American Invasion !!! (linguistics related)

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    Mar 18, 2014 3:26 AM GMT
    It's pretty obvious how American culture has influenced other cultures around the world. But how far has it gotten? I heard an interesting story on NPR the other day about this topic.
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/03/14/290108782/angst-in-germany-over-blitzkrieg-of-american-english

    It seems hardly a sentence is spoken in Berlin that doesn't have an American English word in it.

    One word that especially grates — and I confess to a certain bias, having learned German as a toddler when it wasn't so Americanized — is a word pronounced "sogh-ee." Or, as Americans say it, "sorry."
    ...
    "I mean, 'sorry' is quite a useful way of apologizing because it doesn't commit you to very much. It's very easy to say 'sorry.' The closest equivalent would be Entschuldigung, which is, 'I apologize,' " Stefanowitsch says. "That's really like admitting that you've done something wrong, whereas with saying 'sorry,' you could also just be expressing empathy: 'I'm so sorry for you, but it has nothing to do with me.' "


    I know the French are quite adamant about preserving their language, and even have their own government agency for such things. But how about other countries? Have you noticed an Americanization of your language or other aspects of your culture?


    NQlub7G.jpg
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    Mar 18, 2014 3:53 AM GMT
    Yes, it was common to use British English when writing here. These days most people use American English. Culture-wise, yes and no. We adopted the fast-food culture (no offense), some styles of dress and other things I can't quite remember at the moment.

    But we still maintain our uniqueness and a lot of poeple take pride in things that originated from Trinidad. For e.g Steel pan, calypso, soca, chutney and other things I can't remember at the moment lol. Not a lot of the other islands can say that.
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    Mar 18, 2014 4:36 AM GMT
    Québec has been on a roll eliminating (trying to) english lol

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois_de_la_langue_fran%C3%A7aise[/url]
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    Mar 18, 2014 4:37 AM GMT
    Sweetooth saidQuébec has been on a roll eliminating (trying to) english lol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois_de_la_langue_fran%C3%A7aise

    Is there much difference between the French that is used in Québec and France?
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    Mar 18, 2014 4:46 AM GMT
    xrichx said
    Sweetooth saidQuébec has been on a roll eliminating (trying to) english lol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois_de_la_langue_fran%C3%A7aise

    Is there much difference between the French that is used in Québec and France?


    Yes, many differences. Written french is however standardized to European French, since grammar is universally the same. Spoken, I've heard french people say they do not understand or struggle to understand many of the times. Example, my girlfriend

    Québec: Ma blonde
    France: Ma petite amie

    Acadian french is totally off from both ex: make sure
    Québec and France: on s'assure
    Acadian: Faire sûr (Literally make sure)
  • SuntoryTime

    Posts: 656

    Mar 18, 2014 6:53 AM GMT
    Maybe this relates very little to the topic, but I live in Texas and so many menus and signs down here are written in Spanish. You'd think with all the yokels that wouldn't be the case but there you go. icon_smile.gif
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:25 AM GMT
    Linguistic contact is a big deal in all languages. The biggest ones obviously influence each other the most now, English clearly at the top of the food chain. Keep in mind though that English has been largely influenced by other languages historically, so it's really just recently that we're seeing things going the other way around. For example, we don't use the word "parlance" much anymore to describe talking, but it owes its former prominence and place in English from the French "parler". A good portion of English in fact owes its vocabulary and structure to French, this largely because French was once THE major lingua franca. Combine the Germanic nature of English from the beginning, the spread of the British Empire back in its hey day (and accordingly its contact with other languages of the peoples that were invaded), and you see a lot of English words imported from other languages. Another example of that is the word "chocolate", which comes from the Nahuatl word "xocolātl". The Spanish picked that word up after invading Mexico, and in turn when the British Empire spread through Europe the Britons got the word from the Spanish (along with learning of chocolate's existence) and imported it into English.

