Friday, 22 February 2013

a Dutch and Afrikaans vowel

Thirty or so years ago I was staying for a few days with a friend who lived in Antwerp, when I was struck down by illness. I was admitted into a local hospital and operated on for appendicitis.

I have no complaints about the treatment I received, which was prompt, successful, and of course free of charge. But linguistically it was an interesting experience. The surgeon who operated on me spoke English with me. With the hospital chaplain I had to talk in French. But the nurses only spoke Flemish. Flemish is of course the same language as Dutch. My Dutch, though not nonexistent, is not very good. I remember being struck by the way the nurses pronounced the word for ‘soap’, zeep. I knew that this was basically zeːp, though in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam pronunciation to which I was accustomed the vowel tended to be realized as a closing diphthong, zeɪp. But in Antwerp the diphthongization was in the other direction, a Swedish-like zeəp. (See the Wikipedia account of Dutch phonetics.)

Afrikaans is like Flemish in this regard (though in that language the word for ‘soap’ is spelt seep). According to Wikipedia, in Afrikaans

/oə øə eə/ are also transcribed as long monophthongs /oː øː eː/, though it's not accurate to do so. /oə/ and /eə/ are also commonly realized as [uə] and [iə] respectively, and such pronunciation is already considered standard. In Western Cape /oə eə/ can also be pronounced [uː] and [iː] respectively.

I was thinking about this in connection with the Pistorius case currently in the news. The victim of the shooting was called Reena Reeva Steenkamp. Her surname is obviously Afrikaans (steen = ‘stone’), though I have no idea whether her first language was Afrikaans or English; apparently the family comes from the Western Cape. But I did notice one or two BBC newsreaders pronouncing her name as ˈstɪənkæmp rather than the spelling pronunciation ˈstiːn-. I think that the Afrikaans vowel in question is quite often mapped onto English NEAR ― perhaps someone can elaborate on this. The writer J.M. Coetzee, according to Wikipedia, is kʊtˈsiːə or kʊtˈsiː, though I’m sure I have also heard kʊtˈsɪə.

82 comments:

  1. From my somewhat limited experience, this is indeed the case in Afrikaans. But, as can be seen from the Wikipedia article (and from the equivalent article on German Wikipedia), there's some variability in how these vowels are transcribed. An old paper (!) pronunciation dictionary I own (Le Roux, T.H. and P. de Villiers Pienaar. 1975. Uitspraakwoordeboek van Afrikaans. Pretoria: Van Schaik) uses the long monophthong transcription and barely mentions the possibility of diphthongisation. Newer sources, including some electronic pronunciation dictionaries, usually go with /iə/, /uə/. /ø/ is less likely to be shown as diphthongal. This is of course due to the fact that there isn't a market for these kinds of publications, so there hasn't been too much standardisation. And, of course, the spelling-to-sound correspondence is as good as -- or better than -- in Dutch.

    J Weckwerth

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  2. Oh, and regarding the mapping onto English vowels -- a native speaker of SA English would have to tell us. But, to my ear, the qualities of the nuclei are more peripheral than in NEAR and CURE.

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  4. My copy of Learn to speak Afrikaans by the successful thousand word method gives this advice...

    E (long) is almost like ee in English beer and ea in English near.

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    1. almost like ee in English beer and ea in English near

      ...bearing in mind that English means 'South African English'. According to John's Accents of English, the South African value of the NEAR sound is ɪə.

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  5. This YouTube clip starts with two South African speakers naming JM Coetzee. The first speaker (South African 'Indian', I think) seems to be saying i:. The woman (South Africa Anglo, surely) definitely uses a diphthong. I wouldn't be confident identifying it as ɪ or . I'm pretty sure that her here is hɪə with 'rising' rather than 'falling' articulation.

    As for Reena Steenkamp, the clips from sabcdigitalnews tend to just say ri:na. I've heard two speakers say the surname with a diphthong. The White speaker sounds something like -iə- to me. The Black speaker sound more like -eə-.

