Random language thread 4

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Random language thread 4

Postby Johanna » 2015-10-23, 0:20

Continuation of Random language thread 3, which can now be found in the Forum Archives.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Yasna » 2015-10-23, 14:05

vijayjohn wrote:Despite having a section called "Why India needs a native lingua franca," he never even mentions any alternative to having a lingua franca, let alone explain why India needs one at all. Instead, he just threatens that the lack of a lingua franca will "dangerously inhibit national integration"...while claiming that the emergence of one is inevitable anyway...:?

And how exactly is a nation supposed to become integrated without even being able to have a national conversation? Even countries that are far easier to manage than India such as Canada, Belgium, Spain, or the U.K. perpetually teeter on the brink of disintegration because they failed at national integration. And who knows how well even Switzerland would fare in this age if they came upon times of economic hardship.

Not to mention that the comparison to Indonesian is pretty poor considering that Austronesian languages are spoken everywhere in Indonesia, whereas if I'm not much mistaken, a huge chunk of India's economy comes from South India where Indo-Aryan languages are not that widely spoken. Plus Northeast India has been torn by war for more than half a century; I'm not sure whether imposing Hindi as the national language on people there is going to help anything considering that most of the languages spoken there are Sino-Tibetan. (To be fair, though, apparently a lot of people up there speak Hindi anyway).

The majority of the people in the northeast speak an Indo-Aryan language, and Assamese (an Indo-Aryan language as you know) is something of a lingua franca there. So increasing the use of Hindi there shouldn't be a huge challenge.

Saim wrote:Why not? It's not sensible to spend money on linguistic services that help maintain our collective cultural patrimony? What is the state budget for then, cutting through Punjab with a heavily militarised border? Spying on Kashmiri nationalists? Building nukes? Sending "aid" to Sri Lanka so they can finish their massacre against Tamils?

As a Punjabi I'm happy to hear that the Pillalamarri would respect the territoriality of the Punjabi language. That said, why limit it to 22? What's the difference between imposing Hindustani/English on all Indians and imposing Kannada on Tuluvas, Hindustani on Bhojpuris and Haryanvis, Assamese on Bodos or Khas/Nepali on Sikkimese Bhutias?

As a language enthusiast I can sympathize with this point of view, but good luck convincing the average Indian that their government should spend money on preserving Zeme.

The fact that it is a "varation of Malay" contradicts the idea that it is not "too closely tied to one ethnic group". All living languages are ethnic; trying to present some languages as more "neutral" or "cosmopolitan" than others is a form of imperialism that if left unchecked leads to language shift.

What??? Whether a language is more neutral or cosmopolitan is entirely a matter of perception. And Indonesians clearly perceived Malay as a more neutral choice than say Javanese.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Saim » 2015-10-23, 15:11

Yasna wrote:And how exactly is a nation supposed to become integrated without even being able to have a national conversation?


That's the thing, I don't care about concepts like "national integration" for their own sake. If the average Indian citizen lives better, has more opportunities and freedom belonging to the nation-state "India", great! If they're better off in belonging to a bunch of separate soverign states, or a bunch of sovereign states maintaining some sort of confederal regime (what about a South Asian Schengen zone?), so be it - I'm not going to stand in the way of that because of some abstract concept that I've never been convinced is inherently good, and indeed has more often than not just been used as a tool in imperialism. Either way, the main objective is not "national integration", but prosperity, freedom and other things like that. If "national integration" is conducive to that, I'll get behind it, but I have no reason to think that it is.

Even countries that are far easier to manage than India such as Canada, Belgium, Spain, or the U.K. perpetually teeter on the brink of disintegration because they failed at national integration. And who knows how well even Switzerland would fare in this age if they came upon times of economic hardship.


Do Canada, Belgium, Spain, the UK or even Switzerland have inherent value as nation-states? Why should they be kept together if they "perpetually teeter on the brink of disintegration"? What is the benefit of maintaining some kind of forced "unity" for its own sake, especially if we have to forego cultural and linguistic diversity in the process?

