Category Archives: Balto-Slavic-Germanic

I Have Been Working on This Paper Lately

Here.

These jerkoffs really made me angry.

It is 65 pages now, and it has 34 references, 6 personal communications and 28 cites. A number of the judgements are now from linguists, articles in linguistics journals, people with graduate degrees who took a vast number of linguistics courses, grad students in philology, and language teachers with BA’s in Linguistics. There are also a number from people who I personally tested. And I do have one result from a formal intelligibility study, but I could only find one of them for Slavic. These types of studies are almost never done with major languages.

The truth is that even if it’s 300 pages and has 100 references, these cranks and hacks still won’t be happy. They will say this piece is junk no matter how good I make it. Part of the problem is that they will not accept any judgement unless it is from a “trained linguist.” But no one knows what that means. Arrogant eggheads often use that to mean a current or former professor of Linguistics with a PhD. Anything less than that simply won’t cut it.

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Filed under Applied, Language Families, Linguistics, Scholarship, Slavic

Judith Mirville on Language

I really enjoyed this piece. Those idiots at Badlinguistics are going to hate this post so much, but nevertheless, I think she is mostly correct here. This post is definitely Beyond Highbrow! Something to strive for, commenters! Reach for the skies!

Judith Mirville writes:

English has on one hand grown easier by shedding most of the heavy declension and conjugation-based Germanic grammar of old Anglo-Saxon and old Norman French it also derives fully from, but on the other hand it has grown into one of the most difficult languages of the earth due to the fact that to master it in a workable way, you have to work with roots coming from just too many linguistic horizons, each one having its own rules of combination.

You have more words of French origin in English than remain in French proper. For instance jeopardy and legerdemain are no longer understood in French, and poisonous is no longer correct. More words of Latin and Greek origin than allowed for in real Latin and Greek, apart from the simpler one-syllable, quite often more purely Saxon words that form more numerous prepositional idioms in the popular language than there are words formed likewise in German or Dutch, not counting a larger array than in other languages of purely exotic words having no common roots with any of the main ingredients of English.

The only other one language I know to be quite difficult for foreigners wanting to go beyond the cafeteria level for that very same reason is Hindi. Its grammar has retained only very few of the original complex Indo-European forms, and you cannot master its vocabulary without understanding that even though a few words of daily usage were originally Sanskrit or Pali, they have now undergone much transformation not necessarily for the simplest.

Yet most of the everyday vocabulary used in polite conversations is deformed Arabic imported through Persian, itself a compound language from Old Iranian and Semitic languages.

There is also a whole array of more recently learned terms artificially derived from Classical Sanskrit when it comes to science or Hinduism.

There is also quite a wide array of even more recently learned terms artificially derived from Classical Arabic when it comes to political science, economics, politics or Islam of course, which is an obligatory subject of conversation for all even those who combat it.

This is not counting an even wider array of words imported from English since the British era which is now widening with the advent of globalization. Each of those variegated language sources imposes its own ways of lexical derivation and quite often its grammatical forms.

Hindi, like English, seems somewhat easier than Sanskrit or Tamil as you begin, though it is never as easy as broken or basic English. But like higher-level English, you never, ever come close as a foreigner to master a working knowledge of it for universities or big enterprises.

In German (as well as in many Indian languages other than Hindi), by contrast, you have a much harder time mastering the grammatical machinery as you start, quite like a Mercedes engine, but once you do and you also master the root word combination system, you access very rapidly the highest realms of German philosophical thought.

I perfectly agree with you in stating that the idea put forth by many linguists that all languages are equal in terms of difficulty and ease of learning is a piece of utter fallacy and mendacity.

This is somewhat true only in the very specific context of automated learning of everyday language reflexes to be used without thinking in various situations, as if one were a spy working among a very distant people, and having learned to pronounce with the right accent most automated answers to daily practical situations like ordering toasts and coffee, paying a traffic ticket… one has also to pass more unnoticed in that environment than another person speaking a neighboring and similar dialect with less ease but more ability to express his thought.

This linguistic egalitarianism only works with people who will never bother to express anything they love to say but rather conceal what they know and camouflage it under nonsensical conversation of the kind that will never elicit any suspicion of unorthodoxy, as was the case in early Soviet Union.

And it comes to no surprise that such a linguistic theory came along together with Marxism. This theory can also work quite well in the context of enforced intellectual limitation by a ruling empire over all cultures to be stultified in the same way. But as soon as you are bothering to excel in a language and say everything you would love to say in your own or want to make serious intellectual research, this is simply untrue.

