Random language thread 6

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-02-15, 17:33

Gormur wrote:Definitely not. That do does not fit there tho :hmm:

Maybe i'm looking too much into it :)

"Do sth" is a common placeholder for a verb phrase. My focus was "can't seem to", and "do sth" was merely to clarify that it's followed by a verb.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Yasna » 2020-02-16, 3:52

The book I'm reading had the following passage:

"The legislation proposed in the [Paris] Commune's endlessly proliferating committees and political clubs became increasingly daft -- for example, the compulsory teaching of a universal language, [...]"

Anyone know what this universal language is?
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby razlem » 2020-02-17, 18:24

I would hazard to say Esperanto, its presence is strong in France. But I suppose it depends on context and who sponsors the legislation.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2020-02-17, 18:36

razlem wrote:I would hazard to say Esperanto, its presence is strong in France. But I suppose it depends on context and who sponsors the legislation.

Esperanto wouldn't come into existence for another 16 years.

I tried doing some research and came up dry. I'm beginning to wonder if they didn't have a specific "universal language" in mind but just meant that the government should work towards creating and promoting one.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-02-17, 18:47

Yasna wrote:The book I'm reading had the following passage:

"The legislation proposed in the [Paris] Commune's endlessly proliferating committees and political clubs became increasingly daft -- for example, the compulsory teaching of a universal language, [...]"

Anyone know what this universal language is?

Paris Commune predates Esperanto by a bit (Paris Commune March-May 1871, Esperanto 1887).
I googled "Paris Commune" + "universal language," and it seems it's not a specific known language at all, but sort of an idea of "universal language" that would be created or "found". My search found several references to this quote: "A language must be found; besides, all speech being idea, the time for a universal language will come!... This language will be of the soul and for the soul, it will include everything: perfumes, sounds, colors, thought grappling with thought...." (Arthur Rimbaud, May 1871).
Seems like it's not a known existing language, and if that's what is referred to in your quote, that fact (that it's not a known, existing language) probably explains why your quote calls the idea of the compulsory teaching of it "daft".
:hmm:

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-02-17, 18:50

linguoboy wrote:
razlem wrote:I would hazard to say Esperanto, its presence is strong in France. But I suppose it depends on context and who sponsors the legislation.

Esperanto wouldn't come into existence for another 16 years.

I tried doing some research and came up dry. I'm beginning to wonder if they didn't have a specific "universal language" in mind but just meant that the government should work towards creating and promoting one.


LOL, looks like we were researching that at the same time and came to the same conclusion!

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Yasna » 2020-02-18, 17:44

Wow, the Paris Commune was seriously avantgarde.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2020-03-03, 10:37

Van daaruit stuurde, precies tweehonderd jaar geleden in 1790, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire, pastoor en lid van de Assemblée Nationale, een vragenlijst het Franse land in.

It took me ages to be able to parse this sentence, which surprised me because that doesn't normally happen to me anymore when I read Dutch or German. I guess I would've expected a preposition before "het Franse land".

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Car » 2020-03-03, 10:42

Saim wrote:Van daaruit stuurde, precies tweehonderd jaar geleden in 1790, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire, pastoor en lid van de Assemblée Nationale, een vragenlijst het Franse land in.

It took me ages to be able to parse this sentence, which surprised me because that doesn't normally happen to me anymore when I read Dutch or German. I guess I would've expected a preposition before "het Franse land".

The sentence is kind of extreme, though.

Edit: NZZ published an article about Livonian.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2020-03-04, 10:54

alkateak ezkondu zituen: they were married by the lady mayor

This is an example sentence from the elhuyar Basque-English dictionary. I find the translation frankly bizarre: why the lady mayor? The only explanation is that this was translated through Spanish (alkate > alcaldesa > lady mayor), but this sentence isn’t in the Basque-Spanish dictionary, or at least not under ezkondu.

(Basque works like English in this regard, professions aren’t really marked for gender. In fact I think Basque goes even further than English, since at least in my idiolect “She’s an actor” is not only OK but the preferred form, whereas “She’s a waiter” sounds strange.)

Car wrote:
Saim wrote:Van daaruit stuurde, precies tweehonderd jaar geleden in 1790, Henri-Baptiste Grégoire, pastoor en lid van de Assemblée Nationale, een vragenlijst het Franse land in.

It took me ages to be able to parse this sentence, which surprised me because that doesn't normally happen to me anymore when I read Dutch or German. I guess I would've expected a preposition before "het Franse land".

The sentence is kind of extreme, though.


Yeah I guess if the two asides in the middle weren’t there I would’ve figured out it faster.

Edit: NZZ published an article about Livonian.


Interesting, thanks!

