Random language thread 6

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Vlürch
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2020-04-19, 17:26

Saim wrote:Why do so many resources on Mandarin tones for beginners insist on comparing them to English intonation? Does anyone actually find this helpful? I found "tone 2 is like when you're asking a question" actively damaging, IMO it made me listen for the wrong cues.

I don't know, but earlier today I found this Finnish guide to Mandarin pronunciation that says to just ignore tones as pronouncing them is implied to be an unrealistic goal. :lol: It's meant for pronunciation of names, so I guess it's not as big a deal, but still.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Naava » 2020-04-19, 20:43

Vlürch wrote:
Saim wrote:Why do so many resources on Mandarin tones for beginners insist on comparing them to English intonation? Does anyone actually find this helpful? I found "tone 2 is like when you're asking a question" actively damaging, IMO it made me listen for the wrong cues.

I don't know, but earlier today I found this Finnish guide to Mandarin pronunciation that says to just ignore tones as pronouncing them is implied to be an unrealistic goal. :lol: It's meant for pronunciation of names, so I guess it's not as big a deal, but still.

IMO there's a difference between lowering your expectations when the general population are instructed how to pronounce a few foreign names they might see somewhere, and giving weird or even misleading advice to actual language learners. I doubt any book (Finnish or not) aimed at learners would tell them to ignore the tones.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Yasna » 2020-04-24, 1:33

Ein Buch muß die Axt sein für das gefrorene Meer in uns. - Kafka

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Johanna » 2020-04-24, 2:08


Damn, that guy's Spanish is easy to understand! I don't think I would have gotten much more from seeing the entire thing in writing, and I haven't heard much spoken Spanish at all since I graduated high school, 16 years ago, and even then I often found people speaking way too fast for me to follow, even when they did have an accent that didn't aspirate /s/ in a bunch of places or such.

Sure, he probably speaks faster and enunciates a bit less carefully outside of lectures, but the target audience for that video aren't students of Spanish, but native speakers of it learning about Quechua.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-29, 20:07

Linguaphile wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I'm willing to take your word on Estonian, but I think even languages with a lot more speakers than Estonian are worse off on the Internet in some ways.

Well, definitely. That's the point I was trying to make about Estonian being the one that's an outlier in that area. It's not really a fair comparison because Estonia's internet presence is disproportionately high given the number of speakers the language has.

vijayjohn wrote:You can't even access eBay in Switzerland in French or Italian, only German, even though all three are both official in Switzerland and widely spoken in several countries (not that that has implications on whether French or Italian are endangered, though). Apparently, Amazon used to have the same problem.

Are those even good examples of a language's internet presence, though? I mean, both eBay and Amazon are multinational, but they are American companies. They probably weren't developed by people who had any understanding of the idea that a country would have multiple official languages and at first didn't envision (or understand) the need to have that capability. That may not be a good excuse, but it's also not a symptom of a language not having a good internet presence; it's more a symptom of a foreign company not adapting itself well to a country's internal needs.
There's also the fact that on a site like eBay, even if parts of the site are translated into other languages, the item descriptions are still going to be written by individual sellers who speak one language or another and are probably not translated, no matter what the company's overall intentions are.
Honestly, I don't know if you can access eBay or Amazon in Estonian in Estonia either. But I know there are similar Estonian companies whose sites are entirely in Estonian, just not necessarily those two American companies. In Estonia they are more popular than either eBay or Amazon. That's the kind of thing I was thinking of: sites made by speakers of the language themselves, not necessarily American sites translated into the language.

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

Actually I haven't read either. :P I did once see an Icelander worry that the death of Icelandic was imminent, though. I don't really think it is, and he also admitted that Icelanders are alarmist so he was surely exaggerating, but I don't think his worries are completely unfounded, either, and he explained why he was worried. So no, I don't think it's endangered per se.

vijayjohn wrote:
Linguaphile wrote: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.

That could be. I'm not very good at telling how close to death a language is (if that makes sense), but I agree with you. Mostly I'm just sick of other people failing to understand that languages can be badly off even if they're not literally on their last legs.

