Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

Discuss various aspects of natural language.

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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#21  Postby Globe » Mar 20, 2012 9:53 am

MODS.... Hey MOOODS. :wave:

Can we get a split here? Please. :)
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#22  Postby Agrippina » Mar 20, 2012 9:58 am

Sure but the thing with English is that even if you do have different words for different things, an example is in SA we say "robot" for "traffic lights" we understand when we go to the UK to say "traffic light," you can still understand each other. We can watch American television and understand exactly what's happening, and Afrikaans-speakers can understand Dutch and Flemish, and vice versa, but they are very different. As I said, I've never thought it was a dialectic thing as much as a different way of expressing ourselves. I don't speak Gaelic, but I can understand Scottish English, and Southern Mississippi English, but even though I can understand some German, I don't understand academic German, to me that is a dialect, as opposed to conversational German. English isn't like that, which is why it's easy to learn and to understand no matter how basic your knowledge is. Maybe this should be in a new thread.
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#23  Postby Globe » Mar 20, 2012 10:11 am

Agrippina wrote:Sure but the thing with English is that even if you do have different words for different things, an example is in SA we say "robot" for "traffic lights" we understand when we go to the UK to say "traffic light," you can still understand each other. We can watch American television and understand exactly what's happening, and Afrikaans-speakers can understand Dutch and Flemish, and vice versa, but they are very different. As I said, I've never thought it was a dialectic thing as much as a different way of expressing ourselves. I don't speak Gaelic, but I can understand Scottish English, and Southern Mississippi English, but even though I can understand some German, I don't understand academic German, to me that is a dialect, as opposed to conversational German. English isn't like that, which is why it's easy to learn and to understand no matter how basic your knowledge is. Maybe this should be in a new thread.

And I don't really see the different Danish dialects as dialects. I moved around enough as a child to have been exposed to the five most prominent of them.
Non the less they are dialects, and will be perceived as such by non-native speakers.

So I just go with the flow and call dialects Dialects, because that is what they are. :)
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#24  Postby Scot Dutchy » Mar 20, 2012 2:10 pm

Denmark is still twice as big as the Netherlands. Denmark as far as population is similer to Ireland which also has numerous dialects. Even in the Dublin area there are round about 10.

People never moved much around the country and dialects evolved almost for each village and town.
The same is true here. Transportation due to all the water had to be done by boat.
This produced very small dialect areas. There is no Hague dialect. There is least 5 that I know of.
The towns along the coast run into each other. There is no stretch of countryside. But each town still maintains its own dialect.
Nationally there are major dialect regions usually dividing along the bounderies of the provences. These dialects are very extreme. A Fresian (who does not live in Holland but the Netherlands) would not in the past be able to speak to someone out of Limburg. Due to national education all Dutch learn a standard form of Dutch next to their dialect Dutch.
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#25  Postby Globe » Mar 20, 2012 2:12 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:Denmark is still twice as big as the Netherlands. Denmark as far as population is similer to Ireland which also has numerous dialects. Even in the Dublin area there are round about 10.

People never moved much around the country and dialects evolved almost for each village and town.
The same is true here. Transportation due to all the water had to be done by boat.
This produced very small dialect areas. There is no Hague dialect. There is least 5 that I know of.
The towns along the coast run into each other. There is no stretch of countryside. But each town still maintains its own dialect.
Nationally there are major dialect regions usually dividing along the bounderies of the provences. These dialects are very extreme. A Fresian (who does not live in Holland but the Netherlands) would not in the past be able to speak to someone out of Limburg. Due to national education all Dutch learn a standard form of Dutch next to their dialect Dutch.

Same in Denmark.
We have 72 inhabited islands TODAY. In the past that number was higher.
Just imagine the communications-trouble just by sailing from one island to another. :)
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#26  Postby Scot Dutchy » Mar 20, 2012 2:31 pm

Globe wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:Denmark is still twice as big as the Netherlands. Denmark as far as population is similer to Ireland which also has numerous dialects. Even in the Dublin area there are round about 10.

People never moved much around the country and dialects evolved almost for each village and town.
The same is true here. Transportation due to all the water had to be done by boat.
This produced very small dialect areas. There is no Hague dialect. There is least 5 that I know of.
The towns along the coast run into each other. There is no stretch of countryside. But each town still maintains its own dialect.
Nationally there are major dialect regions usually dividing along the bounderies of the provences. These dialects are very extreme. A Fresian (who does not live in Holland but the Netherlands) would not in the past be able to speak to someone out of Limburg. Due to national education all Dutch learn a standard form of Dutch next to their dialect Dutch.

