Category Archives: Indo-Hittite

The Scottish Don’t Speak English Anyway

The Scottish Independence Vote is coming soon. They may as well form a separate country as they already speak a foreign language.

Ronnie writes:

I could believe that Neanderthal came from Glasgow.

Sorry, should have explained the Neanderthal from Glasgow connection. Primarily the language still spoken, in modern times. Also some behavioural traits, such as the instinctive continued use of crude sharp weapons under circumstances where territory is threatened by someone not of the tribe inadvertently wandering into the wrong area, or when protecting food.

All I know is Glaswegian is a foreign language and once you get up in the islands, I doubt if even the Lowland Scots can understand their compatriots anymore.

Heading into a coffee shop, I heard these two guys talking a language that sounded really familiar to me, but I could not place it. The rhythm almost seemed like English, but I couldn’t understand a single word they said. In line at Starbucks, I innocently asked them what language they were speaking, and they looked offended and answered English. I was going to ask them if they were speaking Scots, but they acted like they didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I am now convinced that they were speaking Scots.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Britain, English language, Europe, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Nationalism, Political Science, Politics, Regional, Scotland, Scots

Language and Ethnic Map of the Ukraine

Language and ethnic map of the Ukraine

Click to enlarge. Language and ethnic map of the Ukraine

Look at the map above. Much of the mostly-Russian speaking area is in rebellion. Lugansk and Donetsk Oblasts are at the far right. Those along with Kharkiv and Zaporozhye Oblasts, also have significant populations that not only speak Russian but are actually ethnically Russian. Lugansk and Donetsk are in open revolt, and in the past week, guerrilla actions have spread to Kharkiv, where sabotage has been going on for some time. Just now guerrilla activities are being reported in Zaporozhye, the furthest to the south and west of the four yellow-brown striped regions. Between Zaporozhye and Crimea, which is mostly in brown is Kherson Oblast, where guerrilla activities have also begun this week.

To the far southwest is Transcarpathia, in red stripes with green on the border. The red stripes are Rusyns, who have gotten sick and tired of this new Ukrainian ethnostate. I also understand that there is a lot of unrest by Hungarians in Transcarpathia (in green). Slovaks in that state (not shown, but presumably next to Slovakia to the northwest of Transcarpathia, are also quite unhappy.

Although the region declared its independence around the same time that Donetsk and Lugansk did, about half of the regions in Transcarpathia are now in open armed rebellion. Checkpoints have been set up all over these rebellious regions and gunmen guard them, only letting people they know come through. Today, Ukrainian troops have been ordered into Transcarpathia to deal with the armed revolt there. What will happen? Will there be another region embroiled in civil war as in the east?

You can see that Odessa is also majority Russian-speaking. This of course is the scene of the Nazi massacre of a large number of unarmed pro-federalist  protestors in the Labor Ministry of the capital city. Conceivably, armed actions could also spread to Odessa. There are also Romanians, Moldovans and Bulgarians in this part of the Ukraine. There was a recent video out of the Romanian part of Bukovina (the area in red in the southwest with grey creeping up into the red). They were very unhappy about their sons being drafted to fight in the East. Many were burning their family draft call-up papers.

However, guerrilla activities have not yet spread to Odessa and Bukovina.

To the west of Odessa is a region called Transdniestria, on the far east of Moldova. The Russian majority here has been in armed rebellion since 1991 when they ceded away from Moldova. There is a significant Russian force there, and the region has its own significant militia along with quite a bit of military hardware. There are calls by the same idiots who started this mess for Moldova to go in with its military and reconquer this rebellious area.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Bulgarians, Europe, Europeans, Hungarians, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Moldovans, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Romanians, Russian, Russians, Slavic, Ukraine, Ukrainians, War

Check Out Albanian

This clip is of an idiot ISIS jihadi giving an impromtu speech on a street in Aavaz, Syria. But he’s definitely speaking Albanian from what I can figure out. The jihadi is an Albanian Muslim from Kosovo.

This language is quite interesting. Don’t believe I have ever heard it before. But what does it sound like? I would say it sounds like a mixture of these three languages in descending order:

Slavic (especially Russian)

Romanian

Turkish

Beyond that, what does it sound like? I get the vibe of the following languages in descending order:

Classical or Ecclesiastical Latin

Italian (especially Neapolitan Italian and in particular Barese spoken around the city of Bari in Puglia on the southeastern coast)

That’s about it. Doesn’t sound much like Greek at all, despite the proximity to Greece.

