Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

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Jennifer
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

I keep hearing something that sounds (in English) like "rajos" or "oh rajos" -- the thieving fox in Dora will sometimes say it when his attempt to steal whatever fails, and I just now heard Steve from Blue's Clues say it, in a scene where he was pretending to be the Big Bad Wolf, who just tried and failed to blow down the little pig's brick house. From the context, I'm pretty sure "rajos/oh rajos" means something like "darn" or "rats" or "dang it" -- something you say to express annoyance, most likely because you just failed an attempt to do something (steal Dora's stuff, blow down the little pig's house) -- but I can't pin down exactly what "rajos" is in Spanish, nor how to spell it.
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Ellie
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Ellie »

¡Rayos!

"Yours is the much better comeback." -JD
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Thanks, Ellie. But it bothers me that after all this time, I'm STILL that bad at figuring out how a given Spanish word might be spelled. I was wondering if the middle consonant was a double-l.

I am still, no-joke, debating whether I want to treat my book of Spanish kid-stories as an actual BOOK (which I would never voluntarily mar), or more like a college textbook, full of highlights and margin notes and such. The previous owner only wrote on a few pages, mainly the less-illustrated ones where you can't use the pictures to figure out the words. Like, "conejo = rabbit" is one of the first vocabulary words I picked up from this TV-experiment thing, but even if I didn't know it already, the book's little poem "El Conejo" is right next to a very colorful cartoon bunny, and that poem has no handwritten English notes on it. However, the page with the poem "El espantapajaros" has no pictures of a scarecrow, which presumably is why the previous owner wrote that English word over the Spanish title. (That particular poem is really marked up -- it also informs me that "sinsonte" is "mockingbird," "huerto" is "garden/orchard," and the like.)

One part of me not ONLY wants to mark it up, but even go nuts and buy a set of gel pens in different pretty colors to do this. Except I doubt gel pens would hold well on the book's glossy pages.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Book collectors typically buy two copies of first editions: one to read and one to keep pristine in their collection. Given that we're not talking about incunabula here, I'd say it's a learning tool, go ahead and mark in it and if you like the book all that much after you've gotten its educational value from it, buy another copy.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

A question suddenly occurred to me: in that Max and Ruby clip, when the little girl says that cardinals have "un hermoso canto" (a beautiful song) ... shouldn't that be "un canto hermoso"? The adjective goes before the noun in Spanish.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Ellie »

I didn't know the answer to your question, so I looked it up, and learned something new and cool!
the most general rule is that adjectives used after the verb restrict the meaning, and when they precede the noun, they just clarify without restrictions:

Iba a casa por las calles estrechas de Bogotá.

Iba a casa por las estrechas calles de Bogotá.

In the first one, the streets we are talking about are restricted to the narrow ones; apparently, we avoided the wide ones. In the second one, we took the streets and it appears that Bogota streets happen to be narrow.
Non-restrictive (it applies to all):

Le di caramelos a los simpáticos niños = I gave sweets to the children; they were nice children, by the way

Restrictive (we refer only to those matching the adjective)

Le di caramelos a los niños simpáticos = I gave sweets only to the children that were nice; the others got no sweets whatsoever
Putting a descriptive adjective before the noun generally indicates an inseparable relationship between the two.
So in your example, the girl is implying that cardinals only have one song and that it is inherently beautiful. As opposed to, like, "Listen to that song the cardinal is singing; it's beautiful, unlike their other shitty songs." :lol:
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

/headdesk

More stuff to keep straight. For someone who's only barely starting to get a handle on some of the be-verbs. (Apparently Spanish has two different versions; I'm still working on "ser.")

In other news, I have found this website helpful for practicing Spanish reading; it's a bunch of Bible stories for young children, and since I'm already familiar with the stories themselves it is, of course, much easier to understand or at least accurately guess what a given word or phrase means. (I'd like that website a lot more if they weren't all .pdf files, so I can't cut and paste the text.)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

I seem to be on the verge of "getting it." Still can't make out an entire episode of a show (or even the entire lyrics of any songs), but I'm getting more pieces of them -- I know one of the lines in that song Steve sings in each episode is "buscamos mas pistas de Blue" -- we look for more clues of Blue. And there's another thing he said which I almost got --- I heard "mi ayuda de buscala?" which, according to Google Translate, means, "my help to find her?" So, that's not what Steve asked the audience -- obviously I misheard the verb conjugations somewhere -- but I'm getting close.

