Languages question - Asian languages

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lagartija
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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by lagartija » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:10 pm

Chelson, if you are asking what errors a native English speaker would make in English, it is more likely to be the wrong choice of a homonym or an error with the use of an apostrophe in a contraction or to indicate possession. ‘It’s‘ is a contraction of ‘it is’ and *not* possession! The possessive of ‘it’ is ‘its’ This is an exception and a good number of native speakers make this mistake.
Another common mistake is using “your” instead of “you’re”, where the latter is a contraction of “you are” and the former indicates possession (as in “your book is on the table.”). Since both ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ are pronounced the same, a native English speaker might use the wrong one if not being careful. Same thing with ‘their’ and ‘they’re’ or ‘to’ and ‘too’. Those are just examples of the type of mistake one might see in the careless writing of a native speaker.

If you are asking what common mistakes a native English speaker would make in Chinese, I admit I haven’t a clue!

IMO, the mistakes made in the examples given by Simon would not be made by a native English speaker and likely not by someone speaking a related European language, either.
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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by Tonit » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:41 pm

Tonit wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:15 pm
Hi again,
I don't know about contemporary Chinese but what I know from the classes is, Chinese also employs auxilary verbs (there are a few) to do the passive.

There is one handy example: 吾嘗三仕三見逐於君。 (I previously served three times, and was fired by the master three times.)
The source is Liezi (列子).

吾(I) 嘗(previously) 三(three times) 仕( served) 三(three times) 見逐(was fired) 於君(by the master)

So the part "by the master" is the part in question.

As we can see, there is English "by" equivalent i.e. "於", as "君" means "master".

Of course we could fill in the context and say "I have ever served three times, but in all these three tenures I was fired by my master." that we could hopefully see in the original Chinese statement.

I hope this further helps you.
I am going to compare this statement in En, Ja, and Cn:

En and Cn have been done.

In Japanese it goes:

私はかつて三度君主に仕え、君主に三度解雇された。

That can be compared to En as:

私は(I) かつて(previously) 三度(three times) 君主に(for my master) 仕え(have served)、三度(three times) 君主に(by my master) 解雇された(have been fired)。

As you see, Ja statement ends with verbs, which is almost always the case for formal statements (but may be mixed up in casual oral communication oftentimes).

The part in question is 君主に(by my master) as underlined. If you take a look at the first half of the statement, there is also 君主に (in Italic) but is translated as "for my master".

Together with the general rule to end the sentence with verbs, Japanese negative sentences have the "not" adverb equivalent at the very end of the sentence (and is an auxiliary verb. (RE-EDIT: and that is not rentaishi or conjugation. Sorry.)

So you really can't see whether a person agrees/disagrees to an idea before he/she completes the statement. We need to listen to the person to the very end.

As far as I know, Cn language follows the En negative sentence structure. For example:

歳月不待人。(Time does not wait for people: a poetic expession. "None can stop the hands of time." 歳月 literally means "years and months" that is to say "time")

That can be compared to Enlish word to word as:

歳月(time) 不(does not) 待(wait for) 人(people).

In Ja, it would be compared with En as:

歳月(time) 人を(for people) 待た(wait) ず(does not)

There are some more differences between Japanese and English (and Chinese and other indo-european languages), but this might be enough to trick out the Japanese learners at the very beginning.

Now you hopefully see Ja is further away from En than Cn.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by simonm » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:48 pm

Curiously German very often puts the verb at the end of a sentence especially in more formally composed constructions.

Example:
We met there. Wir (we) haben (have) uns (us/ourselves) dort (there) getroffen (met).

In English we could add "each other" to the sentence but it is not essential. (i.e. We met each other there)

This gives rise to all sorts of horrible German English constructions on the lines of "We'll meet us there", "lets see us there" although the verb order is usually ok. Equally, it is very hard for English speakers to figure out the verb at the end of the sentence especially when it is compound like in the example above. So if I try to write in German, I generally make horrible mistakes as I have no formal training in it and to be honest don't have much reason to try and improve.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by Tonit » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:43 pm

simonm wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:48 pm
Curiously German very often puts the verb at the end of a sentence especially in more formally composed constructions.

Example:
We met there. Wir (we) haben (have) uns (us/ourselves) dort (there) getroffen (met).

In English we could add "each other" to the sentence but it is not essential. (i.e. We met each other there)

This gives rise to all sorts of horrible German English constructions on the lines of "We'll meet us there", "lets see us there" although the verb order is usually ok. Equally, it is very hard for English speakers to figure out the verb at the end of the sentence especially when it is compound like in the example above. So if I try to write in German, I generally make horrible mistakes as I have no formal training in it and to be honest don't have much reason to try and improve.
German I think is a special case, as the most of the Italic and Germanic languages end with "there", and have "No" in the beginning or closer to the beginning.

"No" should reasonably be found close to the beginning of the statement, in order to make the point first, that the statement is negative, as usually the important ideas of the statements should be prioritized.

