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#5864 - 09/06/00 02:24 PM Re: anastrophe
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409
Thanks, Anna, now I know what anastrophe is, and how to spot it.

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

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!

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

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.<

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?

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

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 1027
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..

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

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.

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

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

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?

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

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...)

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

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


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.


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