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Author Topic: Language Learners  (Read 9327 times)

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Offline Christo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #180 on: January 25, 2014, 11:16:35 AM »
Must now also include Friesland on my itinerary, to see if I can buy a cow.
DF

You are aware of (West) Frisian, spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Friesland, or Fryslân, as a separate language, aren't you? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Frisian_language

Your best options for buying a Frisian cow, BTW, lie at the other side of the big pond: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holstein_Friesian_cattle
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Florestan

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #181 on: January 26, 2014, 08:23:18 AM »
You are aware of (West) Frisian, spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Friesland, or Fryslân, as a separate language, aren't you? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Frisian_language

That's an interesting topic: the dialects/languages of the Netherlands. IIRC, there are 16 of them --- 16 dialects and languages in such a tiny spot of land, amazing.  :D Are they mutually intelligible, Christo?



Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. --- Victor Hugo

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #182 on: January 26, 2014, 07:15:26 PM »

Frisian and English are close kin as far as languages go; not surprising when you remember that the Angles and Jutes came from Frisia and nearby areas.

From Wikipedia

The saying "As milk is to cheese, are English and Fries" describes the observed similarity between Frisian and English. One rhyme that is sometimes used to demonstrate the palpable similarity between Frisian and English is "Rye bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Fries.", which sounds not tremendously different from "Brea, bűter en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk.."
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Offline Christo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #183 on: January 27, 2014, 04:04:38 PM »
That's an interesting topic: the dialects/languages of the Netherlands. IIRC, there are 16 of them --- 16 dialects and languages in such a tiny spot of land, amazing.  :D Are they mutually intelligible, Christo?

You are right in that the diversity is bigger than in Romanian. :-) At the same time, social mobility and other modernization processes, given also the extremely small distances in Netherlands, a country just about the size of the Banat, have done much in reducing the role of dialects over the last decades. I'm a speaker of a Low Saxonian dialect myself, and I've witnessed these changes also in my original district (having left it for Amsterdam when I was 18).

Officially, apart from Frisian, only the dialect groups of Low Saxonian in the East and North and Limburgian in the South enjoy some special status. They are probably not mutually intelligible to the untrained ear - I remember vividly the complete bewilderment of a Surinam friend in Amsterdam on hearing me converse in my mother tongue with another Saxon :-) - but for me, they are. Basically, there are about five dialect groups, and all of them are under strong pressure from the standard language.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 04:08:23 PM by Christo »
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #184 on: January 27, 2014, 07:17:34 PM »
You are right in that the diversity is bigger than in Romanian. :-) At the same time, social mobility and other modernization processes, given also the extremely small distances in Netherlands, a country just about the size of the Banat, have done much in reducing the role of dialects over the last decades. I'm a speaker of a Low Saxonian dialect myself, and I've witnessed these changes also in my original district (having left it for Amsterdam when I was 18).

Officially, apart from Frisian, only the dialect groups of Low Saxonian in the East and North and Limburgian in the South enjoy some special status. They are probably not mutually intelligible to the untrained ear - I remember vividly the complete bewilderment of a Surinam friend in Amsterdam on hearing me converse in my mother tongue with another Saxon :-) - but for me, they are. Basically, there are about five dialect groups, and all of them are under strong pressure from the standard language.

Yet ironically the home dialect of your Surinamese friend would be even more incomprehensible to you Saxons, since the various forms of Papiamento incorporate elements of Spanish and other languages in the Caribbean area (my closest encounter with Papiamento being the form used to amuse tourists in Aruba).
Every kind of music is good, except the boring kind.
---Rossini

Offline Christo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #185 on: January 27, 2014, 11:50:42 PM »
Yet ironically the home dialect of your Surinamese friend would be even more incomprehensible to you Saxons, since the various forms of Papiamento incorporate elements of Spanish and other languages in the Caribbean area (my closest encounter with Papiamento being the form used to amuse tourists in Aruba).