    Linguistic history and etymology in general is awesome. I'll stop myself before writing a ton more and geeking out icon_lol.gif
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:34 AM GMT
    RedEssence saidLinguistic contact is a big deal in all languages. The biggest ones obviously influence each other the most now, English clearly at the top of the food chain. Keep in mind though that English has been largely influenced by other languages historically, so it's really just recently that we're seeing things going the other way around. For example, we don't use the word "parlance" much anymore to describe talking, but it owes its former prominence and place in English from the French "parler". A good portion of English in fact owes its vocabulary and structure to French, this largely because French was once THE major lingua franca. Combine the Germanic nature of English from the beginning, the spread of the British Empire back in its hey day (and accordingly its contact with other languages of the peoples that were invaded), and you see a lot of English words imported from other languages. Another example of that is the word "chocolate", which comes from the Nahuatl word "xocolātl". The Spanish picked that word up after invading Mexico, and in turn when the British Empire spread through Europe the Britons got the word from the Spanish (along with learning of chocolate's existence) and imported it into English.

    Linguistic history and etymology in general is awesome. I'll stop myself before writing a ton more and geeking out icon_lol.gif

    Holy shit. That was awesome. icon_cool.gif
    This is all pretty fascinating how languages cross over and eventually become part of our daily vernacular.
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:40 AM GMT
    One of the things I'd like to know about is what features each language has that others don't. For example, Latin based languages have gender specific versions of 'the'. I heard that German is even worse with that.
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Mar 18, 2014 7:52 AM GMT
    xrichx said
    RedEssence saidLinguistic contact is a big deal in all languages. The biggest ones obviously influence each other the most now, English clearly at the top of the food chain. Keep in mind though that English has been largely influenced by other languages historically, so it's really just recently that we're seeing things going the other way around. For example, we don't use the word "parlance" much anymore to describe talking, but it owes its former prominence and place in English from the French "parler". A good portion of English in fact owes its vocabulary and structure to French, this largely because French was once THE major lingua franca. Combine the Germanic nature of English from the beginning, the spread of the British Empire back in its hey day (and accordingly its contact with other languages of the peoples that were invaded), and you see a lot of English words imported from other languages. Another example of that is the word "chocolate", which comes from the Nahuatl word "xocolātl". The Spanish picked that word up after invading Mexico, and in turn when the British Empire spread through Europe the Britons got the word from the Spanish (along with learning of chocolate's existence) and imported it into English.

    Linguistic history and etymology in general is awesome. I'll stop myself before writing a ton more and geeking out icon_lol.gif

    Holy shit. That was awesome. icon_cool.gif
    This is all pretty fascinating how languages cross over and eventually become part of our daily vernacular.

    Yeah, please geek away, RedEssence, I find etymology fascinating. I don't study it academically or anything but it is an amazing subject. Small common words of particular interest to me are: Suit, deal, court, point, hand, type, and post.
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    Mar 18, 2014 8:00 AM GMT
    xrichx said
    This is all pretty fascinating how languages cross over and eventually become part of our daily vernacular.

    It's extremely fascinating. The French are trying but failing re: language preservation. On the other hand, Icelandic has done very well to preserve its original language form. It is in the Scandinavian language family, but unlike Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, Icelandic has not evolved or changed in structure through linguistic contact (Danish has been influenced largely by German, Swedish has been influenced by a mix of Danish and Finnish and Norwegian, and Norwegian has been influenced by a mix of Danish and Swedish; Icelandic, on the other hand, has remained isolated for hundreds of years until the birth of aviation/the Internet). In fact, Icelandic is so well preserved that it's the closest thing we have to the original language of the Vikings, despite the fact that we correctly attribute the Vikings to Norway (the Vikings stopped in the UK to plunder and take women with them as they went west, ending up in Iceland and starting families there; any native to Iceland can reliably trace their lineage back to the first settlers there, which is pretty damn cool). Icelandic is the only language in existence that still utilizes Þ (known as the letter thorn). Þ was also used in Middle English, but became replaced by the digraph th sometime later (we'd otherwise spell words like the as Þe instead!!)