As far as roots go, Albanian is an ancient Indo-European tongue, probably derived from a Hittite-Armenian-Greek base long ago. There were other Illyrian languages spoken in the Dinaric region, but they have all gone extinct. Contrary to what Albanian nationalists say, Albanians almost certainly came from the north, probably the region around Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia.

The Latin/Romanian sound is because Albanian underwent massive Latinization, and ~55% of the roots are Latinate. It shares many of these roots with Romanian, but the words are often different because Romanian and Albanian were Latinized at different stages in the language’s development.

The Barese resemblance is very odd, but Barese has many roots that are not found in Italian at all. Both the southeast coast of Italy and Albania shared an influence from the ancient extinct Messapian language, and this may be where the similarity comes from.

The Slavic sound probably derives from Slavic influences in that Albania has a number of Slavic countries around it.

Turkish influence is easy to explain as most languages in that region have been influenced by Turkish.

It’s a pretty interesting language, easy on the ears. At the end of the day though, I do not think this language sounds very close to any other language on Earth.

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Filed under Albanian, Balkan, Illyrian, Illyro-Venetic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Samples, Linguistics

Check Out Upper Sorbian

Upper Sorbian is a Slavic language spoken in Eastern Germany in Lusatia. Upper Sorbian is in pretty good shape and may have as many as 40,000 speakers, but Lower Sorbian is not in good shape and has only ~8,000 speakers, most of them elderly. I would expect Upper Sorbian to live at least until 2100 since children are being brought up speaking it. However, the outlook for Lower Sorbian seems to be quite poor.

East Germany always supported the Sorbian language, and the Sorbs had their own schools set up for them. However, upon German reunification, most of the Sorb schools were shut down for some dumb reason. This was just wrong.

Stanislaw Tillich is a major German politician with the Christian Democratic Party in Germany and he is also a Sorbian native speaker. It appears that children are still being brought up speaking Upper Sorbian.

Sorbian has a close relationship with both Czech and Polish. Its roots were in a movement of Slavic speakers into Lusatia in the 500’s, so it seems to have been split from the rest of Slavic for possibly 1,500 years. Lower Sorbian at least has undergone heavy German influence. Czechs say that they cannot understand a single word of Sorbian, but Poles say they can understand it quite well. I think the Poles are exaggerating though,and Sorbian-Polish intelligibility must not be complete. In fact, I doubt if even Lower and Upper Sorbian have full intelligibility.

I must say that this language sounds rather odd. To my untrained ears, it sounds something like a mixture of Polish and German. Anyone else have any impressions?

 

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Filed under Balto-Slavic, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Czech, Europe, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Samples, Linguistics, Polish, Regional, Slavic, Sociolinguistics

Robert Burns, “Tam O Shanter”

This poem was written in and is being read in a language called Scots, which is not a dialect of English as many people think. Scots split off from English in ~1500, or 500 years ago. This is approximately what two languages sound like when they have been split apart for 500 years. I listened to this, although I can make out some words and even phrases here and there, honestly, I do not have the faintest idea what he is talking about, and I am missing most of this language. I can hear ~25% of it, if that.  However, a good friend of mine from England listened to it and she said she could make out ~70%. So there you go. See if you can make heads or tails of this stuff.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Germanic, Indo-European, Language Families, Linguistics, Literature, Poetry, Scots

Romanian As a Romance Language Outlier

Andrei writes:

As a native speaker of Romanian, I suspect that the closeness between Latin and Romanian is vastly overstated. First let’s start with the obvious fact that nobody really knows how Latin sounded. Second, even though the Romanian base vocabulary is very much Latin, the use of Latin words is highly non-standard.For example while all other Neo-Latin languages use a world similar to ‘terra‘ to express the idea of ‘earth’, in Romanian is ‘pamânt‘ – coming from ‘pavimentum‘ (paved road). So a radical change in meaning.

There are hundreds of such examples where in Romanian worlds of Latin origin have very surprising meanings, meanings which cannot be guessed at all by any other speaker of neo-Romance languages. For political and patriotic reasons, Romanians tend to overestimate their language’s closeness to Latin, Italian and so on, but the truth is that Romanian is the oddest neo-Romance language in Europe, and distinctly different from all the others.

