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  1. - Top - End - #451
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    It's pretty unusual for Europe. In fact, other than Celtic languages, the majority of Indo-European languages use SOV or SVO. There's nothing wrong with VSO, but it doesn't make learning the language any easier.
    I can't imagine someone that's said that did much research.
    Possibly not. If I recall rightly, I saw that in a commentary on Joyce. It wasn't from a linguistic expert, but it wasn't a complete nobody either.
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  2. - Top - End - #452
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    It's pretty unusual for Europe. In fact, other than Celtic languages, the majority of Indo-European languages use SOV or SVO. There's nothing wrong with VSO, but it doesn't make learning the language any easier.
    Indo-European languages are actually a bit of an oddity. They have a mix of traits, some correlated with SVO/VSO languages, and others with SOV languages. From what I know, basic syntax tends to place the indirect objects and obliques last, which is a Verb-Object trait. But they'll also have adjectives before nouns and adverbs before verbs, which is an Object-Verb trait.
    Compare:
    Gave happily / she / ball red / to him / for Christmas <- A clear Verb-Object language
    She / happily gave / red ball / to him / for Christmas <- English
    She / Christmas for / him to / red ball / happily gave <- A clear Object-Verb language
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    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    Indo-European languages are actually a bit of an oddity. They have a mix of traits, some correlated with SVO/VSO languages, and others with SOV languages. From what I know, basic syntax tends to place the indirect objects and obliques last, which is a Verb-Object trait. But they'll also have adjectives before nouns and adverbs before verbs, which is an Object-Verb trait.
    Compare:
    Gave happily / she / ball red / to him / for Christmas <- A clear Verb-Object language
    She / happily gave / red ball / to him / for Christmas <- English
    She / Christmas for / him to / red ball / happily gave <- A clear Object-Verb language
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    German-speakers, do any of y'all know if there's a reason that in German syllables, the coda (that is, the consonants after the nuclear vowel or consonant) is always voiced?
    For example, Hund is pronounced [hunt], and apparently you never see a word that could be pronounced [hund]?
    I find this fascinating, considering that a major part of English is the unvoiced coda, as in the past-tense "shunned" [S^nd].
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  5. - Top - End - #455
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    It... is? I just tried it a few times. "Hunt" and "Hund" are definitely prounced in different ways. "Hund" does not have a "t".

    Or am I simply not getting what you mean?

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Huh, my linguistics book claims that "voiced obstruents are prohibited in codas. That's why the german word for 'dog', Hund, is pronounced [hunt]."

    Might it be a dialectic difference?
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    It... is? I just tried it a few times. "Hunt" and "Hund" are definitely prounced in different ways. "Hund" does not have a "t".

    Or am I simply not getting what you mean?
    I've tried it myself, it's true. I'd say hunt, not hund. Try it with Danke, and then apply the same d to the ending of Hund, it sounds forced. Hunde, on the other hand...
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    Quote Originally Posted by GolemsVoice View Post
    I've tried it myself, it's true. I'd say hunt, not hund. Try it with Danke, and then apply the same d to the ending of Hund, it sounds forced. Hunde, on the other hand...
    Nope, sorry. Not even remotely. It's a "d".

  9. - Top - End - #459
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    I would say T is a more forceful pronounciation than D. It works almost the same, but T has an added strong exhalation.
    You can string together D-sound almost indefinitly, like "Dadadadadadadada...". Doesn't work with T though, as you get "Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta" wth clear breaks between them, or you don't get a T sound at all.
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  10. - Top - End - #460
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    Huh, my linguistics book claims that "voiced obstruents are prohibited in codas. That's why the german word for 'dog', Hund, is pronounced [hunt]."

    Might it be a dialectic difference?
    I thought the bigger difference would be on the pronunciation of the u, rather than the d/t difference. In German, the "u" is more pronounced like an English "oo". Not exactly the same, but much closer than the English "uh". At least, in the specific case of Hund.
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  11. - Top - End - #461
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Nope, sorry. Not even remotely. It's a "d".
    Maybe we have different dialects, or just different ways of speaking then. Hm, interesting.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    I thought the bigger difference would be on the pronunciation of the u, rather than the d/t difference. In German, the "u" is more pronounced like an English "oo". Not exactly the same, but much closer than the English "uh". At least, in the specific case of Hund.
    Yes, but that's just a change in what letter represents what sound. In IPA [u] represents that "oo" sound. "Boot" in english would be written [but] for example.