You're very well informed about Surinam's Sranan tongo - except that my friend didn't know it, as he'd grown up in the Netherlands (and his family had a different ethnic background; Sranan tongo would never have been that important to them). The Papiamento of these Caribbean islands is a different matter though.  :)

BTW the similiraties between English and Frisian are often exaggerated (but don't tell it to the latter! :-) and may be more a historical myth - the connection between present-day Frisian and Frisian culture of the early Middle Ages is a disputed one. Part of the similarities at least are an invention of tradition, as the creation of the modern Frisian standard and spelling in the 19th Century was based on this idea of history, and e.g. spelling was often modelled after English examples in order to create a bigger difference with standard Dutch. (E.g. Fryslân in stead of Friesland).  ::)
… music is not only an `entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Online (: premont :)

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #186 on: February 11, 2014, 06:20:17 AM »
Reassuring though that a Dane said he could understand Norwegian if it was spoken slowly - which will definitely be me.

I recall that it was me. But I also confirmed Daidalos´(who is Swedish) assumption, that Swedish may be the best choice, if you want to make yourself understood in all Scandinavia.(See posts 27 - 36 of this thread)
True wisdom knows
it must comprise
some nonsense
as a compromise,
lest fools should fail
to find it wise.
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Online North Star

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #187 on: February 11, 2014, 07:13:15 AM »
I recall that it was me. But I also confirmed Daidalos´(who is Swedish) assumption, that Swedish may be the best choice, if you want to make yourself understood in all Scandinavia.(See posts 27 - 36 of this thread)
Agreed - and it ought to work at least passably in Finland too.
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Online (: premont :)

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #188 on: February 11, 2014, 09:56:52 AM »
Agreed - and it ought to work at least passably in Finland too.

Yes, and I also took that into consideration.
True wisdom knows
it must comprise
some nonsense
as a compromise,
lest fools should fail
to find it wise.
(Piet Hein)

Offline Greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #189 on: March 12, 2014, 10:49:55 AM »
So I've been studying Japanese again for the last week or so and am trying to do it ~40 hours a week.

I don't know if it's the difficulty of the language, but this is so NOT fun that I'm thinking I give up on learning additional languages in my lifetime (other than Spanish and Portuguese). I'm studying in the funnest way possible (see picture) and it still feels like an endless grind. Of course, I know it will take months of full time study to improve, but that doesn't make me feel any better when I'd rather spend my time trying to play FF14 or something.

Japanese, although it's my favorite language, is almost as ridiculous as English in the way that things are spelled; then there is the matter of almost every word having several English meanings, so the meanings of things are unclear, and if you have a character with a dialect from a place like Osaka, you can't even get the translator to translate the words.


Offline Greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #190 on: March 16, 2014, 02:22:48 PM »
Great post I found from here: http://www.tofugu.com/2012/02/22/why-people-say-japanese-is-hard-to-learn-and-why-theyre-wrong/
Quote
have to mostly disagree with (the title of) this article. Of course, if the FSI says it's hard, it's hard, and they would know. I think that Japanese is one of those languages that's quick to learn once you get the hang of it, but there's a few problems:
Take Spanish, where when you learn the word "periódico". Once you know the word, and that it uses "el", then you're done.Now let's take Japanese: you can learn "shinbun" and great, now you can say "newspaper".But what if you see 新聞? Now you have to learn what seeing that means and to relate it to "shinbun".Let's say you've learned that. What if you have a piece of paper and need to write "shinbun"? Now you need to know how to write 新聞 which is a whole other challenge over recognising. And if you have a strict teacher, you'll need correct stroke order too.Now what if you see the word 新しい or 聞く? That's not "shinshii" or "bunku"- you need to know the OTHER ways of saying the same character, which is dependant on context and/or other kanji/kana around it.
So every time you learn a new (spoken) word, you feel proud of yourself that you learned something. When you learn a new kanji to use with that word, you feel proud. When you learn the kanji's on'yomi and/or other kun'yomi, you feel proud. When you learn how to write the word with its kanji, you feel proud. But all of those things put together are just one and a half challenges in Spanish: learning the word and its gender. Once you can say a Spanish word, you can instantly read and write it. (Technically if you use only kana in Japanese you can do that, but Japanese is annoying to read without Kanji and you'd look like a preschooler. Besides, Japanese people know 2000+ kanji and you'd better believe they'll use them against you).As for grammar, not conjugating verbs by person and number and not having genders and not having subjunctive is really really refreshing, but once you get beyond beginner grammar, Japanese grammar is harder than you'd think. It may be simpler than Spanish grammar objectively, but Spanish grammar is pretty similar to English, and Japanese grammar is wildly different (despite what some teachers may make you think). Being able to talk fluently without grammar mistakes in Japanese is at least as hard as with Spanish (believe me, I have learned both). Particles and collocation are a bitch, and the conjugations get fun once you learn conjunctive, conditional vs. provisional, passive (really weird), volitional, polite (masu), causative, etc. etc. (and note that in Japanese there's an entirely different theory on grammar than English-language textbooks will ever teach you). And don't even get me STARTED with keigo. In short, learning Spanish grammar is surely harder than learning Japanese if you're Chinese, but it's a different story if you're anglophone.As for pronunciation, sure it's nice that each kana is theoretically pronounced exactly one way (with two exceptions that I recall- は and を), but in practicality this is definitely not the case. The す in すき(好き) is indeed pronounced differently than the す in すむ(住む).  端, 橋, and 箸, all はし, are pronounced differently by native speakers. Fluent, native-sounding Japanese pronunciation is about as hard to learn as the relatively insane-sounding French (again, I have learned both). Far too often do I hear a Japanese student completely butcher the language because they think all morae are pronounced exactly one way and they disregard the pitch-accent system entirely (好き sounds like "ski", not "sue key"!!!).Knowing all of this, you may ask "why do you even bother learning Japanese then?" Because it's -fun-. It's really, really interesting to me learning one of only two (I think) living languages that still ubiquitously use an ideographic script. The grammar is so foreign, and you start to think differently when you know it. And on top of that, it opens up the world of Japanese culture that is normally so secretive and closed-off.Can Japanese be hard to learn? Absolutely. Does it often get me really frustrated? Sure. Should you give up now? Definitely not. Learning Japanese is like exploring a brand new world. (And if you're American, it's listed as a "critical language", meaning great scholarship and job opportunities!)