(EDIT:) I get that, but to me my reaction to it is more the other way around... if we were to categorize a language like Icelandic and a language such as Votic in the same category, it gives people the impression that the situation with a truly endangered language like Votic (or any other critically endangered language) is stronger than actually it is. I mean, people who don't even know much about languages may have seen that the local bookstore has Teach Yourself Icelandic books on its shelves and crime novels by Arnaldur Indriðason translated from Icelandic, and they know Icelandic is the national language of Iceland, and that it has words like Eyjafjallajökull, and so on. So it has a presence, albeit a very small one, even in decidedly non-Icelandic-speaking areas like the one I live in. That situation is worlds away form being in the same category as Votic, which has about 20 native speakers. Categorizing them together can actually reinforce that lack of understanding about languages that you mentioned, making people think "well, if Icelandic is threatened and this language I've never heard of is in the same situation, it's probably not really so bad for that language either, because I know [insert random facts here] about Icelandic and that doesn't seem so bad. I wonder how many books the local bookstore has translated from [critically endangered language]...."
Right, but how would Faeroese look if you used this viewpoint? Would it even be visible on your map? :hmm:
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-04-29, 20:27

Dormouse559 wrote:
Luís wrote:Apparently in Canada "hydro" refers to an electricity supplier (because hydroelectric plants are popular?)

I'd say it's normal to refer to hydroelectric power as "hydro" in the U.S. as well, especially when the context of electricity generation has already been established.

EDIT: Ah, I didn't know about the broader meaning you meant. I haven't encountered that one in the states.

No it's because Hydro Canada is a water utility company and is used colloquially to refer to hydroelectric fueled water (electric-dams). Then you get did you pay your hydro? for did you pay your water bill?

This is because everybody, or nearly everybody gets their water from this company in all cities across the country
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-04-29, 21:39

Gormur wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:
Luís wrote:Apparently in Canada "hydro" refers to an electricity supplier (because hydroelectric plants are popular?)

I'd say it's normal to refer to hydroelectric power as "hydro" in the U.S. as well, especially when the context of electricity generation has already been established.

EDIT: Ah, I didn't know about the broader meaning you meant. I haven't encountered that one in the states.

No it's because Hydro Canada is a water utility company and is used colloquially to refer to hydroelectric fueled water (electric-dams). Then you get did you pay your hydro? for did you pay your water bill?

This is because everybody, or nearly everybody gets their water from this company in all cities across the country

At the risk of again putting my foot in my mouth, I edited my post seven months ago because I checked Wiktionary and found this definition of "hydro":

Wiktionary wrote:(Canada, uncountable) electrical power supply; specifically, electrical power provided by a utility (as a publicly-owned one); payment or bills for this.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Sarabi » 2020-05-01, 9:34

Jeg forstår ikke hva formålet med denne gruppen er... å snakke om tilfeldige språk eller å snakke tilfeldige språk? Eller begge opsjoner? Jeg ser man snakker bare på engelsk her, men jeg vil ikke bruke morsmålet mitt.

Kanskje burde jeg å snakke om frisisk fordi jeg har studert litt på denne nettsiden: Lær Frisisk. Det er sagt at frisisk er språket som ligner mest engelsk, men jeg kunne ikke se det da jeg brukte det nettstedet. Etter min mening, det ser ut som en blanding mellom tysk og nederlansk. Der ser ikke ut som engelsk i det hele tatt. :o
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-05-01, 14:28

Dormouse559 wrote:
Gormur wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:
Luís wrote:Apparently in Canada "hydro" refers to an electricity supplier (because hydroelectric plants are popular?)

I'd say it's normal to refer to hydroelectric power as "hydro" in the U.S. as well, especially when the context of electricity generation has already been established.

EDIT: Ah, I didn't know about the broader meaning you meant. I haven't encountered that one in the states.

No it's because Hydro Canada is a water utility company and is used colloquially to refer to hydroelectric fueled water (electric-dams). Then you get did you pay your hydro? for did you pay your water bill?

This is because everybody, or nearly everybody gets their water from this company in all cities across the country

At the risk of again putting my foot in my mouth, I edited my post seven months ago because I checked Wiktionary and found this definition of "hydro":

Wiktionary wrote:(Canada, uncountable) electrical power supply; specifically, electrical power provided by a utility (as a publicly-owned one); payment or bills for this.


