zeeëend - sea duck, or Velvet scoter (nowadays "zee-eend")
koeieuier - cow udder (nowadays "koeienuier")
zaaiuien - seed onions (still legal I think)
kraaieëieren - crow eggs (nowadays kraaieneieren, I think)
angstschreeuw - cry of fear
slechtstschrijvend - worst writing
borsjtsjschrokkende - borscht gorging
haaiaaioorkonde - shark petting certificate
weggooiooien - throw-away ewes
originally (russian) it was Борщ
And coincidentally Borš in estonian.
And in dutch it became borsjtsjsch? How? Why? Why do you need 8 letters to transmit a single phonem?
No wonder dutch can construct these weird word combos.
Edit, nvm, apparently last sch belongs to next word. Still creepy
Some languages approximate it with /ʂ/ (think "sh" in English). For example, Romanian: borş.
Most languages approximate it with a combination of /ʃ/ ("sh"), /t/, and /tʃ/ ("ch"):
- "sh" and "ch",
- "sh" and "t", or
- all three, "sh", "t" and "ch".
Or an approximation thereof.
In Swedish: Approximation for /ʃ/ is "sj" /ɧ/. Approximation for /tʃ/ is "tj" /ɕ/ which yields "borsjtj". Though they could've gone for just "bortj" :)
Dutch is "Borsjtsj": Approximation for /ʃtʃ/ (sh t ch) with sj /ʃ/ and t
German is "Borschtsch": Approximation for /ʃtʃ/ (sh t ch) with sch /ʃ/ and t
> - all three, "sh", "t" and "ch".
This is not because we're confused! Just borrowing from the historical Russian pronunciation of Щ as ШЧ
I checked the origins of all Dutch words starting with sj- some time ago because some of them look and feel native (and because I'm a nerd), but it turned out that indeed all of them are loan words, even e.g. sjorren which comes from Frisian. It looks like all surrounding languages do have these as phonemes, but Dutch doesn't. (Not sure about Plattdeutsch.)
Borsjt or possibly even borsj would probably be better.
People are taught that the sound is spelled "sh", but that's not quite true:
It's very interesting to compare people's view of /ʃ/ with /ʒ/, another perfectly normal native English phoneme, but one that most people insist is foreign and hard to pronounce. The only difference I see is that a standard American education covers the idea that /ʃ/ is a real sound and should be spelled "sh", while /ʒ/ is generally not mentioned. But of course the existence of the sound is not actually related to whether your teacher mentioned it in elementary school.
My uneducated guess on /ʒ/ is that /dʒ/ is the most common way of encountering it, so people aren't comfortable separating it out, even though it's still common. It probably doesn't help that the usual transcription is zh which basically doesn't exist in native English words.
Depends what you mean by "the usual transcription". The usual spelling in English is "s" followed by i or u. (As in "usual" / "measure" / "vision" / etc. etc. etc. etc.) "Zh" is the standard transcription for Russian. The same sound in Chinese is today normally transcribed "r", because that is the letter assigned to it by China's official Romanized orthography, Hanyu pinyin. In Wade-Giles, it was transcribed "j".
 The pinyin "r" (and the Wade-Giles "j") can represent a sound anywhere along the continuum between what an English speaker would perceive as the two distinct sounds /ʒ/ and /ɹ/. (The "s" and the "r" in "measure".)
borsjtsjch does not exist, borsjtsj does.
One of the interesting differences about Dutch spelling compared to English, is that there's an official institution (Nederlandse Taalunie, literally Dutch Language union), that sets the spelling and spelling rules for most words. The spelling of Dutch thus is the same in the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname. The uniformity in spelling means that for most Dutch words (not loan words), you can easily tell how they're pronounced by the way they're written, as opposed to English that never really changed their spelling of words, despite some shifts in pronunciation. Readings older Dutch texts is takes slightly more effort, because the spelling of some words can be completely different from what it is now.
I see variations of this suggested for lots of languages, even my Norwegian teacher tried to convince me that Norwegian was spoken just as written. But this takes no account of regional differences in pronunciation. The words castle, boat, house, mouse, grass, for instance, all have different pronunciations depending on where in the UK one grew up. Which one is the spelling supposed to represent?
