Missing words in English?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Athelwulf, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes, that's the one. Thanks!
    Well my point wasn't well stated. I just meant that most of the words that make Modern English "modern" are foreign words. As a linguistic community we seem to have chosen not to do a lot of word-building from native roots. Indeed, Dutch, Yiddish and the Scandinavian languages all tend to "calque" compound words using their own phonetic versions of the German roots. "Science" in Danish is vitenskap (he says without a Danish dictionary handy to get the spelling right). I guess if we tried that it would be something like "wisescape."

    Does anybody know Frisian, the language which is alleged as being the closest relative of English?
    You're right. However there seems to be a trend in modern colloquial German to elide those unstressed E's. Maybe they've been fraternizing with the French too much.

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    We're veering pretty far from linguistics here but what the heck, I'm more famous for my postings about dogs than linguistics. Humans and dogs created the earth's first voluntary multi-species community. It's debatable whether the Mesolithic people would have used the word "ownership" since it's generally acknowledged that dogs domesticated themselves. One school of thought says they saw the benefits of cooperative hunting, another says they probably thought they were taking advantage of us by eating all the perfectly good food we left lying on the ground. In either case, I'm not the only person who wonders, without the experience of learning to love "people" we couldn't even talk to who weren't even of the same species, whether we could ever have learned to love other humans who spoke funny languages and believed in blasphemous gods. It's quite possible that our relationship with dogs was a key step toward founding civilization. That disqualifies it as a "narrow" relationship.

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    In the grand scheme of things, diet seems to be a fairly easy evolutionary adaptation. Dogs have made a complete transition from carnivores to omnivores in a mere 15,000 years. Teeth, brain size, behavioral instincts, the whole package. About the only thing that changes faster is, amusingly enough, the one thing we humans make such a big frelling deal over: skin color. Move a human population from the tropics to the arctic or vice versa and in about 4,000 years they will change from black to white or vice versa.

    Anyway, I don't think domestic animals suffer sensory deprivation from our diet fads. Especially since many of our preferred pets seem to be omnivores like dogs, parrots, and rodents. We also love the ones who have trapped themselves into the "greenest" levels on the food chain, like pandas (bamboo) and koalas (eucalyptus).
     
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  3. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I have found another missing one: the gender-neutral reference to the 3rd person:

    http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_245b.html

    There have been attempts to introduce a new word, but none got to be popular...

    I like the idea of hu: The usage is like this: "When hu goes to class hu needs to bring hum syllabus".

    It is probably derived from human, but it also could be pronounced as who, thus it would make double sense...

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    Last edited: May 12, 2007
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    In the USA, "they" is now widely used as a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun. It has recently been adopted by government agencies, so I'd say that makes its establishment official. Just yesterday I saw one of the ubiquitous Homeland Gestapo warning signs on the subway:
    It's a bit awkward, but it seems to be a compromise we're all comfortable with. The "he or she" of the 1970s is even more awkward. The brief experiment with "s/he" may look good in print but there's no way to pronounce it, much less build an accusative or possessive form.

    I doubt that "hu" will ever catch on. Pronounced the one way, it sounds too much like "you," and the other way it's too easily confused with "who." Still, stranger things have happened.

    I prefer the Chinese pronouns, which are all gender-neutral. Somewhere along the way somebody came up with a cute way to render them gender-specific in print, but as far as I know it never really caught on.
     
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  7. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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  8. Facial Valued Senior Member

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    Have I mentioned "difficility" yet ?
     
  9. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

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    We have one in Latvian.

    Ēst (to eat) - Ēdināt (to feed) - Dzert (to drink), Dzirdīt (same as feed, but for drinking).
    You can dzirdīt horses, for example.
    To get somebody drunk is piedzirdīt.
     
  10. Zyxoas Registered Senior Member

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    These look like some form of forming causative verbs.

    The Bantu languages have a mechanism to form verbs through the use of suffixes (Proto-Bantu *-î-, *-îc-, or compounded *-îcî-). In Sesotho, the verb roots (since it is an agglutinative language) would be -ja (PB *-dia) eat, -fepa (primitive)/-jesa(causative) feed, -nwa drink, and -nwesa (causative) cause to drink. Note that in both examples Sesotho uses the compounded causative (it also uses the *-î- with many other verbs -- the historical vowel causing the final consonant to change in weird ways -- but it never uses *-îc-, though I guess many other languages do).

    This thread is fun (I guess), but I hope it teaches us all that languages are very varied and that not everything resembles what we have experienced. This is obvious but many people seem to simply not get it.

    Personally, I love learning interesting facts about langauges, and I don't believe that there are any "better" langauges than others.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Esperanto has a universal causative suffix that can be added to any verb. Mangxi = to eat, mangxigi = to feed. Trinki = to drink, trinkigi = to cause to drink. (X stands for the circumflex over the previous consonant that I can't enter on this browser.)
     
  12. Avatar smoking revolver Valued Senior Member

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    Actually I just remembered that we have two words for feed - ēdināt and barot.
    Ēdināt is more polite.
     

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