Spanish is a very useful language to learn if you are going to travel in South America. Watch out though! There are some words which have a very different meaning in other countries. A word for angry in one dialect of Spanish could mean horny in another! If you want to make sure you stay away from this linguistics land mines, make sure to check out this awesome video from FLAMA
It is possible to improve your own pronunciation of another language. It’s all about getting used to not only the sound of the language, but also how it feel to pronounce it. You speak your native language effortlessly because it has become second nature. It is possible to get to that same level in another language, it just takes time and effort.
Everyone has an accent. Whenever someone says they don’t have an accent, I think what they mean is that their accent is very close to some standard or accepted group. Like someone who lives in Minnesota in America could be said to not have an accent if they sound very similar to other Minnesotans. But others would say that speaking like other Minnesotans means they DO have an accent.
It’s all about how we are categorising the accent. “What do I sound like?” versus “What group do I sound like?” are often conflated. The first one relates to the sound of their voice, and how it is used to speak their language. The second relates to how close their speech is to some commonly accepted idea of how people from that area, city, or country sound. This stuff can get complex, but if I can leave you with one thing, it’s that everyone has an accent, but that’s ok 🙂
Icelandic is an awesome language. It is descended from the language of the Vikings, and an older form of it, called Old Icelandic, is the language most of extant Old Norse literature is written in. Old Icelandic was part of the Western dialect group of Old Norse. Old Swedish and Old Danish made up the Eastern dialect group of Old Norse.
Some of the hardest languages to learn are difficult not because of grammar or pronunciation (although that might be a factor), it is because there are so few resources for them. How are you supposed to learn a language if you don’t have anything to learn? This is why it is so cool when I find resources for smaller languages.
We all know that guy who likes to be pretentious and say things in a way which is very different to how most people pronounce things. A note to whoever does this. You are not being clever by overpronouncing these words. You just want to sound clever, but actually you are just showing that you don’t want to accept commonly accepted English pronunciations.
Wikitongues is a project which aims to catalogue all the world’s languages. Help out Wikitongues with their mission to share and help learn every language in the world! They are currently running a Kickstarter which will help them immensely in this goal. They want to provide language lessons and phrasebooks, amongst many other project to the language community. Check out their youtube video and their Kickstarter page. A very good cause!
Writing is an amazing thing. It allows us to put our thoughts down on some medium which can then be interpreted by others at any time as long as they are looking at the medium on which you wrote something. This can be days, weeks, months, years or even centuries later. Writing is what allows us to save knowledge and pass it on through the ages.
One thing Yoda is famous for is the way he speaks. He speaks with a different word order in English. This however is not a problem in other languages because they have what is called free word order, which means words can appear in any order in the sentence because prefixes or suffixes determine a word’s role in a sentence.
The fascinating thing about Latin is that it didn’t actually die out. It just changed in all the areas where it was spoken into many different languages. What I love about languages is how they can almost be viewed as a living thing. Languages evolve and mutate producing changes and additions that are not seen in other related languages.
But at the end of the day, they are all just Latin dialects that because of social and political forces have been recognised as separate languages. The line between language and dialect is never clear. Swedish and Danish are mutually intelligible but are seen as separate languages, yet Mandarin and Cantonese are seen as dialects of Chinese even though they aren’t mutually intelligible.
And what’s interesting to think about is what Europe would be like now if the Romans never existed. Latin is part of the Italic family of languages. Unfortunately, all other Italic languages besides Latin’s descendants have died out. Maybe they would still be around. And many of the indigenous languages of Europe, like Gaulish (a Celtic language related to languages like Irish Gaelic and Cornish) would still be around.