A Look at the Tsou Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the Tsou language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Austro-Tai

Austronesian

Formosan

Tsouic

Tsou is a Taiwanese aborigine language spoken by about 2,000 people in Taiwan.

Tsou is also ergative like most Formosan languages. Tsou is the only language in the world that has no prepositions nor anything that looks like a preposition. Instead it uses nouns and verbs in the place of prepositions. Tsou allows more potential consonant clusters than most other languages.

About 1/2 of all possible CC clusters are allowed. Tsou has an inclusive/exclusive distinction in the 1st person plural and a very strange visible and non-visible distinction in the 3rd person singular and plural. Both adjectives and adverbs can turn into verbs, as they are marked for voice in the same way that verbs are. Verbs are extensively marked for voice.

Nouns are marked for a variety of odd cases, often referring to perception (visible/invisible) and person and place deixis

'e         "visible and near speaker"
si/ta      "visible and near hearer"
ta         "visible but away from speaker"
'o/to      "invisible and far away or newly introduced to discourse"
na/no ~ ne "non-identifiable and non-referential"*

*often when scanning a class of elements

Tsou gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.

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Filed under Applied, Asia, Asians, Austro-Tai, Austronesian, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, SE Asia, SE Asians, Taiwan, Taiwanese Aborigines

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