Some languages are really hard to learn, and some others quite easy, though the reasons may vary. Some languages are more difficult due to their lack of relationship with your native one, and some are quite difficult even to their own native speakers.

This PC view about languages just tells us about the limitation of all language they want to impose on us: prohibiting real self-expression and allowing only for a narrow range of practical commands. As they do when they say all races are equal and should mix with each other: what they tell is not the truth, but their aim instead is for the creation of a general stultified world citizen where all possible ancestral talents cancel out each other in favour of sheer mediocrity except for the cunning to make money by fraud and accepting bribes from the higher strata.

Anyway it won’t work: the most mongrelized White-African-Arabic new underclass they wanted to promote as model to be followed by all in France turned out to have lost all personal qualities and prejudices by race and culture mixing … except conspiracy-finding antisemitism as a natural federating factor as epitomized by Dieudonné. The result is that the new-fashioned intellectual Jewish elite of Paris are panicking, developing their own local version of neoconservative thought and telling the White Frenchmen to preserve their heritage from Africanization and mongrelization.

What I cannot stand though is the contrary point of view manifested by race realists such as Gedalia Braun that Negro languages are always more simple and primitive in structure and lacking in the power to express many concepts making civilization possible like metric graduation in the expression of distance in space and time and the notion of appointment and faithfulness as well as a vocabulary needing a dictionary to be relied upon and maintained.

I happen to be a passionate speaker of Haitian Creole of the most purely hillbilly kind as the language of my main love in life, and what Gedalia Braun says is 100% dead wrong even though Creole is supposed to be the zero ground in terms of general linguistics and mental development.

First of all, there is an elaborate tense system in Creole. It seems non-existent only relative to French verbs. Actually it works quite in the same way as English in terms of  morphology and auxiliaries though the shades of tense and aspect meaning are as elaborate as in Classical Spanish. It is much more refined and detailed in expression than the tense system of German or of Hebrew which is without any refinement in its modern form. And we are not even talking about the East Asian languages which are said to devoid of the notion of taste and actually more like what one caricatures as a Negro language.

Like English, and for the same reasons, Creole vocabulary is actually huge and of complex derivation, even though it seems easy to catch it when you begin as a traveling salesman, before long, you realize you will never be over with it.

You’ve got three main levels of language.

One that outwardly looks like simplified French but is combined very differently according to syntactic rules more like Semitic languages, possibly Aramaic, and of semantic rules more like Germanic languages. It is also very detailed, accurate and flexible as regards the expression of movement in space and time. A few engineers I know say it is seducing as an instrument for expressing equations.

The second level is the voodoo one, which works according to a different syntax copied from the Gbe language where the determinant comes before the determined as in German, not afterwards as in the first level, and is used for psychic manipulation purposes and power politics.

A third level of language is used for reasons of communication and compatibility with the surrounding modern sophisticated world and comprises all terms of Latin and Greek etymology present in either French, English and Spanish, generally with a rather French pronunciation but the same meaning as in English, and also a greater freedom in forming new terms by Pseudo-Latin derivation.

I don’t know anything about the Piraha language of Amazonia, but after having read a book by a pastor (Everett) who said he had witnessed the marvel of nonthinking people using it, and it had only three vowels, ten consonants, and no structured sentences, I can assure you this guy has been played with by those “primitives.” After all, as an American Evangelist missionary, he deserved to be shot by a poisoned arrow, but they defended themselves in a grander way by neutering his brain, maybe by the use of other less poisonous botanicals.

What that missionary says in a frantic, ecstatic mood is pure delusion.

First of all, there is a consecrated non-wordy, non-analytic, non-recursive way of expression most delicious to use whenever feasible in many languages closer to ours.

Portuguese is one of the best known examples of it.

Even though Portuguese is a very intricate and rich, complex language as regards its literary form proper, it possesses a register of expression that is very difficult to pick up. You have to develop extrasensory modes of communication to do it.

In this register, you exchange only one-word whispered sentences (like so pode) conveying each one a world of implications, making the conversation more like birds’ concert so to speak. Maybe the Portuguese Catholic Inquisition made that a matter of survival at some time, but its reputation for mortal totalitarian control has been grossly exaggerated compared to other control-freaks like the Judaeo-Anglo-Saxon PC crowd.

