zompist bboard

WE ARE MOVING - see Ephemera
It is currently Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:08 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:07 am 
Sanci
Sanci

Joined: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:03 pm
Posts: 25
Location: poland
I mean, say, a sentence like "I saw two women arguing about which of them was fatter" in Japanese would be somethig like the reverse of English, i.e. "them of fatter was which arguing two women I saw", right?
So I find it weird that they start the sentence with the smallest, trivial almost, details and they go on the part that is the gist of what they're trying to say.

So I'm wondering: Is it their grammar that forces them to use this structure or is it that their thoughts are actually naturally processed this way? I don't think when we speak, we have all we're gonna say in mind, before we say it, so their sentence structure seems impractical.

Same with German, I've been learning it for a while and I find the sentence structure annoying. The verb goes to the end of the sentence - when saying longer sentences, I sometimes forget what verb I was supposed to use by the time I finish the sentence, especially if I forget one of the words along the way and take a second to recall them... I guess if I get more fluent it won't be such a big issue.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:02 am 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:03 pm
Posts: 593
Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands
In English, you first have to say you saw it happening, then you have to say who did it (before the listener even knows what they did!), and only then you can finally tell what's actually happened. WTF English?

_________________
Bearlandic - Kunesian - Nåmúþ


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:10 am 
Smeric
Smeric
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:00 pm
Posts: 1139
No, it's not natural. It was artificially constructed by Basque and Ainu monks, respectively. ;)

I mean, what sort of answer exactly were you expecting here? Of course it's "natural"; just because it's not the way your native language does it doesn't make it "unnatural." If relevance or importance were the only salient feature of grammar, we'd all be speaking a topic-first language like Mandarin or Mohawk.

_________________
"But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?”


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:43 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:35 pm
Posts: 492
Location: Michigan, USA
Convenient how the most logical word order happens to be English...

OP, just because something is unusual for you doesn't mean it's unnatural or any reason to believe that Japanese speakers' brains are inherently structured differently than English speakers'. Languages are stuffed full of variation that can seem quite surprising to people who aren't familiar with them. That's just how languages work.

_________________
I generally forget to say, so if it's relevant and I don't mention it--I'm from Southern Michigan and speak Inland North American English. Yes, I have the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; no, I don't have the cot-caught merger; and it is called pop.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:31 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:28 pm
Posts: 364
alynnidalar wrote:
OP, just because something is unusual for you doesn't mean it's unnatural or any reason to believe that Japanese speakers' brains are inherently structured differently than English speakers'. Languages are stuffed full of variation that can seem quite surprising to people who aren't familiar with them. That's just how languages work.

It's a bold claim that the languages used don't affect brain characteristics. I just googled

syntax "brain structure"

and found a paper giving separate consideration to the comprehension of complex sentences in English on one hand and complex sentences in German and Japanese on the other.

The interesting questions, of course, are whether populations can genetically track their languages, and how much the non-linguistic environment affects linguistic capabilities. (E.g., what is it about Afghanistan that induces retroflex consonants?) Languages might change too rapidly for people to evolve to better use their own language.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:35 pm 
Smeric
Smeric

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:25 pm
Posts: 2261
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Richard W wrote:
E.g., what is it about Afghanistan that induces retroflex consonants?

The fact that it's right next to Pakistan.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:46 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:35 pm
Posts: 492
Location: Michigan, USA
Richard W wrote:
alynnidalar wrote:
OP, just because something is unusual for you doesn't mean it's unnatural or any reason to believe that Japanese speakers' brains are inherently structured differently than English speakers'. Languages are stuffed full of variation that can seem quite surprising to people who aren't familiar with them. That's just how languages work.

It's a bold claim that the languages used don't affect brain characteristics. I just googled

syntax "brain structure"

and found a paper giving separate consideration to the comprehension of complex sentences in English on one hand and complex sentences in German and Japanese on the other.


You wanna share this paper with the class, or what?