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Synalepha » 2020-03-10, 8:31

I've started using HiNative and oh my god, native speakers' explanations are often so painful to read. I'm more and more convinced that native speakers - unless they have some sort of formal training - should just give grammaticality jugdements and then shut up when it comes to explaining grammar.

On the other hand, language learners can actually be not that better. Their main fault being not realizing the full extent to which language relies on a context.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Naava » 2020-03-10, 10:21

Synalepha wrote:I'm more and more convinced that native speakers - unless they have some sort of formal training - should just give grammaticality jugdements and then shut up when it comes to explaining grammar.

On the other hand, language learners can actually be not that better. Their main fault being not realizing the full extent to which language relies on a context.

I agree. There is a reason why you need to spend minimum of 5 years at uni studying linguistics* before you're allowed to work as a language teacher in Finnish schools. You need explicit knowledge of language before you can explain grammar, unless you want to state "that's how it goes, just learn it" or make up your own rules on the spot, which may or may not be incorrect or misleading. Being able to speak a language fluently doesn't mean you'd automatically have that kind of knowledge.

L2 speakers might be more aware of grammar rules etc. because many of them have learnt rather than aqcuired them, but even then the focus has been more on being able to use the language yourself than being able to explain it to someone else. (F. ex. I don't remember ever hearing any of my teachers speak about pragmatism in our English lessons before uni, so I'm not surprised at all if you've noticed that L2 speakers aren't fully aware of the importance of context.) And even L2 learners learn some things implicitly, which means they won't be any better at explaining them than native speakers.

* Well, not linguistics in general, but like, linguistics & related topics from the point of view of the language you want to teach. Also, "language teachers" here include Finnish as L1 teachers as well.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-03-11, 16:49

Prowler wrote:What's with people online referring to people from Spanish speaking nations as just "Spanish"? Referring to Mexicans, Guatemalas and Cubans as "Spanish people". Also, why do Americans call the Québécois "French" just because they speak French? That'd be like me referring to Nigerians and Kenyans as "English people". One guy once told me he found a Portuguese song he liked and when he told me the name of who sang it I told him I had no idea who that was and he told me "well she's Brazilian".

Is this an English language thing or mostly one of those strange American things? Because no one I know would refer to Colombians or Argentinians as "Spanish people", nor would they refer to an Australian singer as an "English singer" or refer to Tintin as a "French comic book". If we're referring to a language spoken or something like that we'd say "it's in French" or "in French language". If we just call something French the only thing it can mean is that it's from France.

I believe some people are just elitist or ignorant, depending on context :hmm:

Maybe partially because I went to the University of Manitoba, but I always hear in my mind that Quebécois - and the Franco-Manitobains whose university wasn't far from my university are called French Canadians

I remember specifically at university this had to be done since a decent number of exchange students had come from places where French is a first language, but not France. Mostly Caribbean countries

Spanish speakers can be from any of several places, but in California it's amazing how you'll hear people distinguish between Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and such. I have decent trouble distinguishing them; except perhaps Guatemalan and Panamanian :hmm:

It did bother me one time though when this person I was talking to referred to Salvadorans as El Salvadoreans. Actually, it took me a bit to figure out what he said and my brain just went no, that's not right :para: :hmm:

I'm aware that there's the form Salvadorean but it grates on my ears anyway, because I've never heard it in a real life context. It sounds made up, so it offends my senses :hmm:

In my sociolect, people from Spanish-dominant countries would be called Latin- American. Brazilians can be called Brazilian because they are and they speak Portuguese :|

It just feels weird to call Spanish-speakers Hispanic. My Spanish teacher was from Argentina and I couldn't think of her as that. She was of Italian descent and also taught Italian at the university. I don't know if that was her other mother tongue but I think so :hmm:

Hispanic has a sort of racist tone to me. It has a very narrow definition and only applies to certain things rather than people
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Prowler » 2020-03-15, 19:11

Gormur wrote:
Prowler wrote:What's with people online referring to people from Spanish speaking nations as just "Spanish"? Referring to Mexicans, Guatemalas and Cubans as "Spanish people". Also, why do Americans call the Québécois "French" just because they speak French? That'd be like me referring to Nigerians and Kenyans as "English people". One guy once told me he found a Portuguese song he liked and when he told me the name of who sang it I told him I had no idea who that was and he told me "well she's Brazilian".

Is this an English language thing or mostly one of those strange American things? Because no one I know would refer to Colombians or Argentinians as "Spanish people", nor would they refer to an Australian singer as an "English singer" or refer to Tintin as a "French comic book". If we're referring to a language spoken or something like that we'd say "it's in French" or "in French language". If we just call something French the only thing it can mean is that it's from France.