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    1. Here is definitely /hjəː/ or even /çəː/ in South African English, at least the way my untrained ears hear it -- as you mention 'rising' rather than 'falling' articulation. I'm just surprised that this is not mentioned very often in literature. The same goes for 'near', but for some reason not for 'seer'.

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  6. CORRECTION

    I wouldn't be confident identifying it as ɪ or iə.

    What I meant was:

    I wouldn't be confident identifying it as ɪə or .

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  7. ReeVa Steenkamp and not ReeNa Steenkamp, is her name. I've always pronounced her name /ˈreəfɐ steənkɐmp/; am I doing it wrong?

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  8. Samopriya Basu

    ReeVa and not ReeNa Steenkamp, is her name.

    Yes, sorry! I was copying from a YouTube screen with a typo.

    Channel Four News has just put out a piece from a South African journalist who pronounced the surname the way you do. But I thought she said ri:və, which is what they say on all the clips.

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  9. A few comments;

    Flemish is not 'of course' the same language as Dutch; in fact, native speakers of Flemish can be virtually unintelligible to Netherlands Dutch speakers (and I'm sure it's sometimes mutual!). The official language is indeed Dutch, although probably because no standardized version of Flemish exists.

    In the local Amsterdam variant, which differs distinctly from Rotterdam variant, zeɪp is more likely to be pronounced as seɪp as all initial /z/ sounds are devoiced into /s/.

    In its original Dutch variant, "Steenkamp" would be pronounced as /Steɪnkɑmp/ or /Steːnkɑmp/. "Steen" is indeed "Stone", and "kamp" comes from Latin 'Campus', or field - Stoneyfield if translated literally to English.

    -Robin

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    1.  The term Flemish is indeed a difficult one.

       The ISO 639-3 code vls for Vlaams (synonyms given are Flamand, Flemish, Vlaemsch) is listed as a language that is separate from Dutch [nld]. Yet as to its linguistic ‘development’ it is stated that ‘Vlaams is standardized as a variant of Dutch’ and as to its dialects that they are ‘[c]onsidered a variant of Dutch [nld].’

       The article Vlaams of the Dutch Wikipedia tells us that Het wordt op ten minste vijf manieren gebruikt. ‘It is used in at least five ways.’ whereas the English Wikipedia article for Flemish first tells us that it ‘is the Dutch language as spoken in Flanders’ but later modifies this by saying that West Flemish and Limburgish ‘are sometimes considered separate languages.’

       My personal view is that it is best to abandon the use of Flemish as a linguistic term altogether, as has officially been done in Belgium, unless with further qualification. The West Flemish Wikipedia is concise about the official status of the language: Het West-Vlams is nie erkend als officiële toale in België, omda België de toalwetgevienge nie nog ingewikkelder wilde moakn. Het West-Vlams is wel een erkende toale in Vrankryk.. ‘West Flemish is not recognized as an official language in Belgium, because Belgium didn’t want to make linguistic legislation yet more complicated. But West Flemish is a recognized language in France.’ And I might add: The list of Belgians who lost their lives in the struggle for linguistic rights is already long enough.

      A language is a dialect with an army and navy.
      (Max Weinreich)

       Charlie Ruland

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    2. The code 'vls' refers to the local variety of Low Franconian spoken in Flanders, and not to the dialect of Standard Dutch also spoken there. The Dachsprache of 'vls' is 'nl'.

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    3.  John Cowan:
      The code 'vls' refers to the local variety of Low Franconian spoken in Flanders
       ... and so does the term Flemish (according to the authors of the ISO 639-3 international standard).

       Robin Kok:
      Flemish is not 'of course' the same language as Dutch
       This proves your point, doesn’t it?

       Charlie Ruland

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    4. Ad Charlie Ruland

       A language is a dialect with an army and navy.
      (Max Weinreich)

      doesn't work for land-locked languages (e.g. Letzebuergisch/Luxemburghish), I'd suggest a (national) postal system instead, the advantage is that (via stamps) most everybody can learn about the existence and some peculiarities of the language, the state, and the nation, which was one major reason I collected stamps as a kid.

