complexity of languages

greg   Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:48 pm GMT
Babel : « Anyway, the difficulty of English is due to his crazy pronuntiation. It is more logic the phonetics of German (and almost any other language). »

Désolé de te contredire mais la prononciation de l'anglais n'a rien d'une folie : la phonologie de l'allemand est certainement plus riche. En revanche l'anglais écrit est une très mauvaise représentation de l'anglais oral.
Guest   Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:55 pm GMT
<<<En revanche l'anglais écrit est une très mauvaise représentation de l'anglais oral. >>>

same for French, greg - can i orat il ün réform?
guest   Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:50 pm GMT
<<<<<En revanche l'anglais écrit est une très mauvaise représentation de l'anglais oral. >>>

same for French, greg - can i orat il ün réform? >>

Yes, French spelling could use some modernizing; HOWEVER (and I cannot believe I'm doing this) but I have to agree with greg that English is very bad, even worse in my opinion.

French orthography, even when it indicates dropped letters/sounds (acute accent & circumflex) and when it is formed to hint at the origin/evolution of a word (inserted letters like the 'g' in vingt<vint), is still fairly regular ('ou' is invariably pronounced as long 'u' isn't it?). You just have to accustom yourself to the spelling vs the pronunciation. Once that's fixed, one has little difficulty correctly pronouncing new words. It's almost instinctual...

Not the case with English unfortunately...
Guest   Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:17 pm GMT
<<Once that's fixed, one has little difficulty correctly pronouncing new words. It's almost instinctual... >>

It's not so clear that you can accurately guess the (French) spelling of a new word you just heard, though.
Sam II   Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:39 am GMT
If we talk of complex or simple languages, we should try not to consider oversophisticated speak of modern people in towns but the language spoken by normal people in rural areas speaking about basic things like weather or about what happened to the neighbour last day or telling tales. The orthography of a language is arbitrary and is not connected with its complexity.
Josh Lalonde   Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:48 pm GMT
I agree that French spelling is easier than English. Given a particular French word, there is usually only one or two possible pronunciations. To go from a spoken word to the written form though is much harder.
Guest   Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:00 pm GMT
<<If we talk of complex or simple languages, we should try not to consider oversophisticated speak of modern people in towns but the language spoken by normal people in rural areas speaking about basic things like weather or about what happened to the neighbour last day or telling tales.>>

Why shouldn't we consider the speech of people in cities, and why do you think that people in cities have more complex speech than those who live in rural areas?
Guest   Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:18 am GMT
<<I agree that French spelling is easier than English. Given a particular French word, there is usually only one or two possible pronunciations. To go from a spoken word to the written form though is much harder. >>

Yeah but the Spanish one is the easiest one of all.
Sam II   Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:30 am GMT
<<<Why shouldn't we consider the speech of people in cities, and why do you think that people in cities have more complex speech than those who live in rural areas? >>>

I think that in the last 150 Years the life and language have been massively changed by modern techniques (TV, newspapers, industry) and institutions as well as by the intensified contact with people from around the world. In rural areas one can hope to find people speaking a more pure language or dialect that is more representative and nearer to the language of our ancestors.
Speech of people in cities is not more complex than those who live in rural areas, in the contrary! It is just less pure and more poluted by modern trends.
Guest   Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:52 am GMT
<<Yeah but the Spanish one is the easiest one of all. >>

Granted that Spanish spelling is more phonetic and regular than English spelling, but it still has its difficulties. On this side of the pond at least, there's the 's' vs 'c/z' and 'b' vs 'v' dilemmas, when you try to look up a new word that you've heard.