Huh, here's something interesting: another line I can definitely hear in a Blue's Clues song is "vamos por las pistas" -- "pista" being Spanish for "clue," of course, which I learned before I was even 24 hours into this Spanish-TV thing -- but Google Translate and another website both said that means "let's go down the slopes."
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Kolohe
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Kolohe »

Probably “me ayuda de buscarla“. ‘Me’ is the grammatical indirect object* of ayuda. Which is either in the familiar imperative form or the polite second present form. I.e. “help me look for her?” Or “[can] you help me look for her?” — using your inflection to make a statement a question is a bit more common in Spanish than in english, while the use of auxiliary (helping) verbs is not. I.e. while ‘smoother’ English would almost always use the word ‘can’ in there, not necessarily as much in Spanish. (Esp perhaps kiddie talk)

Normally, an imperative (command form) has the direct and indirect object after the verb - ayudame/ayudeme por favor - it is perhaps different because there’s another verb (in infinitive form) with its own direct object.

But also, if you have a verb plus infinitive with direct and indirect objects, you can put the pronouns either before the main verb or after the infinitive, and I think it’s just preference of what sounds better (which I don’t have an ear for yet)

I.e. I am going to give you it. - Voy a dartelo or Te lo voy a dar are both, as far as I know, grammatically acceptable. (Similar how in English I’m going to give you it and I’m going to give it to you are identically grammatically correct, but one would probably lean towards one or another)


*I’ve been going back and forth as to whether me in “You help me” is the direct or indirect object. I think indirect, as you help me to find her, perhaps the direct object is ‘to find’ a verb in infinitive form, and infinitive forms usually function as nouns grammatically
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Kolohe
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Kolohe »

One thing to keep in mind, that’s become somewhat apparent to me personally over the past few weeks, is that we’re both now in our (late?) forties, and our hearing is perhaps not quite what it used to be.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

I know porque means because or why, but can it also mean something like "facts" or "questions?" I ask because today I found two Spanish-language books in a thrift shop, both obviously part of a larger set published by an Argentine company; one is titled 1001 porques de la ciencia and the other is 1001 porques de la geografia. (Each book has nowhere NEAR a thousand questions; presumably the titles refer to the total number of questions in the entire series: "El libro de los 1001 porques" etc.)

Even though the vocabulary in these books is FAR more advanced than the children's storybook, I've actually been able to get more out of it because it's almost all information I already know. But, while I'm doing pretty well (IMO) with vocabulary, the grammar and syntax continue to be a bitch. One of the questions is "Como son los bosques?" which literally translates to "how forests are." From the vocabulary words I recognize plus what I know about forests, I think the answer discusses the conditions necessary for forests to grow -- you don't need to know much Spanish to figure out "...existencia se requieren temperaturas medias anuales mayores a 10 grados centigrados y precipitaciones que sobrepasen los 200 milimetros anuales" is talking about the temperature and precipitation ranges necessary for forests to thrive -- but "how forests are" makes no sense to me as a question. Presumably it actually means "How are forests made," but I say this after having seen the answer; otherwise I would not know what the question is actually asking.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

I learned the word for "carrot" fairly early on -- IIRC it was one of the Z-words in the online picture dictionary -- and when I perused that children's storybook table of contents and read "Las Zanahorias" I knew I'd seen the word before, but couldn't remember what it was until I turned to the story and saw the cartoon illustrations of very cute anthropomorphic conejos (spoiler alert: the story is about how the rabbits want the carrots but must overcome some child-friendly obstacles first).

In an episodes of Las Pistas de Blue this morning (the one where it's snowing and Blue wants to build a snowman), one of the clues was a zanahoria, and I wasn't looking at the screen when the clue actually appeared although I did hear Steve say "zanahoria" multiple times. And of course nobody will be surprised to learn I did not recognize what he was saying until I looked at the screen and saw him actually draw the carrot in his notebook.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Despite claims made by high school Spanish teachers in the USA, the "h" is NOT always silent. You can definitely hear it on NJL's Dora and Dora spinoffs, when anyone says ahora/now.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

[Snicker] The children's book has a little eight-line poem called "Panecillos calientes." Of course I know "caliente" means "hot," and from the illustration I wondered if perhaps the poem was a Spanish translation of "Hot Cross Buns," but not quite.

