You will Love this: Dothraki

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Dothraki

    Firstly, I'm a huge fan of George R R Martin and I love his series: A Song of Ice and Fire. I remember thinking a long long time ago, wouldn't it be great if this were made into a series. And that's just what happened.

    That's NOT what this thread is about.

    It's about Dothraki. Or rather, the creation of a new language. Which isn't itself all that novel. However, the creators MAY attempt to build an unlearnable language (or, at least see if one may exist [note: is unlearnable a word?]).

    For example:
     
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  3. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Humph.... I personally like the idea of testing out unlearnable languages.
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Subject-verb-object and subject-object-verb are indeed common syntax structures, but hardly as universal as the author implies. Inflection and word order co-opt much of each other's purpose. A highly inflected language gives the speaker great flexibility in using word order to express the importance of the sentence components. People wrote Latin any which way they felt like.

    Japanese, for example, uses a topic-description syntax. It's well-suited to those Zen riddles they like so much, for example (to translate awkwardly but it's the best we can do in a SVO language): "The master and his pupil were walking through the forest. He kicked him, and they parted forever." (I think in the original it's something like "kick" with no subject or object. Or Nixon's trademark subject-less passive voice: "It was decided that a kick should occur."

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    )

    The problem with your quote is that it's written for an anglophone audience so it renders its examples in English, one of the least inflected major languages. Word order is critical to understanding an English sentence, almost as critical as Chinese, which completely lacks inflections. I think it would make more sense in Russian and be easier for a Russian to relate to. Or perhaps a German; their word order varies according to myriad little rules.

    I confess to having very little interest in imaginary languages. I learned Esperanto as a kid--before I acquired the credentials to cop an attitude--because at that time there were a couple of million speakers, and indeed I used it all over Europe. But I couldn't care less about Elvish or Klingon.

    In any case, I think it's ridiculous to suggest that students would be unable to learn a language with OVS syntax. It would certainly be a hurdle for anglophones, but not for a lot of other people like the Japanese. If Americans can learn Japanese (and I have a friend who speaks it like a native) they can probably learn anything.
     
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  7. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

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    If there are unlearnable rules to a language then I think it would be fun to see if anyone can learn it.

    Perhaps the brain would structure itself differently if taught at a very young age?
     
  8. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    I suppose it's more Cognitive Neuroscience type research.

    While this may not be the best analogy: We can't learn to see X-rays, obviously because we don't an X-ray receptor. It may be that we physically can not learn languages of a certain variety (or maybe we can?). Interesting ideas none-the-less

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    PS: The whole article is much better than the short bit I clipped up.
     

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