    Back on topic - Icelandic is able to maintain its original form and structure because Icelanders are now all fluent in both English and Icelandic. In other words, Icelandic is not threatened by English because both are given importance, and language learning in general is given great importance (children also learn Danish in school!) Because of this, any word that gets imported into Icelandic tends to be broken down into components that are pieced together (for example, a word like email is not likely to be borrowed as a loanword; instead, some Icelandic equivalent of 'digital message' would be used, or an old Icelandic word that has fallen out of use would get reappropriated).

    Ok, I geeked out. I'm sorry!!
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    Mar 18, 2014 8:08 AM GMT
    Lumpyoatmeal saidOne of the things I'd like to know about is what features each language has that others don't. For example, Latin based languages have gender specific versions of 'the'. I heard that German is even worse with that.

    Korean has words based on the context of gender+age.

    A male would call his older brother = hyung
    A female would call her older brother = ohpah

    A male would call his older sister = noonah
    A female would call her older sister = uhnnie

    Also, all 4 of those words are often used as terms of affection for close friends, and extended family members.

    Of course, in English, we just call our siblings by their first name.
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    Mar 18, 2014 11:21 AM GMT
    Hindi is heavily mixed with English, to an extent that sometimes we don't even remember the Hindi words for certain English words. Most of the greetings are often in English, the Hindi version is very close to Sanskrit, and it would even make you feel awkward if you use it. It's British legacy which has been continued, not the American.
  • kew1

    Posts: 1595

    Mar 18, 2014 12:28 PM GMT
    RedEssence saidLinguistic contact is a big deal in all languages. The biggest ones obviously influence each other the most now, English clearly at the top of the food chain. Keep in mind though that English has been largely influenced by other languages historically, so it's really just recently that we're seeing things going the other way around. For example, we don't use the word "parlance" much anymore to describe talking, but it owes its former prominence and place in English from the French "parler". A good portion of English in fact owes its vocabulary and structure to French, this largely because French was once THE major lingua franca. Combine the Germanic nature of English from the beginning, the spread of the British Empire back in its hey day (and accordingly its contact with other languages of the peoples that were invaded), and you see a lot of English words imported from other languages. Another example of that is the word "chocolate", which comes from the Nahuatl word "xocolātl". The Spanish picked that word up after invading Mexico, and in turn when the British Empire spread through Europe the Britons got the word from the Spanish (along with learning of chocolate's existence) and imported it into English.

    Linguistic history and etymology in general is awesome. I'll stop myself before writing a ton more and geeking out icon_lol.gif


    It's still going on, we're gaining new words from other countries every year.
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    Mar 18, 2014 1:12 PM GMT
    Sweetooth said
    xrichx said
    Sweetooth saidQuébec has been on a roll eliminating (trying to) english lol

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office_qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois_de_la_langue_fran%C3%A7aise

    Is there much difference between the French that is used in Québec and France?


    Yes, many differences. Written french is however standardized to European French, since grammar is universally the same. Spoken, I've heard french people say they do not understand or struggle to understand many of the times. Example, my girlfriend

    Québec: Ma blonde
    France: Ma petite amie

    Acadian french is totally off from both ex: make sure
    Québec and France: on s'assure
    Acadian: Faire sûr (Literally make sure)


    Good summary! When we are not used to Quebecois, we have some difficulties to understand, but most of the time it's allright. When the Quebecois get angry we don't understand anything though.

    I just want to correct a fact. Some said that the French try to protect their language against English. That's not true. The Académie Française is not here to prevent us to use English or to create new words (it would be pointless, that's not how a language works). They just study French language and observe it's evolution. It has never had the ambition of creating a language, it is only noting, gathering and normalizing new uses of words (some are English words, some are neologisms). Their main work is to make every year a dictionary. If the French academy would refuse English, we would not have so many English words in our vocabulary, such as parking, week-end, shopping, e-mail, etc.
    French is not threatened by English in France. However, it is in Quebec. That's why the Quebecois tend to avoid English words and translate everything.

