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Author Topic:   Languages
Son Goku
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 69 (631835)
09-03-2011 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by dwise1
09-02-2011 1:36 PM


Re: Languages
Wow, very interesting post! Was your German Hochdeutsch or some local flavour?
I can read Gidhlig with moderate effort, but it's hard to understand when spoken, even though it's supposed to be similar to Gaelainn. We used to have a single written standard "Gaelainn Chlasaiceach" which the Scots kept up for longer, so if something is written in that it's okay, but pure Scots Gaelic is difficult.
I'd like to try Welsh myself, it sounds lovely.

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 Message 10 by dwise1, posted 09-02-2011 1:36 PM dwise1 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by dwise1, posted 09-03-2011 3:28 PM Son Goku has replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5967
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 17 of 69 (631840)
09-03-2011 3:28 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Son Goku
09-03-2011 2:39 PM


Re: Languages
Of course we were taught Hochdeutsch, but where I worked they spoke Schwbisch. First day on the job, I could swear that they were speaking a foreign language. While the US does have some regional differences, we haven't yet had the time to develop into separate dialects and I think that our moving around so much and mixing linguistically along with mass media also help to slow that process. Decades ago on PBS there was a series, "The Story of English", in which they had to subtitle a lot of the English dialects in England for the benefit of the English-speaking audience. My own English accent is from a Kansas/Texan/Illinois family raising me in Southern California, plus my picking up accents watching British movies which was, I think, influenced then by German. And having been stationed near the North Dakota-Minnesota border for 5 years, I'll sometimes slip into Minnesotan, don'cha know? And my German acquired a schwbischer Heimatsklang.
The Welsh seminar was a small group of students meeting with a linguistics professor (our first-year Russian prof) who was wanting to study the language and we worked from a "Teach Yourself Book". 35 years later, I only remember two sentences:
"Yr wyf i a gweithio." -- "There I am a working."
"Yr wyf i a darllen llyfr." -- "There I am a reading a book."
What I found interesting was that it seemed to be the source of that old "there I am a-" construct that would show up in regional English.
The problem with living in a bilingual US-English/Mexican-Spanish culture is that we don't have much opportunity to hear any other languages ... well, except for Vietnamese.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Son Goku, posted 09-03-2011 2:39 PM Son Goku has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Son Goku, posted 09-05-2011 6:20 AM dwise1 has replied

  
Son Goku
Inactive Member


Message 18 of 69 (632001)
09-05-2011 6:20 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by dwise1
09-03-2011 3:28 PM


Re: Languages
Most Germans I have worked with have some story about the incomprehensible dialect of some region. However on the other hand I've only ever met one German who claims to actually speak Hochdeutsch naturally.
It used to be the same in France except the government heavily pushed Siene Valley French on people over the last two hundred years.
I remember watching a program on Appalachian English, really interesting use of words and apparently the grammar is closer to Elizabethan English than most other dialects (Although this is sometimes over stated to it being identical to Elizabethan English.)
Actually how did you find Old English? I think it sounds incredibly authoritative, something a great warrior would speak, makes me wish English hadn't gone through the great vowel shift.
I'm familiar with the Welsh construction as we have it do, e.g.
Tim ag danamh na hoibre = I'm a doing the work
Although the literal translation of this construction and the way I actually hear it is:
I am at the work's performance/doing.
I think it's the same in Welsh, it's due to the Celtic languages being more noun focused, so what's a verbal construction in English is a noun construction in Welsh and Gaelic.
It must have been nice to study Welsh and the old Teach Yourself books are vastly superior to the new ones. The sounds are gorgeous, there's a reason Tolkien based Sindarin on it!
I'd love to hear from people who speak Chinese or an Asian language, I think Bluejay once said he did.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by dwise1, posted 09-03-2011 3:28 PM dwise1 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by dwise1, posted 09-05-2011 2:58 PM Son Goku has replied

  
caffeine
Member (Idle past 1101 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


(1)
Message 19 of 69 (632012)
09-05-2011 8:22 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Son Goku
09-02-2011 12:52 PM


