Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners

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Declan
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Post by Declan »

jal wrote:Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".
Weten?
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Post by Skomakar'n »

Declan wrote:
jal wrote:Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".
Weten?

Proof right there.

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Post by Io »

FinalZera wrote:I was under the impression that British English was taught in Europe.

It is. Well, mostly.

And that's just a cartoon on British arrogance more than anything.

Also, is that supposed to be a rope around Britain's neck in the 4th panel?

No clue.
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Post by Cedh »

Travis B. wrote:I intuitively have trouble keeping track of Standard German /a/ versus /aː/, due to the idea of a vowel quantity difference that is linked to neither vowel quality nor the quality of a following consonant being rather alien to me, as a native speaker of only English. I have tried to distinguish them quality-wise by using a backer realization for Standard German /a/ than for Standard German /aː/, from having somehow been taught that that was so, as the quantity difference is easier for me to keep track of if it also involves a quality difference as well, but since then I have learned that at least in much of Standard German there really is no quality difference between the two...

There is indeed no quality difference in most close-to-the-standard varieties of German. And if there is one, IME the long version seems to be slightly further back ([a] vs. [ɑː]), or else a bit more open ([ɐ] vs. [aː]).

In my 'lect you also get /ɛ/ vs. /ɛː/ with no quality difference (this distinction exists in the official standard, but most speakers in the north and east of Germany merge /ɛː/ into /eː/).

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Post by Guitarplayer II »

Declan wrote:
jal wrote:Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".
Weten?

German and Dutch distinguish (and I bet English did too historically) between "to know/be acquainted with so./sth." (kennen) and "to have knowledge of sth." (wissen/weten). Thus:
    Kennst du Paul? (*Weißt du Paul?)
    Do you know Paul?

    Kennst du Berlin? (*Weißt du Berlin?)
    Do you know Berlin?

    Kennst/Weißt du das Ergebnis von 3×5? (equally acceptable for me)
    Do you know the result of 3×5?

    Weißt du, wer Paul ist? (*Kennst du, wer Paul ist?)
    Do you know who Paul is?

    Weißt du, wo Berlin ist? (*Kennst du, wo Berlin ist?)
    Do you know where Berlin is?

    Weißt du, was 3×5 ist? (*Kennst du 3×5?)
    Do you know what 3×5 is?

cedh audmanh wrote:In my 'lect you also get /ɛ/ vs. /ɛː/ with no quality difference (this distinction exists in the official standard, but most speakers in the north and east of Germany merge /ɛː/ into /eː/).

I distinguish /eː/ and /ɛː/ only in formal settings, personally, having grown up in a county that historically straddles the border of the Benrath line.
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Post by Skomakar'n »

Dampantingaya wrote:
Declan wrote:
jal wrote:Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".
Weten?

German and Dutch distinguish (and I bet English did too historically) between "to know/be acquainted with so./sth." (kennen) and "to have knowledge of sth." (wissen/weten). Thus:
    Kennst du Paul? (*Weißt du Paul?)
    Do you know Paul?

    Kennst du Berlin? (*Weißt du Berlin?)
    Do you know Berlin?

    Kennst/Weißt du das Ergebnis von 3×5? (equally acceptable for me)
    Do you know the result of 3×5?

    Weißt du, wer Paul ist? (*Kennst du, wer Paul ist?)
    Do you know who Paul is?

    Weißt du, wo Berlin ist? (*Kennst du, wo Berlin ist?)
    Do you know where Berlin is?

    Weißt du, was 3×5 ist? (*Kennst du 3×5?)
    Do you know what 3×5 is?

cedh audmanh wrote:In my 'lect you also get /ɛ/ vs. /ɛː/ with no quality difference (this distinction exists in the official standard, but most speakers in the north and east of Germany merge /ɛː/ into /eː/).

I distinguish /eː/ and /ɛː/ only in formal settings, personally, having grown up in a county that historically straddles the border of the Benrath line.

The English cognate is to wit.
Northern Germanic has the distinction too, but in at least Icelandic the cognate of kennen (kenna) has changed its meaning (it now means to teach), and they use a different word now, but they still distinguish them.

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Post by TaylorS »

Snaka wrote:
TaylorS wrote:In pronunciation, the interdentals are obviously hard, but I'm sure English's complex vowel system and complicated vowel reduction is a pain.


I think /r/ is by far the hardest consonant any English learner will have to master. There are so many ways to almost get it, but just miss. I really can't see what's so difficult about /θ/ and /ð/. I guess it's kind of easy to overdo them by blowing too hard, or by stinking your tongue out too far, but that's no reason to resort to [s z] or [t̪ d̪]*...

