Language discussion thread

Jul 16, 2010
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Descender said:
Not a huge feat considering Dutch is basically simplified German.
I don't speak German and had it at school for 3 years.

African is simplified Dutch. German has many differences with Dutch.
 
Aug 29, 2010
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El Pistolero said:
I don't speak German and had it at school for 3 years.

African is simplified Dutch. German has many differences with Dutch.
Case in point. You couldn't learn German in 3 years but Martens learned it in two, because Dutch is much easier than German.

You take away the superficial, mainly phonetic differences and Dutch and German are basically the same.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Descender said:
Case in point. You couldn't learn German in 3 years but Martens learned it in two, because Dutch is much easier than German.
Yet Dutch is by many considered one of the hardest languages to learn. Mind you, I never tried to really learn German as it's a useless language for me.
 
Aug 29, 2010
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El Pistolero said:
Yet Dutch is by many considered one of the hardest languages to learn. Mind you, I never tried to really learn German as it's a useless language for me.
To whom?

To an Italian of course it will be hard, it's very different. But German would be much harder to him. Anyone who has a hard time learning Dutch will have a much harder time learning German.

But yes, German is not very useful.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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hrotha said:
Stop arguing over such a stupid thing. Difficulty is entirely subjective (and Pistolero, "harder" doesn't mean "better").
No, but Dutch is not simplified German. The languages differ too much for that.
 
German and Dutch are very different, but they are also closely related languages, so if you were a German with a bit of a knack for languages (especially if you're from the North or West of the country) it would be the easiest language to pick up.

The whole thing on how "difficult" a language is to learn is relative to what you normally speak. For a German-speaker Dutch is much easier to learn than, say, Swahili.

Anyway, the whole European German zone is a continuum, from Low German through to Austro-Bavarian. In former times, many of the dialects that make up modern Dutch were part of that. But they split off and standardised a long time ago, long before German standardised in fact. So yes, a Dutch farmer and a German farmer living on the boundaries may find their dialects mutually intelligible, but if they recourse to their standard languages they won't understand each other.

Dutch isn't a simplified anything. It is a levelling and development of a group of Germanic tongues in the Lowlands. Some of the Germanic tongues in the Lowlands that were involved in the creation of a Dutch standard language are very similar to some of the Germanic tongues in present day Germany - but they are part of the organisation of two very different languages.

Paul Martens is from Rostock. So though he would likely speak or at least have some knowledge of a Low German dialect, this is north-east German, so likely to be somewhat different to those dialects closest to Dutch.

(In addition, some of the dialects of Dutch in the Maastricht area have undergone the Second Germanic Sound Shift, meaning they have a few characteristics of German (which standardised based on dialects south of the shift).
 
Aug 29, 2010
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Libertine Seguros said:
German and Dutch are very different, but they are also closely related languages, so if you were a German with a bit of a knack for languages (especially if you're from the North or West of the country) it would be the easiest language to pick up.

The whole thing on how "difficult" a language is to learn is relative to what you normally speak. For a German-speaker Dutch is much easier to learn than, say, Swahili.

Anyway, the whole European German zone is a continuum, from Low German through to Austro-Bavarian. In former times, many of the dialects that make up modern Dutch were part of that. But they split off and standardised a long time ago, long before German standardised in fact. So yes, a Dutch farmer and a German farmer living on the boundaries may find their dialects mutually intelligible, but if they recourse to their standard languages they won't understand each other.

Dutch isn't a simplified anything. It is a levelling and development of a group of Germanic tongues in the Lowlands. Some of the Germanic tongues in the Lowlands that were involved in the creation of a Dutch standard language are very similar to some of the Germanic tongues in present day Germany - but they are part of the organisation of two very different languages.

Paul Martens is from Rostock. So though he would likely speak or at least have some knowledge of a Low German dialect, this is north-east German, so likely to be somewhat different to those dialects closest to Dutch.

