Language discussion thread

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Jul 16, 2010
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Amsterhammer said:
Lots of interesting stuff here! Thanks to El P for some details of Belgian history that I wasn't aware of. It's easy to see why linguistic issues in Belgium become politicized so quickly.

I have a question for the many linguists here who use or know languages that I don't - I am fluent in English, Dutch and German; my French gets me through emergencies and I understand some Spanish and Italian without speaking either language. What I'd like to know is this: - does any other language have a tradition of swearing using diseases or sicknesses that are wished upon another?

Now, this may sound like a strange question to non-Dutchies, but the sad fact is that the Dutch language is the only one that I am familiar with where people wish things like cancer/typhus/consumption or the plague on one another in common expressions of swearing. The habitual use of the word 'cancer' as an epithet is something that has bothered me from the day I first came here, and I have refused as a matter of principle to ever swear with Dutch diseases-related expressions. The standard English terms work well enough for me.;)
Flemish people will look weird at you if you swear with diseases though :p

So, it's more of a cultural thing instead of language specific thing I think.
 
May 6, 2009
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auscyclefan94 said:
For a 'multi-cultural society', we certainly do not understand many languages. It is a shame really.
My brother did Italian in primary school and in year 8 in high school (remember kids start high school in year 8 in Queensland, although that will be changing), missed out for year 9 because nobody was interested, and then did it again for year 10 and was doing well at it, but then come year 11 where again there wasn't a lot of interest and he wanted to do it, but the school and my dad talked him out of it to do an IT subject instead as it would be more useful then being able to speak Italian in the 'real world' and the school canceled Italian in year 11. It's a shame and now he's forgotten everything that he learnt.
 
May 6, 2009
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El Pistolero said:
You can't blame the Australians for that though - living on a separate continent they don't come into contact with other languages so often.

What do Aboriginals speak anyway besides English? Or has their language not survived?
They have their own indigenous languages and if you go into the remote outback areas in the Northern Territory you'll find Aboriginals who don't speak a word of English. But aside from that, the Aboriginals that live in urban areas and not some remote area all speak English.
 
Lots of Aboriginal groups with lots and lots of different languages. Most of which are nothing like codified enough to use as an official language in modern society, hence why pretty much all of them who have contact with the world beyond their own society will tend to have some kind of knowledge of English, and they may need working knowledge of other Aboriginal groups' languages in order to communicate with them as well.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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El Pistolero said:
Flemish people will look weird at you if you swear with diseases though :p

So, it's more of a cultural thing instead of language specific thing I think.
But you know what I'm talking about, yes? (I really don't want to open a discussion about the many differences between Dutch and Flemish.);)
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Amsterhammer said:
But you know what I'm talking about, yes? (I really don't want to open a discussion about the many differences between Dutch and Flemish.);)
Krijg de Tyfus joh!

Kanker op!

Kanker aap!

Krijg de pleuris!

Pest joch!

Krijg de pest!

Yeah, I know what you're talking about(I'm not insulting you by the way, merely providing some examples :p)

My point was: I don't think it's related to the Dutch language per se, but it's a cultural thing that doesn't exist in Flanders, but obviously does in Holland.

I find it completely ridiculous to insult someone with diseases. It sounds so weird in my opinion.
 
Jun 22, 2009
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El Pistolero said:
Krijg de Tyfus joh!

Kanker op!

Kanker aap!

Krijg de pleuris!

Pest joch!

Krijg de pest!

Yeah, I know what you're talking about(I'm not insulting you by the way, merely providing some examples :p)

My point was: I don't think it's related to the Dutch language per se, but it's a cultural thing that doesn't exist in Flanders, but obviously does in Holland.

I find it completely ridiculous to insult someone with diseases. It sounds so weird in my opinion.
Ik begrijp je helemaal.;)

I really could not believe my ears the first time I heard the word 'cancer' used as part of an insult! To be fair though, it is used almost exclusively by those with a lower level of education and socialization.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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craig1985 said:
My brother did Italian in primary school and in year 8 in high school (remember kids start high school in year 8 in Queensland, although that will be changing), missed out for year 9 because nobody was interested, and then did it again for year 10 and was doing well at it, but then come year 11 where again there wasn't a lot of interest and he wanted to do it, but the school and my dad talked him out of it to do an IT subject instead as it would be more useful then being able to speak Italian in the 'real world' and the school canceled Italian in year 11. It's a shame and now he's forgotten everything that he learnt.
Yes, I don't think language is encouraged enough in schools. The government has tried to encourage language in Vic by scaling languages an extra points for their final year school but it is a lot more difficult to learn a language in a place where very few people speak or want to speak an LOTE.
El Pistolero said:
You can't blame the Australians for that though - living on a separate continent they don't come into contact with other languages so often.