I would describe /ð/ in English as something like a "tap fricative." Sometimes my tongue never even comes into contact with my teeth. I don't think it's quite the same as Spanish [ð̞]*, however.

Also, str-. That must be hell.


*If you can't see the diacritics, these are [t_d d_d] and [D_o].
I have a co-worker who is a native Hindi speaker and he butchers R a lot, turning it into a trill half the time.

With interdentals, I have read that many people are self-conscious and uncomfortable about sticking their tongue too far out.

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Post by TaylorS »

Skomakar'n wrote:The English cognate is to wit.
Northern Germanic has the distinction too, but in at least Icelandic the cognate of kennen (kenna) has changed its meaning (it now means to teach), and they use a different word now, but they still distinguish them.


And derived from PIE *Woid-, making it cognate with "idea" (Greek "eidos") and Latin "videre". A bit funny that "wit" is cognate with "idea" and "video".

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Post by Ulrike Meinhof »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Dingbats wrote:It's not "just as native" to have /S/ or /s`/ when you don't have any of the other features associated with the dialects that do. You can't learn rikssvenska and have /S/ or /s`/.

Nah..? My impression is that having Standard Swedish with /S/ is considered kind of... over the top. Extremely "fine" Swedish. Nearly trying to sound aristocratic.

How is this contradicting what I said?

Mmm-mmm-mmmmm!<3
It's not the same thing at all, as we consistently have [9:]. Consistently. That's a huge difference.

And I consistently have /S/ (or whatever you want to call it) syllable-finally, and /x/ elsewhere. But the whole argument is retarded, there's no point in hating any features of any dialect.
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Post by Skomakar'n »

Dingbats wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Dingbats wrote:It's not "just as native" to have /S/ or /s`/ when you don't have any of the other features associated with the dialects that do. You can't learn rikssvenska and have /S/ or /s`/.

Nah..? My impression is that having Standard Swedish with /S/ is considered kind of... over the top. Extremely "fine" Swedish. Nearly trying to sound aristocratic.

How is this contradicting what I said?

Well, apparently there are people who sound like forced books that also have /S/ instead of /x\/.

Dingbats wrote:
Mmm-mmm-mmmmm!<3
It's not the same thing at all, as we consistently have [9:]. Consistently. That's a huge difference.

And I consistently have /S/ (or whatever you want to call it) syllable-finally, and /x/ elsewhere. But the whole argument is retarded, there's no point in hating any features of any dialect.

I don't literally hate it. I just think it's really odd and doesn't appeal to my ears.

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Post by Travis B. »

cedh audmanh wrote:
Travis B. wrote:I intuitively have trouble keeping track of Standard German /a/ versus /aː/, due to the idea of a vowel quantity difference that is linked to neither vowel quality nor the quality of a following consonant being rather alien to me, as a native speaker of only English. I have tried to distinguish them quality-wise by using a backer realization for Standard German /a/ than for Standard German /aː/, from having somehow been taught that that was so, as the quantity difference is easier for me to keep track of if it also involves a quality difference as well, but since then I have learned that at least in much of Standard German there really is no quality difference between the two...

There is indeed no quality difference in most close-to-the-standard varieties of German. And if there is one, IME the long version seems to be slightly further back ([a] vs. [ɑː]), or else a bit more open ([ɐ] vs. [aː]).

I know that in German dialects under the influence of Low Saxon there is often the front-back distinction you describe, and in more heavily Low Saxon-influenced dialects the distinction between /a/ and /aː/ is also one of rounding, with /a/ being [a] and /aː/ being [ɒː]. Conversely, I know that Middle High German /a/ became backed and rounded in Austro-Bavarian, but I am not quite as sure of the phonetics of that.

cedh audmanh wrote:In my 'lect you also get /ɛ/ vs. /ɛː/ with no quality difference (this distinction exists in the official standard, but most speakers in the north and east of Germany merge /ɛː/ into /eː/).

I intentionally never make the distinction between Standard German /ɛː/ and /eː/, not only because I have problems with quantity distinctions without quality distinctions or following consonant distinctions* such as that between Standard German /ɛ/ and /ɛː/, but because the distinction between Standard German /ɛː/ and /eː/ is strongly suspected to actually be essentially artificial. While there are High German dialects which do have a distinction between a /ɛː/ and a /eː/, there is no clear pattern to which case of the two is which crossdialectically, and furthermore there is no clear agreement with the pattern found in Standard German. Rather, the pattern in Standard German seems to be highly influenced by Standard German orthography rather than being clearly linked with a pattern found in actual High German dialects.