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    5. All those criteria are so old-worldly! I suggest we should call something a language if it has its own Wikipedia:

      http://lb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lëtzebuergesch

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    6. For most purposes a politico-cultural definition of language ( army-and-navy owner for example, or cultural medium) reveals more than it conceals. However, John's discussion of a vowel in a phonemic inventory is one of those rare cases where the rival mutual-intelligibility definition is better suited.

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    7.  David Crosbie:
      John's discussion of a vowel in a phonemic inventory is one of those rare cases where the rival mutual-intelligibility definition is better suited.

       Maybe. On thing is clear though: There is no universally accepted criterion for distinguishing a language from a dialect. And according to Ethnologue [s]cholars are recognizing that languages are not always easily nor best treated as discrete, identifiable, and countable units with clearly defined boundaries between them (Makoni and Pennycook 2006).

       So what does the criterion of mutual intelligibility lead to in a dialect continuum? Not to discrete languages I’m afraid. What’s more intelligibility is often one-sided rather than mutual.

       Charlie Ruland

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    8. As a matter of fact, Luxemburgian is one of those rather rare cases (in Europe) where it's really hard to say whether it be a language or a dialect. On one hand, it's very like Mosel-Franconian dialects (Trier and environs) on th'other---it's full of Gallicisms and other things unmet-with in (well-behaved) German dialects. Another such case is Sardinian, methinks. Kashubian no, it's (should say I) clearly a Polish dialect, as Lower Sorbian is equally clearly not. In most (European) cases we are intuitively convinced that a 'speech-form' is a separate language in its own right or a dialect, be it ne'er so strange (so that the existence of Armed Forces is not so decisive after all) Is that quite wrong? What do you think, gentlemen?

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    9. It is quite wrong because "we are intuitively convinced" means in fact "I am intuitively convinced". It's a strictly subjective judgement, nothing more. As regards Kashubian, you are all the more wrong because Kashubian fully satisfies my highly objective [;-)] wikiological criterion of separate language status.

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    10.  Piotr Gasiorowski:
      ... my highly objective [;-)] wikiological criterion...

       It’s really saddening that Koinḗ Greek, which once was the lingua franca of western Eurasia and also the language of the New Testament, has ceased to be one. Never again shall I set out to learn another language, for fear that it is nothing but a mirage.

       Charlie Ruland

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    11.  Piotr Gasiorowski:
      (link to http://csb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Przédnô starna)

       A fun page. On the list Wikipedijô w jińszëch mòwach ‘Wikipedia in other languages’ I was unable to find ‘lesser’ languages such as Arabic, Portuguese or Chinese. What I did find though were links to the Wikipedias in Allemanisch (alemańsczi), Brezhoneg (bretońsczi), Lëtzebuergesch (luksembùrsczi) and Plattdüütsch (dólnomiemiecczi). This again proves the usefulness of your ‘highly objective [;-)] wikiological criterion.’

       Charlie Ruland

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    12. homoid/Charlie

       So what does the criterion of mutual intelligibility lead to in a dialect continuum?

      It leads nowhere, as I'd be the first to admit. I'm completely against the criterion in maybe 99% of cases. This just happens to be the 1%.

      Actually, we might be better applying a different criterion again, namely democracy. If the majority of Belgian Nethelandish-speakers believe that they speak a different language from Dutch Netherlandish-speakers, then they are right. (Unfortunately, any minority that thought otherwise would also be right.)

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    13. @homoid: You should have clicked on the last link, Lësta wszëtczich jãzëkòwëch wersëjów Wikipediji. I'd like to live to see the day when we have e.g. a Pirahã Wikipedia.

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    14.  Piotr Gasiorowski:
      You should have clicked on the last link, Lësta wszëtczich jãzëkòwëch wersëjów Wikipediji. I'd like to live to see the day when we have e.g. a Pirahã Wikipedia.