Re: Languages
Holy Fuck, 56 forms for the adjectives! That must be very difficult. How sensitive are native speakers to incorrect case inflection? In Gaelic people getting the genitive plural wrong is barely noticeable, and the genitive singular done incorrectly just seems a bit off, but I know there are languages where people don't have a clue what you are saying when you get them wrong, so what's Czech like?
Well, there aren't really 56 different ways fo saying the adjective, since the same pronounciation fills in for several grammatical forms. An adjective with a soft ending like 'perfektn' (which means exactly what you'd expect it to) is the same in all nominative and vocative forms, plural and singular, all singular feminine forms and all genders in the plural accusative.
As for whether they understand you properly, a lot depends on the context of what you're saying. If you're waving your hands around it's much easier, but even on the phone people can often tell what declension you're supposed to be using from context. The biggest problems often come from the simplest sentences, because a slight change in pronounciation can change 'Eva paid Jana' ('Eva Jan platila') to 'Jana paid Eva' ('Ev Jana platila'). When you grew up with an accent like mine where most vowels tend to become the same sound anyway this can cause problems.
What are the four genders, is it some sort of animate/inanimate thing?
Yes, there's masculine, feminine and neuter, and in masculine animate and inanimate nouns behave differently (not in feminine though. 'Man' behaves differently to 'table', but 'woman' behaves the same as 'lamp').
Oh, are the sounds as difficult as people say?
For me yes - I found it hard enough to even get used to pronouncing a terminal 'r', and I still can't roll them. But it gets even worse with '', a sound unique to Czech which is like a rolled r and the middle constanant in 'fusion' said at the same time. It also takes a bit of getting used to the fact that you can say whole sentences without using a single vowel, and they put letters next to each other which cannot be pronounced together by any normal person. The word for asparagus begins with a soft 'ch', like in 'loch', followed immediately by a ''. I can't order asparagus in restaurants.

This message is a reply to:
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CosmicChimp
Member
Posts: 311
From: Muenchen Bayern Deutschland
Joined: 06-15-2007


(1)
Message 20 of 69 (632055)
09-05-2011 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Son Goku
09-02-2011 10:22 AM


Hochdeutsch and German film
Hi SonGoku,
English and German fluently as well as three years of mostly forgotten high school Latin. All of them wonderful languages, each with their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. Was recently in Italy practising what they have to say; insofar as Italian can even be a way of speaking as opposed to a way of living.
Just to add my experiences as a 'Mnchner' let me say that 'Hochdeutsch' can be and is spoken by Germans all over Germany as it is taught in the schools that way. With the exception of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and also near Hanover (Hannover) every area has its own dialect. There must be dozens of separate dialects complete with small vocabularies and expressions throughout Deutschland. I personally only know one native 'Hochdeutsch' speaker. In a professional or business setting 'Hochdeutsch' is used.
Dwise1, I could perhaps help you to acquire some of the recent German films available. I rip, for personal use, several of them a year. Most are quite good.
Edited by CosmicChimp, : subtitlemania

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by dwise1, posted 09-05-2011 5:29 PM CosmicChimp has replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5967
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.7


(2)
Message 21 of 69 (632078)
09-05-2011 2:58 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Son Goku
09-05-2011 6:20 AM


