Random language thread 6

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-27, 19:32

Vlürch wrote:Aaaaaand a random thing about Korean because I'm still wanderlusting: apparently some words are spelled and prononuced differently in North Korea than South Korea, like 해빛 vs 햇빛. :hmm: Also, I think I've finally learned to recognise the first things about Hangul, that <ᄉ> is /s/ and <ㅡ> is /ɯ/. So maybe I have hope of learning to read it... maybe...

Initial <ᄉ> is /s/ but <ㅅ> is more complicated. Sometimes it represents only reinforcement of the next character, as in 햇빛 (as if 해삗). In final position, it becomes [t̚]. (In fact, in pre-modern orthography, [t̚] from any source could be spelled <ㅅ> so; for instance, the usual spelling of 햇빛 was 햇빗.) In coda position before nasals, [n] (e.g. 햇무리 as if 핸무리 or even 햄무리).
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2019-08-27, 22:37

linguoboy wrote:Initial <ᄉ> is /s/ but <ㅅ> is more complicated. Sometimes it represents only reinforcement of the next character, as in 햇빛 (as if 해삗). In final position, it becomes [t̚]. (In fact, in pre-modern orthography, [t̚] from any source could be spelled <ㅅ> so; for instance, the usual spelling of 햇빛 was 햇빗.) In coda position before nasals, [n] (e.g. 햇무리 as if 핸무리 or even 햄무리).

I already knew Hangul isn't actually phonetic (or even phonemic?) from the time you explained some of that stuff when I posted about a false friend between Japanese and Korean that turned out to be spelled completely differently from what I expected, and reading about it on Wikipedia, and seeing IPA on Wiktionary, but didn't actually realise the differences are so extensive.

So, how are final <ᄉ> and <ᄃ> differentiated? Or are they just not, and there are even more homophones because of that?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-28, 15:37

Vlürch wrote:So, how are final <ᄉ> and <ᄃ> differentiated? Or are they just not, and there are even more homophones because of that?

A whole lot of phonemes fall together in final position. Final [t̚] can represent underlying /t/, /th/, /s/, /c/, /ch/, and even /h/. 갓, 갇, 같, and 갖 are all homophones.

In actual usage, this isn't much of a problem. 갖, for instance, is obsolete, having been replaced by an extended form 가지. 갇 and 같 occur as stems and as combining forms but rarely, if ever, as free morphemes. And so forth.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Osias » 2019-08-28, 20:21

So Brazilian Portuguese has this thing that's not a neuter gender but it's a lack of article for some cities or countries. We say 'o Brasil'/'no Brasil', 'a Argentina'/'na Argentina', but 'Portugal'/'em Portugal'. There's no rule, this is something you have to learn case by case.

With countries that's easy, but for cities and neighborhoods no one can remember all. Mostly only inhabitants from there and near regions. This is the case with my city, Serra.

We and local news from our state say 'na Serra', but national news tend to say 'em Serra'. That's also the issue of ambiguity, serra means hills or something and 'a serra' means different things in diferent states here. So I think national news know about the article but decide to drop it anyway. Local news on TV, knowing any time any stories produced here can be featured on Jornal Nacional or Jornal Hoje, most of times say 'no município da Serra' (in the Serra's municipality). My brothers used to joke that peope born here are not Serranos, but Municipenses da Serra.

Then, of course, stupid ads translated by GT are not aware of any of this: "Esta mãe solteira ganhou um milhão em Serra".

But these days I saw an outdoor for a national health insurance plan using 'em Serra'. Urgh.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Luís » 2019-08-29, 8:55

Osias wrote:So Brazilian Portuguese has this thing that's not a neuter gender but it's a lack of article for some cities or countries. We say 'o Brasil'/'no Brasil', 'a Argentina'/'na Argentina', but 'Portugal'/'em Portugal'. There's no rule, this is something you have to learn case by case.


It's not that they don't have gender, we simply don't use the article in some cases. Portugal is still masculine and Cuba is still feminine.

