Tag Archives: linguistics

How Do You Pronounce That?

Have you ever read a book, encountered a word you’ve seen many times and know the definition of, yet you’ve never heard it spoken aloud? This was asked at the Grammarly website here.

Has this ever happened to you? I have a good example of this.

I’d read the word paradigm many times. Basically, it means a model or a pattern. You can read the definition here. But I’d never heard someone read this word out. I’d heard the word spoken before, but I never connected the two. When I saw the word, I always thought, “That’s such a stupid sounding word… para-diggum.”

There are plenty of other words. Hyperbole? Is that a football game? The Hyper Bowl? Or the character Hermione from Harry Potter. Hermy-own? I know how these are actually pronounced, so no problem with those for me. But there are many who don’t know how to say them.

What are some words you knew in printed form, but had/have no idea how to pronounce? Share them in the comments below.

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Science Sunday – Ancient Languages

A little different this week. This is not new news, but something I saw tonight, and I thought it would be interesting to share. While this isn’t exactly a hard science, the evolution of language is an interesting field of study.

First of all, check out this page, which has a video which shows how written language spread.

And then, watch this video. Make sure you have sound turned on. It’s absolutely fascinating listening to what ancient languages may have sounded like.

What did you think? Any comments are always welcome.

Test Driving Languages – Welsh

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgIt’s been a while since my last language test drive. This time, we look at Welsh, which is another Celtic language. It’s spoken by only about 20% of the Welsh population, or 562,000 people. I’ve been interested in this language because of its long words and many things I have no idea how to pronounce.

Jay Dee dw i.

— I’m Jay Dee.

Alphabet

This isn’t very difficult. It uses the Roman/Latin alphabet, so it’s familiar. There are some letters with accents, but I haven’t actually used any yet.

Pronunciation

This is kind of difficult. Many of the vowel sounds are different, and there are additional vowels, ‘w’ and ‘y.’ Some of the consonant sounds are a bit different from what I’ve heard, but nothing difficult.

Grammar

I can’t say much about this, as there hasn’t been much in the way of grammar in the course, yet. Just greetings, really. But I suspect that it may be similar to Irish, but I really don’t know. Checking Wikipedia confirms that it is verb-subject-object, like Irish.

Overall Impression

I had an easier time remembering words in Welsh than in Irish. There were some similarities to English, which made it easier. The days of the week had some similarities to the English names of the planets, so I didn’t have any issues there. The things that’s most difficult is the spelling and pronunciation, at least for now. I think it’s going to be an interesting language to learn. At least I’ll know how to pronounce all those difficult town names!

Are you interested in studying Welsh? Can you speak it? Let me know in the comments below.

Focusing on Esperanto

Flag_of_Esperanto.svgI read something today that had me pretty convinced to work on learning Esperanto. But why Esperanto? Some people might say it’s not a real language. However, it is a real language that was originally created to become an international language that could bridge the gap between countries.

Esperanto is a very easy language to learn. You can become proficient in it in a fraction of the time it would take you to learn other languages. It’s easy to understand after only a few hours of study. It’s great for people who are fluent in Germanic and Romance languages, since it draws from those two language groups the most.

The thing that had me convinced is that it actually helps people learn other languages faster. While Esperanto may not be the most practical language to learn, it helps you with many fundamentals of European languages, and it makes it easier to learn them. So, why not take the time to learn Esperanto and cut the time to learn other languages?

I’m going to go for it. While I’m studying French and Spanish, I’m going to also work on Esperanto. This should be fun!

Anyone interested in studying Esperanto?

Test Driving Languages – Polish

320px-Flag_of_Poland.svgMy first Slavic language. Oh boy, what am I getting myself into? This language intimidated me before I even tried attempting to study a bit of it. All those szcz strings and everything else. Unlike many other Slavic languages, I can read it without learning a new alphabet. I went into this believing it was going to be difficult. So, let’s see what I really thought about it.

Ja jestem mężczyzną.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

It’s basically like the Roman alphabet, but with an additional 9 letters, which are basically Roman letters with accents or other things attached to them. I could get used to it.

