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#5824 - 08/30/00 11:27 AM British vs American
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
What are some main differences between British and American word spelling and usage? Are there also differences between other English speakers like Canadians, or Australians? And what about Scottish, Irish, and Welsh -> are they considered forms of English too?


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#5825 - 08/30/00 02:53 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Posts: 3409
British English adds to some words by inserting what Americans would call supererogatory vowels - "aluminium" vs."aluminum," and all the words like "vigour," colour," "labour" etc. Also, British English tends to prefer the French spelling of words like "metre" and its siblings, in contrast with American English opting for the German "meter." Pronunciation is also quite different, most noticeably in "u" Most Americans would say "Noo York," while most speaker of British English, or its derivatives elsewhere, would say "Nyou York." Even the single vowel "u" is often pronounced quite differently - "aloominum" vs "alyouminium." And this doesn't even begin to touch on the variations present in NZ English (my mother tongue), Australian English - note that I am steadfastly resisting the urge to make "oxymoron" type remarks here - and the many other flavours this wondrous tongue has adopted. Please note also, that the above comments are the ravings of a madman, and represent little more than personal opinions of questionable worth.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of humanity" - Albert Einstein

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#5826 - 08/30/00 03:01 PM Re: British vs American
tsuwm Offline
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Loc: this too shall pass
in keeping with local custom in regards to Max-posts, I'd point out that this is very much an ongoing topic in these here parts -- you'll find B v. A asides in many many of the threads!


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#5827 - 08/30/00 03:10 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Posts: 3409
in keeping with local custom in regards to Max-posts, I'd point out that this is very much an ongoing topic in these here parts -- you'll find B v. A asides in many many of the threads!

I wonder, is it nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous tsuwm? Am I to get no absolution? Does the fact that I did not start this one count for nothing?
On a slightly more serious note, the structure of this board makes moving from thread to thread a little awkward, and when pursuing a particular topic, tracking down all references can be very time-consuming. I still find it awkward moving from one thread to another, and so I empathise with my fellow greenhorn here.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of humanity" - Albert Einstein

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#5828 - 08/30/00 03:22 PM Re: British vs American
tsuwm Offline
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Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
>the structure of this board makes moving
from thread to thread a little awkward

Yet Another Rehashed Topic! (time to coin an acronym: YART)
{but a topic on which we all agreed!!}


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#5829 - 08/30/00 03:56 PM Re: British vs American
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
I do realize that this topic comes up in many forums, but as max mentioned, it is hard to search for something in forums that were not assigned for that particular information. I was hoping that people could come here with their English version/dialect problems instead of crowding up forums that weren't meant to hold that information.

With those things said, could we please try to keep this forum subject-oriented rather than crowding it with our own disagreements?


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#5830 - 08/30/00 04:17 PM Re: off topic
tsuwm Offline
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hey, you're free to post whatever you want here -- we're pretty much self-moderating. but if you have the time to browse the "archives" you'll find some pretty fascinating stuff posted on these subjects, and also by folks who infrequently (or no longer) post.

as for disagreements, I've been on my best behavior for quite a while!

btw, a+o, did you know that your personal data is unavailable and that it is impossible to send you personal messages??


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#5831 - 08/30/00 04:32 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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I was hoping that people could come here with their English version/dialect problems

It is a theme that allows of infinite discussion, isn't it? I love the way that English adapts to different environments, taking whatever it needs from other languages. It seems to me that this flexibility is what gives English its strength, and in this regard I regard myself as fortunate to live in a country with two official languages, as do you. The major problems that other English speakers have with New Zealanders is that we tend to talk very quickly, especially in contrast with the painfully slow and careful enunciation typical among US English speakers, and we barely open our mouths when speaking. Oh, and by the way, I was not having a disagreement with tsuwm. Tsuwm is the closest thing this board has to a deity, a personage whose incredible wealth of knowledge rightly inspires awe, and I have received a great deal of assistance from tsuwm in the ten days or so that I have been frequenting this board. I am, at least in my own self-delusional universe, a fellow of most infinite jest, and was simply attempting a little banter. I guess I am just starting to feel sufficiently at ease to indulge in such frivolity.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of humanity" - Albert Einstein

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#5832 - 08/30/00 04:45 PM Re: off topic
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
>>btw, a+o, did you know that your personal data is unavailable and that it is impossible to send you personal messages??