And yeah, when it comes to towns and villages, it's kind of a shibboleth. You can clearly see who is from that area and who's not (unless it's a well known city, of course)
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2019-08-29, 10:26

It's weird how if you set your Netflix display language to the language a show is in, instead of showing you the original title it retranslates the localised title back into the target language. So the French show "Dix pour cent" becomes "Appelez mon agent" (localised title for Anglophone market: "Call my agent") and the Turkish Hakan: Muhafız becomes Koruma (English: The Protector). It took a while for me to notice this was even happening because it also changes the title in the graphic.

Luís wrote:And yeah, when it comes to towns and villages, it's kind of a shibboleth. You can clearly see who is from that area and who's not (unless it's a well known city, of course)


In Serbian the gender is generally obvious based on the final vowel (or lack thereof), but it's possible to confuse singular neutre with feminine plural. For example I once heard a Croat say u Užicama (feminine plural) instead of u Užicu (singular neuter), because the nominative form is Užice which could be either based on the ending.

These are old posts but I wanted to respond to them and then forgot:

linguoboy wrote:Moreover, shouldn't you get the same advantages from reading the original version of a work you've read in translation? I mean, I'm assuming the ease comes from already knowing the setting, characters, plot, etc. and being able to focus purely on grammar and vocabulary. Well, I'd glean all that if I read Dona Flor e seus dois maridos in English translation and that should make reading the Portuguese version as easy as reading a Portuguese translation of Harry Potter would be.


That's what I was thinking, too! One of my favourite things about studying French was being able to read Camus's l'Étranger in the original, as it was my favourite out of all the books we were assigned to read in high school English and it was fun to revisit. Can't wait until I'm ready for/get around to Die Verwandlung, which I also enjoyed in school (and no-one else in my class did, they were all weirded out by how "gross" it all was).

I've also read a Hebrew-language book in Polish translation (Biegnij, chłopcze biegnij) hoping to read the original in Hebrew some day. It's set in Poland and there's a Polish film adaption so it's more fun reading the Polish translation than the English one.

Ciarán12 wrote:Also, what tends to happen to me a lot is that I will be aware of far more titles in English than in any other language, and so the books on my to-read list are naturally mostly originally in English, but as I want to practice my target language I prefer to read a translation than the original.


That's why I feel like keeping a catalogue of material (whether they're TV shows or books) I would want to go through in a given language does a lot more for my motivation and discipline than anything else.

Yasna wrote:The only problem is that I find it to be an utterly uninspiring activity. I am far more motivated to read books in the original, or at least books where I get closer to the original (I imagine that Russian translations of Polish novels are generally closer to the original than English translations). My method of jumping straight into original TL books after readers and online articles may not be the most efficient, but what good is efficiency if I keep avoiding the efficient activity because it's dull.


I agree. It can work once or twice but how long can you go out of your way to make things harder for yourself? Why would you read a version of a text where you'll understand less when the original is in your own native language? What happens to your motivation when you aren't discovering anything about the culture and history associated with the target language?

I make a point of searching out "booktube" channels in my target languages. They can be a great source of recommendations.


Great idea! I find that watching YouTube reviews of books I've already read has also been a fun way to get more input and keep motivation going.

voron wrote:- Authors are allowed more freedom to experiment with the language than translators.


Doesn't that depend on the type of literature? If you're reading non-fiction you're not going to get anything overly flowery most of the time, as long as you know enough about the field in question. And in fact when it comes to opinion-expressing works like political pamphlets or manifestos or whatever a lot of the "expressive" elements are actually good to pick up because they're commonly used in political discussions in general.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-29, 14:05

Luís wrote:And yeah, when it comes to towns and villages, it's kind of a shibboleth. You can clearly see who is from that area and who's not (unless it's a well known city, of course)

I guess languages with shallow orthographies need to find something to make a shibboleth of.