Re: Languages
Most every foreign language textbook and self-tuition guide I've read will mention somewhere, usually in the foreword, what dialect they're presenting. For Japanese it's the Tokyo dialect, for French it's the Parisian, for Spanish it's Castellano, for Irish it's West Munster (as per Teach Yourself), and for English I understand it to be Oxford. Though I would assume that the teachers and textbook authors in different countries would choose different dialects according to their own needs and situations. For example, in the Americas a preference for a Latin American form of Spanish (I've had three semesters of Spanish between 1970 and 1999 -- it's difficult for a working person to find night classes for Spanish; that fourth semester was always in the afternoon -- and we never were taught Castellano) and I would assume that countries anticipating more dealings with the USA would choose American English over British -- of course, in Europe it would be British, which would explain those English-speaking Germans with British accents. And, as you noted about the French, there are also movements within a country's educational system to standardize the language to match one particular dialect. Which reminds me, I wonder how the French are doing in getting the people of Elsa and Lothringen (AKA Alsace and Lorraine) to speak French instead of German. In a university classroom which had German maps, a French teacher once asked me how the Germans had ever gotten "Lothringen" from Lorrainne. I was thinking too slowly and was also distracted by that "-ingen" place-name ending that is so common in Baden, or else I would have in turn pointed out that that's a German region so how did the French get "Lorraine" from Lothringen. Would'a, could'a, should'a.
Hochdeutsch is an artificial language constructed out of bits and pieces of various dialects, kind of like the American standard "Broadcast English", AKA "General American". In general, Hochdeutsch uses the vowels of the north with the consonants of the south (which are different due the the 2. Lautverschiebung that stopped around Kln). As I understand, it's the standard used in broadcasting and film and is taught in school and to foreigners.
And as we all know, the sure sign that you're talking to a non-native speaker is that he speaks your language too well, too correctly. I also participate in a C programming forum where we get many requests for help from non-native English speakers. The most attrocious violations of English are by the native speakers, whereas the non-native speakers, while their English is limited and the syntax and word order can get a bit strange, almost always use the right spelling of a word rather than a homonym (eg, English-speaker: "How do I do a Barber poll in C?" "What statistical method is that?" "You know, that twirly thing in front of a barber shop."). Though in one case, a Portuguese programmer had a question about using lights in multithreading. From my Spanish, I deduced that he meant "semaphore", which in both Spanish and Portuguese is what they call traffic lights (Semforo), so he had picked the wrong word from his dictionary.
A number of regional accents in the US can be traced back to where the original settlers had come from and the state of their language at the time of settlement. Kind of like the Indo-European languages seem to represent the state of development of the language in the Indo-European homeland (we think on the Steppes north of the Black Sea) as each group migrated out from it.
I found Old English interesting and very Germanic, similar to examples of Old High German and the like that we had looked at in our German linguistics class. However, the Great Vowel Shift (I had to look it up, being more familiar with German linguistics and the 2. Lautverschiebung) did not occur until three centuries after the Norman Conquest. A lot can happen in a spoken language in three centuries, especially under the influence of another official language. By the time the vowel shift had started, Old English no longer existed, having been Frenchified into Middle English, so the Great Vowel Shift marked the transition into Early Modern English.
I had a feeling that that construction was also to be found in other Celtic languages and not just in Welsh. My problem here is that all I have to draw from are self-study books. And one presentation each year at the Games, though my friend finds it boring so we have to skip it. And the only Irish I know is the "kiss my..." phrase, even though I don't know how to pronounce it. Though I was amazed to learn that some old thug slang, such as "puss" for "face" and "shiv" for "knife", came from the Irish, along with "shanty" from "sean tigh", "old house".
So much to learn. So little time and energy for it.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Son Goku, posted 09-05-2011 6:20 AM Son Goku has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by caffeine, posted 09-06-2011 6:29 AM dwise1 has not replied
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dwise1
Member
Posts: 5967
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 22 of 69 (632105)
09-05-2011 5:29 PM
Reply to: Message 20 by CosmicChimp
09-05-2011 1:50 PM


Re: Hochdeutsch and German film
Dwise1, I could perhaps help you to acquire some of the recent German films available. I rip, for personal use, several of them a year. Most are quite good.
That certainly sounds tempting. I've looked at amazon.de, but their DVDs are for Region 2 and in PAL instead of NTSC. I would assume that ripping circumvents the PAL-vs-NTSC problem. May I ask what you propose?
I visited Mnchen and would like to see das Deutsche Museum again.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 20 by CosmicChimp, posted 09-05-2011 1:50 PM CosmicChimp has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by CosmicChimp, posted 09-07-2011 7:09 AM dwise1 has not replied

  
caffeine
Member (Idle past 1101 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 23 of 69 (632163)
09-06-2011 6:29 AM
Reply to: Message 21 by dwise1
09-05-2011 2:58 PM