* While my English dialect does actually in realization have many cases where vowel length** is not derivable from context, they almost always derive from consonants that were there previously that have been elided or assimilated, and which in most cases are still found in more careful speech. Also, short vowels in my English dialect seem to somehow also differ in phonation from longs vowel, rather than be truly distinguished by length alone.

** Vowel length in my dialect is independent of historical vowel quality, but which synchronically actually has a limited influence on vowel quality, with long vowels being generally laxer than their short counterparts.
Last edited by Travis B. on Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Silk »

Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual.


Russian (and probably most other Slavic languages) have this cluster as well, often at the beginning of words. Hindi also has it, such as in the word स्त्री (woman).
Last edited by Silk on Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Echobeats »

Silk wrote:
Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual.


Russian (and probably most other Slavic languages) have this cluster as well, often at the beginning of words. Hindi also has it, such as in the word स्री (woman).

Transliteration please.
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Post by Silk »

Echobeats wrote:
Silk wrote:
Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual.


Russian (and probably most other Slavic languages) have this cluster as well, often at the beginning of words. Hindi also has it, such as in the word स्री (woman).

Transliteration please.


I spelled it wrong in my original post, it's actually स्त्री (strī). Also, if you can't read Devanagari, you can view romanizations using Google Translate.

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Post by Declan »

Dampantingaya wrote:
Declan wrote:
jal wrote:Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".
Weten?

German and Dutch distinguish (and I bet English did too historically) between "to know/be acquainted with so./sth." (kennen) and "to have knowledge of sth." (wissen/weten).
Ah, weten is Dutch's wissen? I thought you were German for some reason.

I always thought that was a pretty easy distinction (same in Irish, aithne vs. fios), but I suppose it's hard at the start.
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Post by finlay »

French has savoir and connaître – evidently it shows up all over the place, at least in IE. I wonder why we lost it... I can't truly see any use for the distinction, at any rate.

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Post by Viktor77 »

finlay wrote:French has savoir and connaître – evidently it shows up all over the place, at least in IE. I wonder why we lost it... I can't truly see any use for the distinction, at any rate.


Romance languages have it, Germanic languages have it, Slavic languages have it, so I don't know, English is just stupid, no surprise. I actually rather like the distinction myself.
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Post by Ziz »

Hebrew has it, even. There's a difference between hikir and yadaʿ; the first is for acquaintance, the second for factual information.

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Post by Terra »

I can't truly see any use for the distinction, at any rate.

You will love Quechua then:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quechua#Verbs wrote:Evidentiality
Nearly every Quechua sentence is marked by an evidential clitic, indicating the source of the speaker's knowledge (and how certain s/he is about the statement). The enclitic =mi expresses personal knowledge (Tayta Wayllaqawaqa chufirmi, "Mr. Huayllacahua is a driver-- I know it for a fact"); =si expresses hearsay knowledge (Tayta Wayllaqawaqa chufirsi, "Mr. Huayllacahua is a driver, or so I've heard"); =chá expresses high probability (Tayta Wayllaqawaqa chufirchá, "Mr. Huayllacahua is a driver, most likely"). These become =m, =s, =ch after a vowel, although the latter is rarely used in its reduced form and the majority of speakers usually employ =chá, even after a vowel (Mariochá, "He's Mario, most likely").
The evidential clitics are not restricted to nouns; they can attach to any word in the sentence, typically the comment (as opposed to the topic).

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Post by TaylorS »

Travis B. wrote:
cedh audmanh wrote:
Travis B. wrote:I intuitively have trouble keeping track of Standard German /a/ versus /aː/, due to the idea of a vowel quantity difference that is linked to neither vowel quality nor the quality of a following consonant being rather alien to me, as a native speaker of only English. I have tried to distinguish them quality-wise by using a backer realization for Standard German /a/ than for Standard German /aː/, from having somehow been taught that that was so, as the quantity difference is easier for me to keep track of if it also involves a quality difference as well, but since then I have learned that at least in much of Standard German there really is no quality difference between the two...

There is indeed no quality difference in most close-to-the-standard varieties of German. And if there is one, IME the long version seems to be slightly further back ([a] vs. [ɑː]), or else a bit more open ([ɐ] vs. [aː]).

