What's strange about *your* language?

ChickenZombie

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May 25, 2011
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The weird thing about english is that almost nobody speaks english well.

Here is also a great example of how I feel about the way we speak.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOVhHxTkitU&list=FL9BDwYL5ZWqUObS8FtJkDZg&index=5
 

chiMmy

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Mar 8, 2010
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fbdbh said:
Hungarian has no direct relations to other languages, and I don't know how it could sound to a foreign ear, but when I was in Germany, everybody asked: "what's that weird language that you're speaking?"

Introducing myself and then saying that I was born in Zalaegerszeg, was always rather embarrassing. Usual reaction was: "say't again?"
Actually I believe it's close related to finnish if I recall correctly.

Swedish isn't all that hard to learn so you can make yourself understood, but the grammar is way harder then english.
 

Logodaedalus

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Aug 14, 2011
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The thing that realy pisses me off about the Dutch language is the Dutch Language Institute (a.k.a. Het Nederlands Taal Institute). This organisation officialy decides how every single word in the Dutch language is spelled, with one problem; they don't make a bunch of sensable rules and aply them to all the weird and wonderful words the Dutch have come up with. They instead just write each word how they think looks right and then make a clusterfuck of rules that somehow fit the words they wrote.

Ruwrak already gave one example of this with his 'Zonnebloem' and 'Zonnenbloem' but I'll flesh it out. What he is talking about is composite words, words made by throwing two words together, like sun flower. In Dutch you throw a 'EN' in between the two word to join them together except under following circumstances in which it's just an 'E';

> if the first word has no plural
> if the first word can be made a plural by adding both 'en' to the end or just an 's'
> if there is only one of the first word, meaning that is would be zonnEbloem, because there's only on sun (by the way, there's also only one queen, Elizabeth II doesn't count
for some reason).
> if the first word is an animal and the second a flower
> if it is one of the designated exceptions (i.e. "we couldn't figure rules out for these so we'll just call them exceptions that prove the rules")

And that's just one very specific case of were the rules are messed for normal words, you should see what happen when this kind of logic gets used on borrowed words, seriously fucking up Dutch is bad enough, leave other languages alone.

And worst of all, this shit changes every 2-3 years! I had to do our Dutch spelling exam just 3 months after everything was changed and a whole bunch of exceptions were added and others removed and even our own teacher didn't have a clue what was right and wrong. In the end about 15 of the 120 in our year managed to pass the exam. Being a non-native speaker myself actualy helped here because I didn't even try to make sense out of it all and just accepted it a weird and idiotic.

/endrant
 

similar.squirrel

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Mar 28, 2009
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Along with Finnish, it's the only language in the Finno-Ugric linguistic group. Apparently.
Still, they tell me that this will make me very welcome in Finland, which is good because I intend to live there after I graduate.
 

IamQ

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Mar 29, 2009
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Well, while Swedish is strange grammatically, the real kicker are some of the words.

Such as "Gift" which both means "Poison" and "Married".

Or "Tomt" which is pronounced differently in both ways, but it's really sublte. Either it means "Empty" or "house property".

One I really like is the sentence "Far, får får får?" Which translates to "Father, does sheep get sheep?". Confuses foreigners every time.
 

Radelaide

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Australian is a fairly odd dialect to speak. We insult those we love, we hate and thing we nothing. G'day is suitable for ANY situation, "Fuck off!" has many meanings, etc.

I fuckin' love my country.
 

Deadyawn

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You know I'm really quite surprised by how many people here have learned english as a second language, especially seeing as how I thought this was a predominately american community. Don't get me wrong, I'm australian myself but It's a little strange. English is one hell of a weird langauge. Context and conventions are extremely complex in many cases and they have a tendancy to break their own rules. I can't imagine attempting to learn english after having grown up with a different language but I have heard it's very difficult.
I actually learned a bit of hebrew for a while and it's really strange. Don't quote me on this because I'm probably wrong but originally hebrew was an ancient language that died out for some time. When it was ressurected it had to be modernized and one of the issues with the written part was that certain letters could represent different vowel sounds and sometimes consonants. They were remembered in context but to help eliminate confusion a series of symbols were made to denote which particular sound certain letters should make. Honestly I'm surprised they managed to bring hebrew back at all.
 

Mandalore_15

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In Scottish Gaelic, there are five words for the word "the" (the definite article), and no words for the word "a" (indefinite article)!
 