       Believe it or not, I was clever enough to notice that link too, but it’s a different list.

       As to Pirahã: I was thinking about that language only this morning when I read Kilian’s latest comment on animal communication in which he talks about true language (structured, layered, recursive), because recursiveness as a language universal is exactly what is at stake by Daniel Everett’s findings on the Pirahã language. (I’ve only read his books Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes and Language: The Cultural Tool.)

       Charlie Ruland

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    15.  David Crosbie:
      Actually, we might be better applying a different criterion again, namely democracy.

       The problem is that people see such elections as a means of voting for or against their attachment to some political entity, e.g. in the case of Belgium to justify dreams of ‘Great Netherlands’ (Groot-Nederland). And if what was the Serbo-Croatian language not too long ago now is four languages (Serbian, Croatioan, Bosnian and Montenegrin) it is to justify political independence. I am sure the Irish, before their independence from the UK, had they been asked to decide whether the language the majority of them spoke was English, would have voted NO, only to have one more reason to say good-bye to the Crown.

       Charlie Ruland

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    16. Ad Piotr

      I was dumb enough to fail to find your criterion under the link you indicated. Why won't you set it forth here?

      Re intuitions. I once gave my students samples of diverse West-Slavic dialects asking them to tell me whether they felt those were Polish or non-Polish dialects (I did not tell them of course where the dialects were from). The result: all Kashubian dialects were felt as Polish, all (other) Polish dialects were felt as Polish, all (other) non-Polish dialects were felt as non-Polish.

      Written Kashubian is oftentimes an artificial construct devised by hobbyists who want it appear as non-Polish as possible, but spoken by no 'regular' Kashubian.

      But my point was different: I tried to say: wondrously few are cases where we really aren't sure whether a speech-form be a dialect or an _Abstandsprache_, at least in Europe. Most of the time we know that say Breton is not a French or a Welsh dialect, and "Hesisch" is a German dialect (tho' it diverge from Standard Germany much more than Kashubian from Polish). Amongst such few cases are perhaps Lallans, Sardinian, Luxemburgian, ... what else? Yiddish perhaps? I think no longer: too strange a phonetic system, too many non-German words. I mean all of this flies in the face of 'the borderline between dialect and language is notoriously blurred'.

      Full name --- see Profile

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    17. homoid/Charlie

      And if what was the Serbo-Croatian language not too long ago now is four languages (Serbian, Croatioan, Bosnian and Montenegrin) it is to justify political independence.

      Well, yes. That's exactly what I had in mind. Insofar as those four populations accept the labels, then they're valid.

      Your Great Netherlanders don't sound very attractive. According to one version of history, it's people like that who caused the outbreak of the First World War. Nevertheless, If they were ever to win consensual power, I would accept the claim that Flemish and Dutch had become one.

      Of course, I'm not suggesting that the language/dialect question should be put to the vote anywhere. By democracy I just mean that all speakers should have a say in validating this one definition of language. Other definitions may be decided by specialists.

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    18. Gentlemen,

      I don't really understand what you are saying here, but let me just say that I don't believe any real respectful cause is served by inventing a new name for a language already existing. What's in a name? A rose ... (etc.). Anyone imagining perhaps that Spanish and Castillian be two different languages?

      In the context of the famous Sapir-Whorf hypothesis I found the Wikipedia entry on Pirah~a extremely confusing. (After having read it, I am no longer able to count up to one, let alone to ten.)

      Full true name see Profile (Google)

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    19.  David Crosbie:
      ... Great Netherlanders ... If they were ever to win consensual power, I would accept the claim that Flemish and Dutch had become one.

       ... and even Afrikaans. According to at least some adherents of Grootneerlandisme the country to be formed is not restricted to the Netherlands, Belgian Flanders, French Flanders (‘Southern Flanders’ in their jargon) and Luxemburg. Suriname, South Africa and Indonesia (‘East India’) would also belong to it, as well as the officially independent West Indian islands that are still under the Dutch crown.