Everett has remained in the same kind of racist outlook with direction only reversed. Actually, the Pirahas he has met with have always known much more about his culture and his world, together with many other ones that have been threatening them into extinction for centuries, and which they have circumvented through manipulation so far, than he has about theirs, even after all he thinks he has discovered. I suspect the Pirahas to be a very cunning and not so charming and benevolent crowd, though capable of huge good practical jokes: not at all the last castaways from Eden that Everett still imagines as a former Evangelical.

There is certainly a huge higher initiation level of language the Pirahas are dead intent on reserving to themselves, which as high in left brain content as KGB Russian, the same level as in Portuguese, and my beloved Creole. Haitians even used to have computer-like programming languages long before computers, except that they were used to program humans made into zombies, and the purpose of them was always evil.

Arabic, among the languages of worldwide use, is one of the most difficult technically, not only because of its non-relationship with any roots we know in our own languages or its very heavy and irregular morphology as regards plurals, conjugations, declensions and its convoluted syntax, but also because very simple notions in most other languages even in supposedly closely-related Hebrew never can be said in clear simple terms in Arabic and need a cumbersome grammatical apparatus to be conveyed.

To express the concept of doing again or re-doing something, you have to fully conjugate the two verbs re- and do (prepositions are conjugated too, with as many special rules as with verbs), you cannot add something like un- or de- to express the undoing of something.

Instead you have to use a full clause like I am undoing the attachment of my shirt instead of I am untying it. You cannot say I have done it already, instead you have to say something like It is already overtaken by my doing it. You generally don’t say I must do it (even though you could in theory), instead you more commonly say There is no alternative for me apart from doing so.

One thing I like about Arabic though is its closure towards foreign admixture and the difficulty for foreign words to get naturalized, with the result that the semantic universe is simpler than elsewhere and more coherent.

The most difficult aspect though is that you cannot form compound terms and verbs the way you do in English and Romance languages by using suffixes and prefixes, especially when as a stranger or a beginner you are short of the exact term and would use a synonymous compound word instead. Even the negation of adjectives is not guaranteed, and you have to learn the contrary ones which have independent roots.

One thing remarkable about Arabic is the utmost difficulty of expressing in it the idea of excess or of extremism as being an undesirable thing, and conversely, of moderation as being a virtue. The word too or too much simply doesn’t exist. Phrase books and Google translation recommend to use the word very (jiddan) instead, but it has nearly always a laudatory connotation, and if you insist in using it for meaning too much you are spotted as a clumsily-speaking foreigner.

The problem is that practically all comparatives and superlatives that are used to render the idea of relative excess to a situation, like a truck too high for a tunnel to pass through, are also by themselves as elatives having an admirative value. When you say akbar for instance, it is very big or bigger than expected, but it can never really be too big. It is always something like “Wow my Gosh, how it’s big!” Even apart from the worldwide known religious and terroristic use of Allahu Akbar proper, it is just too big eventually for the sum of money it would cost or some other accidental impediment like a ceiling.

In theory, in very Classical (though non-Koranic) Arabic, you could also use a difficult conjugated verb in a serial clause for expressing the simple adverb too much (the verb ifrat:a, meaning overdoing) as is the case with most simple English adverbs, but  that would sound as pedantic, unnatural and unusual as Shakespearean “multitudinously” (except as verbal nouns to form scientific compound terms used in universities only) and make everybody around laugh, even among religious speakers of Classical Arabic only.

The word “moderate” is generally recommended to be translated in journalistic lingo as mutaäddil.

But if you leave the Western-style university class for the university cafeteria and say Ana muslimun mutaäddil (I am a moderate Muslim), your colleague from a non-Western culture-related subject will understand something completely different.

He will know that your appetites are well moderated by your faith in Islam, that you have renounced all alcohol, you no longer smoke, you skip one meal out of two and fast for the whole Ramadan, you never indulge in erotic or profane literature and try live a spartan life in order to spare money for the Hajj, which things are not a promise of tolerant conduct towards non-believers.

All good translators into Arabic will tell you of the challenge to render such an expression as too much or of the general concept that an extremist point of view (mutat:arrif) might be condemnable.

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Filed under Afroasiatic, Applied, Arabic, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, French, German, Germanic, Hindi, Indic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Irano-Armenian, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Portuguese, Romance, Sanskrit, Semitic

Some Idiots Are Trying to Destroy Me

Some clowns on some Reddit forums called Bad Linguistics and Linguistics have decided that they have it in for me and are waging a jihad to try to destroy me. I believe it all started when I wrote a post trashing the field of Linguistics for a lot of its consensus dogma, mostly based on PC nonsense, that I consider to be insane and idiotic. You are not allowed to question received dogma in this most unscientific of mushy, PC-poisoned soft sciences. I suppose that started it, and they have been on the warpath ever since.

