June 3rd, 2007


The sounds of languages

Well you know, every language has its own unique sound. Unfortunately, if you speak it natively you can't hear it. So this is a thread for descriptions of languages from non-native speakers :) I was inspired to start this when a girl asked me today to describe German to her. I haven't heard a lot of German, but I said to her... it has a lot of "sh" sounds, and a lot of rounded vowels. It's like the speaker is rolling the words around in their mouth.

Now, it's incredibly late and I need to go sleep, but I might post more tomorrow. In the meantime, share your impressions! Oh and I think it might be easier to follow if you kept it to one language per comment (though you can go ahead and post several times in a row) and then anyone who wants to describe a language replies to the original comment for that language.

Oh yeah... anyone care to describe English and Mandarin? ;)
  • tisoi

Cantonese translation

This was in today's Jump Start.

Could I get a translation and a Romanization of the Chinese text please?

Several years ago this particular cartoonist, Robb Armstrong, used Romanized Cantonese, which I later found he lifted from Teach Yourself Cantonese. So I'm curious as to where he got this text from and whether or not it has anything to do with the dialog in English.

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Child's drawing from Myanmar

I sponsor a child in Myanmar, and this week she sent me a drawing. I'd like to know what the words say. I assume it's something like "my house", "star", and "sun", but I'd still like to know. Ignore the word in the sun; the one just above it is the same. A thought: her name is Than Than Maw, and one of the words might be part of her name.

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queer, yiddish, anarchist

resource question?

So, i'm not a linguist, but i'm trying to apply linguistic methods to my ethnographic work (without any formal training in linguistic anthro or sociolinguistics...yeah, i should fix that) which is leaving me with some knowledge gaps that need filling. I'm reading James Gee's "Introduction to Discourse Analysis" which presents a really nice simplified theory and method of discourse analysis, but in order to apply it i need more information. For instance, in one of his examples, Gee says that, in many English dialects, when someone answers a question on a low pitch with a falling final contour that indicates that they believe the answer to be obvious; or the use of Latinate words indicates formality. These things make sense in retrospect, but i wouldn't have been able to pull them out of the air while doing an analysis.
Is there some kind of handy reference guide to that kind of information with regard to intonation, timeing, word choice, etc.? Or do i really have to suck it up and learn sociolinguistics from the beginning?