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Language discussion thread

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Mar 13, 2009
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hrotha said:
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?
I think it depends on the idea. For many technical concepts German uses compound nouns, as they are very precise. Could you maybe give some examples of what you mean?
 
Christian said:
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.
The prestige is a key factor, but the simple dialect with easy grammar becomes difficult to use because there are certain limiting factors when using that easy grammar. In official communications and through official media, complexity of language is required. Think of bank account details, legal speech or acts of government. These need more complex grammar in order to avoid imprecisions and questions of interpretation. These are harder to do in Luxembourgish with its simple grammar than French and German with their more complex, codified grammar (in which case, Luxembourgish needs to build up its prestige vocabulary and how it deals with situations in which French would use complex grammatical tenses not available to the Lëtzebuergesch speaker).

@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?
Dialectally, you will find Zwo and Zwei in German, but this is little more than regional archaism now. Hebrew definitely divides numerals based on gender at least historically, and I suspect Arabic may do.

As Portuguese, Russian and Luxembourgish are from three very distinct branches of the Indo-European family it is probably an archaism that has been retained only by a few languages. The Portuguese case could also be the result of influence from Arabic - the days of the week in Portugal follow the Arabic pattern, for example. It could also be a remnant of the grammatical dual which has all but died off in most Indo-European languages (singular vs. dual vs. plural). I'm not sure what the origin of the feature is to be totally honest.

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.
I've seen it both with and without. I first saw it with the accent and type that out of habit, but I think I see it without more often.

Except in Spanish, where I always see pelotón.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Libertine is having a field day.:D How many languages do you speak and understand, Libertine? Also, where does your general knowledge of Language in general come from? Just a general thing you have read about?
 
Christian said:
I think it depends on the idea. For many technical concepts German uses compound nouns, as they are very precise. Could you maybe give some examples of what you mean?
Lat: de+press
Ger: nieder+drücken

In reality, the Romance vocabulary is just as based on compound nouns on a logical form as the German.

I think for English-speakers as they have a large Romance section of their vocabulary, because English tends to borrow the Romance word untranslated while German calques it, the German calques make the language look very mechanical and direct.

Given that the majority of Luxembourgish speakers will also be pretty handy at French and recognise many of these terms, the same thing probably occurs for them.
 
auscyclefan94 said:
Libertine is having a field day.:D How many languages do you speak and understand, Libertine? Also, where does your general knowledge of Language in general come from? Just a general thing you have read about?
Quite a lot of the time I don't know a language per se, but have enough background reading and an ability to work things out based on the languages I know. For example, I can't speak Italian, but I know how their orthography works and a few uniform shifts from Italian compared to other Romance languages, so can work out a lot of Italian based on that.

I have texts on my shelf for about 15-20 languages, but many of those I know next to nothing of.

The expertise in languages comes from a Masters in linguistics and living and staying in a few different places.
 
Christian said:
I think it depends on the idea. For many technical concepts German uses compound nouns, as they are very precise. Could you maybe give some examples of what you mean?
Libertine's example will do. Romance compounds are no longer transparent for the average speaker, but German compounds often are. Luxembourgish could go the German way and calque these concepts instead of adopting the straight French loanword, for example. In German you have "drücken", which means "to press", and all sorts of derived compounds like "eindrücken" ("to print", cf. Spanish "imprimir" where im- is in- and "-primir" is related to "prensa", "press") or "ausdrücken" ("to express", where ex- is semantically the same as aus-). If Luxembourgish has retained the West Germanic *þrukkjan, "to press", or has substituted it with another word, either native or a loanword, it can coin a calque for "to print" (assuming it doesn't already have a word for it; I have no idea) instead of using the straight German word or a French loanword.
 
The problem is getting these calques into everyday use in a country where everybody knows at least one of French and German, so will already have the French and German words to hand. This is part of the problem facing the likes of Luxembourgish if they are to be seen as languages - part of the definition includes new coinages. As a result, the word-stock will be more easily filled with borrowed material, strangling the nascent language and preventing it from developing.

In a situation like Luxembourg's, they probably need an Icelandic-style national language academy to coin these words and spread them, in order to defend the language from simply recoursing to taking its entire wordstock from its neighbours.
 
Sep 18, 2010
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El Pistolero said:
Yet Dutch is by many considered one of the hardest languages to learn.
I've heard that, for English speakers, it's the 2nd easiest to learn (after some local language in the low countries I've forgotten the name of).

Having learned a bit of Dutch, I'd agree.

"It is not good" = "Het is niet goed".

"I am coming here" = "Ik kom hier".

etc., etc.

Steve
 
Susan Westemeyer said:
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.
Knowledge of Danish isn't bad either. But I somehow finds it easier to understand the spoken Dutch rather than the written. Then again, I don't really have a good knowledge of German, not by a long shot! (Still better than my knowledge of, say, French, though.)
 
RedheadDane said:
Knowledge of Danish isn't bad either.
I find my English and German knowledge helps a lot to understanding written Danish, and to an extent, Norwegian.

I must say that I only read Danish and Norwegian for cycling purposes, so that helps. Most of my Dutch reading is also for cycling.

Susan
 
Feb 25, 2011
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Dalakhani said:
I've heard that, for English speakers, it's the 2nd easiest to learn (after some local language in the low countries I've forgotten the name of).