I did not know that. Actually I checked it and it says I'm no longer registered, but I just signed up today. What could be wrong?



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#5833 - 08/30/00 09:14 PM Re: off topic
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
>what could be wrong?

perhaps the somewhat unusual form of your username bollixed the limited capabilities of this odd mushware (witness the UNlimited pixillation of the spell-checker).




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#5834 - 08/31/00 03:31 AM Re: off topic
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
Most probably it's the 'plus' sign that stuck in its THROAT (it still doesn't work).


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#5835 - 08/31/00 03:54 AM Re: British vs American
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
It does seem that old discussions are increasingly hard to find and this one will run and run. If you use the Search thingy at the top of the page (not the one at the bottom) and put either UK English or US English you will find quite a few references (make sure you set the date range to "all posts" not just postings made in the last week.

In Q&A about words the "UK English - US English Dictionary" thread helped us to discover some useful online dictionaries.

I think your summary is very good, we do like our little extra vowels and people from the United States are so proud of having discarded them. I think one of life's adventures is crossing an ocean, having assumed that all English speaking peoples understand each other and then finding out that, even with global media and communications we can't even agree on how to describe a few basic bodily functions. It amused me all the way through my twenties and I hope that we keep our differences long enough to amuse a few more people!


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#5836 - 08/31/00 03:55 AM Re: off topic
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Most probably it's the 'plus' sign that stuck in its THROAT (it still doesn't work).

Is not that equine deceased, and hence immune from flagellation? I speak as somene who has had something surgically removed from his THROAT, and that's the lay phrase the doctors used when talking about the procedure: "We're going to get that fishbone out of your throat." While I recognise that NZ English is not highly esteemed, I know that noone I know would have difficulty with understanding and uaing "throat in that manner.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of humanity" - Albert Einstein

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#5837 - 08/31/00 04:49 AM Re: British vs American
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
>And what about Scottish, Irish, and Welsh -> are they considered forms of English too?

Mmmm - very brave.

Having lived in Wales and Scotland I would hesitate to answer this question. In general, people in Scotland don't seem to talk about "English". Even in school the lesson that I called "English" is called "language" to recognise the contribution made to our language by the rest of Britain (but maybe not the rest of the world?!).

In Welsh schools the Welsh language is taught. In some schools for five hours each week, in others as the main method of communication. Welsh is a Celtic language, its nearest cousins being Cornish and Breton. The language as spoken today is descended directly from Early Welsh, which emerged as a distinct tongue as early as the sixth century AD. It is thus the oldest living language of Great Britain and among the oldest in Europe. The Welsh Language Boardhttp://www.bwrdd-yr-iaith.org.uk gives an overview of the issues. All official communication in Wales is now required to be bilingual. http://www.budgetbritain.com/roughguide/wales_language.asp is also interesting.

Examples of the way English is/was spoken in Wales can be found in the poems of Dylan Thomas (who died in 1953), he can be heard at http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=151. I'm sure that there are plenty of modern examples of Welsh speech around too.

In Scotland, only a few schools have Gaelic units. I know one in Edinburgh where the only teaching medium is Gaelic for the first two years. The local newspaper prints some articles in both English and Gaelic (pronounced Gallic in Scotland). There is a reasonable discussion of the language in http://www.budgetbritain.com/roughguide/scotland_language.asp
The other important language is "Scots", to quote the site mentioned above, "While Gaelic has undergone something of a renaissance, Scots, or "Lallans", as spoken by the "English-speaking" majority of Scottish people, is still struggling for recognition. In form, at least, it is closely related to the English spoken south of the border, since it began life as a northern branch of Anglo-Saxon. In the early fifteenth century, it replaced Latin as the country's main literary and documentary language, but has since been drawn closer to southern varieties of English. Some people claim it to be a separate language, which has suffered the same systematic repression as Gaelic, while others reject this view, considering it to be, at best, an artificial amalgamation of local dialects. Robbie Burns is the most obvious literary exponent of the Scots language, but there has been a revival this century led by poets such as Hugh MacDiarmid." You can find examples of the writing of Robbie Burns http://home.t-online.de/home/hoffmann.t/bobburns.htm and Hugh MacDiarmidhttp://www.mala.bc.ca/~lanes/english/flood.htm.
If you want to hear examples of recent speech in Scotland then look out for the film of "Trainspotting" or look out for Billy Connoly.