The latest is they have banned everyone from linking to me on one of their subreddits, while they continue to link me on another one (Badling).

Almost all of their charges are wholly without merit. They are just cranks and hacks. They are telling people to disregard everything I say because every sentence or statement in everything I write is false, as are 100% of my conclusions about everything. There are bans on linking to me for “spreading misinformation,” which is nonsense.

Latest r/Linguistics post attacking an article of mine.

R/Badlinguistics on the same piece.

Here is the paper in question on Academia.edu: Mutual Intelligibility among the Slavic Languages.

It has gotten more downloads than 99.5% of Linguistics articles. Over 10,000 people have downloaded the piece so far.

Most of their charges are simply false. None of their arguments are consequential. The piece they are attacking has 31 references now, 6 personal communications and 25 citations. Everything they say about mutual intelligibility and its testing is simply false, but the idiotic and insane charges they are making are widely believed in this silly field.

*****

A post attacking my piece trashing the field for terminal PC idiocy.

The first post attacking the same piece.

The article in question: Why Did I Get a Degree in This Hokey Field Anyway?

*****

Another piece attacking an article I wrote on the relative difficulty of learning Chinese for English learners.

There were some errors in there, but that is the nature of peer review. All scholars make errors in their work, so what? And I am spread so thinly trying to be an expert in some different areas and languages, that I am bound to make some mistakes because there is a limit to how much you can know. People who specialize in some narrow field are going to get a lot better at it because they are not spreading themselves so far.

The piece in question: A Look at the Chinese Language.

*****

I do not mean to trash most of the work done in Linguistics, especially descriptive and theoretical work which is often excellent, just the PC idiocy that the field is shot through and through with.

Here are some of the crazy things that they believe.

No language is inherently harder or easier to learn than any other. It all depends on your native tongue.

This is just not true. So Tsez is just as easy to learn as Malay? Forget it. Some languages are so hard, like Tsez and Czech, that even native speakers often never learn to speak them 100% correctly. In the Czech Republic, they have TV contests about the Czech language where speakers are tested on obscure forms. If you can go through 30 minutes without making a mistake it is considered amazing. Piraha was so hard to learn that a succession of jungle priests in Brazil tried to learn it but gave up because it was too hard.

Even the notion that any language is easier to learn if you speak a related language is not true. Speakers of Salish languages surrounding Kootenai typically refused to learn Kootenai, a similar language, saying it was too hard. Most speakers of Cantonese who know Mandarin and Cantonese, even Cantonese native speakers, say that Cantonese is much harder to learn than Mandarin.

What about language isolates that are not related to any other language. Sure, maybe you can learn Basque easier if you speak a language that is related to Basque or maybe similar to Basque. Guess what? Nothing is related to Basque. Are there are any languages similar to Basque? Who knows? It has no relatives, why would there be similar languages? The old joke is that Basque is so hard that even The Devil couldn’t learn it. Satan tried to learn it for 7 years and all he learned how to say was hello and goodbye.

Many first languages are so hard to learn that speakers do not learn the entire language until high school. Native speakers of Finnish, Polish and even Portuguese have told me that many to most native speakers never learn to write the language correctly.

All children learn language equally fast and this proves that no language is inherently easier or harder to learn than any other.

We now have a lot of data coming in showing that while this is often true, it is not always true. Many have noted that Navajo children struggle with their own language. We now have data from Danish that shows that Danish children take longer to learn their language. There is similar data coming in for German, Turkish, and Arabic in Europe. Children simply take longer to learn some languages than others. Why? Because they are harder to learn, that’s why!

At any rate, some languages are so difficult and there are so few folks speaking related languages that they are going to be hard to learn for 99% of the world’s population. Sure, Tsez may be somewhat easier if you speak a related language, but who in God’s name speaks a language closely related to Tsez? How many humans speak a language closely related to Ket? Almost none, and Na-Dene languages are very distant and don’t resemble Ket much at all.

What percentage of the world’s population speaks a US Amerindian language or an Aboriginal Australian language?

Even if you speak a US Amerindian language, most of them are quite distantly related to each other.

