Language

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Chaos Wake

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Language

Post by Chaos Wake » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:53 pm

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A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico (c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech
Language is important, its how I'm communicating with you right now. A forum like this obviously couldn't operate or exist had we not some form of common way expressing ideas. For us, the language we use is obviously English and for many its the only one they know.

But languages have histories, politics, power dynamics, etc.

The indigenous people of where my family came from (Cundinamarca, Colombia) spoke Muyscubun and other Chibchan languages before being conquered by the Spaniards. They still do now, but often in secret or in isolated communities that survived The Conquest. There's only one school I know of that still teaches it, and its not exactly in an urban area.

I grew up in a Spanish speaking family that immigrated to Texas when I was about 2 or 3. Through the power of American media and cultural hegemony, English outcompeted most of my Spanish skills despite my mom and dad almost exclusively speaking Spanish. So though I understand Spanish as well as I do English, I have trouble speaking it. While it makes things difficult sometimes, (my step-father only knows Spanish), it doesn't trouble me as much as the fact that I only know a few words of Muyscubun despite my family's ancestors being mostly rooted in the Amerind populations in the region we came from.

That being said, there's been much anthropological and psychological research done on how language may effect the way a person perceives reality. Generally language is both the vehicle, and manifestation of a culture.

My Arabic speaking roommate from Kuwait commented that in English there are very few words(at least in use) for describing different kinds of terrain. He said this made it extremely difficult to give decent directions to English speaking friends but he could easily communicate subtleties of different locations and paths to Arabic speaking friends. For example, he talked about how there were specific words in Arabic for different forms of hills and different colors of soil that just did not exist in every day English. Meaning he could not simply use a single phrase to describe a location but instead had to give entire sentences.

What languages do you speak?

What languages does your family speak?

What languages did your ancestors speak?

How has it shaped your life?


I wanted to make a post in here for old time's sake. I remember a lot of discussions with Joe, Hairy, and a few others back in the day, so I thought I would.
Last edited by Chaos Wake on Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Muffin
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Re: Language

Post by Muffin » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:24 pm

i only speak english but i like to read r/linguistics and r/languagelearning. They're pretty interesting

i'm not very good at committing to things long term or i would know a couple of languages already lol. I studied korean very casually for about a year then due to one thing or another i just didnt have time anymore and stopped. Pretty much forgot everything I knew, but I still know lots of very common words/phrases and can read it

I like spanish and took an intro class last year as an elective because it would be easy. I meant to kinda use that as an incentive to actually start studying on my own but i stopped after the class ended lol
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Re: Language

Post by narwal » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:48 pm

I speak English, Spanish, and scraps of Italian and Japanese

My father's mother is Japanese, my mother's parents both Japanese. Both born in Cuba, met in the states. Being in Cuba, they learned Spanish mainly, but spoke Japanese at home, same thing happened to them with Japanese that happened to you with Spanish, but they still know some stuff.

I learned some Italian in school and when I went to Italy, learned some Japanese from my now deceased grandparents. I learned Spanish because I live in Miami which is just Cuba with roads and McDonald's, and from my parents and family.

My father's family didn't have any trouble when Batista declared war on Japan, because it was a Cuban man with a Japanese woman. My mother's mother was a pharmacist, and they pretty much got away with staying on Cuba because of it. After Castro they kicked it, tho.
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Re: Language

Post by Django » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:04 pm

Ok time to SHOW OFF

English
Spanish
French
Italian
Japanese

Pro tip for languages: Watch movies and have patience. Every single language has those lil words that are transmutable between languages.
To get good at conversations, every language comes with some social cues that vary from conversation. It's important like you see all the time
English speakers having this driest most monotone way of speaking Spanish. That's because the person has no clue on how Spanish conversations
start, flow or end
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Re: Language

Post by Chaos Wake » Mon Oct 20, 2014 11:05 pm

Hah, my brother's wife is Korean and he works over there. His in-laws have been pretty insistent on him learning the language so he obliged.

I've studied a few languages. I kind of grew up thinking I wasn't really "good" at learning new languages but recently (like when I was 19) I gave it a try after reading The Brain that Changes Itself.