Same in Denmark.
We have 72 inhabited islands TODAY. In the past that number was higher.
Just imagine the communications-trouble just by sailing from one island to another. :)


The coast of the Netherlands was all islands. Literally hundreds of them. Leiden was island as was the Hague. Jut by land reclamation has it been turned into one land mass. If the sea dykes broke my little district where I live would be an island. We live on a sand bank 5 metres above sea level. :lol:
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#27  Postby Agrippina » Mar 23, 2012 2:04 pm

Just bookmarking to make sure I know where this is. Now where is @Zwaarzdijk (I hope I spelled that correctly).
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#28  Postby Horwood Beer-Master » Mar 23, 2012 2:35 pm

Agrippina wrote:Sure but the thing with English is that even if you do have different words for different things, an example is in SA we say "robot" for "traffic lights" we understand when we go to the UK to say "traffic light," you can still understand each other. We can watch American television and understand exactly what's happening, and Afrikaans-speakers can understand Dutch and Flemish, and vice versa, but they are very different. As I said, I've never thought it was a dialectic thing as much as a different way of expressing ourselves. I don't speak Gaelic, but I can understand Scottish English, and Southern Mississippi English, but even though I can understand some German, I don't understand academic German, to me that is a dialect, as opposed to conversational German. English isn't like that, which is why it's easy to learn and to understand no matter how basic your knowledge is. Maybe this should be in a new thread.

English most certainly does have dialects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_di ... h_language


The word 'dialect' does not necessarily imply mutual incomprehension - that's what the word 'language' is for (although frankly there are forms of 'English' which to put it mildly I struggle to comprehend - to the point where they may as well be another language).
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#29  Postby Zwaarddijk » Mar 23, 2012 2:44 pm

the idea Globe repeats that most languages are spoken with audible "stops" between words is pure bullshit. What generally gives away where one word starts and the next begins varies from language to language - in some, it's stress placement, in some, it's various allophony rules (e.g. in many Germanic languages, voiceless clusives initially have a longer voice onset time than elsewhere; to some extent, this helps the listeners' heuristics figure out that "oh, here we go, new word". Of course, not all words begin in voiceless initial clusives - but it helps often enough), another thing that helps in some languages is the phonotactical rules (e.g. in standard Finnish, the only consonants a word can end in are /l/, /t/, /n/, /r/ and /s/, with the added caveat that sometimes, there's a "silent consonant" that lengthens the initial consonant of the following word - a clear example of there not, btw, being a stop between words).

When linguists study an undocumented language, they do not use "stops" between words to determine what a word is like in a language - in fact, stops might exist in the middle of words, and their presence somewhere might be entirely irrelevant to whether it's a word boundary or not we're seeing. In languages we know, our brains have practiced to spot the word boundaries, and for some reason, we tend to think we're actually hearing it as a string of chunks that we think of as words. Sometimes, if we speak to someone with a weird accent or just quirky pronunciation in general (or even weird voice), it can be tricky to spot the word boundaries simply because the audible cues are lacking or different.

In Danish, I'd guess the problem is that there is no shared cues? OTOH, the cues in Swedish seem to vary a lot (e.g. the pitch accent system is widely divergent in different parts of the area Swedish is spoken in, the pitch contours you can expect for the same word in different places vary a lot!) - so I'd guess Swedish uses some different things. My variety of Swedish lacks pitch accent entirely, and on occasion Swedes from Sweden don't understand what I say. (Some fail to realize that I even speak Swedish on account of this. That is quite enervating, btw, a language spoken by ~10 million and people don't even recognize you're speaking a variety of the same language when you speak to them. OTOH, a friend of mine had to have her school records translated from Swedish to Swedish by a paid translator because a school in Sweden wouldn't accept untranslated records from schools in Finland.)
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#30  Postby JoeB » Mar 23, 2012 2:57 pm

In my experience French comes very close to Danish as far as 'making-sentences-sound-like-one-long-word' goes. English, German and Dutch are fairly similar in how words are separated, and have clear 'ticks' and 'tacks' in the language (sorry, not a linguist, not sure what the official words are). Not very surprising given that these are Germanic sister-languages. :coffee:
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#31  Postby don't get me started » Mar 24, 2012 12:11 am

I'm always skeptical when people argue for some aspect of their language being especially difficult and nuanced, beyond the ken of poor, benighted speakers of other languages.
It seems that there is an innate tendency among many members of a language community to simultaneously talk up the difficulties of their own language and refer to the 'walk in the park' nature of other languages, and then switch frames and praise the elegance and simplicity of their own language, and the unnecessarily complex nature of (the) other language(s).

I get this with my students when investigating semantic differences between Japanese and English.
For example, the English words 'fry', 'bake', 'roast', 'grill' and 'burn' can all be covered by the single Japanese word 焼く (YAKU)
and my students always groan on about how difficult English is, with so many words for such a simple concept. ('Apply heat to change state' )
But the English verb 'wear' has no single translation in Japanese, rather, the verb varies depending on the item of clothing. (Haku for shoes, socks, pants, Kiru for jackets, shirts dresses, Tsukeru for neckties, bracelets, Kakeru for glasses, Kaburu for hats, caps and so on.)
Cue another round of groaning from the students, wondering why English lacks the subtleties and nuances of Japanese, and how can you ever express anything with such a clunking, simplistic language?