Having learned a bit of Dutch, I'd agree.

"It is not good" = "Het is niet goed".

"I am coming here" = "Ik kom hier".

etc., etc.

Steve
i disagree.

French was a piece of cake compared to Dutch -- especially speaking or understanding the spoken word.

i am so grateful when i can find french commentary on a cycling race i could cry! when it's in dutch, i get excited when i can understand what rider they're speaking about -- forget the rest :eek:
 
thirteen said:
i am so grateful when i can find french commentary on a cycling race i could cry! when it's in dutch, i get excited when i can understand what rider they're speaking about -- forget the rest :eek:
I'm just the opposite. My French knowledge is virtually nil, so I want to cry too when I get French language live streams.......

Susan
 
Feb 25, 2011
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Susan Westemeyer said:
I'm just the opposite. My French knowledge is virtually nil, so I want to cry too when I get French language live streams.......

Susan
you and i make a fine pair! :D
 
Susan Westemeyer said:
I find my English and German knowledge helps a lot to understanding written Danish, and to an extent, Norwegian.

I must say that I only read Danish and Norwegian for cycling purposes, so that helps. Most of my Dutch reading is also for cycling.

Susan
The grammar of Norwegian bokmål is pretty straightforward, which I presume makes it a bit easier for English-speakers not used to differentiating gender or conjugating verbs six ways.

Unnskyld meg, men jeg forstår deg ikke. Jeg snakker bare litt norsk. Snakker du tysk?

Jeg liker sykkelsport.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Libertine Seguros said:
The grammar of Norwegian bokmål is pretty straightforward, which I presume makes it a bit easier for English-speakers not used to differentiating gender or conjugating verbs six ways.

Unnskyld meg, men jeg forstår deg ikke. Jeg snakker bare litt norsk. Snakker du tysk?

Jeg liker sykkelsport.
Agree completely on verb conjugation. Not so much on gender differentiation. It can be a challenge, as there is often not a rule establishing the gender.

It´s frustrating when you get to a word and you have no idea the gender and then you have to "flip a coin".
 
Christian said:
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?
Catalan. Dos (masc.) and dues (fem.).
 
hrotha said:
Libertine's example will do. Romance compounds are no longer transparent for the average speaker, but German compounds often are. Luxembourgish could go the German way and calque these concepts instead of adopting the straight French loanword, for example. In German you have "drücken", which means "to press", and all sorts of derived compounds like "eindrücken" ("to print", cf. Spanish "imprimir" where im- is in- and "-primir" is related to "prensa", "press") or "ausdrücken" ("to express", where ex- is semantically the same as aus-). If Luxembourgish has retained the West Germanic *þrukkjan, "to press", or has substituted it with another word, either native or a loanword, it can coin a calque for "to print" (assuming it doesn't already have a word for it; I have no idea) instead of using the straight German word or a French loanword.
Hmm your explanation is spot on but actually eindrücken doesn't mean "to print" (it means to break through, to push in something). Ausdrücken means "to express" as you say, and ausdrucken or simply drucken mean "to print".
 
Descender said:
Hmm your explanation is spot on but actually eindrücken doesn't mean "to print" (it means to break through, to push in something). Ausdrücken means "to express" as you say, and ausdrucken or simply drucken mean "to print".
Damn, fooled by a free online dictionary. Should have got up to get the Langenscheidt :p
 
Mar 8, 2010
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Bavarianrider said:
As a German you do undertsand quiet a lot of Dutch if the speakers dont speak to fast and clearly
As a German you can understand quiet a lot of Bavarian if the speakers don't speak too fast and clearly.
 
Mar 8, 2010
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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.

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!
For me, Luxembourgish is the worst sounding language, and worst deformation of German language I ever heard. :(
Maybe I am heavily influenced and damaged by a 6h Zugfahrt, with 4 of them in the Abteil. :D
Anyway, it sounds ugly and like heavily drunken Germans who can hardly manage to talk.
 
Feb 23, 2010
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RedheadDane said:
Yeah. We gotta have 'em speak slow and mumbling! :p
In my quartier, they've installed posters advertising the new season for some sort of fashion designer.

Couple of girls I saw the other day, they actually stopped, looked at one of these posters for a long moment, then started talking to each other in a most bizarre sounding language.

It was like listening to a couple of Germans trying to talk while sucking on gobstoppers (aka 'jawbreakers' [EN-US], 'toverbal' [NL], 'szczękołamacz' [PL]).

They were Danes. :)
 
Are you implying that Danish sounds funny?

Danish doesn't sound funny. It's foreigners trying to speak Danish which sounds funny.
The ever-old "party game"; Make any non-Dane say Rød grød med fløde and watch them almost break their tongues over all the ø's! :D
 
RedheadDane said:
Are you implying that Danish sounds funny?

Danish doesn't sound funny. It's foreigners trying to speak Danish which sounds funny.
The ever-old "party game"; Make any non-Dane say Rød grød med fløde and watch them almost break their tongues over all the ø's! :D
Sorry, but danish does sound pretty weird..written danish is practically identical to norwegian, but when you hear it, it's like it's a constant stream of vowels. I do understand most of it, though, but it'd be easier if you would articulate the consonants..
 
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