(In addition, some of the dialects of Dutch in the Maastricht area have undergone the Second Germanic Sound Shift, meaning they have a few characteristics of German (which standardised based on dialects south of the shift).
And here it is again, the truth ruining a nice story... :D

You could also add that the historical dialects of German near the Dutch border (near extinction) and Dutch on the other side are similar actually due to a Sprachbund rather than a pure dialect continuum, apparently.

And since we're at it, the reason for Dutch being "simpler" is basically the fact that it was standarised from a Low German variety, which dropped the cases, or most of them, at an earlier stage than the Middle and Upper German varieties on which Standard German is mostly based.

Dutch and German are about as similar to each other as Spanish and Portuguese. That is, a lot.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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I have moved a few of the posts from the lbl thread into here, discussions like these seem to come up every time there is a race in holland or belgium, so now there is a home for it.
 
Descender said:
But yes, German is not very useful.
Unless, of course, you happen to live in Germany.

As to Dutch, I have always said that with a good knowledge of German and English, you can understand a great deal of written Dutch. I can also understand a good amount of spoken Dutch, but would myself never attempt to speak it.

We live about 10 minutes from the border to the Netherlands, so that may make a difference.

Susan
 
Susan Westemeyer said:
Unless, of course, you happen to live in Germany.

As to Dutch, I have always said that with a good knowledge of German and English, you can understand a great deal of written Dutch. I can also understand a good amount of spoken Dutch, but would myself never attempt to speak it.

We live about 10 minutes from the border to the Netherlands, so that may make a difference.

Susan
Where is that?

I live 10 minutes from the German border (Roermond)
 
Aug 29, 2010
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Susan Westemeyer said:
Unless, of course, you happen to live in Germany.

As to Dutch, I have always said that with a good knowledge of German and English, you can understand a great deal of written Dutch. I can also understand a good amount of spoken Dutch, but would myself never attempt to speak it.

We live about 10 minutes from the border to the Netherlands, so that may make a difference.

Susan
Which I do (and close to the Dutch border too). And certainly, that goes without saying...
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Luxembourgish is in many ways a simplified, or else slightly modified version of German. In many aspects it doesn't have the characteristics of a language and it has a small vocabulary. Often we have to borrow the same exact word from German (or French) to make up for the fact that it doesn't exist in Luxembourgish. Or else we take the word and slightly modifiy it by putting in a diphtongue. In the Moselle region, many Germans speak "Platt", which resembles Luxembourgish a lot. I could have a conversation with a German speaking Platt, and we would have no problem understanding one another despite speaking in different dialects.

I have no problem understanding written dutch when it comes to reading a menu or whatever it says on the can of peas. It would never come to my mind to read Dutch literature though as I would be hopelessly lost.

When it comes to spoken Dutch I understand isolated phrases or words but that's all.

As for German being a "useless" language - not everything has to be useful. I am very glad to speak German because there is so much amazing German literature, movies, music, articles ... might not be useful but it's amazing how much there is to discover!
 
Jan 27, 2011
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Some linguists say Dutch is a easy language to learn, some people say it isnt, some say it is. Example: Best friend of mine migrated from Russia 9 years ago, when he was 11. Three years later he speaks fluently Dutch, except for demonstrative pronouns, because they dont have those in the Russian language.

Personally I don't find German a hard to learn language, it is looking somewhat like Dutch but to know some words you just have to learn vocabulary. Understanding the grammatical rules in German helps you out alot, Im not having troubles with them and I kinda understand how German works, thus its fun for me to learn. And willingness to learn helps you out alot.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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French was a compulsory subject in Engliwsh schools but I never used it after school except to ask a Cop directions in Paris.
I was told if I ask in English he would send me the wrong way.
I did learn a bit of Flemish which got me around.
I never had isues comunicating in Europe almost everyone was able to understand me but when arriving in Australia they couldnt understand my accent.
 
