Language discussion thread

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Re: Re:

rhubroma said:
I don't agree. So much of today's language is debased by the consumption culture we live in and the horrendous example on commercial television, for which vulgarity and ignorance predominate. Then there are the ridiculous and grotesque Anglo-Americanism, like "Jobs-Act" or "Fiscal-Compact," even when the native tongue has its own perfectly suitable terminology. What thus tries to be cosmopolitan and trendy, always comes across as pretentious and ultimately ridiculous, provincialism at its finest. Even worse is when the politicians use them as a mystifying means to address a public that is viewed as too bumpkinish to understand such "complex issues."

Whereas it seems to me the less good common language usage comes, the greater the volks' inability to express complex issues or thoughts elegantly, which can't be fortuitous in terms of the public debates and, therefore, the state of the democracy.
I can see the truth to these two paragraphs, in line with what I was trying to say in my posts on separate issue. Not that I am so much into discipline, but the way some languages 'evolve' hardly upgrade their capability as expression tools and only represent the simplistic nature of today's information barraging.
 
Re: Re:

gunara said:
rhubroma said:
I don't agree. So much of today's language is debased by the consumption culture we live in and the horrendous example on commercial television, for which vulgarity and ignorance predominate. Then there are the ridiculous and grotesque Anglo-Americanism, like "Jobs-Act" or "Fiscal-Compact," even when the native tongue has its own perfectly suitable terminology. What thus tries to be cosmopolitan and trendy, always comes across as pretentious and ultimately ridiculous, provincialism at its finest. Even worse is when the politicians use them as a mystifying means to address a public that is viewed as too bumpkinish to understand such "complex issues."

Whereas it seems to me the less good common language usage comes, the greater the volks' inability to express complex issues or thoughts elegantly, which can't be fortuitous in terms of the public debates and, therefore, the state of the democracy.
I can see the truth to these two paragraphs, in line with what I was trying to say in my posts on separate issue. Not that I am so much into discipline, but the way some languages 'evolve' hardly upgrade their capability as expression tools and only represent the simplistic nature of today's information barraging.
It's true language is ever in a state of evolution. Evolution, however, as you correctly perceived, doesn't necessarilly mean progress as a process of amelioration. At times involution occurs, because language is fundamentally utilitarian and adapts to the necessities and mores upon which its function as a means of communication is to be termed.
 
Elitists have been complaining about language debasement for millennia, so I'm not particularly moved by any arguments in that vein made by a speaker of what classical authors would regard as a base and vile corruption of their tongue. For my part, I'll just mention that the ability to switch between registers is a sign of language mastery - and that includes the ability to use an informal register. You don't speak better English, Italian or whatever just because you only use formal words and structures. Quite the contrary, actually.

Maaaaaaaarten, that was beautiful. Dankjewel!
 
Re:

hrotha said:
Elitists have been complaining about language debasement for millennia, so I'm not particularly moved by any arguments in that vein made by a speaker of what classical authors would regard as a base and vile corruption of their tongue. For my part, I'll just mention that the ability to switch between registers is a sign of language mastery - and that includes the ability to use an informal register. You don't speak better English, Italian or whatever just because you only use formal words and structures. Quite the contrary, actually.

Maaaaaaaarten, that was beautiful. Dankjewel!
You see to me this is precisely the problem, namely that common language usage (notice I didn't say "correct" language usage) as a parlance today has degenerated to such a degree that anything which aspires to a certain decorum gets invariably branded as "elitist." Elitism has nothing to do with quality and vice versa. The fact that one would inevitably draw that conclusion, is precisely indicitive of how far removed langage is from the idea of something edifying.

And I wasn't referring to classical language, or even a language of "big words," but the language impoverishment that has currently taken over the public forum, which is undeniable; practically as much in the political discourse, as in the schools and the social media.

Common language remains tolerable, not because it can use big words or the formal register (although to speak the romance languages properly, it is indispensable to use the formal tense when addressing strangers and elders), but because it fulfills the criteria for the adequate communication of thoughts, especially complex thoughts. Colloquialisms are, of course, fine, but one shouldn’t be exclusively limited to them as I see from all too many university students in the classroom setting today. Far from an "elitist" attitude in recognizing this fact, to me it speaks of our culture's inability to prevent a general lowering of expectation and standard, in the name of what though? Not wanting to be accused of elitism?
 
Of course it's elitist to suggest the speech of the popular classes is debased, corrupt and inferior. How could it not be? That's what makes your argument elitist, not the way you talk.