Even in California, knowledge of Yokuts is no hope if you wish to learn Salinan (isolate) or Hupa (isolate)? Yokuts is its own family. It’s not related to anything. How is knowing Yokuts going to help you learn anything? How is knowing Chimariko, Yana, Karuk and Esselen, all isolates, going to help you learn anything else.  Knowing Costanoan won’t help you learn Luiseno or Chumashan. Knowing any of the above won’t help you learn Yurok or Wiyot.

And we haven’t even left California. As you can see, even knowing one California Indian language hardly helps you learn another one as most of them are hardly related to others, if at all.

Obviously there are quite a few world languages that are going to be very hard for 99.9% of the world to learn because hardly anyone speaks a similar language. See how silly this “it’s easy if you speak a similar language” argument is?

Another consensus, which is truly preposterous, is that there are no languages that are more simple or more complex than any others. Well, that settles it! Malay is as complex as Ubykh! Tsez is as simple as Afrikaans!

This is completely insane. Some languages are mind-bogglingly complex, while others are fairly straightforward. Many are full of case, mood, tense, aspect, with wild verb and noun paradigms and mass irregularity running amok through the languages. The Slavic languages are full of complex morphological or complexional case. Czech, Slovak and Polish are some of the most notorious. Bulgarian and Macedonian have lost most of their case and become more analytic, so obviously their languages have simplified. Czech is vastly more complex than Macedonian, and these are in the same family.

Linguists also say that we can’t define the words “complex” and “simple.”

They are always saying this sort of thing in the best soft science tradition. They can’t define this. They can’t define that. They can’t define much of anything! I guess nothing means anything then. Why don’t they change the name from Linguistics to Nihilism?

The brilliant scholars on the sci.language newsgroup include well known professors and linguists who have published widely, written popular books and even have Wikipedia entries. Most have PhD’s.

These fine thinkers informed me that there are no languages that have more rules than other languages because we can’t define rules. There are no languages that have more complex rules and others than have more simple rules because we can’t define complex or simple. There are no languages that are more regular and others that are more irregular and full of exceptions because we can’t define regular, irregular or exception. Granted, many linguists would dispute this insanity, but there were a number of PhD linguists in the group when these statements were made to me, and none of them challenged this battiness.

We can’t say that primitive tribes often speak complex languages (perhaps due to no strong civilizational need to simplify them) or that languages tend to simplify when they are widely spoken, especially as modern urban languages, a well-known phenomenon. Sure, English has dramatically simplified from its Proto-Germanic base, but linguists insist it hasn’t. Because maybe this morphological simplification was combined with increased complexity in other ways?

Frankly, much of the increased complexity in English suggested – stress, tone, pitch, pragmatics, increased and more fine toned semantics, etc. – was probably already present in Old Frisian anyway, but whatever. The notion that anytime a language simplifies its case, verbal paradigms or flexional morphology, it is going to at the same time increase its complexity in other areas is a theory with no backing whatsoever. Doesn’t stop linguists from throwing it about like an anchor to sink theories they don’t like.

Although many linguists now accept a Critical Period for language learning and many assume it is biological (there is one and it is biological), when I was getting my degree 20 years ago, most of my professors insisted that there was no such thing. Adults could learn language just as easily as children!

So why didn’t they? They had all sorts of whacky psychological theories, including affective filters that mysterious pop up out of the ether as one ages but are somehow not present in kids, increased anxiety via the amygdala, and all sorts of other BS. I actually had to learn and test on all this silliness.

Psychological theories are still very popular to explain the Critical Period, but they are no less silly.

Language Necessity Theory: You see, children have to learn an L1, but adults don’t have to learn an L2.

Nice, but that does not explain how children can pick up anywhere from 5-8 L1’s in childhood, most of which they didn’t need to learn as they already had one L1.

Too Much Time on Their Hands Theory: Another one is that children have nothing to all day except unravel toilet paper rolls, stick inedible objects in their mouths, romp in playpens and cry a lot, so they have nothing but time on their hands. So really they have every waking hour to learn language. Whereas adults are so busy with our lives, jobs, school, hobbies, chores, errands, business deals, research, idle chat, Internet porn and Borderline Personality Disorder girlfriends that we honestly don’t have any time leftover to learn language.

That’s just silly. Kids don’t learn language because they have all day to do so. They learn it because their brains are wired up to get it.

Another pet theory is that all languages are equally effective and efficient for getting done whatever the speaker needs to get done.