I have noticed, since I moved to Scotland that much of modern American derives from Scottish, rather than English usage. Exapmles include "pinkie" for little finger and "Main Street" rather than "High Street". I'd be interested to know the number of Scottish immigrants compared to English in the early days of America.

I'm sure that there some Scottish and Welsh people out there who have views on current language.



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#5838 - 08/31/00 07:33 AM Re: British vs American
AnnaStrophic Offline
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Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Jo, it's good to see you back here. I've missed your thoughtful posts (the above being a superb example). You might find country-by-country immigration stats at http://ellisisland.org/, though they would reflect mainly the 19th century (I'd try to find it for you but the links aren't responding right now). Ellis Island, NY was the triage point for immigrants and has recently been renovated and turned into a museum.


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#5839 - 08/31/00 08:45 AM Re: British vs American
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Thank you Anna - I've missed you all too.

I'm still wading knee deep in postings trying to catch up! I'm not surprised that new people can't find anything.


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#5840 - 08/31/00 09:17 AM Re: off topic
Jackie Offline

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Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
>>Most probably it's the 'plus' sign that stuck in its THROAT

Or maybe Pearl's at its NECK, she said whilst choking back the laughter threatening to strangulate her throat.


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#5841 - 09/01/00 12:50 PM Re: British vs American
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
I was wondering. If a school-aged child from England moved to USA and vice versa, and the child had a spelling test but added or lacked the extra vowels, would the teacher be allowed to penalize them for it?

Can't reach me here? E-mail me duskydreamer@icqmail.com or ICQ me 71367484.

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#5842 - 09/01/00 04:14 PM Re: British vs American
Jazzoctopus Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/03/00
Posts: 1094
Loc: Cincinnati & Loveland, Ohio, U...
I was wondering. If a school-aged child from England moved to USA and vice versa, and the child had a spelling test but added or lacked the extra vowels, would the teacher be allowed to penalize them for it?

Seeing as both forms of these words are accepted spellings, I can't see how a teacher would be allowed to mark off for this.



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#5843 - 09/01/00 04:39 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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In reply to:

Seeing as both forms of these words are accepted spellings, I can't see how a teacher would be allowed to mark off for this.


Here in NZ, that is certainly true, at least of words like "colour". Given the increasing prevalence of spell-checkers set to US English as default, there is even a campaign underway to adopt US spelling as standard here - angels and ministers of grace defend us!


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#5844 - 09/01/00 05:48 PM Re: British vs American
apples + oranges Offline
newbie

Registered: 08/30/00
Posts: 46
Loc: Canada
Here in NZ, that is certainly true, at least of words like "colour".

Do you mean that in NZ both forms of the word are acceptable for everybody or just newcomers? I know I've always been taught UK English spelling in school and teachers always took marks off if I spelled it "color."

Can't reach me here? E-mail me duskydreamer@icqmail.com or ICQ me 71367484.

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#5845 - 09/01/00 06:40 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Posts: 3409
Do you mean that in NZ both forms of the word are acceptable for everybody or just newcomers? I know I've always been taught UK English spelling in school and teachers always took marks off if I spelled it "color."

I'm thirty-two, and like you, when I went to school, "color" would have been marked as wrong. Now, though, it is accepted as an alternative, particularly at our primary, or elementary, level. "Colour" is still taught, but if a child spells it "color", they are unlikely to be marked down for so doing, although they may be advised that it is not considered standard spelling in New Zealand.