I kind of went on a frenzy and started learning whatever bits of pieces of languages interested me. It helped a lot with basic understandings of language in general and kind of opened my mind.

Looking back I probably shouldn't have assumed any language was open to me(some are intentionally closed off for historical and security reasons making it kind of unethical to dive into), but I mean you learn as you go.

Damn narwal, that kind of story is why I made this thread. The intricacies of how culture relates to something like prejudice is a pretty big deal.

Also Django is dead on with learning languages, that's actually a strategy polyglots use. The comment he made on flow is something I kind of have problems with. Mostly because if a word has a cognant between English and Spanish I'll tend to fuck it up and give some weird mixture of Bogota flow and Americanisms.
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Re: Language

Post by narwal » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:05 am

I speak Spanish like my Cuban family does

Loud and obscene
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Re: Language

Post by dyl1138 » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:31 am

English, learning Spanish, my family was mainly deep south Tennessee preachers with tinges of German and Irish. Wellllp. Speaking as someone who oftentimes finds himself the go-go person to ask for clarification and the first one willing to kick off a conversation or critique work or basically voice their thoughts, I really had to fight introversion and crippling shyness to become a decent speaker instead of being the mumbling, somewhat intelligent guy who never really likes speaking up. It was really an environmental matter that led to me focusing on language and speech. In keeping with the German knack for ruthless efficiency, I started out by just bsing my way through conversations and attempting to rehearse and outline every. last. detail., but shyness and the fakeness of such conversations quickly led to failure.

So I guess I'm taking a different perspective on the question. I know one language really well, but I focused on the application and it carried over into a transformation of my personality.

Anyways, I slowly began to work my way out of isolation and back into the real world. On my first day in public school after several years of homeschooling, the very idea of rejoining public school terrified me.; my last experience with public schooling had been less than optimal to say the least. It was my first day, and I was completely lost. The hallways all seemed to merge into one another, and the few hundred other people with unknown faces and odd accents shuffling by didn't exactly help. The hallways cleared, the bell rang, and there I was, lost and feeling very stupid for letting myself get lost and ugh why cant I read this fucking map and wtf why are the halls all the same length and the numbering inconsistent and wait is that a library in the science hall whaaatttttttt. I took a second to just calm the fuck down and think it through. It was the first day; nobody was going to be pissed at me for being late, and I still had plenty of time to find the classroom and waiiit a sec all the classes in this hallway are dealing with history and I need to find a social studies class so this is my best bet. After realizing that people weren't going to be dicks for no apparent reason for the most part, I quickly became comfortable around them.

The next real step was learning how to communicate smoothly. I didn't lack the intelligence to be helpful and/or interesting, but I had almost no skills to develop my points. What I did have, however, was a lot of free time on my hands; part of rejoining the public school system is doing bunches of menial work to "catch up" with your fellow students, and in my case, there was an entire room of typically casual, easygoing people redoing their work. I figured out quickly that they'd gladly accept my help, so I kinda learned how to talk by helping people cheat on exams and homework. It was also great for learning not only social norms, but the limits that people set individually.

This all tied into an honors English course in high school with my first real challenge in larger-scale works. I had the knowledge, I could effortlessly explain things to individual people, and I was already a fairly good writer. The next big leap was actually talking in a way that made the topics less dull but still covering what I needed to cover to several people. Also there was this one girl that I really wanted to impress, and I did, then we judged other people all day from our seats in the far back of class for being lazy for the remainder of the year. It was really a matter of sort of discovering the topic with the audience and being genuine and expressive in my presentations. Voice, both figurative and literal, are big parts. An important part for me was infusing comedy into what I said AND HOW I SAID IT. There was no "formal introduction" with me, no bothersome, formulaic essay orations. I didn't speak as I write, and I CERTAINLY didn't bring notes up with me. In fact, a big point for me was bringing up pictures of cats or some other comical paper prop, and sometimes I brought up interesting pictures and displayed them under a document camera.

