubt made French easier than, say, Italian would have been. But to me, German grammar seemed a lot more 'familiar'. Then I took Hungarian for a year and *nothing* seemed familiar.

   
Quote
Out of curiosity, if it's not too silly a question, do languages exhibit any kind of patterns or preferences in how new words or concepts are added over time? (e.g., tending to adopt from other languages, creating them based upon older words (or whatever the proper way of expressing that would be))


That's mostly a cultural thing. Some languages borrow from other languages with great abandon and unabashedly, like English, Japanese, Hindi, and, since the collapse of the USSR, Russian. Other languages are much more resistant to this and prefer to coin words for new things, again, usually for cultural reasons. Icelandic is a classic example of that, as is Arabic. German and French *tend* to borrow less, or at least there are Germans and French people who think they should borrow less, tho that's slipping. Some languages are resistant to borrowing just for linguistic reasons: Chinese doesn't borrow as much, because it can't simply take new words in -- the words have to be modified to fit the rather severe pronunciation constraints of Chinese, they have to agree on what character they'll use for the word, etc.

 
Quote

Language does, of course change.  In fact it changes constantly.  Sometimes we get stuck with unpleasant barbarisms which need to be resisted.  In the UK at the moment there is a horrid tendency for people to write or say "would of" which is a misinterpretation of "would've" from "would have".  It's ugly and illogical.


That's not language change, that's just a boneheaded spelling mistake. It's plenty common in the US as well. You'll note that 'would of' gets 1.29 million hits on Google.  :(

 
Quote
However, I completely agree with Arden that some things are just plain silly.  Why not split an infinitive if the balance of the sentence demands it?


The rule on split infinitives never made sense from an English perspective, it was just a pedantic carryover from Latin. That prohibition seems to be dying out, tho. I've noticed that often you really need to split infinitives in writing, or otherwise the sentence won't sound as good.

 
Quote
My own favourite is the idea that The King James Bahbble of 1611 proves that English is the Lawd's Chosen Langwudge.


When I was spending time soaking up the Hard Tard at FSTDT last winter, I bumped into some representatives of the 'Jesus spoke Elizabethan English' crowd. It's completely mind boggling, since they really believe that Jesus spoke a language that wouldn't exist yet for centuries, and that it was somehow wicked to think that Jesus spoke Aramaic. They must get a lot of ridicule, since they get quite crabbily defensive about it. It's so completely untethered from reality, it almost makes creationism look reasonable by comparison. It seems to only be uneducated elderly white American men who ascribe to it. Irritable fundie retirees with more free time than brains, in other words.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
huwp



Posts: 172
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,10:30   

I don't at all have a problem with neologisms; in fact new words often show how vibrant and alive a language is.  And of course Arden, I quite agree, "would of" is indeed simply boneheaded mis-spelling.

I found it awfully depressing depressing recently when I read that some educational buffoons in the UK were suggesting that it should be acceptable for schoolwork to be completed in textspeak (txtspk?).  "cu l8r m8" might just be acceptable when sent as an SMS but surely not in more formal writing.

I also find it depressing when journalists fail to distinguish between "uninterested" and "disinterested" they're professional writers and should know how to use the tools of their trade.

On the other hand I find it fascinating just how beautiful language can be, not just in the images it can create.  For example, the opening passage from "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas is a glorious piece of English writing.

Hwyl fawr (as is sometimes said in Welsh!)

Huwp

PS I sometimes wonder whether "Tardspeak" is actually a dialect.

  
J-Dog



Posts: 4402
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,11:13   

Quote (huwp @ April 18 2007,10:30)
Hwyl fawr (as is sometimes said in Welsh!)

Huwp

PS I sometimes wonder whether "Tardspeak" is actually a dialect.

Oh yeah?  If you're really Welsh, how come there's only 1 "W" in your name, and no "L"s?  Huh?

In "Tardspeak" I think this means "You're Otta Here"

--------------
Come on Tough Guy, do the little dance of ID impotence you do so well. - Louis to Joe G 2/10

Gullibility is not a virtue - Quidam on Dembski's belief in the Bible Code Faith Healers & ID 7/08

UD is an Unnatural Douchemagnet. - richardthughes 7/11

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,12:31   

Quote (oldmanintheskydidntdoit @ April 18 2007,03:06)

My favourite language book, "Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language"
I'm currently reading Douglas Hofstadter's latest, "I am a strange loop", amazing so far.

I love that book, omitsddi. I have come across very few who have read it, despite the popularity of GEB. And, I didn't know he had a new book out, so thanks for the tip.

--------------
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
huwp



Posts: 172
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,14:07   

Quote (J-Dog @ April 18 2007,11:13)
Oh yeah?  If you're really Welsh, how come there's only 1 "W" in your name, and no "L"s?  Huh?

