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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

August 2014

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Here are my random thoughts on languages in August 2014

#8. The pronunciation of Z in German
About eight years ago I taught myself German by reading textbooks and listening to audio cassettes. Like always, I soon got bored and I lost interest in learning by myself, so I quit. However, German pronunciation rules stick to my mind. Now at the language course, I can feel that my local (native Indonesian) teacher of German does not pronounce the letter Z the way that native speakers in the audio cassettes do. This teacher lived for one year in Germany a few years back, but still I am not convinced that she pronounces it correctly. She pronounces zusammen, zeit, zehn as /choosamen/, /chait/, /chen/. To me, /ch/ sounds more like Mandarin; even if  it does exist in German, /choosamen/ sounds like an oversimplified (or lazy) pronunciation. My classmates pick up this wrong pronunciation from her and now everybody, except me, in the class says /ch/ for Z.
I am lucky to know someone who is a native speaker of German, she happens to be a student in my Indonesian class. She taught me how to pronounce Z the real German way: /tsoozamen/, /tsait/, /tseen/. Yaay!

#7. Intuition and Preposition
This is based on my conversation last night with my native speaker Italian teacher. I was the only student attending the class last night. I suggested to her that we do some exercises on Italian Prepositions. She said preposition was easy for her because she knows what preposition to use in any context and can feel if a preposition in a given context is out of place. Yaaah, I know what it is. It is called NATIVE SPEAKER INTUITION. I answered the questions in the grammar exercises to the best of my knowledge, but only managed to get 70% of the answers correct. I swear that all of my answers make sense according to language logics, my teacher also admitted it. But knowing the right preposition to use does not involve only logics, but also experience in using it in the real life settting. She said that even an uneducated native speaker of Italian would not make a mistake with preposition because he could feel what preposition feels right to use.

#6. The Past Tense of Adjective in Altaic Languages
Here comes another odd grammatical rule. Sorry, by odd I mean unfamiliar. It feels odd to me because it is non-existent in my first and second languages, thus, it makes no sense. This is like saying

The cake is delicioused. The shirts were too smalled for me.

I had always thought only verbs could go Past Tense, but I was far from being right. In Altaic languages, Japanese and Korean, you can make a Past Tense out of an Adjective. For example, the Japanese adjective tanoshii (fun) can be made into tanoshikata (fun).
       Kinoo (yesterday) wa kurasu (the class) ga tanoshikata (was fun) desu.
       Kyoo (today) wa kurasu ga tanoshii (is fun) desu.

#5. Genderizing and Pluralizing the Verb in Latin Languages
I had never known that a verb could be pluralized and genderized until I learned French and Italian, both are Latin languages.

e.g.   Elle est perdue (Fr.) = She is lost (f)
         Il est perdu (Fr.)      = He is lost (m)

Only for the verb essere, genderizing and pluralizing of the verb take place.
The -o, -a, -i, -e endings are for male singular (m, s), female singular (f, s), male plural (m, pl) and female plural (f, pl).
         Luigi e rimasto a casa tutto il giorno (It.) = Luigi stayed (m, s) at home all day.
         Anna e rimasta a casa (It.)                    = Anna stayed (f, s) at home.
         Valeria e Anna sono rimaste a casa (It.) = Valeria (f) and Anna (f) stayed (f, pl) at home.
         Luigi e Ramos sono rimasti a casa (It.) = Luigi (m) and Ramos (m) stayed (m, pl) at home.

How about a combination of man and woman?

         Luigi e io siamo rimasti a casa (It.) = Luigi (m) and I* (f) stayed (m, pl) at home.

*Due to the patriarchical rule.....ehemm.... the third person plural always takes the male plural form even if it is a combination of men and women.


#4. PARTICIPE PASSE (Fr.) = PARTICIPI PASSATI (It.) 
The French tense Participe Passe is the same as the Italian tense Participi Passati in terms of their components and the rules that apply. Basically you need two verbs: avoir/etre or avere/essere and the Past participle verb form.

e.g.  Abbiamo mangiato (It.) = We ate
       J'ai connais .... (Fr.) = I knew ....

#3. PARTFEL' - PORTFOLIO and UCHIT' - UCHITEL
Making sense of Russian vocab by word association strategy.
The word [partfel'] means 'suitcase', I imagine a person carrying their work portfolio in a suitcase.
The verb [uchit'] means "to memorize" and the noun [uchitel] means "teacher". I figured a teacher must have a lot of memorization going on in their mind.

#2.  HAI - YES/YA
The Arabic [ya] means "hai" in Indonesian.
The Japanese [hai] means "ya" in Indonesian -- or "yes" in English.

#1. MAA - MA = APA(KAH)
The Arabic [maa] means "what" in English or "apa" in Indonesian
The Mandarin [ma] means "is it true that......?" in English or "apakah" in Indonesian.
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About the author

Hening is a laid-back ENTP (by upbringing) and a solar-Scorpio-and-lunar-Sagittarius (by birth). She believes that thrifting is an art form that helps rewire our brain circuits for the better.

 

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