26 June 2009
Maybe, what I'm getting at is the basis for the accents we carry in a particular language. Our pronunciation affects everything. It affects how people understand us, and how well we understand others.
Would it be easier if there was a language that consisted of, say the easiest sounds ever? We could do away with the rr's, the ö's and the th's of the world and exist in more pronounceable world. Obviously, I'm dreaming, and venting a little.
What do you think? What are the hardest sounds for you to say in a given language?
22 June 2009
Here's the scenario. You work with someone who is from the south, where the spoken dialect includes words such as ya'll and ain't. You are trying to sell something to this person, so in order to appear friendly, you adopt their lingo. The usage of these dialectal words shows up in emails as well. If words such as ya'll and ain't are used in an email, is it poor grammar (in this scenario, you are someone who is a prescriptionist) or is it an extension of dialect?
My argument is that it is an extension of dialect. Even within a business setting, many people write emails as if they were talking to the recipient - more informal than "professional." And if they write as if they were holding a conversation, then it makes more sense that using dialectal words is an extension of dialect rather than poor grammar.
What do you think?
19 June 2009
|. das Jahr, -e year||. die Leute (pl.) people|
|. das Mal, -e time (as in number of times)||. die Arbeit, -en work, job|
|. das Beispiel, -e example||. das Prozent, -e percent|
|. die Zeit time||. die Hand, -¨e hand|
|. die Frau, -en woman, wife, Mrs.||. die Stadt, -¨e city|
|. der Mensch, -en human being, man||. der Herr, -en man, gentleman, Mr.|
|. das Kind, -er child||. der/das Teil, -e part|
|. der Tag, -e day||. das Problem, -e problem|
|. der Mann, -¨er man||. die Welt, -en world|
|. das Land, -¨er country, land||. das Recht, -e right, law|
|. die Frage, -n question||. das Ende, -n end|
|. das Haus, -¨er house||. die Million (Mio.), -en million|
|. der Fall, -¨e fall, case|
18 June 2009
To make matters worse, many times there are words that you think you know because they appear so similar to your native tongue. But, be careful of these false cognates. Here are some in Spanish as provided by www.spanish.bz.
how to really say
|at present||actually - la verdad es que|
|asisistir||to attend||assist/help - ayudar|
|carpeta||folder||carpet - alfombra|
|chocar||to crash||choke - ahogar/sofocar|
|embarazada||pregnant||embarassed - avergonzado|
|éxito||success||exit - salida|
|largo||long||large - grande|
|parientes||relatives||parents - padres|
|realizar||to actualize||realize - darse cuenta|
|recordar||remember||record - grabar|
|sensitive||sensible - razonable, sensato|
|put up with||support - mantener|
|últimamente||lately||ultimately - al final|
|vaso||drinking glass||vase - jarrón|
Here are some false cognates in German from www.learnenglishonline.yuku.com.
(D for Deutsch or German, E for English)
D - handy = E - a mobile phone
E - handy = D - handlich
D - Bad = E - bath
E - bad = D - schlecht
D - blamieren = E - embarass
E - blame = D - Schuld
What has your experience been with false cognates? Do you know any embarrassing ones?
12 June 2009
Have a great weekend!
11 June 2009
This is what Yahoo Tech had to say about the new addition to our ever expanding language:
A U.S.-based language monitoring group crowned Web English language on Wednesday, although other linguists slammed it as nonsense and a stunt.as the one millionth word or phrase in the
The Global Language Monitor, which uses a math formula to track the frequency of words and phrases in print and electronic media, said Web appeared over times in searches and was widely accepted, making it the legitimate, one millionth word.
It said Web World Wide Web products and services but had crossed into far wider circulation in the last six months.started out as a technical term meaning the next generation of
Other linguists, however, denounced the list as pure publicity and unscientific, saying it was impossible to count English words in use or to agree on how many times a word must be used before it is officially accepted.
There are no set rules for such a count as there is no certified arbiter of what constitutes a legitimate English word and classifying the language is complicated by the number of compound words, verbs and obsolete terms.
"I think it's pure fraud ... It's not bad science. It's nonsense," Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told reporters.
Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, brushed off the criticism, saying his method was technically sound.
"If you want to count the stars in the sky, you have to define what a star is first and then count. Our criteria is quite plain and if you follow those criteria you can count words. Most academics say what we are doing is very valuable," said Payack.
He has calculated that about new English words or phrases are generated daily and said the five words leading up to the millionth highlighted how English was changing along with current social trends.
This list included "Jai Ho!" an Indian exclamation signifying victory or accomplishment, and "slumdog," a derisive term for children living in the slums of India that became popular with the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire."
The list also included "cloud computing," meaning services delivered via the cloud or Internet, "carbon neutral," a widely used term in the climate change debate, and "N b," a derogatory term from the gaming community for a newcomer.
"Someyears after the death of the Bard, the words and phrases were coined far from Stratford-Upon-Avon, emerging instead from Silicon Valley, India, China, and Poland, as well as Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the UK," said Texas-based Payack.
(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy)
09 June 2009
For seven months, I lived in Santiago, Chile teaching English. It made me realize how fortunate I am to have been born speaking English because if I hadn't I probably would never learn it. English, like French is not phonetic and that drives me crazy. It's why my Spanish speaking students doubted me when I told them about spelling bees. Why would anybody stage a competition around spelling when it's sooo easy? They had forgotten for a moment their own struggles to spell and pronounce some of our more difficult English words.I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to learn English and attempt spelling. The languages that I've learned - Spanish and German - are both pretty easy to "sound out" (Spanish more so than German). This makes it easier to learn spelling and pronunciation. But English, not so much. A lot of English's "crazy" spelling can be explained by the Great Vowel Shift.
So what is the Great Vowel Shift? It is something that happened back between the years 1400 and 1600 C.E. (common era). Side note: My linguistics text book states 1400-1600 CE, but Wikipedia states this change happened between 1200 and 1600 CE. You see, languages tend to evolve over time. They change. The Great Vowel Shift is an example of one such change that has affected the way English speakers pronounce certain vowels. Evidence of this vowel shift remains in certain pairs of words. For example: please/pleasant, serene/serenity, sane/sanity. Do you hear the difference? The first word in each pair have been affected by the vowel shift, whereas the latter word has not.
So what does this have to do with spelling? At one time, English speakers DID pronounce words as they were spelled. Because spelling was pretty much already established at the time the Great Vowel Shift occurred, the pronunciation changed while the spelling did not. And that is why English has such "crazy" spelling.
Want to learn more about the Great Vowel Shift? Try starting here. You can also easily google it.