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Old 04-03-2006, 10:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Je remercie vivement tous ceux qui ont repondu a mon message (damn! I've forgotten how to put the accents on! bloody Mac...)
Anyway, it's good to see different opinions about the nature of linguistic change. I suppose my main question is the extent to which innovations which we consider detrimental to a language should be resisted. This in turn comes down to the problem of establishing criteria against which to judge particular innovations. It is not enough, really, to say that a particular syntactical structure is ungrammatical - much of modern English grammar is quite "wrong" by the standards of Middle English. Nor, I think, can we condemn something as "illogical" because a structure that is meaningful creates its own logic.
Here's an example of what I mean:
In modern spoken English the past conditional is usually pronounced "would've", and traditional grammar equates this with the written "would have". But since "would've" is indistinguishable in pronunciation from "would of", the latter is now frequently found in the writing of young people. Moreover, in sentences like "I would have, but I didn't get round to it", where the word "have" is not contracted but pronounced fully, "of" - with a clearly articulated vowel sound - is frequently heard. Although it makes me cringe when I hear it, I can think of no solid, objective grounds to condemn it. "Proper" English grammar is full of logical anomalies that made my ancestors cringe 500 years ago!
Any thoughts?
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Old 04-03-2006, 10:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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well what you are describing is pretty similar to the actual french.. despite it might be more often pointed in france since there is always someone to tell you modern french is loosing its charms
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Old 04-03-2006, 12:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Languages are precious and should be protected not from foreign influence but from the misusage of their own speakers.Borrowing words from others is a natural process of enrichment, lexical and conceptual as well. But bad pronunciation, bad grammar and bad syntax are reprehensible processes of impoverishment to be fought against harshly.
People whose a given language is not their mother tongue are much more touchy about its respect.They are the knights of such language while in its own country the treasure of a nation is wrecked by villains.
So Mikel, don't hopelessly cringe any longer,draw and shoot!
Speaking of poor language, Tom Wolfe's latest book "I am Charlotte Simmons" has a few delicious pieces of "ghetto speech". Hilarious and frightening!
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Old 04-04-2006, 02:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Language is alive, not dead. It evolves with time. Language dies, if people stop using it, like latin. There is a big change in most languages every century, and a small change every decade. Spoken language plays an important part in linguistic change, it does affect the way we write, and even empowers it. Lexical change is most commonly noticed, this is why dictionnaries have to be revised every year. Grammatical and stylistic changes are noticeable if you compare the writings of each century, for example, in English and Chinese. The change of Chinese is even more drastic since 1900. First, there's the conversational language campaign advocated by early 20 century writers, who took the lead of writing in spoken language, a high disputed issue in all languages in all ages. Second, there's the introduction of simplifed Chinese in 1949. In fact, that change of Chinese characters is not precedent in history. Chinese characters have been evolving with time. Now, in the 21 century, the so called spoken language of the early 20th century is again a written style, since our spoken language has changed drastically.

We should keep an open mind to language, it changes, there's no way to stopping it. We can try our best to promote good styles and grammar, but the opinion of "good" is again controversial. The spoken language is always the driving force to linguistic change.

Being a Cantonese speaker, I know the difficulty of writing formal Chinese as opposed to Cantonese. Students in Hong Kong are often criticised for their Cantonese like writing. With the introduction of Mandarin in recent years, hopefully, their written Chinese will improve. Written Cantonese is always under attack, never considered as formal. The mistakes in written Chinese characters are very common. You can hardly find someone who has no mistakes in writing Chinese, mostly lexically, then grammatical, even with school teachers and school's notices.

But then, some wrongly written words could become official words, because of their common everyday use and the authority that comes with them. "Mummy" is a good example.

Socio-linguists study the change and relations of language with society. Ours is an everchanging world, so is language. It's always a matter of majority of minority in terms of language issues, but authority does make changes official, and does take the lead in language change.

As for phonological change, both the phonological differences in terms of geography and the change with time have to be considered. It's too big a question to ponder upon.

Lastly, remember the origin of English, French and Italian. They are all branches of the Latin family, and English is under much influence of French and German (because of history). There is no such thing as a "PURE LANGUAGE", in my opinion.

Last edited by chinoise; 04-04-2006 at 02:14 AM.
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:45 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I gather we all agree that the very nature of languages is evolution.As I wrote earlier sanskrit died from perfection.Conversely a language can be revived as Hebrew was by Ben Yehuda in the 1860s.
Now if borrowing from foreign languages, integrating jargons and slangs,following fashions, inventing new words are sound evolution, shrinking lexicon, mispronouncing, faulty declensions,erroneous conjugations, barbarisms, lead to decline.
Too often we are told that simplification (in fact impoverishment) will help the less bright better learn and master their language. That is a typical twentieth century second half radical posture which can only result in the destruction of
millenniums of evolution.
I remember, Chinoise, that discussing chinese writing and wether it should be
romanized (with a view to make it much simpler) we all agreed that this would make chinese not chinese any longer.
About English, it's not part of the Latin group but of the German group, and its origin is to be found in the idioms spoken by the Frisons, Angles and Saxons. A number of words were borrowed from Latin as of the first century B.C., but the decisive influence has come through French after the battle of Hastings won by Guillaume (William) le Conquérant (the Conqueror) in 1066. In fact one can almost always choose between a Saxon word and a French word to express the same thing, even if as Walter Scott writes in "Ivanhoe", Norman-French and Saxon give the same animal a different status, Saxon relating to life, Norman-French to food :
ox/beef, swine/pork, calf/veal !!!!!
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Old 04-04-2006, 04:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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>>Norman-French and Saxon give the same animal a different status, Saxon relating to life, Norman-French to food :
ox/beef, swine/pork, calf/veal !!!!!

Indeed, the French canteen tastes much better!

The world is deteriorating, no doubt about that.
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Old 04-04-2006, 07:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Chinoise, honey,
Gai , xiaoji, roùji, jirou and probably a score of other words stand for chicken in chinese( putunghoa).
Do not overvalue french recipes vs chinese meals, cause in terms of sauce you win and by far.
And ,yes the world is certainly deteriorating, so , Chinoise shall we dance
before Doomsday?
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