ObRandom: A FB friend asked yesterday for "Your top 5 Bio flicks" and it only dawned on me today that he means "biopics"--that is, "bio" as in "biographical", not "bio" as in "biological".
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Osias » 2019-08-29, 15:13

Maybe Darwin's film counts as both...?
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2019-08-29, 22:15

JSTOR says that free users can read six papers for free every month, but what if you don't read a paper in its entirety in one sitting and close the tab? Because I can't imagine they want you to be able to read the same paper twice (since it's already kinda gatekeepy to require registration), but obviously the site wouldn't be able to tell that you didn't read it entirely already.

Presumably I can't even sign up there since I didn't/don't go to a university or whatever (and if just any random person could register on the site, the complaints that it's a site dedicated to gatekeeping wouldn't make sense), but if it really means six papers a month and not "lol you better not close or reload this tab", I'll try to make an account because there are some that seem really interesting. It's a shame they still couldn't be downloaded, though, but well...
Saim wrote:It's weird how if you set your Netflix display language to the language a show is in, instead of showing you the original title it retranslates the localised title back into the target language. So the French show "Dix pour cent" becomes "Appelez mon agent" (localised title for Anglophone market: "Call my agent") and the Turkish Hakan: Muhafız becomes Koruma (English: The Protector).

That's really weird, but kind of makes sense since it'd have taken them more work to write a script that detects the original language and then makes an exception by not translating them, or one that accesses a database with all the localised titles of the films in the country where the language you switch to is spoken. That could open an absolute can of worms if there are several countries where the language is spoken and the localised titles differ from each other, though, so it kind of makes sense for them to not even want to do that.
Saim wrote:It took a while for me to notice this was even happening because it also changes the title in the graphic.

...but that sounds like it's not because they're just lazy so maybe it could actually be an attempt to avoid coming across as "picking a side" or whatever, but if they're literally using English as the basis for translation into all languages, if they openly came out saying that's the reason, it probably would only open an even bigger can of worms. Well, whatever. Really interesting whatever the reason is, though.
linguoboy wrote:A FB friend asked yesterday for "Your top 5 Bio flicks" and it only dawned on me today that he means "biopics"--that is, "bio" as in "biographical", not "bio" as in "biological".

Sorry, but that made me laugh so hard I almost spit out salad I'd already swallowed. :rotfl: What is a biological film, though? Films about animals (like Two Brothers), or ones about diseases (like Contagion) or something?

EDIT because somehow I forgot to reply to this:
linguoboy wrote:A whole lot of phonemes fall together in final position. Final [t̚] can represent underlying /t/, /th/, /s/, /c/, /ch/, and even /h/. 갓, 갇, 같, and 갖 are all homophones.

Interesting, and confusing... but then, it's not really that different from Japanese gemination resulting from ; it could almost be thought of as pseudo-equivalent to a stage before that, except with more sounds...

Also, apparently there's a word in Korean that can mean both "Asia" and "Africa", 아주. :o Judging by the fact that there are two different Hanja forms, they don't have the same etymology, though? And apparently it's not the standard word for either continent, but still pretty interesting. Does it ever refer to both together?

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby aaakknu » 2019-08-30, 1:01

What is the smallest language that is not endangered? Is it possible to find this information somewhere?
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-30, 2:33

aaakknu wrote:What is the smallest language that is not endangered? Is it possible to find this information somewhere?

Honestly, I think all “small” languages are endangered. Any language without millions of monolingual speakers could experience language death in a single generation. Just look at the fates of the sublanguages of China.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-08-30, 4:51

linguoboy wrote:
aaakknu wrote:What is the smallest language that is not endangered? Is it possible to find this information somewhere?

Honestly, I think all “small” languages are endangered. Any language without millions of monolingual speakers could experience language death in a single generation. Just look at the fates of the sublanguages of China.