Google Translate is inconsistent regarding the meaning of "panecillos": the word by itself translates as "buns" (more fuel for my "Hot cross" theory), but the phrase "son mis panecillos" is "are my muffins." I don't know if that's to avoid double entendres in the poem (I have no idea if it's a Spanish-language 'classic' nursery rhyme which any child would know, or something written specifically for this book); the first two lines are "Calientes y tiernos son mis panecillos" which, depending how you translate the last word, could be interpreted as "Hot and tender are my buns." [/Snicker]

Also, petty annoyance related to my language attempts: some DVD/Blu-Rays offer Spanish dubs as one of their options, so out of curiosity I went to Amazon and looked up "Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom" to see if the discs offered Spanish dubs and if so, how much it would cost. But it turns out to be moot, because the only Ben and Holly DVDs I can find are for Britain or other non-US "regions." Fuck this DVD "region" bullshit.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Another oft-heard, not-understood mystery word: in the episode where Diego rescues a macaw (guacamayo/a), which I have seen more times than I can recall because it's one of the handful of "Go Diego Do" shows Pluto airs, I keep hearing him say something that sounds (in English) like "Carlotta," in Spanish I would guess "carlata," but nothing comes up in translation sites. (In that episode the macaw needs help because its wing got stuck in a crack in the rocks, but looking up the Spanish for words like "crack" or "crevasse" brought back nothing.)

I just-now heard "carlotta" again, when Diego used his video watch to call/speak to his computer-genius sister Alicia--roughly halfway through the episode, after he'd rescued the macaw from the rocks. I think now he's looking for the mama guacamaya's baby -- he's singing a song mentoning something about "buscara su bebe" and I know "buscar" in various conjugations means "hunt," "search for" or "look." (That Max and Ruby clip I mentioned/linked to much earlier is titled "Duck Hunt" in English, and IIRC "Busqueda a Patos" in Spanish.)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

"Carlotta" came up in another Diego episode -- early in each one, there's a part where Click, the magic talking camera, tells Diego about an animal in trouble and in need of rescue. But always, before showing the animal in trouble, she shows two animals who obviously are not in trouble, asks the audience if this is the animal in trouble, and after a pause long enough for the kid viewers to call out the answer, says (paraphrase) "No! This isn't an animal in trouble, it's [whatever the animal actually is]."

In an episode I saw last night, one of the animals not in trouble was the same macaw (guacamayo/a) from the "wing stuck in a rock" episode, only this time it was just chilling, obviously not having problems, and I heard Click say "carlotta/carlata" in the same sentence as "guacamayo or -a." So I searched for the Spanish translations of various English words related to macaws in some way -- wing, beak, perch, fly, roost -- nope, nothing close to carlata. (I already know "feather" is "la pluma.") Tried searching for "jarlata" -- also not a Spanish word. Tried "car lata" and "jar lata" -- "lata" means "can" in the tin/canister sense, "car" and jar" mean nothing, obviously that's not what Diego and Click were saying.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Rana (which, BTW, means "frog") suggested carlata might be "escarlata," meaning scarlet. Which makes perfect sense in context -- that macaw is red, and it's certainly possible that I either did not hear the "es" syllable, or heard it but thought it was part of the previous word, since incorrectly hearing where the breaks between words are is another problem I consistently have.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Oh, and here's an egregious example of --- I won't even say "my bad ear for Spanish," but "how ACTUAL Spanish pronunciation and spelling are radically different from what generations of American high-school Spanish teachers have claimed" -- I kept hearing a phrase which sounded like "pin yell." Diego and Tweenage Dora (from Dora y sus amigos en la ciudad/Dora and her Friends in the City) especially said it a lot, always in contexts where, obviously, it meant something like "Excellent!" or "That's great!" But, as usual, my attempts to guess the Spanish spelling of "pin yell" went nowhere, until Mk suggested "genial" -- it means "great," and absolutely works in context, but how the hell does "genial" in Spanish end up pronounced "pin yell?"
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Some time ago there was an idiotic bestseller called "The Secret," which I gather talked about how you can have ultimate power over the universe and basically get whatever you want just by wishing for it, or something. Which of course is complete bullshit -- except I seem to have developed "Secret" powers myself, in the specific, limited context of thrift stores and my Spanish lessons. Early on, I said I wished I had a Spanish-language storybook for the preschool-to-second-grade reading level -- then I found that thrift-store book of "365 stories and rhymes for children." Then I wished I could find an adult-level Spanish book about astronomy or science, some topic I know fairly well (by layman's standards) already -- and I found those "Geografia" and "Ciencia" books I mentioned earlier. I also wished for a Spanish children's illustrated Bible similar to the English-language storybook Bible I had as a kid -- found one at Value Village today.

When I showed Jeff the Bible I mentioned my recent history of "Wish for a Spanish book, then find it in a thrift store," complete with the lame joke about having extremely limited "Secret" powers, then added "Of course I don't really believe this, but just in case: let me state, for the record, that I'd really like it if some graduating college student gave her Spanish I and Spanish II textbooks to a thrift store where I could find them."

