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Most Insane Languages
http://www.incatena.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=42170
Page 1 of 2

Author:  baradsonoron [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Most Insane Languages

Okay, so I'm seeking nominations for most insane languages in six different categories.
In five days I'll create an online poll and post it.

Three nominations per category per person.

Category 1: Strangest Script Abuse (e.g. writing Chinese in Arabic script)
Category 2: Strangest Latin Script (e.g. Turkish)
Category 3: Strangest Orthography, Period (e.g. English)
Category 4: Strangest Phonology/Phonotactics
Category 5: Strangest Grammar
Category 6: Strangest Language
Category 7: Strangest Out-Of-Family Feature (e.g. tones in Punjabi (IE), etc.)

MY nominations:
1. Chinese in Arabic, Jawi (Malay in Arabic), Judeo-Spanish
2. Turkish, Romanian, Zulu
3. English, Irish, Chinese
4. Somali, Georgian, Rotokas
5. Navajo, Hungarian, Basque
6. Navajo, Basque, English
7. Punjabi (tones). No other nominations.

CURRENT NOMINEES (list to be updated)

Nominees:

Script abuse
Chinese in Arabic
Jawi
Judeo-Spanish
Manx
Saanich
Vietnamese
Japanese
Sogdian in Brahmi
Aramaic in Demotic
Canadian Syllabics
Burmese
Yi

Latinization
Turkish
Romanian
Zulu
Danish
Manx
Vietnamese
Janalif
Saanich
Hmong Daw
Qiang
English
Skolt Sami

Orthography
English
Irish
Chinese
Danish
Manx
Vietnamese
French
Hungarian
Burmese
Japanese

Phonology
Somali
Georgian
Rotokas
Danish
Nuxálk
ǃXóõ
Miyako
Ubykh
Yelî Dnye
Aranda aka Arrernte aka VC(C) language
Toda
dGudzong Tibetan
Pirahã
Marshallese

Grammar
Navajo
Basque
Hungarian
Dyirbal
Saanich
German
Montana Salish
Tok Pisin

Language
Navajo
Basque
English
Dyirbal
Piraha
!Xoo
NW Caucasian Languages (e.g. Abkaz)
Kunuda

Out of Family
Punjabi: IE, tones
Danish: IE, creaky voice
Marshallese: Austronesian, wierd vowels
Sakao: Austronesian, polysynthesis
French: Romance, front round vowels
Armenian: IE, agglutination
Dahalo
Kurdish: Iranian, pharyngeals
Ossetian: IE, ejectives
Kala Lagaw Ya: Australian, /s/
Estonian: Finnic, no vowel harmony

Author:  KathTheDragon [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

You said that there are 6 categories, then wrote up seven...

Author:  Click [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

OK, I'll bite to increase my post count.

1. Manx, Saanich, Vietnamese
2., 3. Danish, Manx, Vietnamese
4. Danish, Nuxálk, ǃXóõ
5. Dyirbal, Navajo, Saanich
6. Dyirbal, Navajo, Pirahã (if Everett's claims are correct)
7. Danish, Marshallese, Sakao

Grouped 2 and 3 because they are the same thing.

Author:  Pole, the [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Xephyr [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

I can't be bothered to fill out the whole thing (partly because the categories are a bit vague, but mostly because I actually realize that I don't know the grammars of enough of the world's languages to give good answers for these questions instead of just regurgitating the standard linguistic Rogues Gallery: !Xoo, Dyirbal, Piraha, etc.), but I'll note that for #1 that I have seen Sumerian in the Greek alphabet, Sogdian in the Brahmi script, and Aramaic in Demotic, which are a bit wacky. There's also Old Nubian, an extinct Nilo-Saharan language written in the Coptic alphabet.

I really don't see what's so weird about the Turkish or Zulu alphabets. I suspect that it's because you're just glancing at individual letters and going "<c> for /dZ/! <q> for /k!/! How wacky!1!1!", without looking at how the orthography works as a whole-- Zulu, for instance, is actually a pretty elegant solution for romanizing an exotic phonology. My favorite example of what I'm talking about is Yup'ik: it uses <gg> for /x/ and <'> for /:/, for instance, which might make superficial people go "How wacky!1!1!", but the way the entire system works together with the language's phonotactics, it ends up being a very elegant and concise system. If you're looking for a romanization that really is ridiculous, look at Vietnamese, which writes /s/ with <x> for pretty much no reason.