Pronunciation

I’m lost. Well, not completely, but just six lessons doesn’t really help me figure out what they’re saying. I can’t listen and accurately type the words. This will take a lot of time to get used to. Some of the sounds don’t logically go with the letters I see, from an English centred brain.

Grammar

The good things are that it’s subject-verb-object. Thank you! Also, there are no articles. That’s easy! And that means no gendered nouns. Also, present simple and progressive are the same.

The difficult things are that the verb conjugations are a bit tough to learn. And this language has cases. Seven cases, to be exact. I really have no idea what to expect there. Plural words have different suffixes, so I haven’t been able to figure those out yet.  What am I getting myself into?

Overall Impression

Difficult. Irish was difficult. Turkish was difficult. This is difficult. I don’t recognise a single word. I kept forgetting words. My retention was quite low for this, since I had to keep checking what the words were. I couldn’t remember how to spell the words. I couldn’t even pronounce them if I looked at them. Simply put, this is going to take a huge amount of effort to study.

I still have Ukrainian and Russian to do. They use the Cyrillic alphabet, which I will have to learn before tackling the languages. They’re also Slavic, so I’m thinking they’re even more difficult than Polish!

Do you speak Polish? Are you interested in or are learning Polish? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Turkish

Flag_of_Turkey.svgI’m now moving away from Germanic and Romance languages, and onto something completely different. This time, it’s Turkish. I’m used to the grammar in English, French, and other European languages, but Turkish presents something very different. In some ways, it wasn’t difficult. In others, I had some difficulty.

Ben bir adamım.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

This is pretty simple. It’s basically the same as in English, but has a few added characters with accents and this one: ı. It’s not an i. It’s pronounced like e. There are some others, like ğ, ç, and ş, which have no sound, ch, and sh sounds respectively.

Pronunciation

Apart from a few characters that are modified from the Roman alphabet, it’s very straightforward to pronounce. Just getting used to those other characters will take a little effort, though probably minimal.

Grammar

Germanic and Romance languages use the subject-verb-object form. Turkish uses subject-object-verb, which is actually the same as Japanese. Since I have plenty of experience with Japanese, this word order is familiar to me. Verbs are conjugated according to the pronoun/noun, and are similar to French. The pronoun for he/she/it is O. They’re all the same. There are also no articles, except in some cases when we need an indefinite article. A noun without an article can be translated to a noun using definite, indefinite, or no article in English.

Overall Impression

The alphabet and pronunciation I can get used to. The grammar I can get used to. There are some similarities with other languages. The thing that’s difficult is vocabulary. They words resemble nothing in English. My word retention wasn’t bad, but I had a difficult time with spelling. It wasn’t as difficult as I originally expected, but it’ll still be a challenge.

Have you studied Turkish? Can you speak it? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.

Test Driving Languages – Danish

Flag_of_Denmark.svgMoving from one Scandinavian language to another, I attempted a bit of Danish. It’s very similar to both Norwegian and Swedish, but my experience was very different from either one. There were some easy aspects, yet other frustrated me. I was surprised.

Jeg er en mand.

— I am a man.

Alphabet

This is pretty easy, like the other Germanic languages. It’s mostly the Roman alphabet with a couple other characters added (æ and ø).

Pronunciation

This frustrated me a bit. The postfixes were difficult to hear, and some words weren’t so easy to pronounce. I would really need to practice both listening and speaking to be able to get this right. Not easy.

Grammar

The good things: You don’t have to conjugate verbs. They are always the same no matter what the pronoun is. The pronouns are also quite straightforward. There are gendered nouns, but not male/female. However…

The bad things: The nouns are either common gender or neuter. These you just need to remember. For the indefinite articles, they are en and et respectively. For the definite articles, they are postfixed to the nouns. And then there’s the plural form. And definite plural form. I just got so confused I couldn’t remember what they were. I would have to really concentrate on this to remember.

Overall Impression

I had difficulty with both pronunciation and articles. However, word retention was very good. There were some similarities with Norwegian and Swedish, and I liked that the verbs don’t conjugate. That is easy. I found it more challenging than Norwegian and Swedish, but that’s just after six lessons. It’ll be a while until I fully tackle this language, though.

Have you studied Danish? Are you interested in it? Let me know in the comments below.