It seems to me that Dutch would be just as likely to have regional variations in pronunciation as any other language.
If Shakespeare had written phonetically he would be all but unreadable now.
Local dialects have larger differences, but if they are written (relatively rare), it usually uses some form of phonetic writing, and those aren't standardized anyways.
For example, the word "lijk" is pronounced different from the suffix "-lijk". And then there's the difference between "een" and "een".
I guess the problem is the momentum of such a large population of speakers means this risks breaking British English off in such a way that it may eventually become too non-standard and British people become disadvantaged somehow.
As for the spelling: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borsjtsj
(Edit: That page also mentions a soup called 'sjtsji'.)
As a native speaker, I think the real answer is experience. You pick up most of the patterns simply by using the language. I think that's how most people learn English as well. English grammar rules are mostly a mystery to me and many of my peers from school. Estonian grammar is slightly less of a mystery, but that's because it is a mandatory subject even in high school (ages 16-19).
About the title:
"Kas sa sõid koogi (ära)?" - "Did you eat the (whole) cake?"
"Kas sa sõid kooki?" - "Did you eat cake?"
"Ära" in the first sentence has the meaning of "nothing left" or "gone". "Ära" doesn't have to be included, but in practice, it almost always is. It's similar with the abessive ("without") case. The example given in the article is "riik on ilma juhita". The word "ilma" means "without" and can be left out. The abessive case of "juhita" is enough - "riik on juhita" - but in practice "ilma" is often included.
All in all, people generally don't care too much if you get the grammar just right. Mostly right is good enough. Many native speakers even have problems with words such as "kelle-ga-gi" vs "kelle-gi-ga" (the first is correct: -gi/-ki is always at the end). Some grammar rules can even result in words that many native speakers will say are incorrect, eg "keni" - the partitive plural of "kena" (neat). People are simply more used to the -id/-sid partitive plural "kenasid".
On the other hand I've been studying Russian pretty intensely over the past year or so, so I can definitely empathize with the frustration of having to learn a complex case system.
I think the important thing is: it doesn't really matter if you get it completely right (or even mostly wrong). As long as you build simple sentences a native speaker will be able to figure out what you're trying to say. If somebody asks me "tu parlons anglais ?" it's definitely going to sound very wrong to me but I'll probably be able to figure out what you're attempting to communicate.
I think it's worth it to actually learn the declension/conjugation tables to familiarize yourself with them but you have to face the fact that you'll probably never learn to use them correctly just by memorizing rules. Eventually as you encounter them IRL you'll start to develop a feel for it.
I wonder if the average English speaker would be able to explain why they say "if I were you" and not "if I am you". Yet few get it wrong.
More generally I find that the main difficulty in learning languages is, by far, vocabulary. You can often get by with a surprisingly low amount of grammar if you understand what the words mean.
If web browsers had feelings, they would possibly often experience this with the HTML soup being thrown at their parsers. "Hey, I think I know what you're attempting to communicate!"
I only recently learned that there are rules to the order of adjectives in the English language ; it was never taught to us in school, we just used them enough that I know it by what sounds right. Ex "the big, red balloon", not "the red, big balloon".
If you're interested in an entertaining overview of all of the world's languages, I can recommend the course Language Families of the World by The Great Courses - 34 byte-sized (half hour) lectures.
I must say I started listening to The Great Courses way before Udacity, Coursera, EdX, and so on, and back then it was really a good and competitive source (and, at discounted prices, reasonably priced) to get a variety of professionally produced audio courses. Nowadays of course there are more alternatives.
As a Finnish speaker, I don't get that feeling with Estonian. The written form is different enough to warrant a deeper look before I start whining about how annoying I find language studies in general.
My Finnish is poor enough that I didn't recognize any of the alleged similiarities.
Granted, I'm also super lazy, but Finnish and Estonian should be close enough to just have some threshold to get over until it's pretty smooth, I guess?
Fwiw, I'm native in Swedish, but I speak and write Finnish daily.