Nah, I'm not convinced that these arguments of 'difficulty', 'complexity', 'nuance' or 'simplicity' etc, whether in lexis, syntax, pronunciation, discourse or whatever have much to tell us about any single language per se, or languages in general.
They do tell us something important about how people view language, and the self serving biases that we all indulge in when it comes to language, especially our own.
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#32  Postby Onyx8 » Mar 24, 2012 2:12 am

^^^ enjoyed that, thank you.

Try Quebecois, I learned France french in school then moved to Canada and experienced Quebecois french, holy shit! Couldn't understand a word, the entire thing seemed like there was only a break when the speaker ran out of air.
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Re: Pro-life doesn't mean anti-woman

#33  Postby Matt8819 » Mar 24, 2012 3:41 am

Globe wrote:
FFS... I speak 3 different English dialects, and pick up a new one (and forget it again :shifty: ) if I spend more than 10-15 minutes with someone speaking that dialect.


Try that with Cape Breton English, or Newfie, and if you can pick them up I'll give you ten bucks. :naughty2:
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#34  Postby virphen » Mar 24, 2012 3:42 am

Just bookmarking, as you were.
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#35  Postby Onyx8 » Mar 24, 2012 5:23 am

Globe, which three English dialects do you speak?
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#37  Postby Regina » Apr 02, 2012 10:25 pm

:popcorn: (Curious)
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#38  Postby Agrippina » Apr 03, 2012 5:33 am

The only real difference I can see in written English (I know that different areas have different words for things, but more about this later) is the use of the letter "z" in American English in place of "s" and "s" in place of "c" in some instances, also the removal of the "u" in some words:

organisation - organization
defence - defense
humour - humor; labour - labor etc.

I'm working on something at the moment that involves submissions in English from people all around the world. So I'm getting the opportunity to observe the errors that even very well educated people, who claim to be "fluent" in English make in their language usage. The most common one, and one that our Afrikaans-speakers make, is the confusion about singular verbs with plural subjects:

Cats are able to see at night
A cat is able to see at night


It seems that northern Europeans have this problem, which is why it's a problem in Afrikaans:

Katte kan in die donker sien; 'n kat kan in die donker sien.

Another problem is the use of articles, also by Northern Europeans, this I understand is due to the various changes in the way nouns are written to include the article. Still, it is not instilled in Northern Europeans when they write in English:

Cat is able to see in dark, instead of A cat is able to see in the dark.

I have a very good friend who I chat with on another site and who I've known for a long time, he does this and refuses to either apologise for it or to make the change. I forgive him because I am amazed at how many Northern Europeans are able to communicate in English, whereas we English-speakers simply don't learn other languages without motivation. I wish I had the ability to even speak Afrikaans fluently. I can make myself understood definitely not write an essay in Afrikaans or even order a meal. I've tried learning other languages but I simply don't have the brain for language.

The other difference in American and British English is the use of "c" and "u." I can understand why it was changed, it's easier to use an "s" for a soft "c" sound as in "defence" and to omit the "u" in "humour, labour." It's also confusing when you spell in British English and use "humour" but "humorous" "rigour" but "rigorous" dropping the "u" just makes sense. Also when computers insist on self-correcting to the American default, it's a pain to go back and change it.

In the rest of the world, it appears that word order is the problem. The work I'm reading involves having to edit the pieces of work into a uniform language, i.e. removing the US spelling and fixing the missing articles and re-ordering sentences written in the way non-English speakers' own languages are written. It's been very interesting actually seeing Japanese and Chinese English written in formal writing and having to change the word order around. Also pieces written by South Americans and Southern Europeans: Spanish, Portuguese and Italian speakers. Even the use of punctuation that I didn't realise before. I'm learning more than the content of the abstracts, I'm also learning about the structure of the native languages merely from the way they write in English.

On the dialect thing. It's definitely only a spoken issue. Now that Globe has mentioned it, I'm becoming more aware of it in even American TV shows and certainly among English nationals. It doesn't apply to the written word though. There are no dialects in the written word, which is probably why I'm not that aware of it. I'm told that there is formal German and informal German. I wouldn't know. Is formal written German more stilted than the more informal version? I would think it would only apply to the spoken form?
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#39  Postby Regina » Apr 03, 2012 9:28 am

theater - theatre
center - centre
catalog - catalogue
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Re: Spoken languages [split from pro-life...]

#40  Postby Agrippina » Apr 03, 2012 9:31 am

Yep, that's what I mean. It's fine when they use one or the other but because computer software defaults to US spelling and most people don't bother to learn how to fix it, they leave it that way, until they come across a word they want to spell the English way, so you get "The organization is organising its files." Also there's the apostrophe thing that most non-English people simply don't get. Still I'm learning a lot from the content while I turn Japanese English into SA English. :lol:
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