Language preferences

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Discuss various aspects of natural language.

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Re: Language preferences

#21  Postby Kazaman » Feb 26, 2011 12:02 am

I would say that in languages which can create compound words freely, such as Dutch and German, those compound words wouldn't count as "actual" words, as they are simply grammatical constructs from pre-existing words.
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Re: Language preferences

#22  Postby Corneel » Feb 26, 2011 12:15 am

Kazaman wrote:I would say that in languages which can create compound words freely, such as Dutch and German, those compound words wouldn't count as "actual" words, as they are simply grammatical constructs from pre-existing words.

Ah, but it is not as simple as that. For instance the Dutch word for towel is "handdoek", a compound of "hand", hand, and "doek", cloth. But it doesn't mean handcloth...
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Re: Language preferences

#23  Postby Zwaarddijk » Feb 26, 2011 1:30 am

But even then, in languages that don't form compounds, but have phrases, phrases can have meanings that their parts together don't add up to. English phrasal verbs are a pretty solid example of that (of course, such phrasal verbs exist in pretty much all germanic languages, even tho' some further permit compounding them under some circumstances.)

Lots of times, it's probable the mind deals with phrases as lexical units as well. Furthermore, it's quite likely different speakers of the same language may treat some given phrase differently - some may perceive it as a unit and some not, ... which makes counting words in a language a somewhat futile exercise
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Re: Language preferences

#24  Postby Kazaman » Feb 26, 2011 5:13 pm

We could easily enough exclude all compound nouns.
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Re: Language preferences

#25  Postby Berthold » Mar 05, 2011 3:48 pm

Corneel wrote:hottentottententententoonstelling


So that's the Dutch equivalent of the Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän. :grin:
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Re: Language preferences

#26  Postby MathieuT » Mar 06, 2011 4:09 pm

Kazaman wrote:
Corneel wrote:
Kazaman wrote:

English has the most expansive vocabulary of all languages*, so I'm not quite sure what you mean there. Could you please cite some examples?

*[citation needed]

ETA
Comparisons of the vocabulary size of English to that of other languages are generally not taken very seriously by linguists and lexicographers. Besides the fact that dictionaries will vary in their policies for including and counting entries,[85] what is meant by a given language and what counts as a word do not have simple definitions. Also, a definition of word that works for one language may not work well in another,[86] with differences in morphology and orthography making cross-linguistic definitions and word-counting difficult, and potentially giving very different results.[87] Linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum has gone so far as to compare concerns over vocabulary size (and the notion that a supposedly larger lexicon leads to "greater richness and precision") to an obsession with penis length.[88]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_vocabulary#Number_of_words_in_English



Touché. English has one of the most expansive vocabularies, then. Regardless, I still want some examples from Matthieu.


Hmm I don't know. Verb conjugation? When you get used to the laziness of English conjugation, getting back to the French one can make it a little tricky sometime. You get used to plug the same verb on every tense. Don't get me wrong, I don't see any advantage of having verb conjugation like French when you can use the English one that is so much easier...

It's a tough subject to find example, because you can always dig synonym for every word that are not part of the commonly used lexicon. But that commonly used lexicon is a subjective area all by itself and depend on the people you are speaking with entirely. 2 French Canadians can use vend instead of sell, they'll understand what it mean. I am not sure it will be the case with the average Joe of Vermont. My opinion on the English lexicon being small may be due to the fact that I've used supposedly English word that no one could understand... I'll always aim for the easier to learn oil version of the English word, but it's not always the chosen one from the English population. It give me the feeling that you just don't know your own lexicon...
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Re: Language preferences

#27  Postby Corneel » Mar 11, 2011 10:16 am

Berthold wrote:
Corneel wrote:hottentottententententoonstelling


So that's the Dutch equivalent of the Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän. :grin:

Oh, you do better than that: Rinderkennzeichnungs- und Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz :grin:
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