What do Aboriginals speak anyway besides English? Or has their language not survived?
many of them live in more remote areas so some of them do speak English but others do not.
 
craig1985 said:
Can you define the tribal languages as dialects instead?
It depends. If they're closely related perhaps. But there are at least 20 different entirely separate language families, which are unrelated, though several groups of languages will have common pidgins or Sprachbund characteristics; to use the term dialect would be just as wrong as calling Basque a dialect of Spanish, or Finnish a dialect of Swedish. Some languages are spoken by aboriginal peoples in Australia but are excluded from discussion of Aboriginal languages as they are Austronesian languages, related to the various languages of the various Pacific Island states.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_languages
 
Apr 4, 2011
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Descender said:
I actually didn't know that word... had to look it up to make sure it was indeed a Spanish word. :eek:
Well, although it is accepted in Spanish (which I didn't know either till now :eek: :eek:), for me is a frequently used basque word. The origins seem to be french.
 
lejarreta said:
Well, although it is accepted in Spanish (which I didn't know either till now :eek: :eek:), for me is a frequently used basque word. The origins seem to be french.
Gaulish, rather. Or, well, I guess it could be from a different Celtic language (for example, Celt-Iberian), but I imagine Gascony would be the most plausible source.
 
lejarreta said:
Well, although it is accepted in Spanish (which I didn't know either till now :eek: :eek:), for me is a frequently used basque word. The origins seem to be french.
Ah, I see. You were seeing it as a Basque word. :)

The RAE dictionary doesn't say the word comes from French though, but from the Gaulish language, a celtic language that became extinct about 1,500 years ago. :eek:

Off-topic oh yeah...
 
Descender said:
Ah, I see. You were seeing it as a Basque word. :)

The RAE dictionary doesn't say the word comes from French though, but from the Gaulish language, a celtic language that became extinct about 1,500 years ago. :eek:

Off-topic oh yeah...
It exists in Italian too for that matter, although it's rarely used today.
And in English there's land, after all. Same root
 
Eshnar said:
It exists in Italian too for that matter, although it's rarely used today.
And in English there's land, after all. Same root
It's very interesting. The English word "land" (which is of Germanic origin) doesn't come from the Celtic one that led to "landa", nor the other way around. Rather, both words derive from a common Proto-Indo-European root.

I find this stuff fascinating, but now it's time to watch the Vuelta... oh wait, it's not!
 
Descender said:
Ah, I see. You were seeing it as a Basque word. :)

The RAE dictionary doesn't say the word comes from French though, but from the Gaulish language, a celtic language that became extinct about 1,500 years ago. :eek:

Off-topic oh yeah...
After doing some research, it would seem this and other Celtic words related to the field of agriculture ("landa" basically meaning "a cultivated patch of land" in Celtic) spread through much of Western Europe together with the technology they referred to. Pretty cool, huh?

Then again, other sources suggest it meant "open field". So Im confus.
 
Descender said:
It's very interesting. The English word "land" (which is of Germanic origin) doesn't come from the Celtic one that led to "landa", nor the other way around. Rather, both words derive from a common Proto-Indo-European root.

I find this stuff fascinating, but now it's time to watch the Vuelta... oh wait, it's not!
:eek:

anyway yes, they share the same root. Celtic and Germanic were quite similar after all
 
hrotha said:
After doing some research, it would seem this and other Celtic words related to the field of agriculture ("landa" basically meaning "a cultivated patch of land" in Celtic) spread through much of Western Europe together with the technology they referred to. Pretty cool, huh?

Then again, other sources suggest it meant "open field". So Im confus.
Eshnar said:
:eek:

anyway yes, they share the same root. Celtic and Germanic were quite similar after all
Both language families belonging to the greater Indo-European family of languages, which also comprises the Romance, Slavic, Indo-Aryan, Iranian families, among others. In fact, the Finno-Ugrian languages (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian and some minor ones) and Basque (which is so badass it's not related to any other language, spoken today or ever known to have existed) are the only European languages spoken today that are not Indo-European.

Again, there are few things I find as fascinating as etymology and Indo-European studies. I still remember when I was learning German grammar and discovered the auxiliary verbs in the past tense worked EXACTLY like in Italian (they even look similar: essere--> sein, avere --> haben) and it's not because of modern borrowings, but because of this common root that dates back five, six millenia.

Mind-boggling, I tell you.
 
hrotha said:
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=land&searchmode=none

land (n.)
Old English land, lond, "ground, soil," also "definite portion of the earth's surface, home region of a person or a people, territory marked by political boundaries," from Proto-Germanic *landom (cf. Old Norse, Old Frisian Dutch, German, Gothic land), from PIE *lendh- "land, heath" (cf. Old Irish land, Middle Welsh llan "an open space," Welsh llan "enclosure, church," Breton lann "heath," source of French lande; Old Church Slavonic ledina "waste land, heath," Czech lada "fallow land").

Etymological evidence and Gothic use indicates the original sense was "a definite portion of the earth's surface owned by an individual or home of a nation." Meaning early extended to "solid surface of the earth," which had been the sense of the root of Modern English earth. Original sense of land in English is now mostly found under country. To take the lay of the land is a nautical expression. In the American English exclamation land's sakes (1846) land is a euphemism for Lord.
 
SafeBet said:
With a slightly different meaning though. In italian the word describes barren portions of land, nothing related to agriculture for sure.
Same in Spanish:

landa.
(Del galo landa, tierra).
1. f. Gran extensión de tierra llana en que solo se crían plantas silvestres.
 
Descender said:
Both language families belonging to the greater Indo-European family of languages, which also comprises the Romance, Slavic, Indo-Aryan, Iranian families, among others. In fact, the Finno-Ugrian languages (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian and some minor ones) and Basque (which is so badass it's not related to any other language, spoken today or ever known to have existed) are the only European languages spoken today that are not Indo-European.

Again, there are few things I find as fascinating as etymology and Indo-European studies. I still remember when I was learning German grammar and discovered the auxiliary verbs in the past tense worked EXACTLY like in Italian (they even look similar: essere--> sein, avere --> haben) and it's not because of modern borrowings, but because of this common root that dates back five, six millenia.

Mind-boggling, I tell you.
yes I find it fascinating too. As for the German - Italian similarities, they also have much to do with the Longobard occupation of northern Italy in the early middle ages.
 
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