Congratulations if you read through this whole post.

The languages that are rated at the highest level of difficulty by the US government are Mandarin (or any Chinese dialect, I assume), Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.

Trying to find opinions of people who actually know all three languages at high fluency.

Offline torut

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #191 on: March 17, 2014, 10:28:29 PM »
Great post I found from here: http://www.tofugu.com/2012/02/22/why-people-say-japanese-is-hard-to-learn-and-why-theyre-wrong/
The languages that are rated at the highest level of difficulty by the US government are Mandarin (or any Chinese dialect, I assume), Arabic, Korean, and Japanese.

Trying to find opinions of people who actually know all three languages at high fluency.
I only understand Japanese, so I cannot compare these languages, but Japanese learn Chinese writing and Chinese poetry at school, although we don't learn Chinese pronunciation. The order of subject/verb/predicate/etc. is different, and we learn how to rearrange Kanji characters so that it becomes similar to that of Japanese. We can guess the meaning of a Chinese sentence from familiar Kanji characters. (However, simplified Kanji characters are so different from Japanese Kanji that I barely recognize them.) So, one who knows Japanese may be able to learn Chinese reading/writing (if traditional Chinese characters are used) but pronunciation would be the most difficult part. (I don't know Chinese, so this is just my guess.) I have no idea about Korean.
I can understand Japanese language may be difficult. It is difficult even for Japanese. A Prime Minister once couldn't read a Kanji character correctly at his speech, and it became a news! Recently, young Japanese make many mistakes in grammar (for example, "See" is "Miru" and "can see" is "Mirareru" in Japanese, but many Japanese say "Mireru".) There is an argument that such mistakes should be accepted, because a language is alive and will/should change.
Also, we need to learn old Japanese, too, which is completely different from modern Japanese language. It was very hard for me.
I don't remember we learned Japanese intonation explicitly. But when pointed out, I can notice the difference.

This thread is very interesting. European language discussion (it is hard for me and I need to read it again) and springrite's explanation of Chinese/Mandalin were educational.

Offline Greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #192 on: March 18, 2014, 03:21:35 AM »
I can understand Japanese language may be difficult. It is difficult even for Japanese. A Prime Minister once couldn't read a Kanji character correctly at his speech, and it became a news!
Lol, I wonder which word it was. If it were part of a name, I don't see how that would be a big deal, considering Japanese names in general (how half the time the spelling is odd). If it were a normal word, that'd be pretty funny.


