Author Topic: Language Learners  (Read 40381 times)

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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #280 on: November 11, 2021, 07:22:53 PM »
Oh, I'm not at all trying to imply that there's only one way to say something (or "right way").

Yes, I see that! It is a nice question for good discussion. Have a great weekend!

Online Jo498

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #281 on: November 12, 2021, 01:37:23 AM »
The US Army's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, has a ranking of the relative difficulty of languages for native English speakers. Slavic languages are in Category 4 out of 5 (with 5 being the hardest). You can find the ranking here:

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/language-difficulty-map/

I think we had an older version of this map earlier in the forum. There are some interesting things in it, e.g. that German is the only category #2 language in Europe and that there is no #3 at all in Europe. I am also a bit surprised that Icelandic is considered so much harder than the other Scandinavian languages. I don't know any of them and they seem harder/further from German than one might expect (at least to understand and speak, one might get pretty fast to reading comprehension like with Dutch) and Icelandic is the closest to old Norse, presumeably retaining stuff that got simplified/lost in the others. But as hard as Russian or Turkish?

I just looked it up and it confirmed what I had suspected or maybe read a long time ago. Proto Indoeuropean didn't have articles (overall articles are not that common) and definite articles were derived from demonstratives (and usually retain this function to some extent). Interestingly, the first documented language with articles is ancient Greek but the (far later) earliest sources for Germanic languages (Gothic bible) also has definite articles.

In German there is a regional difference wrt definite articles with proper names. It's frowned upon as wrong or at least dialectal by northern Germans but very common (although not obligatory) in the southern and western parts (and not only in dialects), so I think this is just typical North German snobbery. Classical Greek also often uses definite articles with proper names, apparently Portuguese as well but AFAIK most other romance languages and English do not.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #282 on: November 12, 2021, 06:31:43 AM »
Yes, I see that! It is a nice question for good discussion. Have a great weekend!
Thanks, you too!

I think we had an older version of this map earlier in the forum. There are some interesting things in it, e.g. that German is the only category #2 language in Europe and that there is no #3 at all in Europe. I am also a bit surprised that Icelandic is considered so much harder than the other Scandinavian languages. I don't know any of them and they seem harder/further from German than one might expect (at least to understand and speak, one might get pretty fast to reading comprehension like with Dutch) and Icelandic is the closest to old Norse, presumeably retaining stuff that got simplified/lost in the others. But as hard as Russian or Turkish?

I just looked it up and it confirmed what I had suspected or maybe read a long time ago. Proto Indoeuropean didn't have articles (overall articles are not that common) and definite articles were derived from demonstratives (and usually retain this function to some extent). Interestingly, the first documented language with articles is ancient Greek but the (far later) earliest sources for Germanic languages (Gothic bible) also has definite articles.

In German there is a regional difference wrt definite articles with proper names. It's frowned upon as wrong or at least dialectal by northern Germans but very common (although not obligatory) in the southern and western parts (and not only in dialects), so I think this is just typical North German snobbery. Classical Greek also often uses definite articles with proper names, apparently Portuguese as well but AFAIK most other romance languages and English do not.
That's quite interesting about the use of definite articles with proper names; I hadn't heard of that before now.  I ran across a discussion of it just now on a German language website.

PD

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #283 on: November 12, 2021, 07:38:51 AM »
I am also a bit surprised that Icelandic is considered so much harder than the other Scandinavian languages. I don't know any of them and they seem harder/further from German than one might expect (at least to understand and speak, one might get pretty fast to reading comprehension like with Dutch) and Icelandic is the closest to old Norse, presumeably retaining stuff that got simplified/lost in the others. But as hard as Russian or Turkish?

Yes, Icelandic is very archaic and still preserves those Old Norse forms. There's also a lot of purism, in the sense that they prefer to make up words from native roots rather than borrow them.

Otherwise, Scandinavian languages are considered among the easiest for Anglophones (particularly Norwegian for some reason). It doesn't surprise me that Afrikaans is considered the easiest. It's basically simplified Dutch; its verb conjugations are as simple as English ones.
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Online Jo498

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #284 on: November 12, 2021, 08:14:41 AM »
That's quite interesting about the use of definite articles with proper names; I hadn't heard of that before now.  I ran across a discussion of it just now on a German language website.
It is probably safer to avoid articles with proper names in (formal) writing in German. "Die Merkel tritt zurück" would not be a headline and does look informal. No article is clearly preferable here.
But speaking it is different and in my usage I'd almost always use articles with proper names in everyday speech, especially when referring to someone by their first name. And it does sound slightly stilted for me if people refer to others by first name without article! Which is just being used to the article but it also shows its demonstrative function.
I think one usually needs the definite article if proper names are used with a modifier, e.g. an adjective, but there are also exceptions. It's more complex than I thought and I am not even sure there are hard rules for all cases.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #285 on: November 12, 2021, 08:20:19 AM »
Most intriguing.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #286 on: November 12, 2021, 08:37:28 AM »
In Spanish, the use of articles with proper names is considered ”vulgar” in most countries except (according to the Real Academia) in Chile or among Spanish speakers whose first language is Catalan (as in Catalan —a language I do not speak but understand quite well— it is common to use articles with proper names).
« Last Edit: November 12, 2021, 08:40:10 AM by ritter »
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