Re: Languages
Most every foreign language textbook and self-tuition guide I've read will mention somewhere, usually in the foreword, what dialect they're presenting.
That's funny - I've never noticed this, and it always annoys me. Far too many language books seem to be written as if there's only one way of speaking a language.
It bothers me more the other way round, when they're explaining how you should pronounce foreign languages with reference to English. Every single Czech textbook I've ever seen describes the sound of the Czech 'a' as being like 'u' in 'cup'. I am not from the south of England, and so when i say a 'u', it does not sound like an 'a'.
Which reminds me, I wonder how the French are doing in getting the people of Elsa and Lothringen (AKA Alsace and Lorraine) to speak French instead of German. In a university classroom which had German maps, a French teacher once asked me how the Germans had ever gotten "Lothringen" from Lorrainne. I was thinking too slowly and was also distracted by that "-ingen" place-name ending that is so common in Baden, or else I would have in turn pointed out that that's a German region so how did the French get "Lorraine" from Lothringen.
To be fair, the name is from Medieval Latin, so in that sense you could say it's more French than German. The German form, however, is much more similar to the original than is the French. It was first named Lotharingia, 'Lothar's Realm', in the Treaty of Verdun in 843.
As for the language spoken in Alsace-Lorraine today, it's overwhelmingly French. Local German dialects are dying out.

This message is a reply to:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 24 of 69 (632177)
09-06-2011 8:18 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Son Goku
09-02-2011 1:19 PM


Re: Languages
I speak a number of different languages and dialects, some of which are better than others; although I have a hard time defining when is the moment when I can claim to "speak" a language.
The thing about a tonal language is that all languages have tones, its just that in English there aren't many words that use the exact same structure, but differ only in where we place the emphasis (although there are some-desert-dessert, etc). But I think in almost any multi-syllable English word, if you suddenly change the emphasis to the wrong syllable, it would be hard for someone to at first get your meaning. If you said meaNING, instead of MEAning, some might think you are try to say "I am Ning."

This message is a reply to:
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caffeine
Member (Idle past 1101 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 25 of 69 (632189)
09-06-2011 9:01 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Bolder-dash
09-06-2011 8:18 AM


Re: Languages
But I think in almost any multi-syllable English word, if you suddenly change the emphasis to the wrong syllable, it would be hard for someone to at first get your meaning.
Whilst it might cause a bit of confusion, I think you overstate the case a bit. There are scores of words in which the stress tends to be different in American and British dialects, but this doesn't usually hinder understanding. It just makes the American sound daft.

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 Message 26 by dwise1, posted 09-06-2011 4:21 PM caffeine has replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5967
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 26 of 69 (632253)
09-06-2011 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by caffeine
09-06-2011 9:01 AM


Re: Languages
It makes more sense to view the changing of stress in English where it changes the meaning. In linguistics we studied phonemes, sounds which differentiate meaning, as contrasted with phonology, which studies all the sounds in the language. To determine whether two sounds are phonemes in a language, you find a minimal pair, two words in the language which have different meanings and which differ from each other only in the sounds in question; eg, "map" and "nap". In English, there are two ways to pronounce a "t", one plosive as in "top" and the other not as in "stop". Now, if you were to pronounce "stop" with a plosive "t", you wouldn't change the meaning of the word; you would only sound funny.
Obviously, the idea of minimal pairs can apply to other things besides the sounds, such as tone and emphasis or stress. The examples of words that Brits and Americans stress different syllables are examples that are not phonemic; changing the stress does not change the meaning, but only makes you sound funny.
Prime minimal pairs in English would be the noun-verb pairs that are spelled identically but pronounced differently. The only two that immediately come to mind are:
REcord (noun) -- reCORD (verb)
COMbat (noun) -- comBAT (verb)
Needless to say, it hurts my ears to hear newscasters substitute the noun "combat" for the verb.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by caffeine, posted 09-06-2011 9:01 AM caffeine has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by caffeine, posted 09-07-2011 3:57 AM dwise1 has replied

  
caffeine
Member (Idle past 1101 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 27 of 69 (632324)
09-07-2011 3:57 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by dwise1
09-06-2011 4:21 PM


Re: Languages
Prime minimal pairs in English would be the noun-verb pairs that are spelled identically but pronounced differently. The only two that immediately come to mind are:
REcord (noun) -- reCORD (verb)
COMbat (noun) -- comBAT (verb)
These words hadn't occurred to me.
An ex-girlfriend of mine lived in China for a while, and she says that tones there don't really cause that much confusion. Even if you get them all horribly wrong, as she did, people tend to understand you still from context (just as I suppose you knew what the newsreader was trying to say, depsite his mistakes).
In English, there are two ways to pronounce a "t", one plosive as in "top" and the other not as in "stop". Now, if you were to pronounce "stop" with a plosive "t", you wouldn't change the meaning of the word; you would only sound funny.
I've sat here for ages trying to identify any difference between the two sounds at all and can't. I don't know if this is because we say them both the same in my dialect, or if I'm just incapable of distinguishing the sounds.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by dwise1, posted 09-06-2011 4:21 PM dwise1 has replied

