Silly Linguistics #1

silly linguistics 1

Have you ever been to Sweden? Keep on the lookout for this sign. It is very amusing coming across this in Sweden because it has a totally different meaning in English. Another funny sign to come across is “fartcontrol”. No, this is not some weird sign which is telling you not to fart. It actually just means “speed control”.

Hipster Zamenhof

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Esperanto is an auxlang (short for auxiliary language). An auxlang is a language designed to be a common language between two people who would otherwise not share a language. Esperanto is the world’s largest auxlang, and also the world’s largest conlang (constructed language, which is the group auxlangs fall into, being a language constructed deliberately as opposed to a natural language which developed over time in the real word).

Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, was one of the first of a long line of future conlangers. He published his Esperanto grammar in 1887. Conlanging has grown as a hobby over the decades, but it has really flourished recently thanks to films and tv shows like Star Trek, Game of Thrones and Defiance which all feature constructed languages like Klingon, Dothraki, High Valyrian and Castithan.

Katakana came from Hebrew

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The ancient Hebrews had many sects. One of these sects, inexplicably, got on a boat and rowed all the way to Japan, where they taught the people how to write. This writing system changed slightly over time, but it is where the Japanese people got their unique and wonderful way of writing.

Ok, that was nonsense. Not the “unique and wonderful” part, that’s true 😀 The part before that. Some people just don’t know how things work, and will see chance resemblances in some cases and use that to “prove” something. Even in the picture on this post, “ts” do not look similar.

“You have to mirror it vertically”, they say. Well, do you have to do that with any of the others? No? Well, it’s not a very good match then is it. The “f” column isn’t that good of a match either, neither is “h” or “q”. And these are the ones that work the best!

They didn’t even show the ones that don’t match at all! Word of advice, don’t take all you know about language from memes you find on the internet 😀

Learning languages is an addiction

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Oh damn. Yet another language I want to learn! Languages are really addictive. First I wanted to learn German, then I wanted to learn Swedish, now I want to learn Russian, Swahili and Arabic. When will the madness end! Soon I will be learning Proto Indo European!

But seriously, languages are awesome! Each language in the world gives us a slightly different way of looking at things. If we only had one way of looking at things, we might be missing out on some truly fascinating and useful ways of solving problems or realigning our thoughts. If we only knew one way of thinking, it would restrict our ability to deal with problems, and to interact with the world. Learn as many languages as you can 😀

All languages fans know what IPA really stands for

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IPA stands for International Phonetics Association. It is an association that organises a set of characters used to describe the pronunciation of words. Their goal is to provide a common set of characters to describe the pronunciation of all languages around the world. It even has symbols to describe the click sounds used in Southern African languages.

The other meaning of IPA is India Pale Ale. But I am sure languages nerds were looking for the International Phonetics Association rather 😀

Sometimes Lingua Franca Challenges are really difficult

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There is a group on Facebook called Lingua Franca Challenge which I started with 2 other people: https://www.facebook.com/groups/linguafrancachallenge/

The goal of the challenge is to learn a language together with the other members of the group. In the first challenge, we learned Swedish together and it was really fun and I learned a lot. In the second challenge, we were tasked with learning Russian. That, well, didn’t go so well 🙁 Russian is very difficult!

But at least I learned Cyrillic finally! It is actually not that hard. I just had to get used to it. It is an alphabet, just like the Latin script that we use in English. Some of the letters are even the same as the Latin letters. Cyrillic is really not that hard to learn. If you want to learn a Slavic language that uses the Cyrillic script, I heartily recommend it 🙂

When did you get here?

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I love comics that play around with spelling! There are so many variants of English out there, and some dialects of English have some very funny correnspondences, such as the example here, where in Australian English, “die” and “day” sound almost the same.

In South African English, in certain parts of South Africa (everyone speaks slightly differently), /aɪ/ is monophthonised to /a/ so “I like survivor” comes out like “Ah lahk sevahva”. People in South Africa often like to make fun of the accents of the other cities, but it all in good fun 🙂

Tohan vs Hammen. Which is better? You decide

Atlaans is a language I created in 2014. Since then I have been working to build up the world it is spoken in. Atlaans is the name given to one of the Atlantean languages spoken on Atlantis. The capital of the northern Kingdom of Atlantis is Hammen. The main language spoken in Hammen is Atlaans.

A neighbouring city, Tohan, speaks a different but related language called Tohanian. Tohanians and Hammenders are always making fun of each because of the way each other speaks. In this video, a Tohanian has to make his way to Hammen because it is the only place he can find pineapples. What happens next? You will have to watch to find out 😀

I guess I like naturalistic conlangs better

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There are many different types of conlangs. Auxiliary languages (or auxlangs) are designed to facilitate international communication. They are called auxiliary languages because they are designed to be learned along with other languages. Their aim is to provide a common language to people who don’t have any other language in common.

Naturalistic conlangs on the other hand, are designed to emulate how natural languages work. Dothraki, High Valyrian, Klingon, Na’Vi and my own conlang Atlaans are examples of naturalistic conlangs. Natural languages tend to have irregular conjugation, multiple declensions and inconsistent orthography due to changes in the language that happen over time.

Naturalistic conlangs either come up with their own conjugations, or they come up with some older languages and evolve it in like with linguistics processes to its modern form. This is what David J. Peterson did for both Dothraki and High Valyrian. He came up with an older form, and then created the sound shifts and semantic changes that happened over time to create the modern version of the language

Come live on the silly side of life