View previous topic | View next topic

Language

Page 1 of 9
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next

whatanerd
1010929.  Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:51 am Reply with quote

I know there was a post on Lexicography, which this could potentially sneak its way into, but I was more interested in the uses of language and the etymological aspects of modern words. This was sparked by a TED-Ed set of lessons that I'd been using while pulling together some assistance for some of my ESL students.

They've clearly already done it with j-words (at which Victoria Coren was brilliant), but there are so many fascinating word developments like how "clue" went from being a ball of yarn to being something a detective uses to solve a mystery.

 
germananglophile
1024832.  Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:18 am Reply with quote

This seems more aptly placed here rather than in a post of its own:

Lapsus Linguae

From Latin, meaning "slip of the tongue"
and was earliest documented in 1668

 
julesies
1028589.  Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:48 pm Reply with quote

Here's something interesting about language. Who talks more: men or women? What most people think the answer is: women. What the real answer is: it depends.

CBS has a story about how women talk more than men and even used science to back it up (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/02/22/new-study-gives-scientific-explanation-for-why-women-talk-more-than-men/), except that the study they talk about says nothing about women talking more than men. What is does say is that for children girls develop language skills earlier than boys, and they postulate that higher levels of the protein FOXP2 in girls' brains could be the reason (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/8/3276.full). People really need to stop misinterpreting science to further their own stereotypes.

There are some bogus statistics floating around on the internet that say that women use about 20,000 words per day while men use about 7,000, but this statistic is never cited and no one is really sure where it originated or if someone just made it all up (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003420.html).

So what is the truth? The truth is that in formal settings men talk more and in casual settings it can get to about 50/50 (http://www.pbs.org/speak/speech/prejudice/women/).

Basically, gender stereotypes say that women shouldn't contribute to conversations, and because women do talk at all they are "chatty."

 
Spud McLaren
1028590.  Sun Oct 13, 2013 5:57 pm Reply with quote

julesies wrote:
Basically, gender stereotypes say that women shouldn't contribute to conversations, and because women do talk at all they are "chatty."
But wouldn't it be a much duller world if women didn't contribute to conversations?


Filthy-minded harpies.

;-)

 
CharliesDragon
1028592.  Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:12 pm Reply with quote

julesies wrote:
Basically, gender stereotypes say that women shouldn't contribute to conversations, and because women do talk at all they are "chatty."


*Insert feminist rant, I'm too tired/sick to actually make one*

But the strange thing is that when learning the bogus statistic, I suddenly become very aware and partially ashamed of how much I talk, although it's not just gossip and black-painting others (it's very rarely that unless someone gets on my nerves). I hardly spoke at all until I was seventeen, I was anxious of being noticed and I became much happier when I learned that talking in a group isn't dangerous. Still, with that bogus statistic hinting at talking a lot was a feminine trait, I wanted to stop, because at some level I still think everything to do with feminity is bad.

There's also some statistic of how much students talk in class and how much the teacher percieve them to talk, based on genders.

 
julesies
1028708.  Mon Oct 14, 2013 6:17 pm Reply with quote

CharliesDragon wrote:
at some level I still think everything to do with feminity is bad.


Yeah, this drives me crazy. I sometimes still find myself considering girly to be synonymous with bad or shallow. Fundamentally it really isn't, though.

Back to languages, I found something else interesting. This article (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-understand-the-deep-structures-of-language) goes into the structure of language and why some languages are subject-verb-object (SVO) languages (like English) while others are SOV languages (like Japanese) which generally use specific words to mark the subject vs the object (e.g. ga, wa, and o in Japanese). The entire article is fascinating (read it!), but here is one really awesome experiment the author describes:

"They presented people with simple scenes, such as where a girl kicks a ball, and asked them to describe the scene in gestures (no speaking allowed). Most people described (in gesture) the girl first, then the ball, then the kicking action -- that is, they used an SOV order. Of course, when the kicking event involves a girl and a ball, there isn't much question about who did the kicking.

"The researchers also asked people to describe in gestures an event in which a girl kicked a boy. Since both boys and girls are capable of kicking, it's very possible to be confused about who kicked who. And now participants were much more likely to describe (in gesture) the girl, then the kicking event, and then the boy -- that is, they switched to an SVO order. This was true (with a few complications which you can read about in the paper) whether the participant was a native speaker of English (an SVO language) or a native speaker of Korean or Japanese (SOV languages)."

I think it's so cool that people described things in the same order whether they were a native speaker of a SOV language or a native speaker of a SVO language.

EDIT: The author of the article is has language games on his website (http://www.gameswithwords.org/index.html), the results of which are used in research. They're for fun and for science!

 
chrisboote
1028829.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:14 am Reply with quote

Question: Name a language with no verbs
Forfeit: Korean (this seems to be one of those 'facts' that appeared in pub quizzes around the mid-late '80s and hes never been completely quashed)
Actually, the verb is the only required (and immovable - it must come last) element of a Korean sentence
Correct answer: HTML
Unlike most programming languages, a Markup Language doesn't require structures that equate to verbs

 
suze
1028940.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:10 am Reply with quote

I have to say that I've never heard the assertion that Korean has no verbs; I must have spent my life at the wrong pub quizzes!

You'll sometimes here the claim that Scottish Gaelic has no verbs. It's not really true, but what is true is that only two verbs (both of which are equivalent to "to be") have a finite present tense.