    Languages interactions are a very interesting phenomenon!It is also very funny in Japan. They use many English words, but they prononce it in the Japanese way that can be quite different. They also tend to make strange word contractions, so that television becomes "terebi" or remote controller becomes "rimokon"
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    Mar 18, 2014 1:46 PM GMT
    Isugemi said
    Some said that the French try to protect their language against English. That's not true. The Académie Française is not here to prevent us to use English or to create new words (it would be pointless, that's not how a language works).

    ...If the French academy would refuse English, we would not have so many English words in our vocabulary, such as parking, week-end, shopping, e-mail, etc.

    Your statement is true today. It wasn't a few decades ago, like when I lived in Europe. The Académie did exercise strict control over the daily language, mainly in printed material, public signs, and other public uses. And could impose, I believe in conjunction with government agencies, fines on businesses for non-compliance.

    I recall one English term that got banned in the 1970s was "hot dog", after the Académie did one of its periodic purges. You know how the French are about their food.

    Another word you cite was "week-end". It took a while before that was finally permitted. In part because the French were among the last to actually adopt the 2-day weekend of a Saturday and a Sunday, that has now largely become a world standard. Again, due to US and British influence, in this case primarily an international business consideration, as well as tourism patterns.

    Whereas English is extremely open to foreign words coming into the vocabulary. And especially for food, we generally take words as-is, without major modification, except of pronunciation due to difficulties in language phonetics, and the need to apply English grammatical conventions.
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    Mar 18, 2014 2:32 PM GMT
    ART_DECO said
    Isugemi said
    Some said that the French try to protect their language against English. That's not true. The Académie Française is not here to prevent us to use English or to create new words (it would be pointless, that's not how a language works).

    ...If the French academy would refuse English, we would not have so many English words in our vocabulary, such as parking, week-end, shopping, e-mail, etc.

    Your statement is true today. It wasn't a few decades ago, like when I lived in Europe. The Académie did exercise strict control over the daily language, mainly in printed material, public signs, and other public uses. And could impose, I believe in conjunction with government agencies, fines on businesses for non-compliance.

    I recall one English term that got banned in the 1970s was "hot dog", after the Académie did one of its periodic purges. You know how the French are about their food.

    Another word you cite was "week-end". It took a while before that was finally permitted. In part because the French were among the last to actually adopt the 2-day weekend of a Saturday and a Sunday, that has now largely become a world standard. Again, due to US and British influence, in this case primarily an international business consideration, as well as tourism patterns.

    Whereas English is extremely open to foreign words coming into the vocabulary. And especially for food, we generally take words as-is, without major modification, except of pronunciation due to difficulties in language phonetics, and the need to apply English grammatical conventions.


    I don't really know when you were in France but the académie has absolutely no political power in controlling language or banning words. It works as a study center, that can only give recommendations.
    You maybe talk about some laws, like the Toubon law trying to ban the use of English or anglicisms in advertisement or certain professions, but the Conseil Constitutionnel rejected those aspects of the law because it is a violation of the freedom of speech.
  • Svnw688

    Posts: 3350

    Mar 18, 2014 2:51 PM GMT
    While this is interesting, it seems more an academic exercise (and problem, insofar it is being cast as a problem).

    Language is fluid, words are created and deleted, both informally and formally, all the time. That one language influences another, or that one language influences another more than any other language, seems natural to me. Without being xenophobic, or American-centric, let's be real. English is the language of aviation, business and the most dominant culture. Why would Japanese, German or Spanish be influencing us that much? English has a lock on everything at this moment. That'll change, as all regimes do according to the hegemonic stability theory, but until then, English reigns.

    I simply don't see the problem. Tis much ado about nothing, in my mind.
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    Mar 18, 2014 4:00 PM GMT
    Isugemi said
    I don't really know when you were in France but the académie has absolutely no political power in controlling language or banning words. It works as a study center, that can only give recommendations.
    You maybe talk about some laws, like the Toubon law trying to ban the use of English or anglicisms in advertisement or certain professions, but the Conseil Constitutionnel rejected those aspects of the law because it is a violation of the freedom of speech.

    Please reread my post. I said your statement is true today. It was not true decades ago. And as I also indicated, I lived in Europe in the 1970s, the time period to which I am referring.