I believe some people are just elitist or ignorant, depending on context :hmm:

Maybe partially because I went to the University of Manitoba, but I always hear in my mind that Quebécois - and the Franco-Manitobains whose university wasn't far from my university are called French Canadians

I remember specifically at university this had to be done since a decent number of exchange students had come from places where French is a first language, but not France. Mostly Caribbean countries

Spanish speakers can be from any of several places, but in California it's amazing how you'll hear people distinguish between Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and such. I have decent trouble distinguishing them; except perhaps Guatemalan and Panamanian :hmm:

It did bother me one time though when this person I was talking to referred to Salvadorans as El Salvadoreans. Actually, it took me a bit to figure out what he said and my brain just went no, that's not right :para: :hmm:

I'm aware that there's the form Salvadorean but it grates on my ears anyway, because I've never heard it in a real life context. It sounds made up, so it offends my senses :hmm:

In my sociolect, people from Spanish-dominant countries would be called Latin- American. Brazilians can be called Brazilian because they are and they speak Portuguese :|

It just feels weird to call Spanish-speakers Hispanic. My Spanish teacher was from Argentina and I couldn't think of her as that. She was of Italian descent and also taught Italian at the university. I don't know if that was her other mother tongue but I think so :hmm:

Hispanic has a sort of racist tone to me. It has a very narrow definition and only applies to certain things rather than people

I think only USA uses the label Hispanic. Any non-American person I've seen use thst online has obviously been due to American mass media influence. Not even Spanish speaking Latin Americans call themselves that. And I'm gonna guess they don't like it much either. As you said, not everyone is of Spanish ancestry in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, etc. Just like a ton of Americans cannot trace their ancestry to the British Islands at all.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-03-15, 20:14

Prowler wrote:What's with people online referring to people from Spanish speaking nations as just "Spanish"? Referring to Mexicans, Guatemalas and Cubans as "Spanish people".

I was once called racist for describing something as "Spanish" and had to clarify that I was literally talking about something from Spain. In that context it's not racist, it's simply accurate. But that's the only context I would use it in, and many people from other Spanish-speaking countries are unfortunately so used to hearing it mis-used that when I said it in its literal context ("something from Spain"), I was still accused of racism for doing so. :doggy: (I can't remember the exact context, but I think I was talking about food from Spain and said "Spanish food".)

Gormur wrote:Spanish speakers can be from any of several places, but in California it's amazing how you'll hear people distinguish between Nicaraguans, Salvadorans and such.

Yes, you'll hear that very often in California. Basically if you know the country a person or their family is from, you normally use the name of that country rather than a more general term like "Hispanic." Usually with "American" added if they are living here rather than just visiting: Nicaraguan-American, Salvadoran-American, Mexican-American and so on.
If you don't know which country the person is from or if their family background is from a mix of countries, or if their ancestry is U.S.-based and Spanish-speaking, there's nothing wrong with saying "Hispanic" in the United States. In those cases word like "Nicaraguan" simply wouldn't apply, so there isn't even a better option.

Gormur wrote:In my sociolect, people from Spanish-dominant countries would be called Latin-American. Brazilians can be called Brazilian because they are and they speak Portuguese

"Latin American" can include Brazilians, too, though. Both Spanish and Portuguese are languages descended from Latin and when speaking about American the term can refer to countries that speak either language.

Gormur wrote:It just feels weird to call Spanish-speakers Hispanic. My Spanish teacher was from Argentina and I couldn't think of her as that.

I don't see anything wrong with it, but the term specifically refers to people in the United States whose ancestry (or they themselves) are from Spanish-speaking countries. So if the person is living in Argentina at the time, for example, it wouldn't make sense to identify them as Hispanic. When describing a person, "Hispanic" specifically means a person of Spanish-speaking American background who lives in the United States.
It's actually even an official term in the United States, used on the official census and countless government forms.
Outside of the United States I would not use the term (unless I was speaking about people in the U.S.). But that's not because it's offensive per se but simply because outside the U.S. it would be inaccurate (and of course using an inaccurate term can be offensive simply because it's not accurate in that context, just like with using the term "Spanish" to describe people who are not from Spain. I would not use the term "Hispanic" to describe people who are not living in the United States, except maybe if that person had lived in the United States previously and continued to self-identify that way after moving elsewhere).

Gormur wrote:Hispanic has a sort of racist tone to me. It has a very narrow definition and only applies to certain things rather than people

Nope. See above. But you are right about the narrow definition since it applies only to people in the U.S.

Prowler wrote:I think only USA uses the label Hispanic. Any non-American person I've seen use thst online has obviously been due to American mass media influence. Not even Spanish speaking Latin Americans call themselves that.