I still do work in a similar vein in an AP Composition class I'm taking this year, but it's just not the same. There's nobody to judge them all with, and there's more of a focus on purely formulaic papers, where the occasional personal narrative is my only respite. Nowadays, I focus more energy on talking with friends, socializing, etc., but I do still sometimes write or speak with hushed tones and moving conjectures, and when I'm with an imaginative person who's brainstorming, I'm unstoppable. So yeah. I learned how to socialize from jocks and slowly figured out how to utilize my singular language to capture people's attention and possibly even outdo some of the teachers there at the time.


tl;dr: I'm boring and only speak one language.
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Chaos Wake

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Re: Language

Post by Chaos Wake » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:29 pm

Hahahaha Narwhal. My step-dad is from the Dominican Republic and the way he speaks Spanish(in terms of flow and tone) is pretty different than Bogota, Colombia's overly formal kind of pompous way of speaking.

Not to mention the actual dialect differences like S's being cut out, words being shortened, etc. Its kind of radically different than my mom's speech but slowly she's being influenced by it and I can tell it in her speech. Her mom(my grandmother) though came from the Caribbean coast of Colombia and that dialect is pretty different then what she usually speak. She told me that occasionally she would switch to that dialect to speak to friends of hers but my brother would cry when he heard her switch for some reason hahaha.

Shiiiiit dyl. How old were you when you had to make that transition? I knew some homeschooled kids in my highschool who had some trouble getting used to things. Not anywhere near as bad as immigrant kids do, like when my sister had to go to American middle school after having been taught in Colombian elementary/primary school. I still felt for them a bit though, some of the other kids would distance themselves from them because I guess they weren't socialized enough or hip enough in their eyes.

I remember it being awkward as shit being in American elementary school and not understanding what the fuck kids meant by anything despite understanding English. Like American media taught me a lot of things but mostly it was weird Looney Tunes 1950s-isms. Like kids would use local Texan idioms with Anglo-American contexts and from experiences based in their lives as the children of people who were mostly all White settlers(I lived in a somewhat isolated military town).

It didn't of course help that I wasn't White like them(and they were prone to some nasty, nasty racism) but I think it all mixed together into a really bad experience. It wasn't really until middle school that I started to "get" them and I don't think I liked what I "got". It sure explained why people treated my family like stray dogs when they talked Spanish in public though(funny because Spanish is from Europe). Not everyone was like that of course, we made decent friends with a few White-Anglo families, and also some other immigrants. Notably, a family from Kenya who's daughter basically got me out of my angsty teen phase and into the "maybe I should critically examine things" part of life.

But yeah, on a bit more positive note. Here's an interesting video I found while doing stuff with the Native American Student Org I helped create on my campus.

Its a Dine(Navajo) child telling a story in Dine Bizaad(Navajo language). This kid is a better storyteller than I am.

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Re: Language

Post by Django » Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:20 am

Chaos Wake wrote:Her mom(my grandmother) though came from the Caribbean coast of Colombia and that dialect is pretty different then what she usually speak.
I AM from the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

THIS IS WHAT DJANGO TRUELY BELIEVES

That specific type of Spanish dialect is called Español Costeño
and its not so different from what your mom was speaking, words are abbreviated, the letter r is cut out sometimes
, people speak fast but they over intonate and make sure the delivery is done with laid backness and melody.

Very similar to Cuban and Dominican Spanish ,but there are probably more archaisms in these last two dialects.
Spanish speakers from the Canary islands were the first to land on Hispaniola (Dominica) and Cuba.
Whilst in Caribbean Colombian, we got Spanish speakers from Andalucia.

Both these dialects have more in common with each other than to Castillian Spanish which is the basis of most other dialects of Spanish in the continent.
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Chaos Wake

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Re: Language

Post by Chaos Wake » Wed Oct 22, 2014 4:18 pm

Whoa hahahaha that's definitely the dialect. She's spoken to me like that and its pretty intense, its been a while since I've heard it. The Andalucia connection makes sense. I think I spoke to people I knew from Spain on a Minecraft server and some of them spoke in a really similar fashion.


Also for those of you who are interested in learning languages.

http://www.memrise.com/home/

https://www.duolingo.com/

Are good tools to start with. Doesn't have to be with a language that you think is "useful", for just learning general language skills its actually good to start off with something you know you're going to enjoy.

Just try to make sure the culture you're learning from is actually cool with people learning it hahaha. Like Japanese is generally open to the world but a lot of Native American languages don't want outsiders learning(Cherokee is an exception though at least according to their Nation's website).
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