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Panda
Member (Idle past 3790 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 28 of 69 (632331)
09-07-2011 6:20 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by caffeine
09-07-2011 3:57 AM


Re: Languages
caffeine writes:
I've sat here for ages trying to identify any difference between the two sounds at all and can't.
Try and find the physical difference between pronouncing the bilabial plosives 'b' (as in 'butter') and 'p' (as in 'putter').
There must be a difference, but it is really difficult to identify.
And after a while even hearing the difference can be difficult.
Which moves nicely onto the McGurk effect...which I find fascinating.

Always remember: QUIDQUID LATINE DICTUM SIT ALTUM VIDITUR
Science flies you into space; religion flies you into buildings.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by caffeine, posted 09-07-2011 3:57 AM caffeine has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by caffeine, posted 09-07-2011 6:36 AM Panda has replied

  
caffeine
Member (Idle past 1101 days)
Posts: 1800
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Joined: 10-22-2008


Message 29 of 69 (632333)
09-07-2011 6:36 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Panda
09-07-2011 6:20 AM


Re: Languages
Try and find the physical difference between pronouncing the bilabial plosives 'b' (as in 'butter') and 'p' (as in 'putter').
There must be a difference, but it is really difficult to identify.
And after a while even hearing the difference can be difficult.
It is a good thing there is nobody else here in the office yet, as I have just sat here for a few minutes going "butter, putter, butter, putter, stop, top, stop, top". Colleagues would soon be doubting my sanity.
Unfortunately, it hasn't really helped my understanding. The physical differences in 'b' and 'p' were easy to identify (forgive me if the following description is a bit strained, but I don't know the technical terms). You start making both letters by bringing your lips together, and then releasing the air. With 'b', the shape of my mouth doesn't change before the air is released. With 'p', however, my cheeks swell a bit, changing the shape of the mouth cavity and presumably meaning more air is being released.
I can identify no similar difference between 'stop' and 'top' though. I'm used to the fact that I have a bad ear for unfamiliar sounds (you should see my inability to grasp Dutch diphthongs, or how long it took me to accept that other people do pronounce 'source' and 'sauce' differently). Kinda disheartening when I can't even spot the physical differences though!
Which moves nicely onto the McGurk effect...which I find fascinating.
Now's that's bizarre! Thanks for this.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Panda, posted 09-07-2011 6:20 AM Panda has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 30 by Panda, posted 09-07-2011 6:41 AM caffeine has replied
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Panda
Member (Idle past 3790 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 30 of 69 (632334)
09-07-2011 6:41 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by caffeine
09-07-2011 6:36 AM


Re: Languages
caffeine writes:
It is a good thing there is nobody else here in the office yet, as I have just sat here for a few minutes going "butter, putter, butter, putter, stop, top, stop, top". Colleagues would soon be doubting my sanity.
Ha ha.
Luckily I did it at home and got my GF to join in.
If you are going mad: it is nice to have company.
caffeine writes:
Unfortunately, it hasn't really helped my understanding. The physical differences in 'b' and 'p' were easy to identify (forgive me if the following description is a bit strained, but I don't know the technical terms). You start making both letters by bringing your lips together, and then releasing the air. With 'b', the shape of my mouth doesn't change before the air is released. With 'p', however, my cheeks swell a bit, changing the shape of the mouth cavity and presumably meaning more air is being released.
I thought something similar the first time I did that.
But I then found that the 'cheek puffing' was an unnecessary 'affectation'.

Always remember: QUIDQUID LATINE DICTUM SIT ALTUM VIDITUR
Science flies you into space; religion flies you into buildings.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by caffeine, posted 09-07-2011 6:36 AM caffeine has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by caffeine, posted 09-07-2011 7:17 AM Panda has replied

  
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