"Any language without millions of monolingual speakers could experience language death in a single generation" seems like an exaggeration to me. I agree that number of speakers is a factor, but I think "millions of monolingual speakers" is overstating it a bit. Icelandic has about 320,000 speakers, but I wouldn't consider it "endangered" or at all likely to "experience language death in a single generation." On the other hand Udmurt about the same number of speakers as Icelandic (in fact, slightly more: about 340,000) but is considered "threatened."

I think these factors all work together:
number of speakers
positive attitude towards language
large body of literature (native and translated) (with an agreed-upon orthography)
strong media presence (radio, television, internet, etc)
official status at a national or regional level
use of the language in education, especially at higher levels

A weakness in one of these areas can be balanced by a strength in other areas; so if a language has a relatively smaller number of speakers but has a strong community of speakers with a positive attitude about the language and/or newspapers and television programs and/or books regularly published in the language and/or has official status and/or is used in universities, etc. - any OR all of those factors - a language with a small number of speakers can have virtually no risk of being endangered, much less "experience language death in a single generation," at least not without a very profound change in circumstances having to occur first (and maybe not even then).

To use some examples that I've studied, Hmong Daw has about 1,700,000 speakers and Aymara has about 1,000,000, while Estonian has about 1,100,000. So all of them have less than "millions of monolingual speakers". None are endangered. But in many respects Estonian is in a much less precarious position than Hmong or Aymara or Udmurt because of meeting all of the criteria I listed above (except for "number of speakers" if you want to define that as "millions"). I believe the same is true of Icelandic. Hmong and Aymara and Udmurt meet fewer of those criteria and those that they meet, they meet on a much smaller scale.

Basically when looking at the status of a language (endangered, threatened, etc.) you have to look at the number of speakers but also the trend of that number (is it increasing or decreasing) AND the ways in which those speakers are using the language (are they using it in all domains or only in a limited number of contexts? And are opportunities to use the language in various contexts increasing or decreasing within the community?)

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-30, 6:47

I don't think I agree with either of you. :P 30% of the Chinese population does not speak Mandarin. The reason why non-Mandarin Chinese/Sinitic varieties are threatened isn't the number of speakers itself but rather the direction that number is going, how fast it's going that way, and the fact that the government is directly responsible. Estonian may be doing well, but Icelandic is increasingly not, despite its status as an official language, its large body of literature, its (relatively) strong media presence, and the use of Icelandic in education, because the popular attitude among the younger generation towards Icelandic is shifting negatively in large part due to competition from English-language media, e.g. on YouTube. And of course Aymara is endangered. Despite the large number of speakers, it is also facing very rapid language shift towards Spanish, and the number of native speakers is shrinking at an alarmingly fast rate. Apart from a positive attitude, these things are not what determine whether a language lives or dies. There are languages that have all of these things except (arguably) a positive attitude but are still dying, and there are languages that have been continuously thriving despite never having any of these things except a positive attitude towards the language. Language endangerment is a lot more complex than that.

Disagreements aside, though, I think all of us are getting at the fact that the problem is with the fundamental question of what an endangered language is. What counts as an endangered language, and what doesn't? Some languages are more endangered than others are. Some languages that are themselves endangered are threatening other languages! That's why it's so hard to answer aaakknu's question.
Vlürch wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I think you might be right that those first two terms you listed (次子 and 天馬) are relatively new in Chinese literature and didn't exist in Middle Chinese whereas the last two (舉人 and 霏霏) are attested in older varieties of Chinese, too.

Then, what was the old synonym for 天馬?

I tried looking it up, and I suspect 天馬 in the older literature wasn't considered a common noun, but rather the name for a kind of horse (a Ferghana horse). However, the narrators in this literature did not necessarily use the term themselves, only mentioned that this was a name for it (perhaps in the vernacular, perhaps even in a non-Chinese language).
A few more questions about Chinese characters, in case someone happened to know:
1) What do this, this, this and this mean? The first one in particular, because it looks really cool. I'd assume the second one is just a variant of 國, but is it? (Non-existent Wiktionary entries because they're "unsupported" on this forum.)
2) WTF even is this one??? Like... what?
3) Do the characters 又丶 and 亻乚 exist in Unicode? The Khitan word for "horse" apparently is composed of those (as one character), and while obviously Khitan-specific characters aren't in Unicode (yet), they just look like they should exist in Unicode separately... the first result on Google for the latter is one apparently saying it doesn't exist, but maybe it's outdated or means it's just not used in modern Chinese or something?