I was just saying it's ubiquitous. It kind of reminds me of those drink machines you see in Canada that are labelled pop machine
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-05-01, 14:54

Gormur wrote:I was just saying it's ubiquitous. It kind of reminds me of those drink machines you see in Canada that are labelled pop machine

You also said it refers to water bills, when any indication I can find says it's for electricity bills. That's my point.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-05-01, 15:26

Dormouse559 wrote:
Gormur wrote:I was just saying it's ubiquitous. It kind of reminds me of those drink machines you see in Canada that are labelled pop machine

You also said it refers to water bills, when any indication I can find says it's for electricity bills. That's my point.
Maybe I'm mixed up. I tend to think of hydroelectricity as water-generated power, but I suppose there could be other ways of doing it. Although in Canada they mainly or exclusively use dams :hmm:
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2020-05-01, 15:33

Gormur wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:
Gormur wrote:I was just saying it's ubiquitous. It kind of reminds me of those drink machines you see in Canada that are labelled pop machine

You also said it refers to water bills, when any indication I can find says it's for electricity bills. That's my point.
Maybe I'm mixed up. I tend to think of hydroelectricity as water-generated power, but I suppose there could be other ways of doing it. Although in Canada they mainly or exclusively use dams :hmm:

You are mixed up: a water bill is a bill you get for personal usage of water. This is money you pay to have water piped into your house for cooking, cleaning, etc. An electricity bill is a bill you get for personal use of electricity. It doesn't matter how that electricity is generated--hydroelectric, nuclear, coal-fired plants, gerbils in a wheel--it's still just an "electricity bill".
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Vlürch » 2020-05-08, 20:12

Apparently, the Old Iranian word *pari-štā- meaning "standing around" is where Persian (fa) پرستیدن (parastidan) meaning "to worship" originated from, which is coincidentally similar to Kazakh (kk) періште and Turkmen (tk) perişte, which are borrowings of Persian (fa) فرشته (ferešte), meaning "angel". I think that's kind of interesting considering angels are generally not worshipped, but like, the words weren't that similar at the same time or in the same language so yeah.

...I mean, this is the random language thread.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2020-06-01, 11:38

Saim wrote:It's kind of annoying me that Serbo-Croatian speakers conflate pitch contour and vowel length when talking about the language's pitch accent system.

One Quora answer gives this list of "minimal pairs" for pitch accent:

pȁra (vapour) vs. pàra (money) - starting off well, the first one has falling pitch and the second one rising pitch


Besides para↑ (money) - para↓ (vapour), there are a couple of other minimal pairs, but they're mostly for word forms rather than distinct headwords.

biti (to beat) - biti (to be) are both falling in the infinitive, but are different in the feminine singular past form:

bila↑ je (she was) - bila↓ je (she beat)

This makes sense since in Russian (би́ла) and Ukrainian (би́ла) "she beat" is stressed on the first syllable, and "she was" (uk. була́, ru. была́) is stressed on the last syllable.

Also for the different forms of "jesam" (I am [emphatic]), there are two that are only distinguishable by tone:

on/ona/ono jeste↓ (he/she/it is) - vi/Vi jeste↑ (you [pl./formal] are)

All the other forms (jesam, jesi, jesmo, jesu) have a rising accent, like the form for "vi". This is strange since the rising accent generally marks a historical change in stress placement, and I can't imagine these forms ever being stressed on the personal suffix since they were originally clitics as far as I'm aware (and still exist as clitics, jest + suffix is emphatic whereas the clitics are unstressed).
Last edited by Saim on 2020-06-22, 11:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Saim » 2020-06-12, 13:18

Disdain towards conlangs may be silly and misinformed but it's not linguistic prejudice. Change my mind.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Gormur » 2020-06-14, 18:02

I see conlangs like I see computer science. I don't understand a word of it :hmm: :wink:

It bugs me when hei hei is used on the phone. It doesn't have any meaning to me so I'm left frustrated. I tend to use adjø or vi sees. Lucky for me nobody has used hei hei with me because I wouldn't know when to hang up

I wonder what hei hei would translate to. High-ho? :lol:
Eigi gegnir þat at segja at bók nøkkur er hreinferðug eðr ønnur spelluð því at vandliga ok dáliga eru bœkr ritnar ok annat kunnum vér eigi um þœr at dœma

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Brzeczyszczykiewicz » 2020-06-15, 1:34