StrangerQ

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As spoken language i have seen Finns that speak other languages as well as natives.
But i have failed to meet any foreigner that learns to speak finnish like native.

The fact that every bloody finnish word has 16 different bends for different meanings.

for example word Cake=Kakku (the names of the bends are in finnish)
Nominatiivi- Kakku = cake
Genetiivi- Kakun = cake's
Partitiivi- Kakkua = piece of cake (this one means literally piece of something etc.)
Akkusatiivi- Kakku = This cake (used as obejective)
Inessiivi- Kakussa = In cake
Elatiivi- Kakusta = from cake (from inside)
Illatiivi- Kakkuun = to cake (to go inside the cake)
Adessiivi- Kakulla = at cake
Ablatiivi- Kakulta = from cake (example. you must leave cake that was on table)
Allatiivi- Kakulle = to cake (refer above but to come to cake)
Translatiivi- Kakuksi = example. To make something as cake... any finns to help me with this one?
Essiivi- Kakkuna = to be as cake???

seriously we are going so deep i will really need help soon...

Abessiivi- Kakutta = to be without cake
Komitatiivi- Herkullisine kakkuineen = with delicious cakes
Instruktiivi- Herkullisina kakkuna = as delicious cake... ok im unsure about this translation.

Any one who does not happen to be native and has not learned these as part of growing up process... welcome to word hell.

And i welcome grammar nazis since there is always room to learn
 

SckizoBoy

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Jan 6, 2011
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A Hermit's Cave
Iron Mal said:
(and in the case of Klingon it'll give you a murderous sore throat).
... a bit like Dutch, then, is it?! =P

This does make me wonder then how Cantonese has been carried and kept alive through the various generations when it for the most part must be transered and taught from person to person through the way of word of mouth (a method that in most cases would logically result in radical changes and adaptations being made to the language to match the technology and social climate of today).
I've wondered that too, but I think that can be alluded to within the history of the 'Oriental people' as a whole. Because the same character can be pronounced in several different ways. Take the character for 'north'; in Cantonese - 'buk'; in Mandarin - 'bei'; and in Japanese - 'kita'. So we have a case that written etymology progresses at a snail's pace, but spoken etymology goes rather mad, as compared to English in which the opposite is... sort of true (i.e. rules of pronunciation have effectively remained constant, but word construction has changed over time). Because we also use loan words. Hell, the word for 'brown' transliterates to 'coffee(-coloured)' (and I haven't the faintest idea what they used before that...).

So, I guess it is a progression by word of mouth as generations pass that the sound changes, though the text does not. And it's rather weird that the construction of a Chinese character often has little to no bearing on how one says that word, but the definition to both writer and reader is unmistakable.

Even with the standardisation and regulation that having a smaller number of words (most of which can be, and often are, written down) brings it's also interesting to note that there are many people out there who believe that the 'dumbing down' of the English language is happening as we speak and that any changes to the way English is utilised as a language will be a threat to the future of civilised communication (despite the fact that it's changes like the ones they fear that have given us the version of English we recognise today).
Usually, when presented with such thoughts, my knee-jerk reaction is to say that it's being corrupted... but that's sort of what linguistic evolution is. I think that were we to have a conversation with even just a 1940's Englishman, we'd have a hard time of it. Lexicons change, as do colloquialisms, and while we mock how the kids talk these days: could you imagine speaking like a C18th Briton?! Weird...
 

cathou

Souris la vie est un fromage
Apr 6, 2009
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My mother tongue is French. i dont think it's particulary strange, since it's natural for me, but i know people who want to learn it as a second language, especially those who speak english, think there's weird stuff in that language.

-Like german (from a previous post) every word have a gender. but you just have to know it, there's no indication that it's male or female. For exemple : table is female, chair is female, oven if male, floor is male, mouse is female, etc. The equivalent of "the" in french is "le" for a male word, and "la" for a female. But if that word start with a voyel, then it's "l'" (l'arbre) which dont have a gender. Because of that, people who are not that good in french always end up using the wrong gender for a word (le table instead of la table).

the pronoun in french also have gender but only for the third person. so for singular it's je(I), tu(you), il(he),elle(she), for plural : nous(us), vous(you), ils/elles(they)

-in english you is use for either one person, or several persons.but in french, you for only one is "tu" and you for a bunch of people is "vous". But, in spoken language, it's familiar and unpolite to use "tu" if you dont know the person, or if that person have some authority over you, like your boss. So if you speak to your boss, it's better to use "vous" even if you speak to only one person.