       It is the ugly colonialist’s dream, if I may say so.

       Charlie Ruland

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    20. except that in Indonesia no-one speaks Dutch anymore (save the oldest). Luxemburg is not batavophone by any stretch of imagination. There were Dutch-speakers (Mennonites) in Gdańsk and to the east of it, they had to leave after Prussia annexed Gdańsk 1793 (the 2nd partition of Poland). Dus Gdańsk --- een deel van den Groot-Nederlanden?

      Full name --- see Profile

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    21.  Full true name see Profile (Google) wrote:
      Anyone imagining perhaps that Spanish and Castillian be two different languages?

       Oh yes. If I don’t mess up things there were international spelling reforms some 20 years ago, one for Portuguese and one for Spanish. The Portuguese got European money for it while the Spaniards didn’t because the responsible Panhispanic organisation had inadvertently made a request for money for a language called Spanish which was not a recognized language of Europe. Se non è vero è ben trovato. Yet true it is.

       Charlie Ruland

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    22.  Wojciech:
      Luxemburg is not batavophone by any stretch of imagination.

       Well, the Dutch Wikipedia comments on this: Er bestaat een begripsverwarring met de term Heel-Nederland, waarbij de hereniging van België, Frans-Vlaanderen (in het jargon Zuid-Vlaanderen genoemd), Nederland en Luxemburg beoogd wordt, een meertalige staatkundige grootheid.

       Charlie Ruland

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    23. Entertaining, that about non-existent
      Spanish...

      Re your Dutch quotation: what is that Heel-Nederland 'verwarrt' (confounded) with? Groot-Nederland? Al-Nederland? I was not aware of this Pan-Batavic movement. Leve de Koningin!

      That Wikipedia entry on 'dialect continuum' is wrong on 'North Slavic', there is no continuum there, perhaps between Slovak and Czech. Poles understand no other Slavs either, except when they had studied their languages, and are poorly understood by other Slavs. Least of all do their understand Lower-Sorbians, whose tongue, linguistically the closest relative of theirs, they fail to make heads or tail of.

      Many greetings to everybody -- for full name see Profile (Google)

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    24. 'Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrine now four distinct languages'

      they are not, just one language under four different names, don't let us be duped by terminological bigotry. Germans (and to some extent the French too) labour under the misconception that American (English) be a different language (aus dem Amerikanischen uebersetzt von Guenther Strolch)... this is truly pathetic, let's stop this nonsense, to speak with Lipman.

      True full name --- see Profile (Google)

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    25. homoid/Charlie

      It is the ugly colonialist’s dream, if I may say so.

      And our nightmare. It ain't going to happen, so any discussion is hypothetical. But in that alternative universe where the Great Netherlanders did hoodwink all those people into merging their identities, we'd surely have to recognise the one language.

      Look at it the other way. It would be the beautiful liberationist's dream to revive Afrikaans or Surinamese in the name of the struggle.

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    26.  Wojciech:
      what is that Heel-Nederland 'verwarrt'¹ (confounded) with?
       It’s the confusion between Groot-Nederland, defined by Wikipedia as een unitaire, federale of confederale Nederlandstalige staat ‘a unitary, federal or confederal Dutch speaking country’ and Heel-Nederland which is (usually) restricted to European possessions², regardless of language. In any case not everybody seems to make a clear-cut distinction between these two terms.

       Wojciech:
      aus dem Amerikanischen uebersetzt von ...
       That’s right, this phrase which clearly refers to the American language is quite frequently met with, although everybody knows that there is no American language separate from English. It would be more to the point to speak of translations nach der amerikanischen Ausgabe ‘following the American edition.’

       Wojciech:
      ... uebersetzt von Guenther Strolch
       The word Strolch ‘vagabond’ is actually one of my favourite German cellar door words.

