July 6th, 2010

POLYGLOT Video Contest

Dear Linguaphiles,

NISI MASA - the European Network of Young Cinema is happy to announce POLYGLOT - on the way to Turku, an audiovisual project exploring the subject of multilingualism. The initiative is supported by the Turku 2011 European Capital of Culture (Finland).

Online video contest

On the 1st July 2010, we launched a call for young Europeans aged 18-35 to submit short videos (5 mins max.) on the topic of multilingualism, in the following categories:
•    Video Portraits (documentaries on My multilingualism)
•    Video Poems (fictions on The language I dream in)

Contestants must upload their work onto the project’s interactive web platform, where the public and fellow video-makers will be able to view, comment and vote on the films, as well as read relevant articles.

The deadline for submissions is the 15th December 2010. The 18 winners, selected by online voters and a professional jury, will be the invited to participate in the next part of the project, the “Cine Boat” filmmaking workshop.

Find more information and submit your videos at www.polyglot-turku.eu!
Always listen to Buck

Formal/Informal "YOU" in different languages

I wonder what languages don't distinguish between formal and informal "you"? English, of course, and any other?

What are the grammatical features/peculiarities of formal/informal "you" in different languages?

In English, as far as I understand, "you" is etymologically the formal form of "you". There used to be the informal you (thou), but now it's archaic ("Whither goest thou?").

In English the singular "you" is used as the plural "you", meaning "you all". "You are going there" could mean both "You [my little baby son], are going there", "You [sir] are going there", "You [two] are going there".

In German, they have both "du" (informal singular you) and "Sie" (formal singular you). Gramatically "Sie" behaves as the plural "sie" ("you all guys"), in spelling they capitalize the "S" in formal singular "Sie".

In French they use "tu" (inf. sng. you) and "vous" (formal sng. you). The formal "vous" behaves as the plural "vous" (you all), the same as in German.

In Russian there's "ты" (inf. sng. you) and "вы" (formal sng. you). The formal "вы" behaves as the plural "вы" (you all). In some contexts it should be capitalized, but the verbs that refer to formal "вы" are the same as for the plural "вы".

So in this German, French and Russian are quite similar.

In spite of being closely related to French, Spanish is different. They have "tú" (inf. sng. you) and "usted" (formal sng. "you"). But the verbs that are used with "usted" are conjugated not the same way as the plural Spanish "you" (actually there are two plural Spanish "you's" - ustedes and vosotros)! They are conjugated as the third person, singular - "he/she". "Habla" could mean both "He/she speaks" and "You [sir] speak". First is seemed very weird to me, but now I'm used to it.

As far as I remember, the similar usage of the formal "you" is in Polish. But they use "pan" in this context which actually means "sir", so the indirect polite addressing "Sir wants something?" sounds, well, logical. I'm not very sure about Polish, however, as I never formally studied it, I just used to watch a lot of Polish TV :)

What about your language or any other language that you know?

What are the reasons of having two "you's"? When you want to be polite, you try to address a person INDIRECTLY, and that's why you use the plural or the third person form of the verb?

Thanks for the answers!

Happy chair is happy.

I was suddenly wondering where this usage originates.

"Happy chair is happy." (as seen here) http://happychairishappy.com/

I've seen it used in different contexts, I'm guessing it's just for added emphasis, really... but does anyone know when this all started, and where it originates? ("The internet" is not a place, if it was online, any ideas in which communities?)

I tried googling it but couldn't think of how to search for it.

Other examples:
"Horrible day was horrible"
"Epic game is epic"

Also, what do you think about this? I use this structure myself at times... But only when I'm joking or on Facebook. Personally I think it can be funny but most of the time you would be better off just explaining why something is horrible, happy or epic.


Heavy metal lyrics again.

Now it is "Die with honor" by Manowar.

I am driven on
In the face of all despair
Trust in steel
You will find me there
A sinner's fate awaits me
But my vision guides me on
I will not stray
From the path I'm set upon

What does "You will find me there" mean here? Is it some sort of idiom?
Thanks in advance.
  • Current Mood
    curious curious

ID this language?

I'm not an expert by any means, but I can almost always tells what language my customers are speaking - or at least narrow it down to a geographic location. I had a woman come into the store with her kids today and they were speaking a language I've never heard before, which is rare. I couldn't even say that it sounded close to any other language, and I couldn't even place her accent when she was speaking English. The only thing I know that I heard clearly was, "hada rasme?". I think she was asking her son if he wanted anything as she was checking out. Does anyone know what language that would be? I know it's not much to go on.

(and I know it isn't arabic, even though that's broken arabic for "this is my art/drawing")

Thanks for any help.