After Value Village we made a couple other stops before visiting a Goodwill, and we were about to walk out of there empty-handed until Jeff saw ... not a Spanish I and II textbook but the next best thing: a book called "Intercambios: Spanish for Global Communication," still with some college bookstore's "used" sticker on its spine. It starts out teaching "Hola" and "Como te llamas," so I feel pretty safe in assuming it's beginner level. (Of course, I don't have the four companion CD-ROMs mentioned on the book's back cover, but then the students who used those CD-ROMs didn't really have the internet as we know it today, complete with free translation websites and Spanish children's cartoons streaming onto your TV.)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Jennifer wrote: 06 Sep 2020, 19:16 I also wished for a Spanish children's illustrated Bible similar to the English-language storybook Bible I had as a kid -- found one at Value Village today.
Nope nope nope nope nope. Correction: I did not find a Spanish kid's Bible "similar to the English-language" one from my childhood; I found a hilariously bowdlerized excuse for a children's Bible. The one I had as a kid, I recall, had "realistic" illustrations -- as in, the animals actually looked like animals, whereas this Bible has colorful anthropomorphized cartoon animals -- they all smile with upturned mouths just like people do, etc.

But then (I figured), this Bible is for a reading level far below the English equivalent in my childhood "children's Bible" -- mine had illustrations on every page (or at least every two pages -- you could not open the book anywhere without seeing at least one picture), but even so, at least half the book was printed words rather than pictures, whereas this Spanish Bible is the type of very-young-reader book with only one or two sentences per page, and the rest is colorful cartoon/children's book-style illustrations.

But even so ... I wanted to see how this Bible handled the story of Satan tempting Jesus (that was my favorite story in my kid's Bible because the illustration of the Devil was one of those scary-to-a-kid-things of "screw up your courage to look at the page -- AAH YIKES SCARY slam the book shut -- screw up your courage to look at the page again, AAH YIKES" lather, rinse, repeat).

But this Bible doesn't have that story. Then I went to read about the plagues of Egypt - instead, they have the story of "Diez cosas malas" (Ten bad things). Here is the English translation of the entire story, which in the book is spread out over four pages.
"Let my people go! They are not your slaves," Moses said. "No," the king replied.

Ten bad things began to happen to the king. God made these things happen.

The king kept saying: no! God kept sending bad things that hurt the king.

At last the king said: yes. At last he knew that God was greater than all his gods.
In the next story, Moses leads his people out of Egypt. He still parts the sea, but there's no mention of Pharoah's army chasing them or drowning. The closest this bible comes to the original story is, the first page of the Ten Bad Things story shows a cartoon man with a vaguely Pharoahnic headdress and beard looking shocked, while several smiling green cartoon frogs hop on the page opposite him. And all they have from the New Testament are stories from the Gospels and Acts, plus one story from 2 Timothy.

Come to find out that unlike my previous Spanish-language books, this was not published in a Spanish-speaking country, but by some educational publisher based in Wheaton, Illinois.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

I kind of neglected my Spanish lessons for awhile, being distracted by various household health issues, but watched preschool Spanish TV today for the first time in awhile. Remember my earlier confusion about "judah/ayudar?" Today I was watching Wonder Pets/Las Mascotas Maravilla (the Nick Jr. Latino dub, of course) and noticed: whoever does that dubbing does pronounce the y like a consonant y.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

One common source of vocabulary confusion for me comes from that fact that Spanish and English have various similarities, some of which are meaningful and some of which are not. Like, some Spanish words mean the same thing as their English soundalikes; on my handwritten vocabulary lists, for example, I didn't even bother writing down that "penguino/penguina" means "penguin," since that is obvious. So you'd think "tormenta" means "torment," right? No -- it actually means "storm" or "tempest." (No doubt the English torment and Spanish tormenta have an ancestor in common -- I'll even guess that it sounds very similar to the old Latin word for storm or tempest, but I don't know the specifics of how English came to adopt that word but with a slightly different meaning.)

What's especially tricky for me are those words wherein the Spanish and English sound nothing alike, yet somehow manage to have the same meanings. For example: the English word "only" can mean "exclusively" -- This shows airs ONLY on that channel -- but it can also be a reassurance that something is not as bad or as scary as you'd thought: "No, you need not clean the entire kitchen, you ONLY have to wash the dirty dishes in the sink." "No, that's not a dangerous threatening criminal walking this way; that's ONLY Jennifer."

The Spanish word "solo" means "only," and was one of the very first Spanish vocabulary words I learned in this project (because every single commercial break on Pluto mentions other TV shows which are "solo en Nick" or "solo en Nick Jr"). But it also has the second meaning; there was en episode of Ben Y Holly where the half-inch-high beings were freaking out over one of the "giants" (ordinary-size people) appearing, until someone assured him (en espanol) that it was "only Lucy."