Let me be clear here: I'm not interested in whether Canada, Belgium, Spain or the UK survive to the end of the century as sovereign states or not. That's all secondary to what kind of language politics I'd like to see implemented in these countries.

As a language enthusiast I can sympathize with this point of view, but good luck convincing the average Indian that their government should spend money on preserving Zeme.


"The average Indian" has an inferiority complex with regards to the West and thinks that English should still be an official language. Both of us want the centre of debate on language politics to shift in South Asia, it's just that my maximum aspiration is more coherent than yours. There is no linguistic difference between Punjabi and Zeme (in the sense of being structurally more or less expressive), and both are heavily tied to particular ethnic identities (as are Hindustani and English), so why should they be given different statuses within their own historical territories? Isn't that giving Punjabis as an ethnic group more rights than Zene people have?

What??? Whether a language is more neutral or cosmopolitan is entirely a matter of perception. And Indonesians clearly perceived Malay as a more neutral choice than say Javanese.


Pakistanis also view Urdu as a more neutral choice than Punjabi. That's precisely why Punjabi is on its way out in Western Punjab, and I'd hazard a guess that Javanese will suffer a similar fate.

Of course it all depends on perception! The question then becomes - how do States create public perception that is ultimately damaging to the linguistic ecology found in their territory? How do we reverse this process and create public perception that's conducive to the conservation of linguistic diversity? That is of course, if we actually want to preserve it. If we don't, then we don't have to do anything - we're doing a pretty good job at destroying it all already.

Wait, really? What about Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar? And Pakistan (there may be few native speakers, but the fact that it's used throughout Pakistan seems undeniable even if it's because the government forces it to be).


Reread my post. There were native speakers of Urdu in "Pakistan" under the Moghuls? :P Even as a literary language under the British, Urdu wasn't used in most of what is now Pakistan besides Punjab.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-23, 17:28

Yasna wrote:And how exactly is a nation supposed to become integrated without even being able to have a national conversation?

But there are already other ways that people use IRL to communicate despite speaking different languages besides having a lingua franca.
Even countries that are far easier to manage than India such as Canada, Belgium, Spain, or the U.K. perpetually teeter on the brink of disintegration because they failed at national integration. And who knows how well even Switzerland would fare in this age if they came upon times of economic hardship.

I'm curious as to what your evidence is that any of those countries "perpetually teeter on the brink of disintegration."

EDIT: Or perhaps what I should ask is what exactly do you mean by that and how much does that actually matter?
Assamese (an Indo-Aryan language as you know) is something of a lingua franca there.

There are Assamese-based pidgins/creoles that appear to be in wide use in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, and of course Assamese is the official language of Assam, but apart from that, I see absolutely no evidence of Assamese being well-known in other northeast Indian states at all.
Last edited by vijayjohn on 2015-10-23, 18:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-23, 17:53

I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall", despite the fact that German Fall has many of the same senses (e.g. auf jeden Fall = in any case). Apparently the Latin usage is calqued on the Ancient Greek πτῶσις, which also has the literal sense of "fall".

What prompted me to realise this is that the Irish word for "case" in the grammatical sense is tuiseal, which literally means "fall, stumble".
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby OldBoring » 2015-10-23, 18:20

Serafín wrote:I always like it when you mention all these particular uses of words by the Chinese in Italy... They remind me of similar things among Spanish speakers in Vancouver. Uses so common and widespread here you could almost say there's a distinct Vancouver dialect of Spanish.

Again for necroquoting...

Yea, I think it's a pity that there's so little linguistic interest in variations of languages spoken by expatriates.

Are those things among Spanish speakers in Vancouver common independently of the background, like Mexicans, Salvadoreans, Puertoricans, Cubans etc.? Do new Spanish speaking immigrants adapt to use those words, or do they try to correct the local Spanish speakers?