In "Tardspeak" I think this means "You're Otta Here"


Curses, I've been rumbled!

Actually, I've spent my life saying that my name is "Huw with a w".

Even so it gets spelled:
Ju
Hue
Hew
Hiw
Hugh
and on one memorable occasion...
...Wugh

Mmmm I love the smell of tard in the morning.

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,14:49   

I'm not a linguist, but I get drunk and act like one in bars... (honestly, I took some anthro. and linguistics in college, so I have some idea what I'm talking about.)

Language is just fascinating stuff, and there are a lot of misconceptions about it floating around out there. One good source for a popular-level discussion of such issues is the book Language Myths, by Laurie Bauer.

Arden does a good job here of listing some common and pernicious misconceptions. What I find interesting is not so much debunking such myths as investigating them, teasing out what they reveal about culture and language and people's relationship to them.

I live in Oakland, so I have more than passing familiarity with Black English. Some of you may remember the "ebonics" debate about 10 years ago, where the Oakland schools floated a proposal to actually teach some classes using primarily black english. A hue and cry went up, and Op-Ed pages nationwide featured a lot of hand-wringing about "the state of our language," and other such twaddle. I'm afraid I can't cite a source, but I remember reading one such magazine piece, in which a seemingly intelligent commentator made the claim that "it would be impossible to teach physics, for instance, in Black English."

I've waited lo, these many years for a soapbox upon which to decry this idea. The problem is that you can't really teach physics using standard English either, without importing into it the specialized vocabulary of physics. It is exceptionalism to imagine that that vocabulary "properly belongs" to the standard dialect of the language. And this, I feel, is at the heart of misconceptions about Black English, and other "non-standard" dialects. People don't realize that a) nobody really speaks "standard" which is a useful abstraction, nothing more, or b) what a dialect really is.

To a linguist, in a nutshell, what you, I, and everybody else speaks is an "ideolect." That's your language, and nobody else's. Whatever quirks of idiom and vocabulary and pronunciation you've picked up from your upbringing and other influences, form your ideolect. A "dialect" is a grouping of similar ideolects, and "A Language" is just a grouping of all the dialects (made up of ideolects) "of" that language. To a linguist, the "borders" can be fuzzy, and it can be difficult sometimes, in certain cases, to say that a given dialect is definitely part of one language or another. Or, as one wag once put it, "A 'language' is a dialect with a navy."

This seems all backwards to a lot of people, who seem to assume that "the language" is some fixed, immutable entity, of which a non-standard dialect can only be a distortion. But the upshot of this conception in the present context is that specialized or technical vocabularies can be "imported" into anyone's ideolect; they don't "belong" to one, supposedly "standard" dialect.

As regards your irritation with spoken Black English, steve, that brings me to another, underappreciated point about the intersection of language and culture. We forget that the only purpose of language is not just communicating the exact literal content of our utterances. Language is a cultural signifier, and, at times, speakers use their language to define an in-group and to marginalize perceived members of an out-group. Loud, obnoxious teenagers (of whatever race or linguistic identification) are often using language in this way to be intentionally abrasive and unintelligible to others.

--------------
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
huwp



Posts: 172
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,16:18   

Certainly in nineteenth century London it was very common for many different sections of the community to use their own slang or dialect to keep things hidden from "outsiders"; whether it was costermongers' slang or the cant used by thieves.  You can get a flavour of it in Mayhew's wonderful book "London Labour and London Poor". I'm sure this must be a pretty universal thing.

On the whole I feel this is just part of language and the way we all use it - it's part of the richness of language itself and should be treasured.

However, I do feel that it's important that schoolchildren are taught standard English.  Without it they will risk becoming marginalised.

Mind you, in some professions it could be an advantage; it always seems to me that being able to write complete gobbledegook is a really useful skill if you're a lawyer or civil servant...

... or indeed an IDC proponent!

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 11177
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,16:33   

ARDEN IS WHEN A DOG SNIFFS ANOTHERS BUTT A COMMUNICATIONS? HOW MUCH CSI IN THE INTERWEBS BEFORE IT IS ALIVE?

WHAT IS TEH SHANNON ENTROPY OF FARTY-FLASH?

WHY DO YOU WALK WITH A LIMP WRIST AND YOU'RE OTHER HAND ON YOUR HIP LIKE "I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT" WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO COMMUNICATE?

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,16:38   

Quote
However, I do feel that it's important that schoolchildren are taught standard English.  Without it they will risk becoming marginalised.

Oh, I definitely agree. But another thing about the ebonics proposal that got swept aside by the flood of ill-informed criticism at the time is that they were not going to teach Black English per se, they wanted to use the kids' dialect --the one they speak at home-- in some classes, as a pedagogical tool. Not at all the same thing.

