Meanderings of an Amateur Linguist

Just me and my languages – a dangerous combonation

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Currently Reading

Posted by ILuvEire on March 12, 2009

Hey there! I decided, why the hell don’t I make like three posts in a row!

Currently Reading

The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter
John McWhorter is officially my FAVORITE author, ever. Ever. Period. I love his writing style, I can learn about linguistics, but still stayed interested. So, I’m reading every one of his books I can get a hold of. 🙂

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book isn’t bad, it’s just not my first choice. We’re reading it in my English class.

Recently Finished

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John McWhorter
This is the first McWhorter book I’ve read. I loved it, plus is was really interesting and gave tons of interesting info.

The Search for the Perfect Language by Umberto Eco
Sadly, this book put me to sleep. I’m quite sad to read something so bad from Umberto Eco. The info was really interesting, but it’s obscured by the dreary language. I think it might have been bad on the part of the translator though.

The Odyssey by Homer (?)
We read it in my English class. It would have been much more interesting if I didn’t have to do tests and annotation and notes and crap, or if I could have read it in the original Greek.

Anyway, these two linguistic books warrant a book review, coming up.

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Updated Wish List

Posted by ILuvEire on February 25, 2009

Oh…wow. Things have changed! If you’re curious, this, is my old language list, as of 11/32/08. Now here’s a draft of my new language list:

Japanese: This is my main focus for now. I’ve been working at it for a couple of weeks, and I plan to keep it up! When I make it to a upper intermediate level I’ll start on onr of these other languages. I’m predicting that to be in a few months.

After Japanese I plan to learn more languages from (South)East Asia. The languages on the top of my list are Mandarin and Vietnamese. Other languages I am looking into in this region are Thai and Hmong.

Besides languages from this area, I plan to continue with my Cherokee, and Italian. I want to get to be conversational in Cherokee and fluent in Italian. Also I learned Norwegian for a month…but I think I want to switch to Swedish when I pick it up again. I’ve gotten myself interested in Finnish and Finland for a while, and it seems stupid to learn Norwegian and Finnish, plus I much prefer the Swedish of Finland to the Swedish of Sweden. 🙂

Then we have Albanian and Georgian. I learned the basics of both these languages and REALLY want to get back to them. I don’t know when I will, but I will definitely get back to them. They are both beautiful and I love them.

The last portion of my language learning list includes smaller languages. I want to learn Swahili, Zulu, and Hawaiian. I have a huge interest in all of these languages, and someday I wish to learn them. This will make up the bottom of my list, and is subject the change (which I’m sure there will be some).

All-in-all my list goes like this:

1 Japanese
2 Mandarin
3 Vietnamese
4 Thai
(Hmong)
5 Cherokee
6 Italian
7 Swedish
(Finnish)
9 Albanian
10 Georgian
(Swahili)
(Zulu/Xhosa)
(Hawaiian)

The parentheses’d ones are on my “maybe/maybe not” list, for whatever reason.

There ya’ go. Comment away!

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Why I learn Volapük

Posted by ILuvEire on December 1, 2008

Glidis! Alärnosös Volapüki!

I’m one of the world’s few Volapükists. I’ve been asked so many times why I choose to support this language, as opposed to other IALs (Interational Auxiliary Languages). I’ve broken it up into two points.

1) International Vocabulary

Volapük’s vocabulary is far more “international” than Esperanto, Novial, Ido, Lingua Franca Nova and pretty much every other IAL, except for Lojban/Loglan. Much (if not all) of Volapük’s vocabulary is derived from English and German (the two languages its creator spoke the best). Volapük however has an extremely constricting syllable structure. Every word must begin and end in a consonant. He attempted to make the vocabulary as international as possible, and ended up with these extremely changed words, mutilated some would say. This makes the vocabulary equally hard for everyone. Lol means rose, but only in Volapük. A Japanese speaker and an English speaker will both have the same difficulty learning it.

The creator also attempted to keep all of the words to one syllable long (so that compounds wouldn’t be so long, and affixes could be easily applied). This means that he also avoided any long consonant clusters.

2) Grammar

Volapük’s grammar is quite complicated. It’s heavily agglutinative. This is pretty much hard for everyone, because his cases are used in different ways than most other agglutinative languages (like Hungarian or Finnish). He keeps his case endings very short (one vowel apiece) and his tense prefixes are one vowel long, then each mood suffix is a vowel and consonant long (like –ös for example, except for the passive prefix which is just p– . He wraps things up in a little package. I like it.

On top of that, the grammar is not similar to any living language. I think that the creator did that on purpose, so that the language would be totally different and therefore more international.

Some examples:

Lol – rose (nom)

Loli – acc

Lola – gen

Lole – dat

Then, add an –s to make the plural.

Each verb has tons of conjugations and forms, so I’m only going to demonstrate a few. I’m going to have the root bolded on each of the examples, and then the feature I’m trying to demonstrate italicized.

Lärnön – to learn

Lärnom – He learns

The present tense is formed by adding the appropriate pronoun. Om means “he,” so all you have to do is suffix it to the end of the stem.

Alärnomös! – Learn now!

Most of the moods are suffixed after the person inflection. The passive voice is p– on the frond of the tense prefix.

If you ever want someone to talk to about Volapük, I’m right here for ya’!

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