Is there some way that we can view any of those characters?
...and because I'm annoying and can't stop asking questions whenever anything seems even remotely interesting, I'll ask: is there any language where /r/ corresponds to the /ɽ/ or /ɖ/ of other languages? Or is it always just a correspondence between /ɽ/ and /ɖ/?

I don't understand the question.
Osias wrote:We and local news from our state say 'na Serra', but national news tend to say 'em Serra'. That's also the issue of ambiguity, serra means hills or something and 'a serra' means different things in diferent states here. So I think national news know about the article but decide to drop it anyway.

I don't understand your reasoning. Why would the fact that serra can mean different things in different states mean that national news knows you say na Serra?
Saim wrote:It's weird how if you set your Netflix display language to the language a show is in, instead of showing you the original title it retranslates the localised title back into the target language. So the French show "Dix pour cent" becomes "Appelez mon agent" (localised title for Anglophone market: "Call my agent") and the Turkish Hakan: Muhafız becomes Koruma (English: The Protector). It took a while for me to notice this was even happening because it also changes the title in the graphic.

That sounds like something they must have done on purpose.
Can't wait until I'm ready for/get around to Die Verwandlung, which I also enjoyed in school (and no-one else in my class did, they were all weirded out by how "gross" it all was).

This was in Australia?
Vlürch wrote:JSTOR says that free users can read six papers for free every month, but what if you don't read a paper in its entirety in one sitting and close the tab?

I don't think they care how much of the paper you read.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Osias » 2019-08-30, 11:30

vijayjohn wrote:
Osias wrote:We and local news from our state say 'na Serra', but national news tend to say 'em Serra'. That's also the issue of ambiguity, serra means hills or something and 'a serra' means different things in diferent states here. So I think national news know about the article but decide to drop it anyway.

I don't understand your reasoning. Why would the fact that serra can mean different things in different states mean that national news knows you say na Serra?

I doesn't. My sentence should be more like "So I think national news may actually know about the article but decide to drop it anyway (to avoid the issue)." Sorry.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-08-30, 13:35

vijayjohn wrote:I don't think I agree with either of you. :P 30% of the Chinese population does not speak Mandarin. The reason why non-Mandarin Chinese/Sinitic varieties are threatened isn't the number of speakers itself but rather the direction that number is going, how fast it's going that way, and the fact that the government is directly responsible.

Well, I can respect that you say you disagree, but based on what you wrote I don't really see what we disagree on. All the points you made above align with what I said in my post too:
Linguaphile wrote:I think these factors all work together:
number of speakers
positive attitude towards language
large body of literature (native and translated) (with an agreed-upon orthography)
strong media presence (radio, television, internet, etc)
official status at a national or regional level
use of the language in education, especially at higher levels

and
Basically when looking at the status of a language (endangered, threatened, etc.) you have to look at the number of speakers but also the trend of that number (is it increasing or decreasing) AND the ways in which those speakers are using the language (are they using it in all domains or only in a limited number of contexts? And are opportunities to use the language in various contexts increasing or decreasing within the community?)