    The Académie did indeed exercise strong control over the language. And several posters here were referring to that long tradition, which actually formally goes back to King Louis XIV.

    Your post suggested that was a myth, that it had never been the case. The reality is that the Académie during your own lifetime has indeed relinquished its former tight linguistic control, so that you might not be aware of the history.

    Of course English has its own more informal control methods, mainly through certain respected dictionaries. It's a matter of self-enforced convention that editors of publications, as well as the government and the legal profession, tend to avoid words which have not been approved by those dictionaries. Linguistic purity is encouraged in many ways in many countries, as opposed to having total language anarchy.
  • Svnw688

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    Mar 18, 2014 4:02 PM GMT
    Art_Deco, "total language anarchy?"

    I can haz cheezburgers? icon_cool.gif
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:14 PM GMT
    ART_DECO said
    Isugemi said
    I don't really know when you were in France but the académie has absolutely no political power in controlling language or banning words. It works as a study center, that can only give recommendations.
    You maybe talk about some laws, like the Toubon law trying to ban the use of English or anglicisms in advertisement or certain professions, but the Conseil Constitutionnel rejected those aspects of the law because it is a violation of the freedom of speech.

    Please reread my post. I said your statement is true today. It was not true decades ago. And as I also indicated, I lived in Europe in the 1970s, the time period to which I am referring.

    The Académie did indeed exercise strong control over the language. And several posters here were referring to that long tradition, which actually formally goes back to King Louis XIV.

    Your post suggested that was a myth, that it had never been the case. The reality is that the Académie during your own lifetime has indeed relinquished its former tight linguistic control, so that you might not be aware of the history.


    I am sorry if I upset you, but I maintain what I said. It is written in the statutes of the académie since its creation under Louis XIII reign that it does not have the ambition of changing or creating the language, or forbidding uses of words. It works as a study program and consulting agency for the government.
    I just wanted to debunk the myth of a conservative académie full of grumpy old men angry at English language (even here in France, many people think that way). Actually, the members of the académie don't always criticize anglicisms. They have for example promoted the use of "spam" instead of the ugly french neologism "pourriel".

    Anglicisms are not really a problem I think. But what I find clearly unrefined is the confusion between "false friends" in French and English. More and more, we can hear French people use "définitivement" instead of "assurément", because of the english word "definitely".
    There is also a funny fact appearing these years in France. As American series are more and more popular amongst young people, the judges are more and more called "votre honneur" here, when in our system they are simply called "monsieur / madame le juge".
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:57 PM GMT
    xrichx said
    Lumpyoatmeal saidOne of the things I'd like to know about is what features each language has that others don't. For example, Latin based languages have gender specific versions of 'the'. I heard that German is even worse with that.

    Korean has words based on the context of gender+age.

    A male would call his older brother = hyung
    A female would call her older brother = ohpah

    A male would call his older sister = noonah
    A female would call her older sister = uhnnie

    Also, all 4 of those words are often used as terms of affection for close friends, and extended family members.

    Of course, in English, we just call our siblings by their first name.

    Interesting. So far it seems to me that English is more concise than other languages. But someone told me that Chinese doesn't have the gender specific pronouns he and she; they use something like "they" or "the person" or their name I suppose.
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    Mar 18, 2014 8:06 PM GMT
    ^Yes and no.
    Example in french, his car
    Sa voiture (we don't know the human's sex)
    Son neveu (His nephew, but in french, we know it's a male).
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    Mar 18, 2014 8:08 PM GMT
    Sweetooth said^Yes and no.
    Example in french, his car
    Sa voiture (we don't know the human's sex)
    Son neveu (His nephew, but in french, we know it's a male).

    So "sa" is neutral and "son" is male?
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    Mar 18, 2014 8:11 PM GMT
    Lumpyoatmeal saidInteresting. So far it seems to me that English is more concise than other languages. But someone told me that Chinese doesn't have the gender specific pronouns he and she; they use something like "they" or "the person" or their name I suppose.

    Korean is similar, and I believe Japanese. There's no "he" or "she". There's me, you, this/that person.