Still, Romanian is an interesting language to learn for people with a passion for Romance languages, as it gives you a better understanding of how many language registers existed in Latin. The other major neo-Romance languages will only give you an incomplete image of Latin, as they represent a highly correlated evolution of vulgar Latin, in which major feature appeared or disappeared simultaneously (i.e the case system, the neutral gender etc.). Romanian is something else and you can notice that the moment you dwell in the language.

What an interesting language this is. I mess around with many Romance languages, including Portuguese, French, and Italian. I already speak Spanish pretty well. I have tried to mess with Romanian but it is too weird and written Romanian does not seem to make much sense.

Wow! Instead of earth meaning land as it does in most sane languages, earth means pavement! LOL! Where did Romanian evolve? Manhattan?

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Filed under Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Romance

Is Dravidian Related to Japanese?

Thirdeye writes:

The Tamil-Japonic connection isn’t quite as off the wall as one might think at first glance. There’s apparently a strong Andaman-Indonesian language connection. The convention of repeat plurals seems to have found its way to Japan. There’s also some similarity between the Finno-Ugric languages, which are Uralic outliers in a sea of Indo-European languages, and Dravidian languages that have a remnant in Pakistan. Contact between proto-Dravidian-Uralic and Altaic languages is a real possibility.

If Uralic is close to anything, it is close to Altaic and Indo-European and probably even closer to Chukto-Kamchatkan, Eskimo-Aleut, Yukaghir and Nivkhi. Yukaghir may actually be Uralic itself, or maybe the family is called “Uralic-Yukaghir.”

There is no connection between Austronesian (Indonesian) and the Andaman Islanders. Austronesian is indeed related to Thai though (Austro-Tai); in my opinion, this has been proven. If the Andaman languages are related to anything at all, they may be related to some Papuan languages and an isolate in Nepal called Nihali. A good case can be made connecting Nihali with some of the Papuan languages.

Typology is not that great of way to classify. Typology is areal and it spreads via convergence. What you are looking in search genetic relationship among languages more more than anything else is morphology. After that, a nice set of cognates.

There is probably no connection between Dravidian and Uralic in particular. Dravidian is outside of most everything in Eurasia. It if is close to anything, it might be close to Afro-Asiatic. There also looks to be a connection with Elamite.

Dravidian and Afro-Asiatic are probably older than the rest of the Eurasian languages, and they were located further to the south. Afro-Asiatic is very old, probably ~15,000 YBP.

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Filed under Afroasiatic, Altaic, Andaman Islanders, Austro-Tai, Austronesian, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Comparitive, Dravidian, Eskimo-Aleut, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Isolates, Japanese, Japonic, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Negritos, Paleosiberian, Race/Ethnicity, SE Asians, Tamil, Thai

Listen to the Romanian Language

Romanian as spoken by a Romanian TV announcer. I didn’t understand it when I first heard it. This time I listened right up close and I didn’t have the faintest idea of what she was talking about. If someone told me this was a Romance language, I would tell them that they were joking.

Here is another one, by a young man with thespian tendencies who loves the sound of his own voice and loves to see himself on film. The audio is much better on this one than on the TV announcer. It’s as loud and clear as you need it to be. Nevertheless, I did not have the tiniest clue of what he might be talking about, and I was basically lost in this whole video. It seemed like I might have heard a recent English borrowing or two, but that’s useless if you don’t understand what he is talking about.

Now mind you, I know Spanish quite well, and I also have some knowledge of French, Portuguese and Italian. I can understand Spanish videos fairly well, and I can understand something of Italian and Portuguese videos. French, not so sure. I can read it a bit, but I am pretty lost with the spoken language.

Nevertheless, despite my Romance background, I am utterly lost with Romanian, and not only that, but it doesn’t sound like Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian.

I have heard a TV announcer speaking Romansch once and if this sounds like anything, it might sound like Romansch.

What does it sound like? No idea. How about Italian mixed with Czech!?

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Filed under Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Romance

English Speakers in the EU

% in each country who can hold a conversation in English.

% in each country who can hold a conversation in English.