To go on about my earlier comparison, I can really visit the site for a Danish or Norwegian Bokmål newspaper like Politiken ( https://politiken.dk ) or Verdens Gang ( https://www.vg.no/ ) and start reading with a feeling of just moderate confusion. Academic text would require some extra effort. The "voice in my head" or mode of reading doesn't really even change, because I've never attempted to communicate in either Danish or Norwegian per se.
For Estonian Postimees (https://www.postimees.ee ) I'm stuck pretty much immediately. I can pick up words and some context, but that's it.
At my first job, at an internal IT Service Desk for a certain Nordic energy company, I dealt with Norwegians and Danes. But it was a business context where everyone just seemed to agree to just make a polite effort at having a maybe slightly "clear in a Swedish way" common Scandinavians language, because switching to English would feel a little silly. I guess some of the older dudes working in the field somewhere in Norway might not have spoken English.
Many words in standard Estonian do have true cognates in Finnish, but the Finnish counterparts have a slightly different or more specific meaning, or are nonstandard or colloquial. A typical example would be maja which in Estonian means "house" or "building" but in Finnish has the more specific meaning of "hut" or "cabin"—a dwelling more rudimentary and temporary in nature.
EE: ära surra (to die) - FI: surra (to mourn)
EE: vaim (ghost) - FI: vaimo (wife)
EE: kannatus (suffering) - FI: kannatus (support)
EE: pulm (wedding) - FI: pulma (difficult problem?, puzzle)
But anyway, there we probably have it, your vacations as a child. No lifehacks can beat exposure to language at a young age, I guess. SAD.
Waiting for the day when some drug can trick the brain into some semblance of a kid's language learning skills.
As a (non-fluent) Spanish speaker I get a similar experience hearing Portuguese, the words sound similar but different and the speaker sounds slightly drunk.
Greek sounds very close to Spanish but none of the words mean anything, it's really weird :)
I don't hear Greek that often, so the suggestion also struck me as weird. Some analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPMqoHPJzac
I have a Swedish friend who described Danish speakers as sounding "like they're speaking Swedish with rocks in their mouths"
Anyway, add the Vigesimal system for numbers above 49 and you're really off to the races
For the sake of hilarity, let's add that Icelandic people are forced to study Danish in school Because Reasons. Icelandic is not mutually intelligible with the major Scandinavian languages, even in written form. The argument for studying Danish is of course that everyone benefits from Nordic countries sticking together.
But Danish is the most cumbersome way to get some of that benefit of a common language.
Some Icelandic professor character actually recently dropped a hot take, suggesting that Icelandic schools could switch to teach some form of Finland Swedish, because it'd be remarkably easy for Icelandic speakers to pronounce and probably the easiest option for most people in the Nordics to grasp relative to effort.
Being a Swedish speaker from Helsinki, Finland, I kind of don't like the nasality of my own dialect. I'd prefer to listen to dialects from the Swedish west coast around Gothernburg all day, because those are very soft sounding. But the suggestion likely makes some sense. Formal/common institutional spoken Finland Swedish is indeed overly articulated and devoid of slang.
Informal Finland Swedish tends to be hyperlocal and may carry loan words from Finnish, which is a non-starter in the other Nordic countries, and very much frowned upon by Swedish schools in Finland.
- -da is "in", not "locative case"
- -(y)a is "towards", not "locative case"
I personally find that insisting that students learn proper case names greatly hinders the learning process.
Finnish and Estonian are also agglutinative, and I feel abject horror reading about "essive", "comitative", "abessive" and other cases. Stahp! :)
Finnish and Estonian are synthetic languages now. While the Proto-Uralic language ancestral to them both was more agglutinative, the system of consonant gradation (and subsequent loss of consonants) as it developed in these languages means they are no longer very agglutinative.
In a purely agglutinative language you only have to memorize one stem for a word and then you can add all case endings to that one stem. In Finnish, you have to memorize at least two stems (strong and weak stems). In Estonian, things are even more complicated.
For example pinging people in Facebook comments doesn't work with correct Finnish.
English: "this would be useful to @Pekka"
Correct Finnish: "tämä olisi hyödyllistä @Pekalle".
Machine parseable but incorrect Finnish: "tämä olisi hyödyllistä @Pekka :lle"
It would probably be possible to make a library to understand the transformed forms of words.