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#5846 - 09/02/00 08:15 AM Re: British vs American
RhubarbCommando Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/23/00
Posts: 2204
>. I was hoping that people could come here with their English version/dialect problems

Well, sure; and I will add my twopenno'th below; but the name of this game seems to be lateral thinking (says he, with even less mileage on his posting-clock than Max) and this is one of the most attractive features of awad, surely? I'm not sure if it is because resppondents to this board are all of galactic intellect or because we mostly have the concentration spans of the average gnat, but who cares anyway? It's stimulating, it's fun, it's good to meet fellow-maniacs and I've heard a rumour that the first one to post 5,000 gets a fortnight's holiday in Scunthorpe. (I guess Scunthorpe, England, is similar to Scranton, USA, if what I've geard is correct)

As to the vagaries of the English Language: my sister-in-law teaches ESL in Canada, where they have immigrants from all over the world. Those who come in from the Carribean (Ex-British West Indies islands, that is) insist that they do not need to learn English as a Second Language and get quite upset about it, claiming, with complete justice, that they already speak English. However, their fashion of speech and pronunciation, together with their idiosyncratic idioms, leads to mutual incomprehensibility between them and their hosts. There was no doubt that they needed a conversion course.

The problem has been solved diplomatically by calling the course for Caribbeans, "English as a Second Dialect."

Interestingly, in British towns where there is a large Caribbean population, many of the residents from both communities are bi-lingual (bi-dialectical?? maybe not!)
My children and their friends, West Indian and European, would speak as easily in Jamaican patois as with a Northampton accent, when they were young, depending on whose house they were playing in at the time. Adults tended not to use the accent of the other communtiy, but understood it readily enough most of the time.


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#5847 - 09/02/00 08:30 AM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Posts: 3409
Interestingly, in British towns where there is a large Caribbean population, many of the residents from both communities are bi-lingual (bi-dialectical?? maybe not!)

bi-patoisal, perhaps? The facility that children have for linguistic flexibility is one of the traits I most envy them for. Note the raffish, devil-may-care, prepositional end to the preceding sentence. Here in NZ, with the resurgence of Maori, including total immersion schools (in which English is not used or taught at all) from ages two through ten, it is now once again possible to meet eight and nine year olds born and raised here for whom English is very distinctly their second language.


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#5848 - 09/03/00 04:58 AM Re: British vs American
Bridget Offline
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Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>Here in NZ, with the resurgence of Maori, including total immersion schools (in which English is not used or taught at all) from ages two through ten, it is now once again possible to meet eight and nine year olds born and raised here for whom English is very distinctly their second language.<

I always understood that this was very much what happened with Hebrew, which had become a universally 'second' language (like Latin much earlier?) until the establishment of the State of Israel.

I have to admire the commitment of both the Israelis and the Maoris in getting their languages back to life - especially when I think of the other countries where similar afforts don't seem to be generating the same results. (Someone will probably correct / enlighten me, but I've always had the impression that Gaelis was struggling to retain its hold in most of Ireland.)




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#5849 - 09/03/00 09:53 AM Re: British vs American
william Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
>>there is even a campaign underway to adopt US spelling as standard here

good luck in your fight, max.
in australia it's too late. newspapers use american spelling, and there is no "Labour" party anymore.


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#5850 - 09/03/00 03:33 PM Re: British vs American
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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good luck in your fight, max.
in australia it's too late. newspapers use american spelling, and there is no "Labour" party anymore.


Commiserations. I think the cause of orthographical conservatism got a boost here in NZ this week, thanks to coverage of a campaign launched to try to completely phoneticise English. A group of parents, all native English speakers, have complained that their their poor little Johnnies and Joanies can't see why head isn't spelled hed. So, these parents have begun a campaign to eliminate all "supererogatory" letters. I wil ring u on the telefone and let u no how wel the campane suxeeds. I think the ridicule this campaign attracted will help maintain the status quo for a while.


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#5851 - 09/04/00 04:53 AM Re: British vs American
johnjohn Offline
member

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 167
Loc: Australia
<in australia it's too late. newspapers use american spelling, and there is no "Labour" party anymore.>

Not sure I agree with the first part of this statement William. Certainly the proportion of people using US spelling is much higher than say the UK, but I think eg the Sydney Morning Herald and the Financial Review still use colour, labour (small L), etc. As do most "educated" writers in Aus. Oh look, a sentence without a verb.