-the plural can take several form : usually, it's an "S" and the end : une table, des tables. Except, the word finishing by ail, which you must remove the ail and replace it by aux (bail - baux), if it finish by either au, eau, eu of oeu, take an x instead of an s, and the fun thing : words finishing by ou, take an s, except 7 words (bijou, caillou, chou, genou, hibou, joujou, pou) that take an x instead.

one last thing : accent. the accents change the sound of the letter that have them. the history of that is that the monks used them first to know how to sing the psalms, they they introduced them for the written language. Is very old french text, there's no accent. there's to words a and à that mean different thing. a is the verb have, and à is the equivalent of "to". il a voyagé (he have traveled), je vais à la plage (i'm going to the beach)
 

Moochkin

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Apr 10, 2008
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One of the Best things i think about the English language is that even after youve learnt it depending on where you live most alot of it is unused or have different meaning... as well as introducing new words and a way of speaking..... Have you ever tried to explain how to use the word "canny" in all its different uses to someone outside of newcastle, Ive tried. It doesnt compute with them lol. After going down south (to the southern pansies :p ) ive discovered that they just cant keep up or understand alot of what i say so i really had to talk slower so that they could understand me.... That was until i met a guy who came from near scotland so me and him where having a conversation and everyone else was looking with a "WTF are they talking about" look.
 

Wekub

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Mar 22, 2011
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Norwegian:
"Married" = "Gift"
and
"Poison" = "Gift"
They're pronounced the same way too.
 

rokkolpo

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Hagenzz said:
rokkolpo said:
In Dutch. Many things, but we have a word that almost none but ourselves can pronounce.

Scheveningen.
(It's a city)

http://translate.google.nl/#en|nl|scheveningen
Speaking of cities, I bet you haven't heard about the so-called "anal triangle" near Antwerp.
Reet, Kontich and Aartselaar form a neat little triangle of hilarious butt jokes.
For our non dutch speakers, that's Ass, Assich and Asselaar respectively.
Indeed I did not, but awesome nonetheless!
 

GrungyMunchy

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Nov 21, 2009
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Iron Mal said:
GrungyMunchy said:
Wait, are you serious? English uses nowhere near as many different words as the majority of latin languages. A verb in English has 4 or 5 different variations to aknowledge time and person, in my language it has 67. Seriously, English is one of the easiest languages I've ever encountered.
What language do you speak exactly?

I would have to say that it's a very convoluted language that was formed requiring 67 variations on any given word just to specify the subject and tense (I'm fairly certain that there aren't even a grand total of 67 tenses and subjects combined so I have a hunch you're exaggerating there).

The great difficulty that surrounds learning English is how the rules and trends surrounding it's use are very lax and open for adaptation and interpritation. There may not be as many specific words to learn as other languages but learning how to actually use them correctly and fluently can be considerably more difficult because we sometimes just seem to have completely random and made up rules sometimes (I before E except after C or if it rhymes with 'bee', who the hell actually came up with that and why?).

From the perspective of how many words you have to learn then no, English isn't very hard, but if we're talking about how difficult it is for the language to be applied in a regular, day-to-day conversation then the sheer number of irregularities makes it a very confusing language for many (that's why it's widely regarded as one of the most difficult languages to learn).
I speak Portuguese. Yes, every verb has 67 variations: http://poucaspalavras.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/iludir.jpg

Couple that with the fact that colloquial Portuguese uses substitute forms of half those variations, and you can easily get to 90 different variations in total.

You can find the things you say that makes English more difficult in any other languages. Portuguese people cut the simpler words in half when they're speaking (for example, the verb "estar" ("to be" in the sense of "I am here", not in the sense of "I am Portuguese", yes we have different verbs for that) is cut in half to "tar" when it's spoken, so basically you get a whole new verb with all its variations that on top of that can be easily confused with the verb "ter" ("to have") in some variations).
And then you can group different verbs consequently to express something, like in the example "ele era para ter ido lá" ("he was supposed to have gone there"), where "era para ter" translates literally to "was to have" but it means "supposed to".
And when it comes to different sounds with the same letter, don't get me started with the use of the tilde. A word that ends in "ão" can have three different plural forms in "ões", "ães" and "ãos" and you can't guess which one it is without knowing the word beforehand. So you can have "cidadão" ("citizen"), "pão" ("bread") and "melão" ("melon") and the respective plural forms are "cidadãos", "pães" and "melões". On top of that, you as a native English speaker will never, and I mean never, be able to learn how to pronounce "ão", "ões" or "ães". I know elder English people what have lived here for 40 years and they still can't say that without misspeaking it.

