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zompist bboard • View topic - Is German/Japanese sentence structure natural?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:07 am 
Sanci
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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.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:02 am 
Avisaru
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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?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:10 am 
Smeric
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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.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:43 pm 
Avisaru
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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.

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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.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:31 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 8:35 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 9:46 pm 
Avisaru
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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.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:10 am 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:42 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:33 pm 
Avisaru
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:36 pm 
Smeric
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Glossing Abbreviations: COMP = comparative, C = , ACS / ICS = , GDV = , SPEC / NSPC = specific / non-specific
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:58 pm 
Lebom
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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.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:02 pm 
Smeric
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