Christian said:
Luxembourgish is in many ways a simplified, or else slightly modified version of German. In many aspects it doesn't have the characteristics of a language and it has a small vocabulary. Often we have to borrow the same exact word from German (or French) to make up for the fact that it doesn't exist in Luxembourgish. Or else we take the word and slightly modifiy it by putting in a diphtongue. In the Moselle region, many Germans speak "Platt", which resembles Luxembourgish a lot. I could have a conversation with a German speaking Platt, and we would have no problem understanding one another despite speaking in different dialects.
Luxembourgish is often classified as a 'half-language'. It is, essentially, a Mosel-Franconian dialect that has developed independently thanks to politics. As a result it has codified itself more than any other dialect (Schwyzertüütsch being a notable example), and now has official orthography and standards. However, the limited vocabulary and youthfulness of it as an independent language (orthographies were still being tried out into the second half of the 20th century) work against it; politics, as so often in linguistics, plays a strong role with resentment of Germans and their language in the 1940s and onwards.

Of course, Luxembourgish dialects have the problem that they're only really codifying themselves as separate from German after there is an accepted standard in German. When the dialects and languages that became Dutch codified themselves, there was no German standard language to use, so codifying their own regional varieties was a much easier approach, hence why Dutch and German have grown so far apart, but Luxembourgish is facing a bit of growing pains moving away.

Making it an official language is definitely a key step forward, but you really need a codified grammar of Luxembourgish in order to proscribe what is right and wrong. Until then, many official circles will always recourse to French or German as there isn't the same ambiguity.
Buffalo Soldier said:
Stupid discussion. But I do know ancient Dutch, to me, sounds a lot more like ancient English than German...
The trick is to judge ancient Dutch against ancient German, not modern German. Ancient Dutch is probably not too dissimilar from Old Saxon (which became ancient English but of course has its roots in northern Germany and Jutland), and Middle Low German as spoken in the Hanseatic League certainly has its similiarities as Low German does to this day.

However, because of the second Germanic sound shift, which never fully moved to the north, certain typical German characteristics never affected Dutch or English, which is probably where these comparisons lie.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
Making it an official language is definitely a key step forward, but you really need a codified grammar of Luxembourgish in order to proscribe what is right and wrong. Until then, many official circles will always recourse to French or German as there isn't the same ambiguity.
I am fairly certain there is an official grammar of Luxembourgish. There have been several onces throughout the years with several important modifications, therefore I write quite differently than my parents for example. On the other hand, the official grammar is not very well-known at all, and not taught very much either. I remember when I was in the 7th grade I learned it a bit as it was integrated into the German course, but that was it. I don't know how it is now.

It is correct that official circles recourse to mostly French, despite technically being allowed to use Luxembourgish. It is ironic that they feel more comfortable writing French, a difficult language with a complex grammar, then Luxembourgish, a simple dialect with an easy grammar.

However IMO there are other more important reasons for the preference of French, such as prestige and most of all the lack of vocabulary in Luxembourgish. It is difficult (one could say impossible) to express complex or abstract ideas in Luxembourgish without having to use French or German words, so when it comes to official announcements and such they prefer to simply go with one or the other, and often the announcements are published in both.

@Libertine: I have a point of inquiry though:

To my knowlegde Luxembourgish is one of the very few languages to have a masculin/feminin for the number 2: zwee (m) and zwou (f). The only others I know are Russian (dva and dvye IINM) and Portuguese (dois and duas). Do you know any others? Is there a name for this linguistic phenomenon?

Also, I've noticed that you keep writing péloton, and have been wondering whether this is correct - my French autocorrect suggests it is written without an accent. It might be one of those words like Lubéron/Luberon which you find in the two spellings.
 
But German often uses native calques to express abstract or technical ideas borrowed from Latin or French, using common Germanic roots. Doesn't Luxembourgish do the same? A panel of Germanic philologists would come in handy.
 

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