    It's notable because the "German words always ending in [t] not [d]" is a phonological rule, while the fact that German uses the same symbol for a different sound is just an orthographical coincidence.

    Eldan, I'm thinking that your having voiced stops at the end of a syllable might be a Swiss rule? If it's like that in Swiss German, than it'll probably carry over into your pronounciation of Standard German.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I have no idea. I mean, I'm not even sure what voiced or not voiced even mean. I just know what sound I think "t" makes, and what sound "d" is supposed to make, and Hund has the latter. Which is why it's written that way.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    I have no idea. I mean, I'm not even sure what voiced or not voiced even mean. I just know what sound I think "t" makes, and what sound "d" is supposed to make, and Hund has the latter. Which is why it's written that way.

    Voiced is when your voice box constricts. If you touch your adams apple (or just your throat if you're a girl), you'll feel it vibrate strongly for voiced sounds, but hardly at all for unvoiced sounds.

    If what you're saying is true, than you should be able to feel your voicebox vibrate during the "d" of Hund.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Hm. Don't feel a vibration for either. But it moves up and down once during a D and not at all during a T.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    [d] is voiced and [t] is unvoiced. In English at least, there is no meaningful difference between [t] and [th] though (or other voiceless stops and their aspirated versions).

    Example with p: the /p/ sound in "pit" is different from the /p/ in spit - they are both voiceless bilabial stops, but the former is aspirated and the latter isn't. If you record them and then strip off the s in "spit", many people will say it sounds closer to "bit".

    English doesn't rely on the difference between aspirated and non-aspirated versions for meaning (that is, there aren't words that only have that aspiration difference to distinguish one word from another) and even lack having one or the other version in certain positions, but other languages can. "Tao", I understand, is sometimes transliterated as "Dao" because the initial /t/ is non-aspirated and English speakers trying to transliterate have trouble telling the difference as non-aspirated stops don't really occur in word-initial positions, so it sounds somewhere between /t/ and /d/.

    Likewise, it's possible that word-final position in German might have a voiced->unvoiced, non-aspirated rule going on (at least, it's a possibility - I don't know German phonological rules in much detail).

    It might also just be difficult to tell the difference between voiced and unvoiced stops if there is no other sounds following them.

    Just my semi-rambling take on things.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingTarget View Post
    English doesn't rely on the difference between aspirated and non-aspirated versions for meaning (that is, there aren't words that only have that aspiration difference to distinguish one word from another) and even lack having one or the other version in certain positions, but other languages can.
    The difference just between a D and a T usually doesn't change the meaning of a word in German either, but quite often you don't have only a single sound that is pronounced in an unfamiliar way, but a number of them.
    Areas where people do not distinguish between d/t and p/b are notorious for non-locals constantly understanding completely different things than the locals say.

    My parents once got totaly lost when visiting my uncle in Saxony after asking a local for directions. Because they were looking for a sports wear shop called "Sport Kaiser" while the landmark was actually a brnach of the omnipresent german bank "Sparkasse". But to nonlocals the way the Saxons pronounce either seem identical.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    A friend of mine went to Frankfurt a few years ago, and was working with a local engineer on a project. He, in turn, had to consult with a third engineer on the phone, and that one was Bavarian. Total communication breakdown. Until the local guy was heard saying in exasperation:

    "Was? ...Was? ...WAS? ...Wolfgang, please! IN ENGLISH!"

    ...aaand communication between the two Germans was restored.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    A friend of mine went to Frankfurt a few years ago, and was working with a local engineer on a project. He, in turn, had to consult with a third engineer on the phone, and that one was Bavarian. Total communication breakdown. Until the local guy was heard saying in exasperation:

    "Was? ...Was? ...WAS? ...Wolfgang, please! IN ENGLISH!"