       Charlie Ruland

      ____
       ¹The spelling verwarrt is only ⅓ Dutch (verward) but ⅔ German (verwirrt).
       ²Non Dutch speaking Heel-Nederland territories that I haven’t mentioned yet include East Frisia, Rhineland (now German), Hainaut (Belgian), Artois and Picardie (French) — according to Wikipedia at least.

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    27. Wojciech

      'Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrine now four distinct languages'

      they are not, just one language under four different names, don't let us be duped by terminological bigotry.


      Forces far more practical than terminology or bigotry have been at work for some time. Look at the titles of books recently published or republished for language-learners. Lots of Serbian, lots of Croatian, an increasing number of Bosnian. Old books with Serbo-Croat in the title are being republished with Serbia and Croatian or Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian.

      The notional entity Serbo-Croat is now of interest to nobody other than linguists. It's a re-run of Hindi-Urdu — split states and split alphabets. And the future outlook is increasing split vocabularies.

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    28.  David Crosbie:
      It's a re-run of Hindi-Urdu — split states and split alphabets.

       The split of Hindustani is exactly what I habitually compare the split of Serbo-Croatian with. The one thing that I had not expected, though, is that unlike the Pakistanis the equally Muslim Bosnians never reintroduced the Arabic abjad (or alphabet, if you use this term for any phoneme-based writing system, even one which lacks base letters of ἄλφα=álpha, or vowel, type). This isn’t really that surprising, as Turkish, which used to be the model after which the Bosnians once had adopted Arabic writing, abandoned the script as long ago as 1928. Yet it might have been exploited as a means to emphasise the uniqueness of the language/nation.

       Charlie Ruland

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    29. Serbia and Croatia are far closer to one another than Pakistan and India, in all possible respects, both literal and figurative, so I really don't really think they will develop away from one another as much as did hindi and urdu. Be realist, my 'tender churls', to speak with Bill S., and don't romanticise the 'wild' Balkan peoples---they are Europeans just like us.

      So 'Serbian', 'Croatian' etc. --- like German in D, A and Ch, yes, or like English in UK and IRE, yes perhaps, but no more. Or for that matter as Netherlandish in the United Provinces and The Pralinees Kingdom, perchance. But no more.

      Besides, dear Charlie, some Germans do believe 'Amerikanisch' to be a separate language, as I know from personal contacts.

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    30. India and Pakistan are neighbours. Their most recent war was long before the latest war between the Serbs and the Croats.

      Getting on for fifty years ago, I was teaching immigrant children, mostly in Bradford, so I went to evening classes in Urdu. The textbook used was Hindustani in Three Months. In more recent years, the BBC did an awareness course. One course and one book for the coherent entity. They called it Hindi-Urdu Bol Chal. Just like those courses called Serbian and Croatian.

      The Irish State has shown no political will to develop an irish version of English with language status. This is partly because they have a perfectly adequate focus of national identity in the Irish language, and partly because Irish writing is of such a stature in English culture. Unlike Scotland, it never possessed simultaneously an army, a navy and an official tongue similar to but distinct from English.

      If I understand correctly, the German-speakign countries collaborate through their Ministries of Education on the fine tuning of a single standard.

      If Croatian and Serbian remain as close as they were under Yugoslavia, then it will be a remarkable political failure. Of course, the scope for differentiation is less than it was in independent India and Pakistan. I remember a background news report from India under Lala Bahdur Shastri, who was a passionate advocate of Sanskritising Hindi. At his behest, Indian radio was broadcasting in a language so obscure that Indians were tuning to Urdu broadcasts from Pakistan for language that was more intelligible.

      The American Language is the title of more than one book. It's a perfectly unambiguous and rational expression — provided that you accept that language is being used in a particular and unusual sense.

      Even if Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are formally identical (which they aren't), they're still four languages. (Well, three, at least.)

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    31. I was teaching immigrant children, mostly in Bradford,

      That should be

      I was teaching immigrant children, mostly from the Subcontinent, in Bradford

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    32.  Wojciech:
      they are Europeans just like us

       OMG Wojciech! They’re all humans just like us, no matter where they happen to be born. What’s so special about Europeans and their behaviour?