I wasn't addressing any point you raised about the classical language, I'm raising it myself by saying the speech you hold so dear is nothing but a "corruption" of older variants. It's arbitrary to draw the line at a particular speech and say that's the standard that should be upheld forever and ever, regardless of all other considerations.

This model of "linguistic corruption" is outdated for a reason.
 
Re:

hrotha said:
Of course it's elitist to suggest the speech of the popular classes is debased, corrupt and inferior. How could it not be? That's what makes your argument elitist, not the way you talk.

I wasn't addressing any point you raised about the classical language, I'm raising it myself by saying the speech you hold so dear is nothing but a "corruption" of older variants. It's arbitrary to draw the line at a particular speech and say that's the standard that should be upheld forever and ever, regardless of all other considerations.

This model of "linguistic corruption" is outdated for a reason.
Well if we have gotten to the point at which just saying that the popular parlance of today is debased, then call me an elitist. Naturally I think that nothing could be further from the truth, but this isn't the place to have a serious discussion about the matter.

I don't agree that language evolution is necessarily the "corruption" of what came before, otherwise we would not have arrived at Ciceronean Latin from archaic Latin, or Shakespeare's English from that of Beowulf. It is, to the contrary, possible for common language to experience degeneration. Call me whatever you like, but I find the language mutations currently taking place as being endemic of a certain superficiality in the culture.

Common language can be intelligent and poetic, or merely uninspired and insipid. I think what matters are the forces at work guiding it.
 
Oct 16, 2010
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i dig ya, rhubroma.
many cases in point concern not the English language itself, but languages such as Dutch which increasingly borrow from English in all domains of society, including politics and (higher) education. It is painful to watch (I mean to hear). For many politicians soaking their Dutch with English terms seems merely a cheap form of populism (look at us talking the way John Ordinary talks).
Imo, all the points you made above apply here: it's endemic of increasing superficiality in the culture, lowering of expectation and standard.
I see hrotha's argument that there is some linguistic elitism/purism here, but if tomorrow all radio stations would exclusively broadcast techno-music, could we complain about that or would that be elitist?
Is it elitist to complain about the rise of e-books substituting traditional paper (and all the side effects that has, such as the demise of traditional libraries/bookstores)?
 
Oct 23, 2011
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Yesterday I had an actual conversation in Spanish for the first time. Like, not practicing with people who could actually know English or Dutch anyway, but with actual Spaniards who didn't speak a word of English (or Dutch). They were some Spanish tourist going from Brussels to Amsterdam by train, but the international train wasn't riding up north from Antwerp and there was some crazy detour with buses and everything to replace the train and the two Spaniards didn't have a clue what was going on so they were very happy to find somebody who could speak Spanish on the station in Antwerp to explain them how to get to Amsterdam. So I traveled from Antwerp to Rotterdam with them so I had plenty of time to practice some Spanish. :D

I had a lot of difficulty understanding them though, now obviously that was mostly because my Spanish is really bad and I struggled having the simplest of conversations with them, making stupid mistakes every sentence (like saying sabo instead of sé :eek:), but I was wondering, since they were Aragonese whether people from Aragón often have a strong accent or something? Maybe it was just my crappy Spanish, but I had more difficulty following them than I thought I'd have even when they talked slowly.
 
Re: Re:

Maaaaaaaarten said:
The examples that you name have to the with the series of fricatives that Dutch has. Originally Dutch has a series of consonants called 'voiceless fricatives': /f s x/ which are usually written <f s ch> and a corresponding set of 'voiced fricatives': /v z ɣ/ usually written <v z g>. In (almost?) all northern Dutch dialects (everything in the Netherlands except Brabants and Limburgs) the set /x ɣ/ has merged to /χ/. Okay, so /χ/ is further back in your throat; it's typically called 'harde g' in Dutch. I think this phoneme is actually extremely rare in European languages.
I believe Bulgarian has a 'hard g' as well.
 
Oct 16, 2010
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Maaaaaaaarten said:
Yesterday I had an actual conversation in Spanish for the first time. Like, not practicing with people who could actually know English or Dutch anyway, but with actual Spaniards who didn't speak a word of English (or Dutch). They were some Spanish tourist going from Brussels to Amsterdam by train, but the international train wasn't riding up north from Antwerp and there was some crazy detour with buses and everything to replace the train and the two Spaniards didn't have a clue what was going on so they were very happy to find somebody who could speak Spanish on the station in Antwerp to explain them how to get to Amsterdam. So I traveled from Antwerp to Rotterdam with them so I had plenty of time to practice some Spanish. :D

I had a lot of difficulty understanding them though, now obviously that was mostly because my Spanish is really bad and I struggled having the simplest of conversations with them, making stupid mistakes every sentence (like saying sabo instead of sé :eek:), but I was wondering, since they were Aragonese whether people from Aragón often have a strong accent or something? Maybe it was just my crappy Spanish, but I had more difficulty following them than I thought I'd have even when they talked slowly.
afaik, in Zaragoza, the street standard is pretty much mainstream Castellano, i.e. quite similar to what is spoken in Madrid and surroundings.
These travelers you met may have been from the countryside though.
 
