dEhiN wrote:It also seems to me that the hybrid language spoken in the schools probably arose out of the externally imposed structure of the schools: that the students have to speak Irish. This creates a forced environment which explains why the students' brains would focus on learning Irish from a semantic level, but not worry so much about grammar rules and the like. They already have a grammar framework from within which to insert this new Irish vocabulary - English. If, in the process, they pick up some Irish grammar rules and remember it enough to use it while speaking, so be it. But if they don't remember at all, or remember wrongly, it doesn't matter because the recipients (i.e., other students) will understand them anyway.
It reminds me of the lightly-pidginised German I heard while living in a dormitory in Germany that was mostly for Goethe Institute students. Although they were quite internationally diverse, most had some knowledge of English so they would frequently fall back on it (although in general they were motivated to learn a standard form of German, living as they were in a largely German-speaking environment). But in the creativity shown, maybe it's more like Camfranglais
or one of the other mixed languages that arises in countries where colonial languages are still overwhelmingly used in education, at least at the higher levels.
So, I think it may have finally clicked what I find so odd about Indonesian.
For years I've been carrying around this assumed set of linguistic universals, a couple of which can be roughly summarised as:
1. Function words are shorter than content words and often show phonetic reduction.
2. The more frequent particular content words are, the shorter they tend to be.
I'm sure these seem very Anglocentric or at least Eurocentric, but they've been tested against a range of languages, starting with Korean, which I learned in college. Korean is an agglutinative language and, if not quite reaching the level of elabouration famously found in Turkish, conjugated verbs can still get quite lengthy. However, the basic roots are quite short--generally a single syllable for core native verbs. "Come" and "go", for instance, are 오- /o-/ and 가- /ka-/. The copula is 이- /i-/ (and maybe even drop out entirely, leaving behind only verbal inflections seemingly attached directly to the predicate noun). Case affixes are generally monosyllabic too and disproportionately feature the neutral vowel 으 (/u/, generally [ɯ]), also used to break up clusters in borrowed words. [Compare Turkish, where "come" is gel-
, "go" is gid-
, the copula is also i-
(and liable to drop), and the case markers are of the form -V, -CV, -CVC, and -VCV.]
None of this, however, is true of Indonesian. "Come", "do", and the copula are, respectively, datang
, and ada
(often appearing in the trisyllabic form adalah
). None of the most basic verbs are monosyllabic and many contain one or two heavy syllables. For instance, those with the syllable structure CVCVCor CVCCVC include: duduk
go down, etc. Case clitics don't exist as such, given the analytic nature of the grammar, but a similar role is filled by prepositions and (apart from the most basic of all, locative di
and allative ke
) they're hardly less complex, e.g. dengan
The result is very disorienting. I'm used to looking at sentences in language I hardly even know and being able to intuit which are the function words or lighter verbs and which are the content words. But this doesn't work at all with Indonesian. I look at a basic sentence like:Mereka tidak datang karena kematian kakeknya.
and everything seems to have roughly equal weight. Who would guess, for instance, that mereka
here is a personal pronoun, tidak
is a negator, and karena
is a preposition? Compare a version of the same sentence in Welsh:Ddaethon nhw ddim o achos marw eu tad-cu.
Despite the lack of obvious cognates, I wager y'all would have a better chance of recognising these in nhw
, and o achos