In Japanese, however, the important things oftentimes are placed at the very end of the statements.

In a detective story for example, when a detective points out the killer and say:

"It's YOU who kidnapped the girl and killed."

This in Japanese most often will be:

「その女を誘拐して殺したのは、あなただ。」

And if we compare word to word:

その女(the girl) を誘拐し(kidnapped) て(and) 殺した(killed) のは(who/it)、あなた(you) だ(is)。

wherein the "you" highlighted in English is equally highlighted. This is our way to highlight the prioritized ideas in Japanese.

As you see, the most important ideas come at the very last or later in Japanese statements most of the times.

But of course in a movie scene (in EN), the detective would most likely say "The one who kidnapped the girl and killed is...." then the lieutenant would point out the killer and say "you!" before booking the killer.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by simonm » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:14 pm

Languages and styles are fascinating. Educated spanish speakers tend to like "literary" language and even when writing something technical, like to try and find synonyms rather than repeat a word. In one of my previous lives I was asked to correct a very short article that was going to be published in Lancet, the well know English medical journal.

The editors had asked the writers to get the English corrected. The basic correction consisted in replacing something like 10 synonyms with the one most technically accurate term. Repetition did not feel right to the authors despite them all being highly trained university researchers and medical doctors. If I recall correctly it was something to do with heart disease.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by Tonit » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:02 pm

simonm wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:14 pm
Languages and styles are fascinating. Educated spanish speakers tend to like "literary" language and even when writing something technical, like to try and find synonyms rather than repeat a word. In one of my previous lives I was asked to correct a very short article that was going to be published in Lancet, the well know English medical journal.

The editors had asked the writers to get the English corrected. The basic correction consisted in replacing something like 10 synonyms with the one most technically accurate term. Repetition did not feel right to the authors despite them all being highly trained university researchers and medical doctors. If I recall correctly it was something to do with heart disease.
Indeed they are. They not merely carry ideas and concepts, but also represent our respective cultures and values thereof, and there is always something to explore further in the cultures and values being left after understanding the key ideas and concepts.

And what is all the more fascinating is, the music that we can find 100% of the time wherever we go, and how diverse they may be. And there is no agenda in music unlike languages, but they are there for us to simply embrace, and our own respective musics are there for them to embrace back.

We may not be able to communicate if we do not have any shared language with them, but still we can definitely embrace their musics as they are, in our own way.

And personally, when I hear a male-female French conversatio, there is always music in it, and it makes me think they must be talking about love, whether in supermarkets parks or cafes.

Maybe it's just me.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by kirolak » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:35 pm

Fascinating topic! Especially as regards the Japanese language, written in such excellent English by a native Japanese speaker!

When I lived in Thailand I was totally confused by such questions in English as, "Why we not can say anybody about dog?" And my favourite, "Sompong's moustache waged upon his upper lip". I found the latter so poetic I did not try to correct it (I was a teacher there) but eventually I understood the first question . . . the student was asking why one could only use the word "anybody" when referring to humans. :) As I am rabidly "anti-species-ist", I told the guy we could indeed use "anybody" for animals, too. So much for my grammar lessons. . .

Edit to add: I could never adequately explain the time sequence in, "By the time we have arrived in Chiang Mai, the train will have left."

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by Tonit » Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:16 pm

kirolak wrote:
Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:35 pm
Fascinating topic! Especially as regards the Japanese language, written in such excellent English by a native Japanese speaker!

When I lived in Thailand I was totally confused by such questions in English as, "Why we not can say anybody about dog?" And my favourite, "Sompong's moustache waged upon his upper lip". I found the latter so poetic I did not try to correct it (I was a teacher there) but eventually I understood the first question . . . the student was asking why one could only use the word "anybody" when referring to humans. :) As I am rabidly "anti-species-ist", I told the guy we could indeed use "anybody" for animals, too. So much for my grammar lessons. . .

Edit to add: I could never adequately explain the time sequence in, "By the time we have arrived in Chiang Mai, the train will have left."
Thank you. Aside from having seen someone working behind lately, the verb tense is yet another challenge for Japanese language, especially the perfect tense.

While we do not have perfect tense, it is partly because our English classes (in Japan) covered the perfect tense continuous first IMPO (and again I do not know how it is taught now after 30+ years).

For me also it had long been unclear before I finally read National Archives (Drafting Legal Documents) only after I left the US, when I started my little business and the Japanese Ministries turned out to be the first clients who assigned me tasks including some Japanese laws into English.

It is obvious for natives that both "1: My train had already left when I arrived (at the station)." and "2: My train already left when I have arrived." can be "3: My train left, THEN I arrived." to make the point "4: I missed my train (because I was late)", or more precisely "I could not catch my train." for example.

Apparently the vast majority of the perfect tenses simply indicate the chronogical orders of the events described, together with a present/past tense especially in the provisions under laws and treaties.

And in fact, as a translator, I evaluate all five example statements (as translated into respective Japanese sentences), in order to arrive at the most naturally flowing Japanese.