--------------
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
phonon



Posts: 396
Joined: Nov. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,17:20   

Quote (snoeman @ April 17 2007,23:27)
Arden:
 
Quote
It's totally relative based on what your first language is. For an English speaker, Finnish is a motherfucker. For an Estonian, it's a walk in the park. For an English speaker, Dutch is a challenge but not THAT hard. Dutch would be vastly harder for a speaker of, say, Chinese.


How about Romance languages vs. Germanic languages for English speakers? I took French in highschool and German in college.  Personally, I found German much easier for me to learn than French, but I've wondered if my experience was not typical based on some anecdotal comments I've heard over the years.

Out of curiosity, if it's not too silly a question, do languages exhibit any kind of patterns or preferences in how new words or concepts are added over time? (e.g., tending to adopt from other languages, creating them based upon older words (or whatever the proper way of expressing that would be))

I ask because I've always liked the German version of "vacuum cleaner," i.e., "Staubsauger" or "Dust Sucker."  Equally descriptive, and more pithy, in my opinion.

I thought French was easier than German. The grammar is easier. German, though, is easier to pronounce more words. Sometimes french teachers want you to get the pronunciation perfectly.

The hardest languages for me, that I tried to learn are Polish and Chinese. Polish is hard to pronounce and the grammar structure is quite different from any Western European language. Chinese is just damned near impossible. I can't even say the words right. To me it sounds like I'm saying them perfectly, but I keep getting, "Nope, try again."

Oh, I like German words for the elements!

hydrogen = "wasserstoff" (water stuff)
oxygen = "sauerstoff" (acid stuff, sour stuff)
carbon = "kohlenstoff" (coal stuff)
nitrogen = "stickstoff" ?

And speaking of romantic languages and germanic languages, english is derived from both. When I learned about "The Second Consonant Shift" and "The Great Vowel Shift" I learned why we spell knife and knight the way we do and also why we put an e at the end of a word to make a long vowel.

--------------
With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another. - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation. - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,17:42   

Quote
Polish is hard to pronounce and the grammar structure is quite different from any Western European language.


Really? For several years I studied Russian, which is structurally basically the same as Polish (Slavic), and it didn't seem that alien to me, not after a couple years of German. In terms of general structure it's a lot like Latin. They're all Indo-European, after all.

I don't disagree with you about Polish pronunciation, tho. Russian pronunciation isn't that hard, but Polish is much more challenging.

C.J.O'Brien, I remember that Ebonics froofrah in Oakland very well. I lived in north Oakland for 10 years, what part of Oakland are you in?

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,17:51   

Quote
And speaking of romantic languages and germanic languages, english is derived from both.

quibble/
Not in the sense we usually mean "derived." English is descended from Anglo-Saxon, a Germanic language. Due to the unique history of the British Isles since Roman times, English has had a great many opportunities to acquire loan-words, primarily from Latin, and then from French. As Arden pointed out, for a mixture of cultural and linguistic reasons, English voraciously assimilates foreign terms.
Then, after the shifts phonon mentions, a great many Latinate terms were added to the language as neologisms. A lot of the "Latin" in English comes from deliberate coinages in the 17th and 18th centuries.
/quibble

--------------
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,17:51   

Quote (Richardthughes @ April 18 2007,16:33)
ARDEN IS WHEN A DOG SNIFFS ANOTHERS BUTT A COMMUNICATIONS? HOW MUCH CSI IN THE INTERWEBS BEFORE IT IS ALIVE?

WHAT IS TEH SHANNON ENTROPY OF FARTY-FLASH?

WHY DO YOU WALK WITH A LIMP WRIST AND YOU'RE OTHER HAND ON YOUR HIP LIKE "I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT" WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO COMMUNICATE?

Richard, you must be daft. There is no way in #### that I would discuss anything serious in this forum.  There are very few people here who are capable of discussion.

Believe me, I discussed these issues all VERY thoroughly in my blog two years ago. There's no way I'm going to repeat it.

Ya know why I don't discuss anything of depth with you guys?  As predicted, I know you'll twist anything I say to work for you.

Nope, I'll just pop in every once in a while to throw in a comment or talk dirty with J-Dog. I'm sure you people will ban me any minute now. 

You boys all have serious mental issues. Thank goodness there aren't more people like you. Lenny is a mess.

Ta ta, boys, I have to go clean my oven and make dinner.


:angry:

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
C.J.O'Brien



Posts: 395
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,17:56   

Arden,
Actually I currently live in Emeryville. For many years I lived in the Grand Lake neighborhood, just off Lakeshore. I also spent some time in North Oakland, off 40th St.

