"On" internet or "In" internet?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Saint, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That was meant as simply silly talk rather than "bragging," and I apologize if it did not come across that way. Every language community has different attitudes and priorities. English, French and (especially) Chinese are very compact phonetically. It takes very few syllables to express a thought, compared to Italian, Spanish or Japanese. As a result speakers have the choice of speaking slowly, making their communication easier to understand, or speaking at a faster speed that would be considered normal elsewhere, making more efficient use of their time.

    Americans and Britons take opposite strategies. We talk rather slowly, making it easy for the immigrants, who have always comprised a large segment of our population, to understand us. The Brits talk much faster, so their conversations are rather short by our standards.

    I would not put German at the opposite extreme on that scale, but more near the middle. German has a lot of monosyllabic words, although not as many as English and French, but far more than Japanese or Italian. That said, many German writers do indeed appear to love crafting very long sentences with intricately nested Schachtelsätzen ("box clauses," a literal translation that doesn't do much to explain what they are), but in speech most people avoid those complexities and are happy to use two simple sentences instead of one complicated one.

    Considering the influence that language and culture have on each other, I don't think it's extraordinary to suggest that the attitudes of the French, Chinese and various anglophones may be influenced by their compact phonetics, while the attitudes of the Latinos, Japanese and Italians may be subject to an opposite influence.

    None of this is good or bad, merely interesting.
    I am reasonably fluent in Esperanto, which has a high syllable count, and its powerful engine of word-formation is so well integrated into the language that it overlaps the rules of syntax. So I understand your point. I'm also capable of conversing in Spanish and Mandarin, two languages that could not be more opposite. I even spent two months in Europe 40 years ago, primarily Eastern Europe where virtually everyone over 25 spoke German. The people were greatly amused by my overindulgence in Schachtelsätzen, which our university professors had neglected to warn us are not used as much in conversation as in scientific textbooks.

    I find all languages interesting. Pointing out their differences can be fun without being insulting. If I did not succeed in doing that, I apologize.
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