> The extent of irregularity came as a shock. I had always believed that the Finno-Ugric family of languages, to which Estonian belongs, was “agglutinative” – that is, with words being formed by adding strings of endings in a regular way. Estonian has far more irregularity than this would suggest: consonant gradation can make forms difficult to recognise, and every putative rule seems to have exceptions.
I'm sure this is something that's happening everywhere (because of things like Hollywood and most of the internet being in English), but with the population in Estonia decreasing anyway, I wonder if this is an indication that the Estonian language will be dying out relatively soon.
Granted, Estonian may be in a different situation due to demographic factors.
I suppose part of this is that a lot of tech vocabulary in Estonian either doesn't exist or is quite awkward.
People like me are definitely 'part of the problem' with the Estonian language being not as used as it should be, however outside of Estonia the language - as beautiful as it is and as significant a part of my heritage as it is - is almost useless. I've done some courses + read some books, and can understand the language a reasonable amount, but I cannot speak it. Time-wise, I find it hard to justify over learning more skills for my software development trade.
Not being an avid learner of languages, I have personally always liked the idea of an universal language. English seems to be closest to the spot at the moment. It seems that Esperanto has its most avid supporters in China these days, because they would like the luxury of having to learn just one western language.
Still, every language is also a cultural artifact the loss of which would be a bummer. Today we cannot read the writing of Rapa-Nui, the Easter Island, which is sad.
The recently deceased Finnish writer Matti Mäkelä once talked about the idea of two languages: the language of the heart and the language of trade. The former you speak to express the deepest thoughts and the latter to make deals with all of the people in the world.
Maybe sometimes in the far-away future we will all speak two languages, the heart-language and the trade-language. I don't care if the latter is English or Chinese or anything else as it's just about trade and utility. For poetry and confessing my love I have another language.
"blah blah blah and then I died blah blah blah good game!"
But I do agree that some languages are more inured to this than others, such as British English. Having enough native speakers generating new OC in the language also helps prevent a fashionable trickle of loanwords become a flood that threatens to sweep everything away.
It's the same in Sweden, English has become so commonplace you see it everywhere. Probably half od all public adverts on bus shelters and the like are written in English for no apparent reason other than it's fashionable. "Yes" has become a fairly common alternative to "ja". But overall, I don't worry too much than Swedish is really under threat or that in a generation English will have taken any deeper root.
French is definitely the language of choice for pretentious twits who like to do this.
It's always been a thing in our family, in my childhood it was Kswahili and French, the former because of my parents history and the later because of family holidays en France. After German/Russian/Latvian exchange students stayed with us there would be other phrases.
Nowadays I drop the odd "privyet" (RU), or "ca va?" (FR), or "<signing>" (BSL) but it's mostly domestically, sometimes that leaks in to the public arena ... does it offend?
Perhaps people aren't showing off but just doing something they think is fun.
I recently worked on a data visualization platform for the trade statistics office in Estonia (https://data.stat.ee) and many of the nuances from this article came up while we were working on the bilingual version of the site.
For example adding prepositions in front of country names, required us to write a custom function taking into account the normal "rules" and exceptions.
Here is the case for Estonia + preposition
Between … and Estonia:
Eesti ja … vaheline
And now here is the case for the UK + preposition. (notice the extra g added in the from, with and between cases)
From United Kingdom:
To United Kingdom:
With United Kingdom:
Between … and United Kingdom:
Ühendkuningriigi ja … vaheline
The same can be said of Hungarian. In spite of Hungarian being a Uralic language and utterly opaque to the neighbouring countries, so many of the verbal derivations (especially since the 19th-century language reform) are calques from German. I found it easier to memorize certain Hungarian verbal idioms by storing them mentally alongside their German models.
Bar barbarbarbarbar bar bar barbarbarbarbar
This translates to 'naked naked-barbarian-bar-barbarian carried a naked naked-barbarian-bar-barbarian', a worthy competitor to the well-known Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
TIL there is a langugue called Estonian :)
For an attempt at mapping not just standard languages, but also dialects that could be considered independent languages, see https://www.deviantart.com/totentanz0/art/Languages-of-Europ...