You have to look at all of those factors and the balance between them in order to determine whether a language is or isn't endangered. Isn't that exactly what you are saying too? I also don't think there is any magic formula in which one factor (or combination of factors) over-rides all the others; you look at all those factors on a language-by-language basis.

vijayjohn wrote:Estonian may be doing well, but Icelandic is increasingly not

Okay, but "increasingly not" doesn't mean it's endangered at this point or anywhere near endangered, it just means it's not as vigorous as it once was. It also is doing quite poorly in two of the areas I mentioned above: "strong media presence" (internet, at least) and "the ways in which speakers are using the language / are opportunities to use the language in various contexts increasing within the community?". Icelandic's media/internet presence is unusually small in proportion to the other factors under discussion (i.e. other languages with the positive features Icelandic has - things like official status and use in education - tend to have a higher Internet presence than Icelandic does) and opportunities to use the language are somewhat decreasing. Those factors are pushing it in the wrong direction. Still, that doesn't make it endangered, and for a language with only 320,000 speakers it is still doing unusually well (in comparison with other languages with small numbers of speakers) because of factors other than number of speakers.

vijayjohn wrote:And of course Aymara is endangered.

This is probably the only point you made that I disagree with, but I also understand why you say it and I think the difference is just a matter of what threshold each of us are using to determine which languages we consider endangered. Apparently for you it falls below that threshold and for me it doesn't.
Out of curiosity I checked Aymara's EGIDS* status to see how it is classified under that system and was rather amused by results because Ethnologue (where I got its EGIDS status from) splits Aymara into two languages (Central Aymara and Southern Aymara) and they classify Central Aymara as "6b/Threatened" (= "The language is used for face-to-face communication within all generations, but it is losing users", but classify Southern Aymara as "6a/Vigorous" (= "The language is used for face-to-face communication by all generations and the situation is sustainable"). This latter description is basically what I was thinking of for Aymara when I stated that it is not endangered, and basically how I view Aymara's situation in general, but it seems that Ethnologue in a way agrees somewhat with both of us (one variety has vigorous use and the other is threatened), depending on which variety of Aymara is under discussion.

*EGIDS (Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale):
Image (see also Language Status here)

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-30, 21:07

Osias wrote:Sorry.

No worries!
Linguaphile wrote:You have to look at all of those factors and the balance between them in order to determine whether a language is or isn't endangered. Isn't that exactly what you are saying too?

No, I agree that it's complicated and has multiple factors, one of which is language attitudes, but I disagree on what exactly the other factors are. I don't agree that the number of speakers is one of the main factors; I think how fast the number is dropping is far more important. I think language shift is far more important. I think political pressure is far more important. The faster people speaking language X shift to speaking language Y, the faster language X will die, no matter how many people speak language X.

None of the languages spoken in the Amazon Rainforest have ever had a large number of speakers, any kind of written literature, any kind of media presence, any kind of official status, or any official use in schools, and at least some of them have long been spoken by people who don't necessarily have a positive attitude towards the language. Several of them are spoken by people who think that if you don't speak them perfectly, then you shouldn't speak them at all. Nevertheless, they have survived for what appears to have been thousands of years, and at least some of them are still spoken by people who have so little contact with the outside world that it's not at all clear that they're going to die anytime soon.
Okay, but "increasingly not" doesn't mean it's endangered at this point or anywhere near endangered, it just means it's not as vigorous as it once was.

But for that matter, not all endangered languages are equally endangered, either. That doesn't mean the endangerment of the less endangered language matters less.
Icelandic's media/internet presence is unusually small in proportion to the other factors under discussion (i.e. other languages with the positive features Icelandic has - things like official status and use in education - tend to have a higher Internet presence than Icelandic does)

Are you sure about that? How much Internet content can you find for Tok Pisin, Lithuanian, Estonian(!), or any Indian language, for example?
This is probably the only point you made that I disagree with, but I also understand why you say it and I think the difference is just a matter of what threshold each of us are using to determine which languages we consider endangered.

It's not the threshold; it's the factors. I don't think the large speaker population makes a difference when Aymara-speakers are shifting to Spanish faster than kids are starting to speak Aymara. I also think that precisely because of language shift, it's difficult to even estimate how many people actually speak Aymara. What does it even mean to speak a language when speakers of that language are being systematically attacked by speakers of another? Do they really speak Aymara, or do people who speak Aymara at all switch between Aymara and Spanish, and how long is such a situation tenable? How many people code-switch and how many don't? What determines whether they do or don't?