(I didn't say Emeryville because nobody who doesn't live here would know where the heck that is, and, my house is literally 50 feet from the Oakland line.)

--------------
The is the beauty of being me- anything that any man does I can understand.
--Joe G

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,18:01   

Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ April 18 2007,17:51)
 
Quote
And speaking of romantic languages and germanic languages, english is derived from both.

quibble/
Not in the sense we usually mean "derived." English is descended from Anglo-Saxon, a Germanic language. Due to the unique history of the British Isles since Roman times, English has had a great many opportunities to acquire loan-words, primarily from Latin, and then from French. As Arden pointed out, for a mixture of cultural and linguistic reasons, English voraciously assimilates foreign terms.
Then, after the shifts phonon mentions, a great many Latinate terms were added to the language as neologisms. A lot of the "Latin" in English comes from deliberate coinages in the 17th and 18th centuries.
/quibble

O'Brien is right, and it's not a quibble.

English is derived from Germanic, not Romance. English has a huge overlay of French and Latin loans, but that's not the same as being a Romance language. English grammatical structure is more or less typical Germanic, tho simplified a good deal.

(Don't forget that around the 10th century English also acquired a big layer of Old Norse borrowings.)

Japanese and Vietnamese have a vast number of Chinese loans, but that doesn't alter the fact that Japanese and Vietnamese are totally unrelated to Chinese (and to each other).

Quote
I also spent some time in North Oakland, off 40th St.


No fooling? For 10 years I lived at 40th and Telegraph.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,18:19   

I've just a moment for now: Arden, do you have a position regarding the evolutionary basis of language?  From where you (and your colleagues) sit, does language production and comprehension reflect the operation of a modularized cognitive adaptation that was shaped by human evolutionary history, or is it primarily a cultural invention supported by "domain general" human cognitive abilities? Do you have thoughts about the timing of the origins of language?  Do others here?

(And so forth: Chomsky's anti-evolutionary stance, language as reflecting a universal cognitive structure, theory of mind and language, Grice on implicate meanings, etc. etc. etc.)

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Dr.GH



Posts: 2324
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,18:39   

Just a note re: Ebonics

There are two seperate issues, one liguistic, the other political.  The political issue in Oakland was Blacks were pissed-off that Hispanic dominant schools and school districts got lots of extra money to teach bilingual classes.  They (the Oakland folks) didn't care why, they merely wanted a piece of the action.  So, screw the Hispanic kids and pretend that you needed "bilingual" classes in "Black English/Ebonics."

--------------
"Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy."

L. Susskind, 2004 "SMOLIN VS. SUSSKIND: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE"

   
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,19:26   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ April 18 2007,18:19)
I've just a moment for now: Arden, do you have a position regarding the evolutionary basis of language?  From where you (and your colleagues) sit, does language production and comprehension reflect the operation of a modularized cognitive adaptation that was shaped by human evolutionary history, or is it primarily a cultural invention supported by "domain general" human cognitive abilities? Do you have thoughts about the timing of the origins of language?  

Sorry, those questions are pretty far from my specialization within linguistics (an extremely diverse, not to say fragmented field), so I haven't spent too much time thinking about those questions. That said, I haven't found any of the competing theories about the origins of language to be terribly convincing. I just think much of the issue is still extremely hypothetical.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
phonon



Posts: 396
Joined: Nov. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,19:53   

Quote (Arden Chatfield @ April 18 2007,17:42)
Quote
Polish is hard to pronounce and the grammar structure is quite different from any Western European language.


Really? For several years I studied Russian, which is structurally basically the same as Polish (Slavic), and it didn't seem that alien to me, not after a couple years of German. In terms of general structure it's a lot like Latin. They're all Indo-European, after all.

I don't disagree with you about Polish pronunciation, tho. Russian pronunciation isn't that hard, but Polish is much more challenging.

C.J.O'Brien, I remember that Ebonics froofrah in Oakland very well. I lived in north Oakland for 10 years, what part of Oakland are you in?

Polish has many declinations in place of what I would call tenses. There is some weird ending for just about every situation to where there are 12 different versions of every word and they usually aren't consistent from word to word. And it's more than just conjugating verbs, it's like you conjugate nouns, and for almost every different situation it's being used. It's way too complicated.

--------------
With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another. - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation. - Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 11177
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: April 18 2007,23:20   

PHONON - ARE YOU A PARTICLES OR A WAVE?

MAKE UP YOU'RE MIND, LIBERAL HOMO.

:angry:

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
  89 replies since April 17 2007,20:03 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Pages: (3) < [1] 2 3 >   


Track this topic Email this topic Print this topic

[ Read the Board Rules ] | [Useful Links] | [Evolving Designs]