I think that in some way, our variety of Chinese is similar to the colonial versions of the European languages... on one hand we retain some more archaisms, while on the other hand we are influenced by the local languages.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-23, 19:20

OldBoring wrote:Yea, I think it's a pity that there's so little linguistic interest in variations of languages spoken by expatriates.

Is there? From what I've seen, contact linguistics is very hot now.

When I was in Germany, I tried to keep a list of the vocabulary used among our little clique of American students. It was fascinating to me which words we simply borrowed (e.g. Mensa, Bächle) and which we modified in some way (e.g. "Let's beweg!").
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-23, 19:35

I'd be interested in the differences between Malayalam as spoken by people here (for example) and Malayalam as spoken in Kerala as well as any differences in the amount of code-switching that takes place in both settings, but I've never lived in Kerala and have a poor sense of how deep the differences are. I've tried asking my dad about it before because I thought I'd noticed a difference, but he doesn't seem to agree that there is one. Oh well.
linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall", despite the fact that German Fall has many of the same senses (e.g. auf jeden Fall = in any case). Apparently the Latin usage is calqued on the Ancient Greek πτῶσις, which also has the literal sense of "fall".

I think I remember seeing something like this once or twice, but I forgot all about it.
What prompted me to realise this is that the Irish word for "case" in the grammatical sense is tuiseal, which literally means "fall, stumble".

Somehow this managed to remind me that in a lot of Indian languages, the word for 'gender' is some variation of linga, so it also means 'penis'. :lol:

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby dEhiN » 2015-10-24, 3:34

linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall", despite the fact that German Fall has many of the same senses (e.g. auf jeden Fall = in any case). Apparently the Latin usage is calqued on the Ancient Greek πτῶσις, which also has the literal sense of "fall".

What prompted me to realise this is that the Irish word for "case" in the grammatical sense is tuiseal, which literally means "fall, stumble".

What's the connection here in concept between "fall, stumble" and "case" (both in the grammatical and non-grammatical sense)?
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-24, 3:58

dEhiN wrote:What's the connection here in concept between "fall, stumble" and "case" (both in the grammatical and non-grammatical sense)?

Ask the Greeks.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-24, 4:13

Case comes from Middle English cas, which was borrowed from Old French, where it simply meant 'an event' (as in "in this case"). Cas comes from Latin casus which means 'a falling, fall, accident, event, occurrence, occasion, opportunity, noun case'. Idk, I guess it's easier to see the relation between 'event' and 'grammatical case' than between 'falling' and 'grammatical case'. Plus falling is an accident (well, not always, but hopefully, you get what I mean), and an accident is an event (and can be a pretty noteworthy one! Have you read the latest news from France?).

Idk, it's not that weird to me, I guess. :P

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Koko » 2015-10-24, 4:46

Unless it's really referring to the fall of an empire or the fall of a powerful leader, rather than you tripping and falling, or being pushed and falling, or stepping off a cliff and falling. Then it's a very noteworthy event, and then you could call said event "the Case of Napoleon(: thank the lord he finally fell!)."

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Saim » 2015-10-24, 9:13

linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall", despite the fact that German Fall has many of the same senses (e.g. auf jeden Fall = in any case). Apparently the Latin usage is calqued on the Ancient Greek πτῶσις, which also has the literal sense of "fall".

What prompted me to realise this is that the Irish word for "case" in the grammatical sense is tuiseal, which literally means "fall, stumble".


Thanks to you I just made the connection with Dutch geval as well. Somehow when I learned that word I didn't connect it to vallen.

Not two seconds ago I made made the connection between padež (grammatical case) and padati (to fall) in Serbian. The online monolingual Croatian dictionary Hrvatski jezični portal has this to say: "Etimologija: v. pȁsti, padati (kalk. prema lat. casus: padež ← cadere: pasti)".