Hmm, let’s see now. If you want to find an English speaker, leaving aside the UK and Ireland for now, what are your best bets? It turns out that more people in The Netherlands speak English than in any other European country. Close behind are Sweden and Denmark. After that, it is Austria, Cyprus and Finland. Further behind still are Slovenia, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Greece and Estonia.

Bringing up the rear are Latvia, and then even further behind are Lithuania, France, Poland, Italy and Romania.

The worst places of all to find someone to speak English to are Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary.

Of course, your mileage may vary. A friend of mine from Sweden, who speaks English well, was just visiting his brother in Barcelona, Spain. The brother speaks Swedish, Spanish and Catalan now. My friend does not know Spanish or Catalan so he has to try to communicate with people in English, but he told me it was hard because “no one speaks English here.”

It is pretty amazing that Spaniards are some of worst in Europe at speaking English.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Europe, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional

Mutual Intelligibility of Scots and Scottish English with Other English Varieties

Lesley writes:

Do you mean Scots as in Robert Burns or just a Scottish accent with slang e.g Trainspotting? I’m not sure Scots (Robert Burns) is a different language as such, just a far older dialect, like the English Shakespeare wrote in or they wrote in the 17th century etc, certain ways of speech have changed over the centuries and certain words have fallen out of common use. Even writers like Jane Austen write a fair bit different than people would today, but she can still be understood after a short time with a little patience. Actual Old English is another language though:

(Sorry to repeat myself)

I’d say Robert Burns and Shakespeare are about equally hard to understand to modern readers or listeners, but it’s far easier to make out some of what their saying than it is with Old English – which is a completely different language. I think understanding Shakespeare or Robert Burns could be taught in a few short lessons, where as to learn Old English would be more like trying to learn German or something, though we’d notice a few similarities to English.

I think if you are talking about Americans inability to understand Scots (Robert Burns) without any proper lessons then fair enough, but if your just taking about a Scottish accent i.e like the one in Trainspotting, then it’s probably more a case of they just don’t want to attempt to understand.

The 42% figure is for the real Scots language, not for Scottish English, the dialect used in Trainspotting.

Middle English (Canterbury Tales) and Modern English are two separate languages.

Shakespeare is much easier to understand than Scots. When I play a video of a person speaking Scots to an American English speaker, they look puzzled for a bit, then they start shaking their heads and laughing, then pretty soon, they just start waving their hands and laughing and leave the room, saying, “I don’t want to listen to this anymore.” When I go to ask them, they usually say they could barely understand a single word of it. However, some American English speakers say they can understand it better than that.

Two men were speaking Scots while I was walking into a coffee shop recently. The rhythm of it sounded very familiar, and I kept thinking maybe they were speaking English, but obviously they were not speaking English at all. Instead they were clearly speaking some weird foreign language. I thought it might have been Dutch or Danish. They got in back of me in line and I asked them what language they were speaking and they looked offended and said, “English.” I shook my head and said, “Huh?” They didn’t want to pursue it any further, but it was soon obvious that they were speaking Scots.

A former commenter on this blog speaks Scottish English but he tells me that he can’t really understand a word of Scots except for the variety spoken right around where he grew up. He said Scots speakers from 20-30 miles away can’t understand each other. He said he had a Scots speaking with co-worker who spoke a Scots variety different from the one he grew up once for 9 months, and in that whole time, he understood maybe 10 words. He just nodded his head and said, “Sure thing, mate,” whenever the man said anything.

Americans who watch Trainspotting typically say that it is horribly hard to understand and often say they wish it had subtitles. I believe later versions did have subtitles. It is certainly not true that Americans do not want to understand Scottish English. We simply cannot make heads or tails of what in God’s name they are talking about no matter how hard we listen to them.

But Americans understand Scottish English better than Scots.

Americans have a horrible time with Scouse, Yorkshire, Geordie, Cockney, Somerset and other atrocities, whereas the British have an easier time with them. I have an English friend from Somerset who lived in the US for six years. She tells me that people were always saying that they could not understand her. I sometimes have a hard time understanding her myself!

Lesley comes from London. Speakers of British English can definitely understand the more difficult British English lects better than we Americans can. I also hear that they can understand Scottish English and even Irish English better than we can. So the British cannot translate their experiences to ours.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Cinema, English language, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Literature, Scots