As for the orthography question, I am confident other people are going to jump on Tibetan because of the famous <bsgrubs> = /d`up/, but again I must stress that the common opinion here is misguided: Tibetan's orthography is etymological and hopelessly out-of-date, but it is also almost entirely predictable and regular, unlike English. A better example I would suggest (though I have not studied the language, and it is possible that underneath the surface there is, as in Tibetan, an intelligible system) would be Burmese. This is an example sentence (from The World's Writing Systems), in transliteration and phonetic transcription:

pāḷiare:asā:saññ mranmācāare:asā:kui atōpaṅ lhwam:mui:khaịhantūsaññ.
palí-ʔəjèʔəθà-ði myãma-sa-ʔəjèʔəθà-go ətɔbĩ hlũ̀mmò-gɛ́-hãtu-ði

For "out of family" features, other than the obvious Dahalo, I'd like to nominate all the Iranian languages that have developed pharyngeal consonants. Why, Kurdish, why? :(

Author:  2+3 clusivity [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Nortaneous [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Click [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  ---- [ Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

The situation with Burmese is pretty much the same as Tibetan's, but it does have *some* irregularities (I remember there was some word written with an "n" but pronounced with an [s]); in some sense the writing > speech correspondence is less "intuitive", though.

Author:  Click [ Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Nortaneous [ Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Click [ Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  patiku [ Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

I thought people stopped saying "batshit insane" like two years ago, and haven't we had like ten threads like this? I've only skimmed it, but let me guess what everyone will choose for whatever: Ubykh, Basque, !Xoo, Piraha, Nuxalk, and English/German.

Author:  Ser [ Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  baradsonoron [ Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  ---- [ Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Click [ Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Qwynegold [ Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  baradsonoron [ Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

Clıck: yes, that's true.

Qwynegold: Yes, there are. It's horrific.

Author:  Nortaneous [ Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Melteor [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Drydic [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

WHO DIDN'T NOMINATE SAANICH FOR ORTHOGRAPHY FUCKERY

I WAS GOING TO BUT KEPT GETTING DISTRACTED, SERIOUSLY I HAD THE FUCKING WINDOW OPEN SAYING FUCKING SAANICH ON 3 LINES

Author:  ---- [ Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


Author:  Richard W [ Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages

A bit late, but I think these are worthy of mention:

Category 1: Strangest Script Abuse (e.g. writing Chinese in Arabic script)

Hittite in Cuneiform. Sturtevant's law is a desperate attempt to represent a voicing distinction that Akkadian hadn't succeeded in making as Hittite orthography was developed. _hartka_ (or _hrtka_?) was written har-tak-ga, whence such transcriptions as _hartagga_.

Category 2: Strangest Latin Script (e.g. Turkish)

ISO-11940 Thai transliteration. It keeps the left-to right order of the Thai symbols, so one ends up with wonders such as echīyngıh̄m̀ for Chiang Mai!

Category 3: Strangest Orthography, Period (e.g. English)

Tibetan and English, whatever their regularities.

Category 4: Strangest Phonology/Phonotactics

Proto-Indo-European. It more and more looks as though the opposition t~d~dʰ where dʰ is as in Sanskrit is correct, for all the difficulty we have in finding a good match in modern languages. Syllabic 'laryngeals' are pretty odd as well.

Category 5: Strangest Grammar

No nomination.

Category 6: Strangest Language

No nomination.

Category 7: Strangest Out-Of-Family Feature (e.g. tones in Punjabi (IE), etc.)

French? (Holophrastic IE language.)

How about Thai (Tai-Kadai, essentially uninflected) for prefix forms of nouns? Thai nouns of Indic origin sprout not only a link vowel when used as prefixes in compounds, but often prefix that link vowel by a consonant that is unpredictable from the isolated form. (You may choose to disqualify this on the grounds that the consonant can be deduced from the spelling.) Possibly this nomination should be transferred to Lao, where the modern spelling makes this duplicated consonant totally opaque.

Author:  Kereb [ Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most Insane Languages


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