This is just not true. Look at a sign posted in English and another one posted in Spanish. Note that the Spanish translation is considerably longer. As in takes longer to write the same thing, takes longer to read the same thing and probably takes longer to say the same thing. Students who have written long papers in both English and Japanese report that the paper was much easier to write in English due to the oddities of Japanese writing style.

Many languages lack modern vocabulary or words for modern items and ideas. Drop a Piraha speaker in New York City and tell me how he gets along. He has two colors – light and dark. How is he going to describe that neon sign or art exhibit? He has no numerals – only one and “more than one/lots.” Tell me how he gets along in the wildly consumerized world of Late Capitalist NYC when he can’t even count?

I learned quite a bit of a California Indian language but I thought it would be hard to discuss detailed and intellectual topics in that language. Surely German would be much better suited to ponderous philosophy than Miwok. Indians don’t have words for a lot of of deeply intellectual notions because they do not bother to think about this sort of thing very much as their pre-contact culture had no use for it.

Due to the oddities of the Japanese language, Japanese speakers are often speaking at cross purposes to each other. It is often hard to figure out who did what to whom in a sentence. Sure, it’s a great modern world language, but it sounds like Japanese has some efficiency problems.

There are some things that Linguistics hates with a bizarre passion.

One of these is the Sapir-Whorf Theory of Linguistic Relativity. This theory postulates that the language you speak shapes the way that you think and view the world.

Intuitively, it seems to make sense, and quite a bit of evidence was collected in favor of it. Indeed, we continue to collect more evidence in favor of this theory. Linguists go stark raving ballistic if you even mention this theory, as Linguistics has supposedly “proven” that the language you speak has no effect on the way that you think or view the world. But wait, I thought Linguistics couldn’t prove much of anything about anything or even define most terms?

I have been over most of the lit, and Linguistics has proved nothing of the sort. I don’t agree that the full theory has been proven correct, but it certainly has not been proven false. It is most charitable to say that Sapir-Whorf is rather up in the air.

I could go on and on here, but you get the picture.

I think the overarching PC theory here is similar to Boasian Anthropology in which no culture was superior or inferior to any other. Headhunters and cannibals who will fatten you up to cook you in a pot are just as sensible and decent as the Japanese or Swedes.

Similarly, PC Linguistics wants to say that no language is better or worse than any other or even slightly suggest that this is true. They are also ferociously opposed to biological explanations of language and prefer cultural or psychological theories instead, harkening back once again to Boas and Kroeber “culture is everything” hostility to biological differences in human races, groups or societies. We can see a profound hostility all through the soft sciences to biological explanations of any sort for human behavior.

Apparently this PC thinking is that biological explanations of behavior are reactionary, lead to conservative thinking, societies and politics, and especially lead to nationalism, tribalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or whatever the illegal thought de jour is.

In line with this, Linguistics is fanatically PC, and linguists, like other social scientists, spend a lot of time yelling about racism, sexism, hate speech, bigotry, prejudice and other thought-crimes.

The typical rejoinder that human behavior is so variable and subjective that we can’t possibly factor out the variables enough to make any definitive statements about subjective human behaviors always seemed like a cop-out to me. It is just another excuse for the Theoretical Nihilism that reigns in the social sciences.

They don’t call it Physics Envy for nothing.

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Filed under Amerindians, Applied, Basque, Biology, California, Chinese language, Cultural Marxists, English language, Frisian, Isolates, Language Families, Language Learning, Left, Linguistics, Multilingualism, North America, Regional, Scholarship, Science, Slavic, USA, Useless Western Left

Stupid New Word Invented for No Good Reason

The otherwise sensible Oxford English Dictionary has just invented a crazy new honorific title to go along the sane titles Mr., Mrs., Miss and Ms., all of which makes some sort of sense. The stupid honorific is Mx. So now we have Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., and Mx. Mx. will be used to transgender people who can’t figure out whether they are men or women or both or neither. It can also be used for idiots who “do not want to identify their gender.” Why would anyone not want to identify their gender!?

The otherwise sensible editor of the OED said it was an example of people using language in ways that suit them rather than having language dictate identity to them. I agree that this has been a serious problem. It is almost a crime the way our honorifics force you to decide whether you are a man or a woman. What a terrible choice to ask people to make.

The Cultural Left Freakshow has just scored another victory in their neverending war against common sense and sanity.

Let’s hear it for the Cultural Left!

Yay Cultural Left!

Go, Cultural Left go!