    ...aaand communication between the two Germans was restored.
    reminds me of my father's first trip to China, with an English colleague and friend. My father speaks a rather broken english..very Italian, if you see what I mean.
    The Englishman could not make himself understood in any way by the locals who supposedly spoke English... so my father had to translate from proper English to his version of it..and that kind of worked with the English they spoke in China at the time.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Non-native English is a big thing, apparently. When I took my Cambridge course, there were a few pages in the end on common trends in non-native English. There are some trends that come up with people from radically different languages when they speak simple English.

    One I remember was the replacement of adverbs by adjectives, but there were more.

  21. - Top - End - #471
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    One I remember was the replacement of adverbs by adjectives, but there were more.
    Adjectives replacing adverbs in speech is apparently also a trend among many young native speakers in North America, though I haven't heard it at all here in the UK.

    Edit: I should probably give an example or two. I'm thinking of expressions like 'real cute' or 'dead serious'.
    Last edited by Goosefeather; 2012-09-24 at 05:30 PM.

  22. - Top - End - #472
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    Now I have to start digging again what adverbs and adjectives are...
    Quote Originally Posted by dehro View Post
    The Englishman could not make himself understood in any way by the locals who supposedly spoke English... so my father had to translate from proper English to his version of it..and that kind of worked with the English they spoke in China at the time.
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    Last edited by Yora; 2012-09-25 at 11:18 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Now I have to start digging again what adverbs and adjectives are...
    Pretty simple at the basic level--adverbs modity verbs, and adjectives modify nouns.

    So in the 1st example Goosefeather gives, instead of saying, "She's real cute" technically it should be "She's really cute" because cute is part of the verb phrase "is cute" in that sentence, and "really" is the adverb form of the adjective "real".

    I'm not quite sure about the 2nd example, though. "Dead" in that case is used as an adverb modifying the verb phrase "is dead" in the sentence, "I'm dead serious". I'm not sure that it counts as using an adjective as an adverb, though. The problem here is something that I mentioned earlier--the concept of parts of speech doens't suit the English language particularly well. The use of "real" as an adverb in place of "really" is a neologism, I think. But the use of "dead" as an adverb isn't anything new, as best as I can tell. "Dead" can be a noun, adjective, or adverb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    A friend of mine went to Frankfurt a few years ago, and was working with a local engineer on a project. He, in turn, had to consult with a third engineer on the phone, and that one was Bavarian. Total communication breakdown. Until the local guy was heard saying in exasperation:

    "Was? ...Was? ...WAS? ...Wolfgang, please! IN ENGLISH!"

    ...aaand communication between the two Germans was restored.
    Another story I remember hearing was a new shipping company with branches in Italy, Holland and Germany - they decided to use English exclusively for all inter-branch communications so that they would be all equally inconvenienced.

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    Dead serious is a form of the phrase "deadly serious", I think. At least, I would imagine that's where it would come from. Nobody really says "deadly serious" though...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    Dead serious is a form of the phrase "deadly serious", I think. At least, I would imagine that's where it would come from. Nobody really says "deadly serious" though...
    Sure. My point was, though, that using "dead" instead of "deadly" in this context isn't a recent development, whereas using "real" as an adverb in place of "really" seems to be.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Adverbs have always had a funny not-so-different relationship with adjectives in English. The only difference, morphologically, in Old English was a terminal -e, and in Middle English things became less defined, as a terminal -e could signal a weak adjective or an adverb, and several adverbs and adjectives ended in -liche/-ly.

    Using adjectives as adverbs and vice versa isn't really that odd, given the relationship. And it can add certain shades of meaning that aren't present otherwise. I'd get a (very slight, but tangible) different sense if presented with "He's a shrewd fellow" than I would with "He's a shrewdly fellow" (and that's not counting my immediate desire to write the second one as " 'E's a shrewdly fella").
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    (I'm a bit late due to being absorbed in the new WoW expansion with friends).
    Swiss German doesn't even have voiced consonants. For example,
    French, Russian: p/b is voiceless/voiced
    English, Mandarin: p/b is aspirated/nonaspirated*
    Swiss: p/b is long-tense/short-lax (neither aspirated, neither voiced)
    In each case, the "p" set is stronger than the "b" set, but what makes it stronger varies. German (and Russian, Turkish, and many many other languages) turns all word-final consonants a single, voiceless set. Iirc, in Standard German this is only for the stops (p/d t/d k/g), but in Russian it extends to fricatives (f/v, s/z), and in Turkish it even turns r into an sh-like sound.

