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#5854 - 09/05/00 04:08 PM Re: British vs American
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
how can one language be more difficult than another?



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#5855 - 09/05/00 04:55 PM Re: British vs American
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
>>As do most "educated" writers in Aus. Oh look, a sentence without a verb.

Oh, you got your verb there, johnjohn. You were just engaging in a bit of anastrophe!


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#5856 - 09/05/00 05:14 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
As do most "educated" writers in Aus. Oh look, a sentence without a verb.
Oh, you got your verb there, johnjohn. You were just engaging in a bit of anastrophe!


Anna, would you mind explaining that for me? Until I read your post, I did not understand the derivation of your nom-de-plume, as I had never come across "anastrophe" before. After looking it up, I now know it to be a type of syntactical inversion, and I was wondering if you would mind talking me through its application in the above quote, as I am still a little unsure of how anastrophe works. It's a great day when I learn something completely new to me, and if I can get a firm grasp on the concept, that would be even better. Thanks


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#5857 - 09/05/00 05:29 PM Re: British vs American
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
>>how can one language be more difficult than another?

A completely unbiased mind would rank the difficulty of a language based on simplicity and form. Unfortunately it is impossible to have an unbiased opinion because all of us have started off knowing one particular language, and that language is the easiest for us. What we are left with is ranking the other languages based on how easy it is for us to learn them.

Therefore, the question is: is Gaelic high up, low down, or in the middle on the difficulty scale?

"A sobering thought: what if, at this very moment, I am living up to my full potential?" JANE WAGNER

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#5858 - 09/05/00 09:57 PM Re: British vs American
Brandon Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 218
Loc: Mountain West, USA
ranking the other languages based on how easy it is for us to learn them

These kinds of studies have already been done by the Foreign Service Institute (U.S. CIA training center, among other things). The Institute has ranked languages into four basic categories based on their difficulty and complexity for native English-speakers (albeit American-English exclusively, I bet).

The results are roughly this:

Easiest to learn: Danish, Dutch, French, German, Creole, Italilan, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, and the like

Next hardest: Indonesian, Malay, Swahili

Next hardest: Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Lao, Polish, Russian, Thai, Vietnamese, and the like

Hardest: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and, interestingly enough, American Sign Language

These studies are done based on the average number of study hours spent to achieve specified levels of fluency. However, as any statistic is, they vary widely with individuals.

The important point is that to measure "foreignness" and "easy of mastery" does depend on one's starting point. The rankings would be exactly opposite for native speakers of Chinese and Japanese, for example.


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#5859 - 09/05/00 10:06 PM Re: British vs American
johnjohn Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 167
Loc: Australia
<Oh, you got your verb there, johnjohn. You were just engaging in a bit of anastrophe! >

Hmmmmm...isn't what I've got a subordinate clause, so that there is no MAIN verb? My grammar isn't up to the analysis....


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#5860 - 09/06/00 02:11 AM Re: British vs American
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
>Next hardest: Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Czech, Greek...<
I am surprised that Greek should be so much more difficult for Americans than e.g. Danish. Probably the CIA ranking, in part, reflects something like the "popularity" (frequency of need or choice) of the respective language, besides real differences in syntax structure, pronounciation, etc.


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#5861 - 09/06/00 04:10 AM Re: British vs American
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>I am surprised that Greek should be so much more difficult for Americans than e.g. Danish.

I think Greek is ranked with Russian because for both languages you require a different alphabet which means that it takes a long time to get off first base.

I learnt Russian at the same time as a friend learnt (ancient) Greek and I'd say that our learning paths were similar - a very slow start, getting faster once you realised that many words were not that difficult when you could actually read them - radio(paguo), music, piano etc. Anyone who has ever studied maths/math has a head start with the Greek alphabet, it just takes time to build up speed.


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#5862 - 09/06/00 09:38 AM Re: British vs American
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
i've seen the x files.

never trust the c.i.a.


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#5863 - 09/06/00 11:17 AM Re: anastrophe
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
johnjohn,

Well, I was half-joking and weaving with another thread (indulging in a bit of YARTing, if you will). The point is, your subordinate clause does have a verb. If you turn "As do most 'educated' writers in Aus." around to the accepted word order, it would be "Most 'educated' writers in Aus do so."

Max,

I understand now how difficult it is to search certain topics here ... I could pull a tsuwm and refer you, but I'm too lazy to LIU. "Anastrophe" is a rhetorical device, a deliberate inversion of standard word order.

Ex:
"It only stands / Our lives upon, to use Our strongest hands"
--Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra 2.1.50-51

"The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew."
--Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The term is also used to describe such languages as Latin (and Polish, I have now learned), in which affixes indicate each word's function in a sentence, thereby obviating any need for a standard word order.

Your humble servant am I,
Anna


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