EDIT:
vijayjohn wrote:
Vlürch wrote:...and because I'm annoying and can't stop asking questions whenever anything seems even remotely interesting, I'll ask: is there any language where /r/ corresponds to the /ɽ/ or /ɖ/ of other languages? Or is it always just a correspondence between /ɽ/ and /ɖ/?

I don't understand the question.

Wait, I think maybe now I get what you're asking. 'Curry' in Malayalam is [kəˈri], but at least in my sister-in-law's variety of Hindi, it's [kəˈɽi].

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-08-31, 2:06

vijayjohn wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:You have to look at all of those factors and the balance between them in order to determine whether a language is or isn't endangered. Isn't that exactly what you are saying too?

No, I agree that it's complicated and has multiple factors, one of which is language attitudes, but I disagree on what exactly the other factors are. I don't agree that the number of speakers is one of the main factors; I think how fast the number is dropping is far more important. I think language shift is far more important. I think political pressure is far more important. The faster people speaking language X shift to speaking language Y, the faster language X will die, no matter how many people speak language X.

Well, I agree that those factors are more important than current number of speakers, too, and that number of current speakers isn't a main one! My list was by no means ranked in order of importance - "number of speakers" was listed at the top only because it was the (only) factor mentioned in the previous posts I was responding to, and as I already explained I think the way that number is changing is what is important about that number. I still think we're saying very similar things, but I'm not going to keep arguing with you about whether or not we're arguing. :silly:

How much Internet content can you find for Tok Pisin, Lithuanian, Estonian(!), or any Indian language, for example?

I'm not even sure if you are trying to make a point here that there isn't much or that there is a lot? I'm at a loss. Remember that "media presence" was just one element on my list of criteria and that no single element on its own is all that meaningful in my opinion.
But for Estonian (not sure if you put the exclamation point there because I speak it or for some other reason), I think you'd be quite surprised, unless the reason for the exclamation point was that you already knew the answer. It's not even a fair comparison to other languages because it's an outlier in the "high internet use" direction. Estonian has a very extensive internet presence and it's one of the factors that has facilitated my learning of the language. Lots of e-learning resources, lots of resources for language practice - online newspapers, radio programs, television shows, e-books, e-courses, archives of old materials, and so on. They are slowly (or not so slowly) digitizing just about everything. It's fantastic for language-learners who don't have much time for travel, like me. :mrgreen:
Not only that, but Estonia internet use is so integral to Estonia at this point that the country has declared free wi-fi to be something along the lines of a human right. Estonians vote online, pay taxes online, use digital id cards for nearly all transactions, Estonia was the first country in the world to offer e-residency. An April Fool's joke a few years ago (which a lot of Estonians apparently actually fell for) was to put a giant QR code with a link to a government website on the national flag. Yeah, that one was a joke, but the point is that it was believable enough that people actually thought it was true. And Estonia played a big role in the invention of Skype and plays a big role currently cyber security development, etc. Check out Wikipedia's article about E-Estonia or New Yorker article about "Estonia, the Digital Republic" (which is already a couple years old, so it's not even comprehensive), or this article in Wiredthat calls Estonia "the most advanced digital society in the world." :mrgreen: I realize I'm talking about services and apps there, not language, but all of those services and apps are in Estonian. Some are offered in English or Russian or other languages too, but it's always in addition to Estonian. So per number of speakers they actually have a disproportionately high internet presence - you can do or find just about anything on the internet in Estonian, in some cases even things I don't do online here (like voting for example).
So like I said - it's not even a fair comparison to other languages, because it's an outlier. That probably colors my expectations for other languages, too (which is probably why I literally don't know if your question was meant to point out that there is a lot out there, or that there isn't.)

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-31, 2:20

Linguaphile wrote:I still think we're saying very similar things, but I'm not going to keep arguing with you about whether or not we're arguing. :silly:

Nah, I'm willing to believe we're not. :P I can't always tell whether people are saying the same things as me or not.
I'm not even sure if you are trying to make a point here that there isn't much or that there is a lot? I'm at a loss.