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#5852 - 09/04/00 09:34 AM Re: British vs American
william Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 200
well, the foot's in the door.


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#5853 - 09/05/00 01:20 PM Re: British vs American
TEd Remington Offline
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Registered: 07/17/00
Posts: 3467
Loc: Marion NC
>Gaeli(c) was struggling to retain its hold in most of Ireland.)

Bridget:

Unless things have changed very dramatically, the hold of Gaelic on Ireland is a bit on the tenuous side. When I was there ten years ago, there were certain areas of the country (a pretty distinct minority of it too) where there were tax breaks given to people who spoke Gaelic. Conemarra was one of these "gaeltechte", and my apologies in advance because I don't think that's spelled right. Also, applicants for public jobs got preference points if they had a certain level of fluency in Gaelic. I'm not certain if that was throughout the country or only in the gaeltechte.

I spent a month touring Ireland by bicycle, and only once did I run into anyone who claimed not to speak any English, and that was in a small town in Galway. I didn't believe the fellow, but I certainly wasn't going to test my belief by making references to his English parentage, just in case he _could_ understand me!

The Dublin Times has a web site that publishes a part of it's on-line paper in Gaelic, but it is only a very small part. They're going to keep Gaelic alive, but definitely not well, in my opinion. It's just too difficult a language.

_________________________
TEd

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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
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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
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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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#5864 - 09/06/00 02:24 PM Re: anastrophe
Max Quordlepleen Offline
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Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
Thanks, Anna, now I know what anastrophe is, and how to spot it.


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#5865 - 09/07/00 02:10 AM Re: British vs American
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
>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.<

Which brings us to the difference between learning to speak a language and learning to write a language. The two may have very different degrees of difficulty.

I remember watching rural Chinese children go through a set of character flashcards, sorting them into the ones they had studied and the ones they hadn't. They'd have failed a Chinese test, not because they couldn't speak Chinese, but because they were illiterate. Or only partially literate, to be more accurate.

I note that Japanese and Chinese both appear in the CIA's 'most difficult' list, and I suspect this is because they are testing language literacy as much if not more than language fluency.

BTW I once knew someone who was fluently illiterate in three languages!


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#5866 - 09/07/00 02:14 AM Re: British vs American
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
<They're going to keep Gaelic alive, but definitely not well, in my opinion. It's just too difficult a language.<

TEd,
this is interesting. You've been round more of Ireland than I have and I bow to your knowledge. BUT, I believe Gaelic is no more difficult than Gallic (in Scotland), and I remember sharing a house with a charming Glaswegian who used to lapse into Gallic whenever he'd had a drink or too. Most weekends. For him, Gallic was definitely not too difficult.

Jo, any feedback on the state of Gallic in the north?


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#5867 - 09/07/00 02:57 AM Re: British vs American
wsieber Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1026
Loc: Switzerland
>lapse into Gallic whenever he'd had a drink.. <
I have seen this fluency-enhancing (lubricating? )effect of alcohol on several occasions, e.g. an American speaking accent-free German after some (Swiss) beers. But the CIA would probably not admit this subterfuge..


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#5868 - 09/07/00 07:38 AM Re: British vs American
Brandon Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 218
Loc: Mountain West, USA
the CIA's 'most difficult' list, and I suspect this is because they are testing language literacy as much if not more than language fluency.

I did a little checking on the Foreign Service Institute and found that yes, the CIA does use the center for language training of CIA personnel. However, the Institute also serves as the training ground for America's ambassadors and personnel who serve at embassies worldwide. It would appear that literacy would be of paramount importance.


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#5869 - 09/13/00 04:17 AM Re: anastrophe
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
Annastrophic,

Thank you. I too edified am by your explanation!

A sentence came to me over the weekend: 'A man in the lake is fishing'.
The image this conjures up is far more specific than that of 'A man is fishing in the lake'.