Aragonese variants of Spanish are reputed to be heavily accented, but in practice that accent translates mostly into distinctive intonation patterns. The phonology and vocabulary are not particularly different from standard European Spanish - unless you were dealing with older, rural folk who are likely to be somewhere on the Spanish-Aragonese language continuum.
 
Oct 23, 2011
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Thanks guys! They weren't very old, but they said they lived in the Pyrenees 20km away from the French border, so they might have been more rural. Definitely not Zaragoza at least :p

But yeah, it may have just been different intonation patterns that put me off a bit.
 
Re:

slosada said:
American? Referring to the continent? Quintana hands down
Northamerican? I find Ryder Hesjedal more entertaining and I value his 5th in Giro more than a 2nd in Dauphiné (plus 2nd and 3rd places in GT stages).
US Citizen? TJVG. No competition. A subpar year, though.

Let's wait for Utah, USPC and the Worlds to call it
You are thinking the term American means Pan-american which it does not. It implies citizen of the united states in both American and British English.
 
Re: Re:

myrideissteelerthanyours said:
You are thinking the term American means Pan-american which it does not. It implies citizen of the united states in both American and British English.
Would you mind telling me on which continent the following countries are located:
Peru
Belize
Canada

And, the same way we call Europeans anyone who was born (or raised) in Europe, which demonym related to the continent would you use?

Honest question,as English is not my native language.
 
Re: Re:

slosada said:
Would you mind telling me on which continent the following countries are located:
Peru
Belize
Canada

And, the same way we call Europeans anyone who was born (or raised) in Europe, which demonym related to the continent would you use?

Honest question,as English is not my native language.
Usually, South American, Central American (rarely North American as well) and North American. As in most other languages. "By convention there are seven continents: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica." I'd completely agree that a four-or-five continent structure seems more geographically apt. But unfortunately I don't define convention.

While it may sound overly-broad or even close-minded, as has been stated before, there is no serviceable alternative to American in English. In other languages march on: Estadounidenses in spanish/portuguese is fine (although Americanos has a certain ring to it). A similar demonym is just not available in English, although there may come a day were US-Americans becomes standard usage. That day has yet come. If you remain unconvinced, I'd advise you to take it up with Websters and the Oxford University press and in forums on linguistics, who may be more qualified than cycling forum members in answering this particular query.
 
Re: Re:

slosada said:
myrideissteelerthanyours said:
You are thinking the term American means Pan-american which it does not. It implies citizen of the united states in both American and British English.
Would you mind telling me on which continent the following countries are located:
Peru
Belize
Canada

And, the same way we call Europeans anyone who was born (or raised) in Europe, which demonym related to the continent would you use?

Honest question,as English is not my native language.
I'll answer:

Peru - South America - South Americans/Peruvians
Belize - North America - North Americans/Belizeans
Canada - North America - North Americans/Canadians
United States of America - North Americans/Americans

Yes, people born in Europe are Europeans
People from South America are South Americans
People from North America are North Americans

Pretty easy.
 
Re: Re:

jaylew said:
I'll answer:

Peru - South America - South Americans/Peruvians
Belize - North America - North Americans/Belizeans
Canada - North America - North Americans/Canadians
United States of America - North Americans/Americans

Yes, people born in Europe are Europeans
People from South America are South Americans
People from North America are North Americans

Pretty easy.
I didn't want to confuse and overly digress, but since this was moved to the appropriate forum I'll have to concede that it's not really quite that easy for a non-native English speaker. If you click through the definition of continent in different languages, the Spanish language shows the 6 continent model as dominant, the Portuguese version espouses the four continent model, and the French version refuses to pick a winner.

So back to the matter at hand in English the Webster definition of American is thus as follows:

Webster's said:
1: an American Indian of North America or South America
2: a native or inhabitant of North America or South America
3: a citizen of the United States
4: american english
That second definition is readily used in terms like the OAS (Organization of American States). And both definitions are clearly valid. However, since the only standard demonym for someone from the United States is "American", that term almost overwhelmingly refers to US Citizens to the point where it's not really ambiguous in common English parlance.
 