And Polish przypadek (meaning both "grammatical case" and "case, incident") also has the same root -pad-. :shock:

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-24, 15:01

vijayjohn wrote:Case comes from Middle English cas, which was borrowed from Old French, where it simply meant 'an event' (as in "in this case"). Cas comes from Latin casus which means 'a falling, fall, accident, event, occurrence, occasion, opportunity, noun case'. Idk, I guess it's easier to see the relation between 'event' and 'grammatical case' than between 'falling' and 'grammatical case'. Plus falling is an accident (well, not always, but hopefully, you get what I mean), and an accident is an event (and can be a pretty noteworthy one! Have you read the latest news from France?).

The thing is--as I pointed out before--the Latin use is clearly calqued on Greek and I can find no evidence in Ancient Greek of the proposed intermediate stage "accident, event". (Viz. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dptw%3Dsis.)
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-24, 19:56

linguoboy wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Case comes from Middle English cas, which was borrowed from Old French, where it simply meant 'an event' (as in "in this case"). Cas comes from Latin casus which means 'a falling, fall, accident, event, occurrence, occasion, opportunity, noun case'. Idk, I guess it's easier to see the relation between 'event' and 'grammatical case' than between 'falling' and 'grammatical case'. Plus falling is an accident (well, not always, but hopefully, you get what I mean), and an accident is an event (and can be a pretty noteworthy one! Have you read the latest news from France?).

The thing is--as I pointed out before--the Latin use is clearly calqued on Greek and I can find no evidence in Ancient Greek of the proposed intermediate stage "accident, event". (Viz. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dptw%3Dsis.)

"Calamity" then?

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Levike » 2015-10-24, 20:01

Saim wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall",

And Polish przypadek (meaning both "grammatical case" and "case, incident") also has the same root -pad-. :shock:

In Hungarian too, eset = case and esni = to fall.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby dEhiN » 2015-10-25, 3:19

Levike wrote:
Saim wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall",

And Polish przypadek (meaning both "grammatical case" and "case, incident") also has the same root -pad-. :shock:

In Hungarian too, eset = case and esni = to fall.

I wonder if the other Uralic languages are similar. Or if with Hungarian the two words are similar due to influence from IE languages.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby vijayjohn » 2015-10-25, 5:19

dEhiN wrote:I wonder if the other Uralic languages are similar.

Estonian has kääne meaning both 'declination' (in the astronomical sense) and 'case' (in the grammatical sense). EDIT: And I forgot to say, maybe 'declination' will help make the connection between "case" and "falling" a bit more obvious. The Finnish word for '(grammatical) case', however, is completely different.
Or if with Hungarian the two words are similar due to influence from IE languages.

Maybe.

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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-25, 6:27

dEhiN wrote:
Levike wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I don't know why it never occurred to me before that Latin casus is derived from cadere "to fall",

In Hungarian too, eset = case and esni = to fall.

I wonder if the other Uralic languages are similar. Or if with Hungarian the two words are similar due to influence from IE languages.

Almost certainly the latter. Hungarian is so full of direct calques on Latin and German (maybe Slavic ones, too, that I don't recognise) that it isn't even funny.
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Re: Random language thread 4

Postby Saim » 2015-10-25, 10:14

linguoboy wrote:Almost certainly the latter. Hungarian is so full of direct calques on Latin and German (maybe Slavic ones, too, that I don't recognise) that it isn't even funny.


In terms of Slavic influence in Hungarian I've seen lots of loanwords but I'm not sure about calques. The only thing that's caught my attention so far is this:

hvala lepo = lit. "thanks beautifully" = thanks a lot
köszönöm szépen = lit. "I thank beautifully" = thanks a lot

However, there's also puno hvala (thanks fully/a lot) and in Croatia hvala lepa (beautiful thanks), so I'm guessing this is a coincidence.

I imagine Slavic calques would be harder to demonstrate than Germanic or Latin ones because the Slavic calques would be older and not limited to a single register, whereas Germanic and Latin calques are more recent and more abundant in the higher register.


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