...how, in the world of anastrophe, does one know whether I am too edified or edified too?


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#5870 - 09/13/00 04:25 AM Re: British vs American
Bridget Offline
addict

Registered: 06/27/00
Posts: 444
Loc: Sydney Australia
Back to the original topic (and apologies if this was in an earlier thread!) I serendipitously found a site calledhttp://english2american.com. Far from complete or authorised, but it has its moments. I especially liked courgette / zucchini.

(BTW the spellcheck is splendidly egalitarian and recognises neither, but what less could you expect of our beloved spellcheck, technology's answer to Mrs Malaprop...)


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#5871 - 09/13/00 05:31 AM Re: Gaelic and Scots
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
> Jo, any feedback on the state of Gallic in the north?

Gaelic is alive and well. I did see an article in last week's Scotsman singing its praises and speaking of increased usage - I'll look it up.

In the meantime here's a piece on the current state of our other language "Scots" from todays Scotsman newspaper. I've copied it in full as they seem to cut off the links after the first day:
_______________________________________________________
Oor hame leids

MATT WARREN

Ahíll kill ye ya bass.

Err ... je ne speaky Frances.

Iím not speaking French. Iím giving you the heave-ho in the auld Scots tung.

Whatís that when itís at home?
Itís the language of Rabbie Burns, dummy. Long sidelined as being an uncouth derivative of English, Scots is still spoken by some 1.5 million people north of the Border. Unfortunately, while Gaelic receives considerable funding from the Executive - about £47 per head - Scots reels in a paltry ninepence, leading many to fear for its future welfare. Apparently, a group of MSPs have now got together to grant the tongue of our forebears the acclaim and respect it deserves.

So, how are they going to do that?
I suppose theyíre planning to launch a new Robert Burns festival, singing the song of Scots through the words of the immortal bard. I can see it now; guys in kilts, kids in pretty bonnets, plenty of shortbread and pints of 80/-. The English tourists will love it. Maybe theyíll even sponsor Maccie Dís to launch a McTartan Burger value meal.

Nope, Iím afraid itís nothing like that. According to the MSPs sponsoring the comeback, one way of getting the language of old back into our everyday patter is to put it on our road signs. Itís a kind of out-of-the-poetry-books-and-onto-the-streets type initiative.

Youíre joking. Iíve heard of back-to-basics, but surely there are better places than the M8 to stoke the fires of a linguistic renaissance.

Au contraire. Irene McGugan, the Scottish National Party MSP for North-East Scotland, has even set it down in writing, requesting that "Her Maijestieís Guiverment", protects the "hame leids" as a first step towards Scotland having its own official language.

Whatís Leeds got to do with it?
Not Leeds. Leids. Itís Scots for language.

Oh. But why road signs?
Well, apparently the Sassenachs - sorry, English - travel to Scotland to indulge in a spot of alternative culture. Scots road-signs will make them feel like theyíre getting the bona fide experience, encouraging them to spend more of their cash and promoting Scots as one of Britainís official languages in the process. Before you can say "neeps and tatties", Scots will have found its way into the very core of Scotlandís political machinations, establishing itself as the language of everyday bureaucracy.

But will we be able to understand them?
Probably not, but then you canít understand the signs in Wales either. Either way, "Slippery road" will become "Skitterie rod", "Small tunnel" will become "Sma cundie", "Toilets" will become "Cludgie" and theyíll translate "Stop: Children" as "Hud oan: bairns". Apparently, itís all about Scots coming out of the closet.

Donít you mean cludgie?
Whatever. Apparently, the real problem begins when it comes to drawing the line between regional variations of the mother tongue. Itís all well and good talking about Scots in general, but while "girl" translates as "quine" in Aberdeen, Shetlanders prefer the word "jilt" and Highlanders "teenie-bash". It seems that at the end of the day, the biggest problem most Scots have is understanding each other.

Blimey, Iím sure contemporaries of Rabbie Burns didnít have to deal with all this palaver.

Aye. But they did have highwaymen.

Well I guess thatís a fair trade.

http://www.scotsman.com/cfm/home/home.cfm



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