_________________
I generally forget to say, so if it's relevant and I don't mention it--I'm from Southern Michigan and speak Inland North American English. Yes, I have the Northern Cities Vowel Shift; no, I don't have the cot-caught merger; and it is called pop.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:10 am 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:28 pm
Posts: 364
alynnidalar wrote:
You wanna share this paper with the class, or what?

Well, the paper I read was The brain basis of language processing From structure to function by Angela Frederici, but I thought the search string would be more useful. There's no knock-out quote, but the general run of papers give a strong feeling that which language is used will affect brain structure simply by the effects of use and disuse. I wonder how much authors are scared of being charged with heresy; I think they would be scared of being accused of being followers of Tadanobu Tsunoda, who publicised the idea that Japanese brains are different.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:42 pm 
Smeric
Smeric
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 5:00 pm
Posts: 1139
Richard W wrote:
alynnidalar wrote:
OP, just because something is unusual for you doesn't mean it's unnatural or any reason to believe that Japanese speakers' brains are inherently structured differently than English speakers'. Languages are stuffed full of variation that can seem quite surprising to people who aren't familiar with them. That's just how languages work.

It's a bold claim that the languages used don't affect brain characteristics. I just googled

syntax "brain structure"

and found a paper giving separate consideration to the comprehension of complex sentences in English on one hand and complex sentences in German and Japanese on the other.

The interesting questions, of course, are whether populations can genetically track their languages, and how much the non-linguistic environment affects linguistic capabilities. (E.g., what is it about Afghanistan that induces retroflex consonants?) Languages might change too rapidly for people to evolve to better use their own language.

I think Sapir-Whorf is best taken with a grain of salt, or at least a sense of moderation. Does the language we think in affect how we think? Probably to some limited degree. Does not having a fully developed grammatical tense system make the Hopi incapable of grasping the concept of time? Highly doubtful.

_________________
"But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?”


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:33 pm 
Avisaru
Avisaru

Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:28 pm
Posts: 364
Zaarin wrote:
I think Sapir-Whorf is best taken with a grain of salt, or at least a sense of moderation. Does the language we think in affect how we think? Probably to some limited degree. Does not having a fully developed grammatical tense system make the Hopi incapable of grasping the concept of time? Highly doubtful.

I think the effects would be more like occupation affecting anatomy.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:36 pm 
Smeric
Smeric
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 1644
Location: Berlin, Germany
I want to say from my own experience as someone who has successfully learnt German as an L2 as an adult that, in the beginning, when I was starting to learn German, I found the word order hard. Not hard to understand ... I learnt the rules for it and could tell what was right, but when speaking, my brain would come up with the German words I should say and then make me "hold on" to them until I could finally drop them in the right place. As I spoke more and more German and listened to it passively and read in German, over time, my brain just adjusted to that. I'll say a subject and an auxiliary verb and whereas I used to come up with the next verb immediately and feel as if I was holding it in my memory until I was finally allowed to drop it at the end, now I simply don't go looking for that word until it's the right time, so I'm never really conscious anymore of holding onto a word while also looking for the words for everything else that must go before it. It just happens now.

This does lead to a different kind of mistake though because sometimes I get to the end of the sentence and realise that the verb I really want to use would have required something different at the beginning of the sentence. Sometimes I should have used hat but I used ist (this is my natural tendency when talking about positions, and I think my brain pretty consistently wants to use sein with verbs like stehen, sitzen, hängen, liegen, which is done in southern German dialects, maybe on analogy with gewesen sein... but also with warten sometimes, which, as far as I know, is not a thing anywhere ... but maybe that's on analogy with geblieben sein). The most common one is I get to the end of the sentence and realise the verb I want requires a sich and ... although I can simply drop it directly in front of the verb, it's more natural near the beginning of the clause and makes it pretty obvious that I hadn't anticipated how I was going to end the sentence when I started. What I find tough is having verbs at the end that control earlier bits of the sentence when the verb that I end up using goes with something I didn't anticipate, like an auxiliary, a reflexive, a case role, a prepositional relation etc.