In English we can say Suze is talking or Suze talks, and they don't mean exactly the same thing. In French, and as most will have learned in school, we must say Suze parle; Suze est parlant is not a form that exists. But in Scottish Gaelic it's the other way about; Tha Suze ag radh (literally "Is Suze a' talking") is the only way to say it.


It is possible to claim that Chinese has no adjectives; one uses a stative verb instead. So instead of "the red car", one says "the car that-be-reds", using a verb which means "to-be-red".

 
julesies
1028999.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:46 pm Reply with quote

Another interesting thing about Chinese is that it doesn't have words like yes or no. Instead they either repeat the positive form of the verb/predicate (for yes) or the negative (for no). For example (in Cantonese):

你有冇㕵㕵狗呀?(Nei yau mou wou wou gau aa?) = Do you have a dog?*
To answer yes: 有。(Yau) (Literally "Have.")
To answer no: 冇。(Mou) (Literally "Don't have.")

Or

O唔OK呀?(O m OK aa?) = Is it OK?
To answer yes: OK。
To answer no: 唔OK。(m OK.) (Literally "Not OK.")

*I also used the adorable term for a dog: 㕵㕵狗 (wou wou gau). It's like calling a dog a woof woof dog.

 
ali
1029039.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:58 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
It is possible to claim that Chinese has no adjectives; one uses a stative verb instead. So instead of "the red car", one says "the car that-be-reds", using a verb which means "to-be-red".



I can't speak about Chinese, but a similar phenomenon occurs in Samoan (though only for predicative adjectives). So:

The big fish -> 'O le i'a tele. ('o le = the, i'a=fish, tele= big), but
The fish is big -> Ua tele le i'a (Ua=stative present tense marker, tele=verb(to be big), le=the, i'a=fish)

Also, while Samoan clearly does have verbs, certain sentences do not employ them - specifically equative sentences. So:

Sione is a doctor -> 'O Sione 'o le foma'i.
The cake is a lie ->'O le keke 'o le pepelo.

 
suze
1029047.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:24 pm Reply with quote

I should really have written the Chinese sentence as "Car that-be-reds", since Chinese has no definite article. Which I knew very well if I'd actually thought, so thanks to the person who pointed it out!

Those Samoan constructions are interesting. Is it simply the case that Samoan lacks the "to be" verb? Quite a few languages have the verb but often omit it. Inuktitut is one such; Russian is another but only in the present tense. So ona studentka = "she is a student", but ona byla studentka = "she was a student".

Turkish doesn't have the "to be" verb as such, but instead expresses it by means of a suffix which some construe as a case ending. The example usually quoted involves the blueness of the sea; deniz mavi means "blue sea", but deniz mavidir means "the sea is blue".

American Sign Language just straight out doesn't have a "to be" verb.

 
julesies
1029049.  Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:55 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Quite a few languages have the verb but often omit it. Inuktitut is one such; Russian is another but only in the present tense. So ona studentka = "she is a student", but ona byla studentka = "she was a student".


I found a map of this lack of "to be" phenomenon! Unfortunately, it only shows languages in which copulas are optional for nouns/nominals only not adjectives/adjectivals. A description of the map: "This map shows the areal distribution of zero copula encoding for predicate nominals. That is, the map indicates whether a given language is like English, in which predicate nominals always require an overt copula (Moscow is a city), or rather like Russian, in which omission of the copula is allowed for at least some constructions (Moscow city)." Map: http://wals.info/feature/120A?tg_format=map&v1=cd00&v2=cccc

I don't like their use of the word "impossible" though, because they say in Japanese it's impossible to drop the copula in predicate nominals, but women often drop the "da" in casual speech. For example: 本当だよ。hontou da yo. (It's true.) vs 本当よ。hontou yo. (It's true.)

 
ali
1029094.  Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:32 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:


Those Samoan constructions are interesting. Is it simply the case that Samoan lacks the "to be" verb? Quite a few languages have the verb but often omit it. Inuktitut is one such; Russian is another but only in the present tense. So ona studentka = "she is a student", but ona byla studentka = "she was a student".

Turkish doesn't have the "to be" verb as such, but instead expresses it by means of a suffix which some construe as a case ending. The example usually quoted involves the blueness of the sea; deniz mavi means "blue sea", but deniz mavidir means "the sea is blue".

American Sign Language just straight out doesn't have a "to be" verb.


Samoan has an impersonal existential verb (i ai) which means (according to context) 'there is' or 'there are', but no copula verb.

 
Spud McLaren
1029095.  Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:33 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
American Sign Language just straight out doesn't have a "to be" verb.
I don't think British Sign language does either.

When I was learning at Stage I the teacher (herself profoundly deaf without speech) wrote on the board "Where will she?" and was baffled when I told her the correct construction was "Where will she be?"

 
RLDavies
1029124.  Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:34 am Reply with quote

(Ancient) Egyptian has deep connections between adjectives and verbs. Any adjective can be used as a verb simply by placing it in the verb position. It's possible that there were vowel changes involved, but the Egyptians didn't write vowels so we can only speculate.

Given hmt, "woman", and nfr, "beautiful":
hmt nfr = (the) beautiful woman
nfr hmt = The woman is beautiful.

The usual word for "to be" is iw, but this is not necessarily used. Using iw gives the sentence a certain amount of emphasis and makes it stand out as a major topic. Without iw, the sentence is less important and is often best translated as a subsidiary clause.

iw ra m pt = The sun is in the sky.
ra m pt = and the sun is in the sky, when the sun is in the sky, the sun being in the sky, let the sun be in the sky, etc.

 

Page 1 of 9
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group