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Filed under Cultural Marxists, English language, Gender Studies, Left, Ridiculousness, Useless Western Left

The Jewish Languages of the Jewish Diaspora

Sam asks:

Robert I should have asked you this before but I had forgotten it. This post jogged my memory. I read once…somewhere…that all Jewish languages were bastardizations of whatever language they were using at the time. The idea being that they could converse amongst themselves without others knowing what they are saying. Seems also the way they transformed the language was supposed to be a bit tricky so as to make it even harder to understand. Does that sound as if that scenario is true or could be true?

I am not sure if they did it on purpose so as not to be understood or if their versions are bastardizations (a term we linguists do not use) of the native tongue, but in just about every nation in which Jews were living in a large number, the Jews were speaking a different language than the natives. In Europe, the Ashkenazim were speaking Yiddish in the north and the Sephardics were speaking Ladino in the South. In the Crimea, the Karaite Jews spoke Ukrainian Karaim and other Jews spoke Krypchak, both of which are closely related to but not the same language as Crimean Tatar. In other parts of Ukraine and in Lithuania and Poland, other Jews also spoke Lithuanian Karaim, a different language from Ukrainian Karaim.

In the Arab World, in each nation where the Arab Jews reside, they speak a different form of Arabic than the natives, for instance, Moroccan Jews might have spoken something called Moroccan Jewish Arabic instead of Moroccan Arabic. They also spoke their own forms of Aramaic where they were living with a lot of Arab Christians in the north of Iraq, Syria and Iran. The Jewish language often had many Hebrew loans in it and was different in other ways. In each case, Ethnologue regards the Jewish language as actually a separate language from the native tongue of the land.

In Northern Europe, Jews took Palatinian German and fashioned a new Jewish language out of it. In the South, they did the same with Spanish. In Ukraine, the Jews melded Crimean Tatar into three separate Jewish languages. In the Arab Muslim and Arab Christian worlds, the Jews took the common and Arabic or Aramaic languages of those lands and fashioned them into separate Jewish languages.

It seems as though everywhere they lived, the Jews desired to be different and set themselves apart from the rest, even in a linguistic sense.

N.B. Most of these Jewish languages are now in very bad shape and by the year 2100, most will probably be extinct with the probable exception of Yiddish and Lithuanian Karaim.

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How Close Is Yiddish to English?

Here.

Yiddish: A matone di ale vos bay zeyere kinder in moyl vet yidish lebn.

English: A gift to all those in whose children’s mouths Yiddish will live

Interlineal translation: I am guessing at meanings, but even where the definitions are wrong, that is not of much importance. For instance, if I read zeyere as their then that is successful bilingual communication on my part, even if zeyere does not mean their. I assigned it a token meaning that works perfectly in this context and communication is all that matters in bilingualism, not perfect definitions:

A matone di ale vos   bay zeyere kinder   in moyl    
A        to all those     their  children in mouths

vet yidish  lebn.
yet Yiddish learn.

Not bad. Notice all the cognates. You can do much the same with any German or Frisian or possibly even Dutch sentence.

Yiddish is only a German dialect, closely related to the Palatinian German language as spoken along the Rhine. It is so close to the Mannheim and Speyr dialects Palatinian that it may be nearly intelligible with them. Yiddish has also incorporated a lot of Slavic and Hebrew loans which complicate matters.

German and English are separated by 1,900 years. So after 2,000 years separation, really there is nothing left. An English speaker cannot understand one single word of spoken German. I know this because I have listened to German speakers and I can’t get even one word of their speech. This is true even though German and English are loaded with cognates. But you can’t recognize the cognates because they are “masked.”

So in the sentence above, the English speaker might hear kinder, moyl and lebn, all of which have obvious English cognates, but they still would not make sense of them because they were not recognize the fact that they are cognates. That is, they would hear the word kinder, but have no idea that that referred to children, etc.

If you can’t sort out the cognates and recognize them and connect them up to some word in your own language, they are as good as useless.

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Synonyms in English

Look at all the synonyms for one simple word!

Look at all the synonyms for one simple word! That is quite an impressive list!

Amazing. I knew a young Korean woman once, a friend of the family. She knew Korean of course, and she was learning English and could speak it pretty well.

Once she said that she thought all of the synonyms in English were ridiculous and idiotic and that Korean has few synonyms. The Koreans have the attitude that if you have one word that connotes a given meaning, what is the purpose of having another word, basically a duplicate word, for the same meaning? You now have two words that mean exactly the same thing. What exactly have you accomplished other than to clutter up your language and your brain?