So I am mildly curious -- though not enough to look it up myself -- about the linguistic history of those homonyms such as "only/solo" which English and Spanish have in common -- this one word has two or more different meanings depending on how it's used -- yet they have the same double meanings in both languages DESPITE the words themselves having absolutely nothing in common. (I mean, as with storm/tormenta, I'm sure the Spanish "solo" and English "only" have some ancestry in common, since the Spanish meaning of solo isn't THAT different from English -- solo/only vs. solo/alone -- but where and when did the meaning of those words take slightly different paths?)
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Kolohe »

In general, false cognates between English and Spanish are because most English Latin root words took a detour in Norman French, so there’s an additional linguistic drift step. But also there’s some Spanish shifting around due to Arabic influences. And each of the Romance languages have Vulgar Latin origins that were slightly different from each other due to incorporation of elements of the local pre-Latin languages, but Romano-Britain language was pretty much wiped out.

Though looking it up the English use of the word solo was only started in the late 1600s, borrowed from Italian in the musical sense of the word solo (I.e a performer playing a unique part on their own), and only used in the non musical sense of anyone doing something alone without assistance from another person starting in the late 1800s.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by Jennifer »

Another language thing I've wondered about -- this long predates my Spanish attempts -- is, how did various languages evolve different forms of syntax? I remember reading something (long pre-covid, IIRC) about "universal gesture syntax" or something like that. The article mentioned this example: take some volunteers and ask one to deliver a message to another, using ONLY gestures, no words or symbols. The message you were supposed to impart was telling a certain person to open the door of the room everyone was in. (As in, imagine all of us of the Gryll are in the same room, and Kolohe is supposed to tell Ellie, alone among all other people, to open the door.)

Every single time, regardless of the volunteer's spoken language, the "gesture" sentence's syntax came out to be "Subject-object-verb": you door open. First gesture: point to the person. Second, point to the door. Third, mime "open the door" motions. EVERYBODY gestured "you door open" even when their spoken-word version of the order would be "You, open the door" or "Open the door, you" or something. The only major language I can think of that puts the verb at the end of a sentence is German; everyone else puts it closer to the front somewhere.

This syntax seems unavoidable in a gesture-language -- unless you know they're talking about the door, you won't understand what those "open it" arm gestures mean, and there's no point bothering with any of those gestures unless you know you've caught the attention of whoever you're giving the order to, so you may as well start out by pointing to the person in question -- but I wonder how and why the majority of people who ever lived managed to invent spoken languages with syntaxes so very different from the "inherent syntax" that seems to be in all of our minds.
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Re: Speaking in tongues (the "learning languages" thread)

Post by JD »

Jennifer wrote: 15 Oct 2020, 16:50 Every single time, regardless of the volunteer's spoken language, the "gesture" sentence's syntax came out to be "Subject-object-verb": you door open. First gesture: point to the person. Second, point to the door. Third, mime "open the door" motions. EVERYBODY gestured "you door open" even when their spoken-word version of the order would be "You, open the door" or "Open the door, you" or something. The only major language I can think of that puts the verb at the end of a sentence is German; everyone else puts it closer to the front somewhere.

This syntax seems unavoidable in a gesture-language -- unless you know they're talking about the door, you won't understand what those "open it" arm gestures mean, and there's no point bothering with any of those gestures unless you know you've caught the attention of whoever you're giving the order to, so you may as well start out by pointing to the person in question -- but I wonder how and why the majority of people who ever lived managed to invent spoken languages with syntaxes so very different from the "inherent syntax" that seems to be in all of our minds.
Subject-object-verb is the most common of word orders, but the variety of languages is pretty amazing. Wikipedia contradicts itself* on just how common certain word orders are, but the relative ordering seems pretty clear:
about half of the world's languages deploy subject–object–verb order (SOV);
about one-third of the world's languages deploy subject–verb–object order (SVO);
a smaller fraction of languages deploy verb–subject–object (VSO) order;
the remaining three arrangements are rarer: verb–object–subject (VOS) is slightly more common than object–verb–subject (OVS), and object–subject–verb (OSV) is the rarest by a significant margin
And yet they're all natural languages and all equally learnable by children, which is kind of fascinating when you think about it. (Klingon, BTW, was intentionally given the order object-verb-subject because it's uncommon among Earthly languages.)

* because it contains multitudes
I sort of feel like a sucker about aspiring to be intellectually rigorous when I could just go on twitter and say capitalism causes space herpes and no one will challenge me on it. - Hugh Akston
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