With the advancing machine translation of today, the machines seem to have absolutely no idea about how to pick out the best one.

But again it also depends on the other factors, and I would pick:

For more paraphrased movie subtitle, "5: I could not catch my train" (the translation of which would be the most natural colloquial expression (列車に乗り遅れた): And it's the shortest to accommodate with the special limitation of subtitles).

For more metaphrased novels, "1: My train had already left when I arrived." or "2: My train already left when I have arrived" (The translated Japanese would be exactly the same, i.e. 私が着いた時には、既に列車は出発してしまっていた。). However, I would rather say "6: It was after the train had already left when I arrived." (私が着いたのは、既に列車が出発した後だった。) which would be the best for novel texts.

When I talk in English as a second language, It may sound kiddy but I would rather use "3: My train left, THEN I arrived." especially when the chronological orders are more complex (like 3 or more sequential events in the description i.e. "My train left, then I arrived, and then I missed another one while having a lunch, and so have had to wait for yet another one." or else), simply because this best prevents misunderstandings.

It is just one aspect related to tense, and as you see, there are many other combinations of tenses that we have to properly convert.

I suppose it is not only Japanese but also many other languages that has some "tense" issues of this sort.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by kirolak » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:37 pm

.Again, that was utterly fascinating. . . a look into another Mind. . . I wonder whether Japanese uses genders for nouns (Thai has no such genders, nor articles) whereas many European languages do . Therr is surely a very different world view when one nation uses the feminine article for the sun (Die Sonne in German) but Spanish, also Portuguese & Italian use a masculine article article (el sol, o sol etc.) I know there have been dissertations on this topic.

I wonder how such differences inform one's world view.

Do you find your personality changes depending on which language you are speaking? I find myself louder & more assertive in Spanish, but rather defensive in German. I can't compare Thai as I have lost so much of it over the years, although I was once able to translate novels by Surachai Jantimatorn into English. I found the greatest difficulty with classifiers (I think it was "kan" for umbrellas, carts & long objects, & "luk" for babies, children, fruits & balls. . )

Nowadays, I agree that the simplest sentences are the clearest; I suspect they encourage one to think logically, too.

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Re: Languages question - Asian languages

Post by Tonit » Thu Sep 05, 2019 9:02 pm

kirolak wrote:
Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:37 pm
I wonder whether Japanese uses genders for nouns (Thai has no such genders, nor articles) whereas many European languages do .
No we don't. So "Highway Star" in Japanese for example doent make sense as much as in English. We agree that some cars and guitars also give us males different pleasures. Only that they are not feminine in Japanese.
I wonder how such differences inform one's world view.
I as a native Japanese speaker know only English well enough, so that there are more people and references out there to better answer your question.

However I can tell out of my experiences that the languages have two aspects: one is obviously our means to convey a concept of some sort, or communication tools, and the other one is the most abstract forms of our cultural backgrounds.

We can take advantage of the tool aspect of them, while being intrigued into what's behind the abstract cultural background as represented by them. I suppose our beings are born curious, and then the curiousity in us will eventually die out, or will be overwhelmed by different kinds of businesses occupying us, making us tired. I somehow remain extra-curious today.

Furthermore, while the languages are the most abstract forms of the respective cultures, obviously a language is a part of a culture encompassing all the other parts including religion, culinary, and most notably, music and other forms of arts.

So if someone says "You do not understand what we say, because of your attributions foreign to us", that is quite fairly objectionable if culture is the idea exclusive of the "tool" whereby we could "understand", while the members here all know a piece of music for example is not something we understand but feel, or whether like or dislike, and how.

To back this up, the matter of the fact is, we do not even understand our own cultural background, because it is simply there. We could merely set the coordinates of it when we encounter some different cultures, or we can only understand the differences, but not the cultures themselves, including our own.

Or, I could say I like Wayne Shorter or Bach or Prokofiev not because I grew up with that, or not as a result of any epic encounter or otherwise, but because I just simply like those musics over the others after all.

IMPO the cultures are there for us to respectfully embrace.

However, I have recently found a rare instance to encounter a disrespectful and absured culture, wherein everyone can freely cut in an ongoing conversation, wherein Catholicism has come into power that opposes refugee immigrants while quite a few of them are in fact immigrants elsewhere today, and once were refugees accepted by many other countries of different cultures, or wherein they are said to be "smartest only after the issues". However, that is a lone sample out of my 16 years experience outside of my own.
Do you find your personality changes depending on which language you are speaking? I find myself louder & more assertive in Spanish, but rather defensive in German.
Not so much lately. BTW what is your native tongue/nationality?
Nowadays, I agree that the simplest sentences are the clearest; I suspect they encourage one to think logically, too.
We all have a desire to be understood 100%. But it has long been proving to be a fantasy as far as I am concerned. Or, it is not only the languages that sends out the messages about who we are. In a sense we both are playing our musics for the sake of it, hopefully.

Thank you again, I'll be back on my job.

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