We can guess the meaning of a Chinese sentence from familiar Kanji characters. (However, simplified Kanji characters are so different from Japanese Kanji that I barely recognize them.) So, one who knows Japanese may be able to learn Chinese reading/writing (if traditional Chinese characters are used) but pronunciation would be the most difficult part. (I don't know Chinese, so this is just my guess.) I have no idea about Korean.
One time my friend went to this one website that he likes to go to that's in Chinese and wanted to see how many character meanings I understood just by knowing Kanji. I got a few meanings correct and others had different meanings in Chinese; it's also interesting to see characters that have similar readings.


I can understand Japanese language may be difficult. It is difficult even for Japanese. A Prime Minister once couldn't read a Kanji character correctly at his speech, and it became a news! Recently, young Japanese make many mistakes in grammar (for example, "See" is "Miru" and "can see" is "Mirareru" in Japanese, but many Japanese say "Mireru".) There is an argument that such mistakes should be accepted, because a language is alive and will/should change.
I've seen Mireru plenty before, and maybe it wouldn't be wrong to simply consider it slang?



Also, we need to learn old Japanese, too, which is completely different from modern Japanese language. It was very hard for me.
I don't remember we learned Japanese intonation explicitly. But when pointed out, I can notice the difference.
The difficult thing about old Japanese is the lack of definitions in Japanese->English dictionaries.

Offline torut

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #193 on: March 18, 2014, 12:03:19 PM »
Lol, I wonder which word it was. If it were part of a name, I don't see how that would be a big deal, considering Japanese names in general (how half the time the spelling is odd). If it were a normal word, that'd be pretty funny.

No, they were ordinary words like this: 怪我, 完遂, 焦眉, 順風満帆, 措置, 思惑, 低迷, 破綻, 頻繁, 踏襲, 前場, 未曾有, 有無, 詳細 Can you read them? I can read most of them correctly, but not every word.  :-[

Recent children names are completely insane. Parents assign arbitrary pronunciation to any sequence of Kanji characters. It will be nightmare if you are a teacher and need to remember the names of all the children in your class.

Quote
One time my friend went to this one website that he likes to go to that's in Chinese and wanted to see how many character meanings I understood just by knowing Kanji. I got a few meanings correct and others had different meanings in Chinese; it's also interesting to see characters that have similar readings.

I can guess some of the meanings of this kind of Chinese poem.

  朝辞白帝彩雲間
  千里江陵一日還
  両岸猿声啼不住
  軽舟已過万重山

Quote
I've seen Mireru plenty before, and maybe it wouldn't be wrong to simply consider it slang?
Strictly speaking, it is grammatically incorrect. But I guess it will eventually become a part of the language.

Quote
The difficult thing about old Japanese is the lack of definitions in Japanese->English dictionaries.
I don't know if there is a dictionary for archaic Japanese <-> English. This is online archaic Japanese dictionary, but of course you need to know modern Japanese first.  ;D (By the way, that site has good dictionaries of English<->Japanese, Chinese<->Japanese, Korean<->Japanese, and even sign language <-> Japanese!)

Offline Greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #194 on: March 19, 2014, 12:16:31 PM »
No, they were ordinary words like this: 怪我, 完遂, 焦眉, 順風満帆, 措置, 思惑, 低迷, 破綻, 頻繁, 踏襲, 前場, 未曾有, 有無, 詳細 Can you read them? I can read most of them correctly, but not every word.  :-[
I could read a couple of those words, though the way my browser displays Kanji doesn't help. Mainly tough words for me, though...


I don't know if there is a dictionary for archaic Japanese <-> English. This is online archaic Japanese dictionary, but of course you need to know modern Japanese first.  ;D (By the way, that site has good dictionaries of English<->Japanese, Chinese<->Japanese, Korean<->Japanese, and even sign language <-> Japanese!)
Ooooh, nice. Thanks for the link, looks interesting.

Offline Ken B

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #195 on: March 22, 2014, 07:35:14 PM »
I think the Bantu languages are pretty cool. I found a video of someone teaching you how to pronounce some of the click consonants in Xhosa.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/31zzMb3U0iY&amp;feature=related" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/31zzMb3U0iY&amp;feature=related</a>

And yes, it is very challenging!  8)
As children grow they lose the ability not just to make but to hear some phonemes. I have an Indian friend who swears two sounds she makes in her native language differ. I have a good ear but cannot tell them apart.
My favorite German word was 'damit', until I learned what it meant. --Mark Twain

Offline The Six

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #196 on: March 26, 2014, 08:47:18 PM »
最重要的是我的英文很烂。

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