I know that in German dialects under the influence of Low Saxon there is often the front-back distinction you describe, and in more heavily Low Saxon-influenced dialects the distinction between /a/ and /aː/ is also one of rounding, with /a/ being [a] and /aː/ being [ɒː]. Conversely, I know that Middle High German /a/ became backed and rounded in Austro-Bavarian, but I am not quite as sure of the phonetics of that.

cedh audmanh wrote:In my 'lect you also get /ɛ/ vs. /ɛː/ with no quality difference (this distinction exists in the official standard, but most speakers in the north and east of Germany merge /ɛː/ into /eː/).

I intentionally never make the distinction between Standard German /ɛː/ and /eː/, not only because I have problems with quantity distinctions without quality distinctions or following consonant distinctions* such as that between Standard German /ɛ/ and /ɛː/, but because the distinction between Standard German /ɛː/ and /eː/ is strongly suspected to actually be essentially artificial. While there are High German dialects which do have a distinction between a /ɛː/ and a /eː/, there is no clear pattern to which case of the two is which crossdialectically, and furthermore there is no clear agreement with the pattern found in Standard German. Rather, the pattern in Standard German seems to be highly influenced by Standard German orthography rather than being clearly linked with a pattern found in actual High German dialects.

* While my English dialect does actually in realization have many cases where vowel length** is not derivable from context, they almost always derive from consonants that were there previously that have been elided or assimilated, and which in most cases are still found in more careful speech. Also, short vowels in my English dialect seem to somehow also differ in phonation from longs vowel, rather than be truly distinguished by length alone.

** Vowel length in my dialect is independent of historical vowel quality, but which synchronically actually has a limited influence on vowel quality, with long vowels being generally laxer than their short counterparts.
I thought Standard German has:

High: iː yː uː
Near High: ɪ ʏ ʊ
High-Mid: eː øː oː
Low-Mid: ɛ œ ɔ
Near Low: ɐ
Low aː

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Post by Travis B. »

TaylorS wrote:I thought Standard German has:

High: iː yː uː
Near High: ɪ ʏ ʊ
High-Mid: eː øː oː
Low-Mid: ɛ œ ɔ
Near Low: ɐ
Low aː

You are close, except that there is, as seems apparent now, no inherent quality distinction between /a/ (not /ɐ/) and /aː/, with any quality distinction being dialect specific, and (more southerly) Standard German also has a /ɛː/ contrasting with both /ɛ/ and /eː/. Also, you missed /ə/ in unstressed syllables, which is best treated as a distinct phoneme rather than as merely due to synchronic reduction of other phonemes. Note that [ɐ] is an actual phone in Standard German distinct from [a] and [ə], but it comes from /ər/ through r-vocalization, which affects all vowels followed by /r/ in a coda position not separated by word boundaries.

Additionally, French loans in Standard German often have short tense vowels in stressed syllables and nasal vowels that cannot be directly represented with Standard German orthography, but these are normally treated as foreign sounds*. Of course, Standard German does not distinguish vowel quantity in unstressed syllables, so there it does distinguish lax and tense vowels based purely on the basis of quality.

(Of course you are omitting Standard German diphthongs here, so I will not detail them here.)

* There are High German varieties with phonemic vowel nasalization, but they are sufficiently far from Standard German to be best treated as dialects of another language, namely Austro-Bavarian.

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Post by Jacqui »

Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual.
And Pennsylvania Dutch has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too.

Muttersprache > Muderschprooch.

Just gettin' that out there.

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Post by jal »

finlay wrote:French has savoir and connaître – evidently it shows up all over the place, at least in IE. I wonder why we lost it... I can't truly see any use for the distinction, at any rate.


Well, there's more distinctions in languages there's little use for, at first sight. What is the use of the difference, e.g., between "much" and "many"? (The comic says "much" and "most", but that must be an error.)


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Post by jal »

Declan wrote:Ah, weten is Dutch's wissen? I thought you were German for some reason.


Well, the "Location: Netherlands" is somewhat of a giveaway, although I could've been a German in exile. Perhaps you thought so because it was German, not Dutch, that was ridiculed in the comic?

I always thought that was a pretty easy distinction (same in Irish, aithne vs. fios), but I suppose it's hard at the start.


The basic distinction is indeed pretty easy, though the distinction is not always made along the same lines in all languages.


JAL

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Post by Travis B. »

Jacqui wrote:
Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual.
And Pennsylvania Dutch has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too.

Muttersprache > Muderschprooch.

Just gettin' that out there.

Umm, Pennsylvania Dutch is just yet another bunch of High German dialects, and there are High German dialects that are far further from Standard German than it is...

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