That there isn't much. I'm skeptical there is much for most of the languages in the whole world, including some of the most widely spoken (and least endangered!) ones, let alone Icelandic.
not sure if you put the exclamation point there because I speak it or for some other reason

Partly because you speak it but mostly because you specifically mentioned it as a language that wasn't endangered

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2019-08-31, 6:55

If you honestly think Icelandic is endangered you’ve been reading too much generalistic press instead of actual research on language endangerment.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-08-31, 16:16

Saim wrote:If you honestly think Icelandic is endangered you’ve been reading too much generalistic press instead of actual research on language endangerment.

I presume you mean Vijay (not me?). Honestly, if Vijay really said Icelandic is endangered, I missed that and it would be another area (in addition to his claim that Aymara is endangered) in which we disagree. He did say "Icelandic increasingly isn't doing well," on the basis of its use declining in certain areas, which I believe is probably true and isn't the same as being endangered at all. Or, maybe to Vijay it is the same, but not to me.
Vijay did say that Aymara is endangered, and I disagree even with that. :wink: That doesn't mean I think Aymara's linguistic situation is fantastic or (to quote Vijay again) that it "matters less".
I suspect that my mental map of languages has more classifications than Vijay's does; mine is much like the EGIDS scale that I posted above. A language can be "threatened" or "declining" without being "endangered", and those are all bad situations, just with different degrees of optimism/pessimism for the language's future. I suspect that Vijay would classified all three situations (declining, threatened, endangered) as one category; it may just be a matter of the terminology we're using. I do not think that one "matters less" than another, I just don't think they are all the same.
I don't know a whole lot about the linguistic situation of Icelandic and I have no problem believing its use is declining to some extent, but I still consider it in one of the healthier situations for a language, given its national and official status, its body of literature, efforts of Stofnun Árna Magnússonar and Íslensk málstöð and other organizations, and so on. I wouldn't have even put it into my "declining" category, because I don't think the decline is great enough (yet) to warrant that even if it may be headed that way. I think it is still doing pretty well. That's not to say that couldn't change, though, and as I said I don't really even know enough about the linguistic situation of Icelandic to truly judge that for myself. (If I rely on Ethnologue's use of the EGIDS scale to tell me, it's currently a 1 because it's a national language, "widely used at the national level," and in the very healthy purple band on the chart. I have no reason to doubt that. Most of its speakers are bilingual/multilingual and may use English for certain purposes, but the presence of multilingualism isn't an automatic threat to a language as a whole.)

vijayjohn wrote:
not sure if you put the exclamation point there because I speak it or for some other reason

Partly because you speak it but mostly because you specifically mentioned it as a language that wasn't endangered

Well, it isn't endangered, but I mentioned it specifically because an earlier post claimed that any language without "millions" of speakers was endangered, and Estonian has just over one million (so not "millions"). That's also the reason I mentioned Icelandic: an example of a language without "millions" of speakers, which isn't endangered.

vijayjohn wrote:
I'm not even sure if you are trying to make a point here that there isn't much or that there is a lot? I'm at a loss.

That there isn't much. I'm skeptical there is much for most of the languages in the whole world, including some of the most widely spoken (and least endangered!) ones, let alone Icelandic.

I do recommend you google E-Estonia or E-Stonia - it's pretty cool. There is definitely an element of "quality over quantity" to it - you won't usually find dozens of competing Estonian-language websites for any given topic or service, but can find at least a small number of Estonian-language sites for almost anything you could think of, and sometimes the lack of excessive duplication (as there is with English-language sites) is a positive thing. So in terms of actual quantity it's nowhere near on par with English, but in terms of quality or "succinct comprehensiveness" it's pretty good. You don't need dozens of competing sites, you just need access to the information or service you're seeking. That can nearly always be done via Estonian-language sites. It would truly surprise me if I were to try to look for something online and was unable to find anything in Estonian.


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