In Semantics there is the notion that there is probably no such thing as a synonym other than for slang words. Semanticists believe that most synonyms have slightly different meanings from each other – that is, they have a tiny shade of a different meaning from the word or words that they are synonymous with.

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Beherrschen Linguisten viele Sprachen?

This is a German translation of the post, Linguists Know Lots of Languages? that appeared first on the old site. I used to have a lot of folks translating articles for me on the old site because I had so much traffic coming in and I wanted to accomodate international readers. I would keep track of how many would come from any country for any post and then tally them up. At some point, I would have enough demand for a transation. The blog was making no money at all, so I was volunteering, so I asked all of my translators to volunteer also.

This post might be interesting to any of you who know German. If you want, I can put the English version of the post in too.

Beherrschen Linguisten viele Sprachen?

Ein weit verbreitetes Mißverständnis ist, dass Linguisten viele Sprachen beherrschen. Eine Abwandlung davon ist, dass wer nicht polyglott ist, auch nicht für einen Linguitik-Studiengang zugelassen wird – und schon gar nicht, wer nur eine Sprache spricht.

Viele ältere Leute denken, das Wort “Linguist” sei ein Synonym für “polyglott”.

Ich habe einen Master in Linguistik und spreche nur eine Sprache gut: Das ist Englisch. Mit Spanisch komme ich einigermaßen zurecht, aber ich beherrsche es nicht fließend und schon gar nicht wie ein Muttersprachler. Ich verstehe ein bisschen Italienisch, Französisch, Portugieseich und Chukchansi Yokuts (eine Sprache kalifornischer Indianer), aber mein Spanisch ist besser, als diese Sprachen.

Als Linguist muss man nicht mehr als eine Sprache beherrschen. Beispielsweise habe ich etwa die Hälfte eines Wörterbuches und Sprachführers in Chukchansi Yokuts fertig gestellt, aber eher würde die Hölle vereisen als dass ich diese Sprache wirklich zu beherrschen lernte. Ich habe nur die Daten gesammelt, organisiert, analysiert und in eine Lexikon und etwas Lehrmaterial umgearbeitet.

Für meinen Linguistik-Studiengang war es nicht einmal Voraussetzung, zweisprachig zu sein, um zugelassen zu werden. Ihn haben Viele studiert, die nur eine Sprache beherrschten. Sicherlich, es gab auch viele ausländische Studenten, die jedoch alle auf einen ESL-Abschluß hinarbeiteten (ESL = English as a second language) und dann wieder im Ausland Englisch als Zweitsprache unterrichten wollten.

Alles was wir machen, ist das Studium von Sprachen. Aber man muss die Sprachen nicht wirklich erlernen um sie studieren zu können. Aus irgend einem Grund verstehen viele Leute das nicht.

Es ist wirklich wahr [in diesem Sinn], dass viele Linguisten mehr als eine Sprache kennen, lesen können und schreiben können.

Ein Linguisten-Witz (Mal seh’n, ob Sie ihn verstehen. Sie müssen viellecht ein bisschen nachdenken.): Man sagt, der berühmte Linguist Roman Jacobsen spräche Russisch in 17 verschiedenen Sprachen.

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Stupidest Word Ever Invented in the English Language

Cisgendered.

Ridiculous or what?

In case you are wondering what it means, all of the present commenters on the site are “cis.” We had one oddbody weirdo, but thank the Lord he left and took all of his endless strands of trailing weirdness with him.

Way to go feminists. Thanks a lot, political gays. Thanks for nothing, Cultural Left Freakshow.

The Cultural Left – whittling away at the concept of normal one day at a time. Honestly, I think the Cultural Left actually hates that word and the hate the very idea and concept. I am certain that they want to eliminate that word from our discourse altogether. The Cultural Left probably considers the word “normal” to be on a par with “nigger.”

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The Roots of the English Language

I was finally able to get a good breakdown of English language roots with the exact percentages. In a previous post I had only guessed at the figures.

According to a 1973 analysis of the shorter (but still 80,000 words) Oxford Dictionary:

28% of English words came from Latin
28% came from French (which is largely Latin)
25% came from elsewhere in the Germanic family
5% came from Greek.

Long story short, more than half of our words (56%) come from the Romance branch and one quarter of our words are more or less from German. Romance and German account for 81% of English words. If we add in the 5% Greek, fully 86% of English words (or almost all of them) come from Romance, German and Greek. Of course the Romance words are all borrowings and only the German words are truly genetically English.

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