language


I glanced at her. I spied her. I looked at her. I gazed at her. I watched her. I ogled her. I leered at her. I eyed her. I peeked at her.

I saw her.

This is one of the greatest things about English – one of its best and most useful features, and one that gets taken for granted far too much. The sheer linguistic versatility that we have access to is incredible. Without getting out of our chair, we can sit or laze or relax or recline or slouch or slump. Depending on our mood, we can mutter or murmur or mumble or grumble. We can speak or talk or whisper or yell or coquette. Coquette, for Christ’s sake. Sure, we owe it to the French (who else?), but we have a word for flirting for the sake of flirting.

There are a lot of reasons for this. One of the most prevalent is that English is basically a filthy scumrat of a language. It picks things up from everywhere. In no particular order, we can thank (or blame) the French for ‘beef’, the Italians for ‘carpet’, and the Arabs for ‘candy’. It may be a slightly tired point to those of you out there who know anything at all about linguistics, but English owes a lot to everyone else. (“Everyone else” being the languages that it’s slowly replacing all around the world, obviously.) (more…)

Now, as I’m sure you all remember (and that’s not even sarcasm, because it was all of two days ago), last entry I touched upon what passivisation does to the structure of a sentence. If you clicked on the link (slightly less likely), you would’ve come across a diagram which is only really helpful if you know how to interpret a phrase structure tree.

I’m by no means implying that they’re difficult to work out, or even that the idea of the passive voice is new to any of you, but I said I’d do more on the fun of restructuring sentences – and I am occasionally a man of my word. So, here we go!

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Things what I learnt in university today:

  • Nagamese, a creole spoken in Nagaland, has a language particle ‘ke’ that is only ever used to refer to an individuated animate object of a sentence

That… may not make that much sense to you. So! Brief refresher on sentence structure in English, followed by an explanation of what the above bullet point actually means, after the jump.

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Today has been one of those days where everything has been slightly to the left of where it should ideally be. Or to the right. I think one thing was actually in the right spot, but it didn’t fit because everything else was off. It has been, to quote a way better writer than yours truly, a broken crockery day.

Things I learnt in university this week:

  • there is a language in the world that, to say “over 70” (as in age), uses the word for ‘seventy’ then the word for ‘face’ (as in the surface of a table)

It has been a good week of university.

I should very much like to learn Welsh. Not over the course of a year or anything; I have neither the commitment nor the interest to learn a language properly within a year. But I think of all the languages in the world right now, it’s the one that I would most like to learn. I couldn’t tell you why, either, since there are no immediate practical benefits to knowing Welsh and I could probably put my time towards any amount of better goals. I think it’d be fun, though. Something to do. Also, it looks cool.

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