Well, well, well, it turns out that there are three words in Hawaiian for "clitoris": keʻo, iʻoʻiʻo and kanaka. Perhaps not particularly impressive, though it's always nice to have a wide choice; not to mention that iʻoʻiʻo has got to be one of the most beautiful ways to call the little sweetie pie. :mrgreen: 8-)

It's also curious that kanaka can mean "person, human being", as well. :hmm:

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-16, 15:17

In one of my library groups, someone asked for a cover term for fiction in languages other than English that sounded "more inclusive" than "Foreign Languages". I suggested "Languages Other Than English", since that's literally the criteria for inclusion, but the consensus was for "World Languages". I can accept that that has a peculiar meaning in (USAmerican) libraries, but it just grates on me. English is a "world language"; Swedish--for all the wordliness of its speakers--is not. Using the term in this way is just as Anglocentric as "Foreign Languages" is.
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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby Linguaphile » 2020-06-16, 15:59

linguoboy wrote:In one of my library groups, someone asked for a cover term for fiction in languages other than English that sounded "more inclusive" than "Foreign Languages". I suggested "Languages Other Than English", since that's literally the criteria for inclusion, but the consensus was for "World Languages". I can accept that that has a peculiar meaning in (USAmerican) libraries, but it just grates on me. English is a "world language"; Swedish--for all the wordliness of its speakers--is not. Using the term in this way is just as Anglocentric as "Foreign Languages" is.

"Languages Other Than English" may make the most sense in terms of "yeah, that's what they are", but I understand the logic of preferring "World Languages" over "Foreign Languages" and even over "Languages Other Than English".
"World Languages" is preferred in schools here, for example. They don't have "Foreign Language" departments, they have "World Language" departments. In schools the reasoning is that those departments include courses for native speakers of those languages. Even if the course isn't designed for native speakers, that still doesn't mean it's a "foreign language" to everyone who takes the course. In a library, the reasoning would be that those books are likely not "foreign languages" to many of the people who are reading them.
You're right, logically English should be included among "world languages" too, but the use of "World Languages" to mean "languages spoken elsewhere in the world [outside English-speaking countries]" is common and generally viewed as inclusive. It may be Anglocentric in the sense that English excludes itself from the category, but any patron of the library is going to be aware of the fact that the books in other languages are a subcategory which, I presume, is significantly smaller than the set of books in English. Terminology doesn't change that. At least the term "World Languages" does not presume that the language of the books is "foreign" to those reading them (which tbh could be taken to mean that those who read them as a native language are also "foreign" themselves). (Hmmm.... does the terminology "Languages Other Than English" therefore imply that those who read them as their native language are "other"?) :hmm:
Anyway "World Languages" is a very common and generally-accepted terminology.
Also, the terminology "World Languages" allows for this: if you have some languages for which you do have a large collection, you could also make it its own subset (Libros en español, 中文书籍, etc). that doesn't need to be grouped under the heading "World Languages" or whatever terminology you choose. In that case "World Languages" means "languages spoken elsewhere in the world [outside English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and Chinese-speaking countries]". Some libraries do this. My local library does and it also has a "Southeast Asian Languages" section, which groups several languages together (Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, Mienh, etc). That's because they don't have a very large collection for any of those languages but taken together they do make a sizable collection; additionally, many local speakers of those languages can read more than one of them, so having them together in the same place is useful to those speakers. If the library consisted of the "main collection" and "languages other than English," it would not make as much sense to do that sort of thing.

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Re: Random language thread 6

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-16, 16:15

Residential segregation in Chicago is such that most libraries here serve particular languages communities, so there's not much call for a general "not English" category rather than specific categories for each language. Lumping languages together regionally makes more sense to me than a single catch-all category. They could at least group them into "European Languages" and "Asian Languages" (and "African Languages", too, if warranted). Under that rubric, a "World Languages" category apart from English might make sense for languages that are widely spoken on multiple continents.

One of the proposed solutions was interfiling the non-English titles. This seems reasonable to me if most of the patrons interested in them are L1 speakers of English looking for reading in their target languages, but I would find it extremely inconvenient to have to browse the entire fiction section in the hopes of finding a few volumes in a particular non-English language.

In academic settings, when there aren't separate departments for particular languages or language families, it's most common to have a department of "Modern Languages" and possibly an "Ancient Languages" department, though more often those languages are incorporated into "Classics" and/or "Biblical Studies".
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