Re: Re:

slosada said:
myrideissteelerthanyours said:
You are thinking the term American means Pan-american which it does not. It implies citizen of the united states in both American and British English.
Would you mind telling me on which continent the following countries are located:
Peru
Belize
Canada

And, the same way we call Europeans anyone who was born (or raised) in Europe, which demonym related to the continent would you use?

Honest question,as English is not my native language.
South American, Central American, and North American respectively. Latin America is a term for Central and South American countries but you don't call someone Latin American. You call them Latino or if you want to include iberian nationalities you can say hispanic. example sentence: Alberto Contador is the most overrated hispanic rider in the history of cycling.
 
Re:

Armchair cyclist said:
Having in-laws from Nicaragua, and having worked in three Andean countries, I can assert that the USA's annexation of a demonym that should be applicable to the continent is by no means popular.
Wikipedia explicitly disagrees with you as does reality.

Non-english usage doesn't count. Do these Andeans you hang out with speak English? Do they speak it accurately?

This is just more anti North American anti anglo snobbery yet again as if Nicaraguans set the standard for English dialect.
 
Re:

Armchair cyclist said:
Having in-laws from Nicaragua, and having worked in three Andean countries, I can assert that the USA's annexation of a demonym that should be applicable to the continent is by no means popular.
what's popular by your definition anyways? Anecdotal examples? They dont consider south americans to be americans in china they are nanmeiren literally SOUTH american people. in japan us citizens are Amerika-jin. South Americans are minami Amerika-jin again SOUTH american.

I think you mean "fits my biased worldview"
 
Re: Re:

myrideissteelerthanyours said:
Armchair cyclist said:
Having in-laws from Nicaragua, and having worked in three Andean countries, I can assert that the USA's annexation of a demonym that should be applicable to the continent is by no means popular.
Wikipedia explicitly disagrees with you as does reality.

Non-english usage doesn't count. Do these Andeans you hang out with speak English? Do they speak it accurately?

This is just more anti North American anti anglo snobbery yet again as if Nicaraguans set the standard for English dialect.
Webster's said:
Popular:
1: of or relating to the general public
2: suitable to the majority: as
a : adapted to or indicative of the understanding and taste of the majority <a popular history of the war>
b : suited to the means of the majority : inexpensive <sold at popular prices>
3: frequently encountered or widely accepted <a popular theory>
4: commonly liked or approved <a very popular girl>
Are you absolutely sure you're speaking English accurately?

On a side-note if these fora haven't taught you that reality differs with perspective...
 
Re: Re:

myrideissteelerthanyours said:
Armchair cyclist said:
Having in-laws from Nicaragua, and having worked in three Andean countries, I can assert that the USA's annexation of a demonym that should be applicable to the continent is by no means popular.
Wikipedia explicitly disagrees with you as does reality.

Non-english usage doesn't count. Do these Andeans you hang out with speak English? Do they speak it accurately?

This is just more anti North American anti anglo snobbery yet again as if Nicaraguans set the standard for English dialect.

what's popular by your definition anyways? Anecdotal examples? They dont consider south americans to be americans in china they are nanmeiren literally SOUTH american people. in japan us citizens are Amerika-jin. South Americans are minami Amerika-jin again SOUTH american.

I think you mean "fits my biased worldview"
I simply mean that people who, by another definition could be described as American, don't appreciate the definition that you prefer being offered as though it were the only valid one. Why you have such a problem with that fact is something you must consider for yourself.
 
From the Richmond 2015 WC thread:
hrotha said:
I don't think LS is a woman. I just don't assume LS is a man, because they have never identified as such as far as I know. Neutral they exists just for this kind of situation.
phanatic said:
'He' is the neutral, and was for centuries, until a bunch of vagrants who have no love for the English language took it upon themselves to make a deliberate assault on my culture and language and that of my ancestors. The use of the plural to indicate an individual drives me up the wall; you may as well spit in my face.
hrotha said:
Then maybe you should take issue with "you" for the singular too. Neutral they is a perfectly organic development to fill a perceived gap in the English language, and it's also older than you seem to think.

edit: Uton sprecan ymb "they" and englisces gereordes lufe, gif þe lyst. And ymb þine yldran.
MrTea1976 said:
This is an embarrassing post to read. English is a living, adapting language and always has been. 'He' in that sense is a social construct for a variety of purposes and is outdated, just like the use of 'mankind' to describe humanity. It is not an assault on British culture. Nothing is permanent, everything that survives changes.
 
'They' is the correct neutral in English, as there is no formal 'you' word, like 'lei' in Italian or 'usted' in Spanish. 'He' is the commonly used neutral word, but is wrong. You can also say 'it' but that's pretty rude.
 
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