Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Zardozi, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. Zardozi Isvara.... . 1S Evil_Lau Registered Senior Member

    In this example of spanish language, it is common for inanimate objects that have a name for itself to end in the letter "A" to give it a "feminine" quality or an "O" to give it a "masculine" quality along with the use of "El" and "La"
    i.e.- La Ropa you dont say El Ropo
    El Pero not La Pera (even if it is a female dog)

    This is more comlex in the Hindu language. Not only do we use the masculine/femine suffixes to announce its quality but we also have suffixes similar to the spanish language known as "O, As, A, Amos, An" which are suffixes added to a verb to combine a cencus with a verb or noun, i think. Hindi language also donotes a word for each relation of a specific family member by the means of which the are related to you, so everyone is not simply a Uncle or Aunt.

    Are the Chinese or other euro-asian languages as complex as spanish and Hindi or is it simpler like english.

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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is not exactly the explanation. The gender of words goes all the way back to the Indo-European language which is the ancestor of both Latin and Sanskrit, and was inherited by all Indo-European languages. English has dropped it completely and a couple of others have made great progress, but most of them still adhere to it. Gender is only loosely and inconsistently related to sex, e.g. Spanish el sol and la luna are the opposite genders of German die Sonne and der Mond, even though they come from the same Indo-European root-words.

    Don't forget that Indo-European had a third gender, neuter, which survived in Latin and still survives in German, Greek and the Slavic languages.

    The Spanish, Italian and Portuguese endings O and A are simply the Latin dative case endings, which Spanish kept when it dropped the others. There is no such neat paradigm in, say, French or German, where few nouns and adjectives end in any vowel except E and many end in consonants. Masculine adjectives ending in a consonant can be made feminine by adding a (silent) E. In the Slavic languages male nicknames commonly end in A: Yasha = dear Yakov, Misha = dear Mikhail.
    This is incorrect. La perra does indeed mean "bitch," in the zoological sense. El oso/la osa, "bear"; el zorro/la zorra, "fox"; el programador/la programadora, "programmer." O/A is still a "living" paradigm in Spanish, meaning that speakers consciously apply it.
    This is called "conjugating" a verb. Hindi and the Slavic languages (which are also members of the Eastern branch of the Indo-European family and are thus more closely related to Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Farsi, Pashto, Armenian, Lithuanian, Rom, etc. than English and Spanish are) have complex verb conjugations. Most of the Romance languages (descendants from Latin) still have them, but they have been simplified in many of the other Western Indo-European languages. In English and Swedish they have almost vanished.

    Indo-European also had a complex system of "declension" for nouns, indicating nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative and other "cases." E.g. subject, object or indirect object of verb, etc. The Slavic languages still have the full paradigm of declensions. Latin had a slightly simplified version but it has disappeared in all of its descendants except Romanian. German has such a simplified version that you have to always use an article with a noun to express the case. English lost it except in pronouns.
    I don't know how far the Indic languages go with this, but Chinese goes further than English. The word for "older sister" is jie, whereas "younger sister" is mei. You can even say "sister one, sister two," etc. Same for cousins. "Maternal grandfather" and "paternal grandfather" are two different words.
    Languages fall onto a wide spectrum of grammar, often within the same family. As I've noted. Russian has an impossibly complex grammar--I'd guess more complex than Hindi--while English is very simplifed, yet they are both Indo-European languages. Chinese grammar is even simpler than English; in essence it has only nouns and verbs and there are no inflections for anything: no person, tense, number, gender, etc. Japanese grammar on the other hand is just utterly bizarre. I can't imagine a language being more complicated than Japanese but I'm sure they exist since there are hundreds of languages.

    It tends to be a matter of the category that the language falls into rather than its ancestry. The basic structure of a language can change with time. Indo-European was an inflected language and some of its descendants like Hindi and Polish still are, whereas others like English and Swedish are become more analytic in structure. Turkish and Finnish are both in the Mongolic family; the former is highly inflected but the latter is only mildly so. Chinese is highly analytic; Japanese is unbelievably inflected. (No those two are not related except distantly, going back to the one language that came out of Africa 70,000 years ago.)
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  5. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    I was surprised to learn that Russian солнце was neuter.

    What's the common root word for moon/Mond and luna/луна?

    EDIT: I answered my own question. Apparently they're etymologically unrelated words. "Moon" is from Indo-European menes-, which was used for both "moon" and "month". The luna forms come from leuk-, "light" or "brightness".
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Thanks. I got that wrong.

    "Month" just seems like the common -th suffix added to "moon," as if to mean "moonliness." Cf. Length, health, stealth, etc.

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