Are there any languages with a true 1-1 mapping between pronuncuation and writing, at least in most mainstream dialects? These would be languages where you couldn't have spelling bees, I suppose :)
Adolfo   Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:01 pm GMT
"Granted that Spanish spelling is more phonetic and regular than English spelling, but it still has its difficulties. On this side of the pond at least, there's the 's' vs 'c/z' and 'b' vs 'v' dilemmas, when you try to look up a new word that you've heard.
"



European Spanish still distinguish between s and c/z . Spanish is very near to be a complete phonetic language. Even some people pronounce b and v differently, despite it may sound somewhat pedantic.
Josh Lalonde   Sat Sep 08, 2007 4:53 pm GMT
<<Are there any languages with a true 1-1 mapping between pronuncuation and writing, at least in most mainstream dialects? These would be languages where you couldn't have spelling bees, I suppose :)>>

I think Finnish is supposed to be pretty close, though I don't speak it, so I wouldn't know for sure. There are lots of languages that only adopted an alphabet in the past fifty years or so, so they are presumably pretty phonemic.
K. T.   Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:34 am GMT
Well, I rarely hear anyone say that Spanish is difficult. LOL! It's not like someone's Mom gets compliments like "OOOH, your son is learning Spanish. That's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO difficult." The only complaint I hear is that the natives (i.e. Cubans and Mexicans) speak too fast for American speakers of English.

I actually do NOT think Spanish is difficult or too fast. I also do not think it is the closest one to perfection. I think each language is a little puzzle to learn. Spanish is an easy little jigsaw.
Tiffany   Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:53 am GMT
I'd nominate standard Italian for a near 1-to-1 mapping. The only exception I can think of is the word "negligenza" (neh-glee-jen-zah). The "gli" sound in all other cases gives thee sound "ly" (ex. negli [nel-yee], luglio [lewl-yoh], tagliare [tal-yar-reh]). Otherwise, everything is spelled as it sounds and no letters sound the same. You just have to get used to double consonants (not hard IMO).
greg   Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:38 am GMT
C'est vrai que <gli> peut représenter trois monogrammes successifs (trois graphèmes = lettres et trois sons), ou bien un digramme <gl> (deux graphèmes et un son) accolé au monogramme <i> (un graphème et un son), ou encore un trigramme (trois graphèmes et un seul son), ou enfin un trigramme (trois graphèmes mais pour deux sons géminés).

Exemples :

<gloria> {gloire} → /glɔrja/ → le phonème /g/ individuellement rendu par le digramme <g>, le phonème /l/ individuellement rendu par le monogramme <l> et le phonème /ɔ/ individuellement rendu par le monogramme <o>

<gli> {les} → /ʎi/ → le phonème /ʎ/ individuellement rendu par le digramme <gl> et le phonème /i/ individuellement rendu par le monogramme <i>.

<figlio> {fils} → /fiʎo/ → le phonème /ʎ/ individuellement rendu par le trigramme <gli> et le phonème /o/ individuellement rendu par le monogramme <o>.

<famiglia> {famille} → /famiʎːʎa/ → les deux phonèmes géminés /ʎː/ & /ʎ/ collectivement rendus par le trigramme <gli> et le phonème /a/ individuellement rendu par le monogramme <a>.

On peut noter un point particulier : quand on entend /ʎ/, le graphème <g> (incorporé au digramme <gl> ou au trigramme <gli>) n'est pas étymologique. Par exemple :
It <gli> → La <illi> — Es *<glos> mais <los> — Fr *<gles> mais <les>
It <figlio> → La <filius> — Fr *<figls> mais <fils> — piedmontais *<fieugl> mais <fieul>
It <famiglia> → La <familia> — Es *<famiglia> mais <familia>— Fr *<famigle> mais <famille>.

Autre point : <gli> se prononce /ʎi/ quand le <i> est accentué. C'est évident avec It <gli> = Fr <les> puisqu'il s'agit d'un monosyllabe. C'est peut-être le seul mot italien dans ce cas ? Qu'en penses-tu Tiffany ?

Dans It /glɔrja/, c'est la première syllabe qui porte l'accent (et le <g> est étymologique).
Dans It /fiʎo/, c'est la première aussi.
Dans It /famiʎːʎa/, c'est la deuxième qui le porte.

Comme le diasait Tiffany, le scripto-italien n'est pas un code phonologiquement transparent : il subsiste des zones d'opacité entre la langue orale et la façon conventionnelle de la rendre à l'écrit. Ceci dit, le scripto-italien est bien moins opaque que le scripto-anglais ou le scriptofrançais.