To unpack that a bit, if you know enough German to understand this, here's an example of a thing I do a lot. Brackets show the bits of structure that I think in my head but don't say ... the thoughts are not "words" that I have, just instant thoughts - I'm not "thinking in English" to myself while speaking in English.

    Es sind ja viele Sachen passiert, die ich mit Sicherheit auch nach zehn Jahren [shit, it's sich erinnern for "remember"]... mich ... [shit, it's sich an etwas erinnern] ... an die ich mich mit Sicherheit auch nach zehn Jahren werde erinnern können.

... but sometimes I just crack the shits with the sentence and code Switch "remember" into there because it's a nice simple transitive verb that I expect to have because of my L1:

    Es sind ja viele Sachen passiert, die ich mit Sicherheit auch nach zehn Jahren [*sigh* fuck it!] werde remembern können. ...
    Intended meaning: There are a lot of things that have happened that I will definitely be able to remember even after ten years.

When I'm interpreting from DGS into German it's a whole other kettle of fish though because it's not even my thoughts and I'm focussing on a bunch of stuff at the same time, so sometimes I get to the end of the sentence and don't even remember how I began it and if I've said all of the information I need to.

_______________

And all of that said, I struggle a lot with Turkish which I suppose is more like Japanese with its head-final strictness. I can't handle long chains of relative clauses before getting to the thing that's being described. My brain just won't do it in the right order because I haven't practiced it enough. German does have the ability to drop anything before beginning other clauses, so it doesn't need to be as long till you get to verbs and things is it can be, so even though the word order is kind of more complicated in how verbs go in all kinds of places rather than just rigidly at the end, it feels a lot more convenient to me because you can chop things up without actually ending the sentence. A Turkish friend of mine said situations like that in Turkish just tend to be chopped up into smaller sentences rather than having long convoluted sentences going down several different levels into subordination, but I really don't know enough to be comfortable with it.

_________________
Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = complementiser, ACS / ICS = accessible / inaccessible, GDV = gerundive, SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific
________
MY MUSIC


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:58 pm 
Lebom
Lebom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2004 11:57 am
Posts: 205
Location: Elsewhere
You could argue there are good reasons for putting the most important information at the end - when someone first starts speaking, it might take their hearer a little bit of time to attune themselves to their voice.

Anyway, what's most important is very relative to context. It could be that "who's fatter" is the really important thing here, the women and the arguing and your observation of them not so much.

_________________
@jsbaker750
seven-fifty.net


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:02 pm 
Smeric
Smeric
User avatar

Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:21 am
Posts: 1723
Location: Tokyo
awer wrote:
So I find it weird that they start the sentence with the smallest, trivial almost, details and they go on the part that is the gist of what they're trying to say.

I'm a bit late here, I know, but:
A question I have heard from Japanese people on more than one occasion is "In English, why do you put the conclusion first?" I thought the same as you, but to have the opposite opinion, that English is illogical, thrown back at me, was a bit of an eye-opener, I think.

Richard W wrote:
but the general run of papers give a strong feeling that which language is used will affect brain structure simply by the effects of use and disuse.

Any idea on what exactly those effects on brain structure are, and how are they present on English monolinguals, Japanese monolinguals, and fluent bilinguals?

Imralu wrote:
I want to say from my own experience as someone who has successfully learnt German as an L2 as an adult that, in the beginning, when I was starting to learn German, I found the word order hard. Not hard to understand ... I learnt the rules for it and could tell what was right, but when speaking, my brain would come up with the German words I should say and then make me "hold on" to them until I could finally drop them in the right place.

I had similar problems learning Japanese at first. I would want to say the verb, or just say it, and realize I can't add anything else.

These days, I don't have much trouble speaking on my own, but I frequently need to do on-the-fly interpreting between English and Japanese, and when I translate from English to Japanese, I notice I frequently mess things up by putting them earlier than they should be, like nominalizing a short clause as a subject and then continuing the sentence, only to realize that the verb I put in the subject was actually the verb for that sentence, because I unwittingly copied the general word order of the person speaking.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group