    *English is weird. Except for words like stat, spot, and scoot, there's consistent distinction between the fortis (strong, ptk) set and the lenis (weak, bdg) set, but in different parts of the word in different ways.
    Word initially, the fortis set is aspirated (a strong puff of air), and the lenis set is not. [pʰ] [p]
    Between vowels, the fortis set is voiceless (no vocal cord vibration) and the lenis set is voiced. [p] [b]
    Word finally, the fortis set is glottalized (preceding or simultaneous glottal stop), and the lenis set is not. The lenis set also lengthens a previous vowel. [ʔp] [ːp]
    Though in reality it's more complicated than that - even ignoring the influence of nearby consonants, word-initial lenis sets are often voiced for the second half of their pronunciation, medial fortis sets may also be preceded by a glottal stop and/or aspirated, etc.

    Tao/Dao:
    This is two different Romanizations. The word Tao/Dao is unaspirated, closely matching English d (but Romance t).
    The new Romanization needed two sets because it was Mandarin-only, aspirated/unaspirated. So you end up with ptk bdg
    The old Romanization needed three sets because it was for all Chinese languages, aspirated/unaspirated/voiced. So you end up with p't'k' ptk bdg. But that's unintuitive, not the least because people rarely knew that the apostrophes were important.
    This also explains part of the difference between Peking and Beijing, the other being that Mandarin developed a soft/hard distinction like with English g (so Peking would later be Romanized Beiging, except the g is soft now, so Beijing).
    Last edited by lsfreak; 2012-09-30 at 05:06 AM.
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  30. - Top - End - #480
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I like how it's dealt with in the Japanese sylable scripts. The "letters" are with hard consonants and if you want to make it soft, you just add two small lines at the top:

    か > が
    ka > ga

    て > で
    te > de

    さ > ざ
    sa > za

    へ > べ > ぺ (he > be > pe) doesn't follow it completely straight, but it helps learning all the letters a lot, since it reduces the number from 136 down to 88.

    And Japanese doesn't even care about the finer aspects of pronounciation, unlike Chinese, and I still realized that transcriptions are always bad. When I see a name or new word in latin script, I always look up the Japanese spelling.
    In Bleach, you have that guy "Gin". How do you pronounce that? The Japanese spelling can tell you: ギン
    Which is "Ghin", not "Jin"

    Such a simple name as Tokyo has only one spelling in Japanese, which is completely unambigious in how you pronounce it: とうきょう
    You can transcribe it as:
    1. Tokyo (ときょ)
    2. Tokio (ときお)
    3. Tōkyō
    4. Tohkyoh
    5. Tookyoo
    6. Toukyou
    7. Toukiyou

    #3 is the one that gets you the best pronounciation guidelines if you can't read Japanese.
    #7 is actually the only one that tells you how to write correctly it in Japanese. But unless you know Japanese script and know how the transcription system works, it's also the one that probably nobody anywhere would pronounce correctly. And that's even excluding some other more "creative" transcription systems that are out there.

    ち is a "chi", but appears in the place where you would expect to find a "ti", which doesn't exist in Japanese. But some (now thankfully obsolete) transcriptions write it as "ti" anyway, because that looks "neater" on a transcription table.
    I can't imagine what a nightmare Chinese transcriptions are. Isn't an "X" much more like a "Sh" and a "Q" almost like a "K"?
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-09-30 at 07:03 AM.
    Spriggan's Den - Thoughts on RPGs and some of my personal creations.

    When you start dividing quotes into blocks to reply to each paragraph seperately, that's usually a strong sign that you're no longer contributing to the thread, but just arguing over who is right.

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