I've actually read a study that determined the most difficult languages to speak, and Portuguese came in 3rd place after Mandarin and Japanese. So yeah.

Btw, stop saying English is regarded as one of the most difficult languages to learn, no one thinks that. You don't even have genders for inanimate objects.
 
Apr 21, 2011
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Well, what I found strange in the french language is that everything has to have a feminine or masculine word for it. What I found strange in my language is how we have to pluralize words like "you're" to "your" in different sentences, yes, I know what they mean but why is it so important to use them because people will understand what you mean anyway. What's with the extra words?.
 

Etni

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chiMmy said:
fbdbh said:
Hungarian has no direct relations to other languages - -
Actually I believe it's close related to finnish if I recall correctly.
I suppose Finnish and Hungarian do belong to a sort-of same family of languages, but ask any Hungarian or Finn and they'll tell you the languages have almost nothing in common.

In the Finnish language we prefer to glue suffixes into words instead of using prepositions, particles or other such modifiers, so we indeed have plenty of suffixes. As someone already mentioned, there are 15 cases for nouns ( see eg. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/finnish-cases.html ), the same 15 for adjectives, and I don't even want to know in how many different ways you can bend and twist verbs ( see eg. http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/finnish-modes.html ).

What makes it worse is that some (luckily few) of the cases have several suffixes that you can choose from, (the worst being plural genetive with 5), depending on the word - technically they're all grammatically correct, but you want to go with the most popular one or you sound a little funny. This is not serious business, though, Finns themselves get confused at times, and learn it sort of intuitively and by memory rather than understanding any grammatical rule for it. And "wrongly" written or pronounced Finnish is still easy to understand (unlike some other languages, for example the Danes seem genuinely confused when I pronounce something a little off), and Finns are generally very impressed if someone even tries to learn the strange little language of ours. :p

Finnish pronounciation is also peculiar. In my experience it has very simple pronounciation rules: one letter for one sound, very few exceptions, not a large or exotic selection of sounds to choose from, and no strict tonality rules. Yet somehow foreigners always sound distinctively foreign and won't pass as a native until they've stayed in the country for something like, I don't know, 30 years or something. :p
 

GamemasterAnthony

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Ghengis John said:
What's weird about english? Too many contextual uses of words. Eat lead. I'll lead. Try interpreting the meaning of "They read." on it's own without any context. Is this to say they are capable of reading or that in they past they were reading? Other languages I know conjugate their verbs to make past tense, present tense, future tense and how many people less of a mystery.
This times a thousand, and let me give you a few more examples of how broken the English language is.

"While they're here, it is by their oath that I swear upon my swivel chair that will not dare make fun of your heir extraordinaire. So there!"

Observe that the eight bolded words in that statement all rhyme and yet no two words share the same spelling for the ending. It's just one of the few examples where it seems that the english language can't make up it's mind as to how something will be spelled based on the pronounciation. Heck, I'm surprised people taking ESL don't get confused as to which witch is which or why when they see the word "sea" they wonder why it's not spelled with a C.

Doesn't help much that the OED seems to be run by a bunch of cretins either. Could someone PLEASE tell them that "woot" is NOT SPELLED WITH ZEROS! Switching letters with numbers and symbols is just certain netspeakers' way of trying to bypass the censor filters!

Ugh...I'm beginning to wish I was born in Spain now. At least THAT language makes more sense!
 

Lockling

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Aug 16, 2010
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Etni said:
TUT highfives!


StrangerQ said:
Translatiivi- Kakuksi = example. To make something as cake... any finns to help me with this one?
Essiivi- Kakkuna = to be as cake???

Instruktiivi- Herkullisina kakkuna = as delicious cake... ok im unsure about this translation.
Muuttua kakuksi(the word is never really used alone)= to turn into cake
Kakkuna = as a cake(as in: as a cake i find pie to be offensive)
HerkullisEna kakkuna = as a delicious cake

Also its great how we have words for him/her(hän, same word for both genders) but noone uses them and instead use the word "se"(=it). Also no equivalent of "the" in the language.

I also love our curse words, you can tell a finn is cursing even if you dont know the language, the words are just THAT powerful.(but then agin you couldnt really tell it apart from the rest of the language as heaps of our words sound offensive :S)