April 9th, 2007

Commas in Spanish

I was in quite a discussion with my Spanish teacher today about the following sentence. For those of you who aren't familiar with the style of question, there is a blank space and a word in parentheses, which you have to but into the correct form to fit in the sentence (conjugate a verb, etc.)

Una respuesta está en la gran diversificación de las actividades humanas y sociales que, __________ (impulsar) a los ecuatorianos a ingresar, más temprano que tarde, a un proceso de especialización laboral, que antes ni siquiera se analizaba.

I initially put impulsada (referring to diversificación), but my teacher said it cannot be this because a) impulsar would take hacia, not a, and b) the que is introducing a relative clause which adds "additional information" and so you must conjugate the verb (she said the answer was impulsan). Now, I get that my answer was wrong and understand what she's trying to say about the relative clause, but my problem was that comma after que, which is what initially led me to use a participle there. I was willing to accept her answer and figure that the comma was a typo in the book, but she said that it was fine with the comma. I think that would be a run-on sentence (and even more ungrammatical when you go farther in the sentence). Can you put a comma here in Spanish?

Also, when I mentioned that que was a relative pronoun in this case, she said it wasn't, that it was a conjunction. I'm pretty sure it's a relative pronoun. Who's right?

I hope all that was comprehensible. Funnily enough, I get very fragmented and difficult to understand when writing about grammar!

x-posted
NYC Teacup

*whoosh!* Onomatopoeias!

What are your favorite onomatopoeias?

Please share as many as you can in as many languages as you can and explain what they are.
If you are not sure what I am asking for:
An onomatopoeia is a word, or group of words, that imitates the sound it is describing, and thus suggests its source object, such as “bang”, “click”, "buzz" or "pop" or animal such as “moo”, “oink”, “quack” or “meow". Onomatopoeic words exist in every language, although they are different in each.
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Obama in blue

Language Variation

Okay, for my Language Study class, which is more or less an Introduction to Linguistics course, I am about to write a paper about language variation. Our class is in the process of brainstorming right now and it is a bit difficult to come up with a topic without being too broad (our teacher said pretty much anything goes; you can talk about lexical, phonological and morphological processes, syntax, Internet slang, etc). I thought maybe I'd do my paper on one of my teachers. I'm also taking a Beverage Survey class, so we're learning everything you can imagine about wines, beers, and spirits. We have guest speakers come in and talk about their alcoholic beverage products and we get to taste them.

Anyway, my Beverage Survey professor is from Greece. His native language is Greek. He's been in Texas for the last 30 or so years but still has somewhat of an accent (I'm trying to watch my words here; I know everyone has an accent). I have never met a person whose native language is Greek, so it has been really interesting listening to his lectures. I'm interested in studying his idiolect and stuff like that. Since I know little to nothing about the Greek language and its grammar, I'm curious about his formation of sentences, his use of vocabulary, his pronunciation, etc. I could do this paper on my boss who is originally from Mexico, but it seems like a lot of students in my class are thinking of doing their papers on people whose first language is Spanish.

I know I can look up stuff on Google and Wikipedia and such, but what type of articles do you suggest me reading or what keywords should I use when searching? I know I should probably get a basic understanding of Greek grammar, syntax, etc. and compare it to English. Does anyone know of a site where they talk about Greek speakers who speak English as their second language? Their quirks, grammar mistakes when switching to English, the reasons why they make certain mistakes in English because that's how they would say it in Greek or certain pronunciation mishaps, etc.

e.g., a Spanish speaker saying or writing "this" when they meant "these" because an "i" is always /i/ in Spanish and not /ɪ/. Or a Spanish speaker leaving out "a" in such a sentence as "I'm a teacher" since in Spanish the indefinite article would be omitted in this case (although come to think of it, I've never heard a native Spanish-speaker make that mistake in English, so that's probably a bad example). My boss has trouble with past tense -ed and third person singular -s, for example. Or say, someone speaking Engrish.

Oh, here's an example from my professor whose native language is Greek:
California requires that 100% of the grapes must be grown in California and that the state name must appear on the label.

That sounds wrong to me. I would leave out "must." (Edit: Please note I'm not trying to be prescriptive or anything and saying it's completely wrong and there's no other option; I'm just going by what sounds okay to my native ears. :) Is there some grammar construction in Greek that would allow this in Greek and doesn't translate the same way in English?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-native_pronunciations_of_English
Kosmos

Translation from Arabic, please?

Hello everyone,

longtime lurker and sometimes commenter, now posting a question :-) We went to Tunisia last year, and for souvenirs I bought a whole bunch of ceramic tiles. Four of them have calligraphy in Arabic and I think they're fantastic! Only problem is, no one I came across could translate what they said for me except for telling me it was from the Qur'an. Can anyone in linguaphiles be more specific? Thanks in advance!

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"Three Wishes"

Help needed: US-American needs to learn English

The subject of this post may strike you as less than serious (or perhaps not...moving on), but it is extremely important to me to learn English from a foreigner's perspective, preferably US English, but any other major sort of English would do. I would like to become an English teacher in Germany and having learned German as a foreign language, I can rattle off German grammar rules, can predict where learning English-speakers would have problems, and can generally relate well to German-language learners. I can't say that I'm completely incapable of explaining anything in English, but if someone asked me to explain, say, English word order, verb classes, the various uses of the -ing verb form, or explain why it should be "I didn't know you were from Paris" instead of "I didn't know you are from Paris," I would have extreme difficulty and there would probably be a lot of pausing and "hmm"s.

I know English can be an inconsistent jerk, but I'd like to learn the rules commonly taught to beginning, intermediate, and advanced learners of English. I have English grammar books, but all are directed at native speakers and there's a lot of sentence parsing. Books targeted at teachers of ESL/EFL in English or books in German would be excellent.

Thank you in advance! You all rock!