Right. But Spanish-speaking people in the United States do use it, and Spanish-speaking people elsewhere sometimes use it when referring to people who do live in the U.S. It's not that Spanish-speaking Latin Americans don't like the term, it's just that it generally doesn't apply to them personally if they don't live in the United States.
In Spanish it's hispano though you can also say hispanoamericano with the same meaning. Nothing wrong with those terms. They are used frequently. (In contrast the term hispánico doesn't usually refer to people and does refer to either Spain, the older Hispania of centuries ago, or the cultural/linguistic influences of either of those. I think you could also say hispánico if you were referring to people from 4th century Hispania, for example, but not for a modern ethnic group or nationality.)
In other words:
(es) hispano = (en-US) Hispanic
(es) hispánico = (en-US) Spanish (in certain contexts) or Hispanian (historical contexts)
(es) español = (en-US) Spanish (in most contexts)

Prowler wrote:And I'm gonna guess they don't like it much either. As you said, not everyone is of Spanish ancestry in Argentina, Mexico, Chile, etc. Just like a ton of Americans cannot trace their ancestry to the British Islands at all.

Yes, but that's an argument against using the term Spanish in the Americas (and a good one), not an argument against the term Hispanic, which refers to the language, not the specific country, of a person's ancestors. But as I said above it's only used in a U.S. context.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-03-16, 19:34

While reading French-language coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, I'm noticing that "COVID-19" has generally been assigned masculine gender by French and Belgian news outlets. But the Québécois news organizations I've checked, as well as Wikipédia, all go with the feminine gender.

The feminine seems more "expected" to me, in terms of how gender is often assigned to foreign borrowings; the head noun in "COVID-19" is "disease", which is translated in French as the feminine maladie. However, I can think of an explanation for the masculine in this specific case: It could be analogy based on coronavirus, which is masculine because virus is masculine. Another way of thinking about the same concept: "COVID-19" is being interpreted as a clipping of le (corona)virus COVID-19 "the COVID-19 (corona)virus".
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-03-16, 22:26

Dormouse559 wrote:While reading French-language coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, I'm noticing that "COVID-19" has generally been assigned masculine gender by French and Belgian news outlets. But the Québécois news organizations I've checked, as well as Wikipédia, all go with the feminine gender.

The feminine seems more "expected" to me, in terms of how gender is often assigned to foreign borrowings; the head noun in "COVID-19" is "disease", which is translated in French as the feminine maladie. However, I can think of an explanation for the masculine in this specific case: It could be analogy based on coronavirus, which is masculine because virus is masculine. Another way of thinking about the same concept: "COVID-19" is being interpreted as a clipping of le (corona)virus COVID-19 "the COVID-19 (corona)virus".


In Spanish COVID-19 and coronavirus are both masculine when used as nouns in the majority of sources from various countries that I've seen.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2020-03-24, 20:53

In other Coronavirus-related linguistics news, someone came up with a cute mnemonic that Modi displayed on the air to promote India's nationwide "lockdown":

कोरोड पर ना निकले!
koi roḍ par nikle

The injunction is "Don't go out on any road!" (And, as usual, it was the obvious English borrowing that stumped me when trying to make sense of it.)
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2020-03-30, 3:11

I live in a country where everyone speaks Mandarin Chinese, and that too in a city where few people speak much English, yet I have very few opportunities to speak it myself. I spend most of my time at work, where I'm forbidden to speak Mandarin.

(Presumably, this is because then my students would just chat with me in Mandarin all the time and not make use of the only time they have to practice their English instead...I find this ironic given the typical American approach to teaching foreign languages (i.e. just learn it through English, even if you're paying money for classes) but anyway).

The main time I get to use it is when ordering food, but there is not that much you really have to know in order to do that; in my case, it's just "I'll have [whatever I read off the bulletin board or whatever] how much is it I'll give you this much I'll eat here thanks bye-bye." I don't always even know what I'm getting until I actually get it, but so far, this has worked out wonderfully. Occasionally, I find someone who's willing to actually have a conversation with me, but that's the exception rather than the rule. I also sometimes run into my landlord, who seems like a nice guy and who I wish I could hang out with more.

We have a holiday coming up. Maybe that will help me practice it a little more, even with social distancing.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Yasna » 2020-03-30, 4:28

vijayjohn wrote:I live in a country where everyone speaks Mandarin Chinese, and that too in a city where few people speak much English, yet I have very few opportunities to speak it myself. I spend most of my time at work, where I'm forbidden to speak Mandarin.

One easy way to get conversations kickstarted is to ask for recommendations. Asking a restaurant employee what dish they recommend, a book store employee what book they recommend on topic ___, someone (friendly looking) on the street if there are any good restaurants or parks around.
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