       Charlie Ruland

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    33. Ad David:

      'Even if Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are formally identical (which they aren't), they're still four languages. (Well, three, at least.)'

      You must be kiddin'. Just compare article 1 of the Univ. Decl. of Human Rights in the 5 'languages':

      Croatian:
      Sva ljudska bića rađaju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i sviješću i treba da jedno prema drugome postupaju u duhu bratstva.

      Bosnian:
      Sva ljudska bića rađaju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i sviješću i treba da jedno prema drugome postupaju u duhu bratstva.

      Serbian:
      Sva ljudska bića radjaju se slobodna i jednaka u dostojanstvu i pravima. Ona su obdarena razumom i svešću i treba jedni prema drugima da postupaju u duhu bratstva.

      (differs from the above in that it has a simple vowel rather than a dipththong in ' svešću' (conscience), uses plural for singular in 'towards one another' and a slightly different word order).

      But:

      Slovene
      Vsi ljudje se rodilo svobodni in imajo enako dostojanstvo in enake pravice. Obdarjeni so z razumom in vestjo in bi morali ravnati grug z grugim kakor bratje.

      Macedonian:
      Site čovečki suštestva se radjaat slobodni i ednaki poo dostoinstwo i prava. Tie se obladeni so razum i sovest i treba da se odnesuvaat eden kon drug vo duhot na opšto čovečkata prinadnost.

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    34. Wojciech

      It wouldn't matter if the three versions were identical in every particular. The Croats and Bosniacs just don't feel they own the old language of Yugoslavia.

      (In any case, there's no way that the non-Serbs will write their new languages in Cyrillic.)

      Ireland, the US and many other countries all know that they own English just and much as the people of England do. OK, some citizens have a minority tongue as their first language, but that makes it even more important to them that their second language, English, should be an international standard medium of communication.

      i don't know how many Monenegrins feel ownership of Serbian. On that alone will depend whether Montenegrian emerges as clearly a language.

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    35. David

      my point is that while Serbo-Croatian goes on existing, it is---for nationalist reasons---called something else in Serbia, Croatia, etc. That alone does not make it 3 or 4 different languages. Americans speak American English,while Flemmings do not speak 'Belgian Dutch' but 'Flemish' (at least until recently). There are or were people who believed that Dutch and Flemish are two different languages, and there are people (as I know empirically) that _Amerikanisch_ be different language than _Englisch_. The practice of calling 1 thing 2 (or 3, 4, ... n... ) different names is unobjectionable; the belief that the thing estranges thereby itself from itself and turns into as many things as there names for it is superstition. This does not preclude than, like in 200 years perhaps or so, the SC will have developed in different directions in all those countries and there WILL be 4 different tongues (as said Ernst Bloch, a German marxist: there is no god, but there will be one....). Rather unlikely, methinks, given that all the 4 or however many countries will soon be part of the Belgian Empire and old animosities will soon (hopefully) be forgotten.

      Have a look at the above samples. SCB and SLovene: 99 p.c. of the words have the same stems, yet in almost all of them there is some subtle difference between SCB and SLO: sv- vs. vs- for 'all' etc., the suffixes are mostly different, so are often endings (-u vs. -o for Instr. sg. fem., 'conscience'). I disregard word order differences (not important in Slavic anyway) or stylistic differences. Something like that is too the case if you compare Czech with Slovak. That is why Czech and Slovak _are_ different languages, and so are SCB and Slovene.

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    36. Wojciech

      my point is that while Serbo-Croatian goes on existing, it is---for nationalist reasons---called something else in Serbia, Croatia, etc. That alone does not make it 3 or 4 different languages.

      Ah, but it does. Nothing else whatsoever is needed.

      Serbo-Croatian goes on existing in the way that Hittite goes on existing. Well, rather more people can read Serbo-Croat than can read Hittite. A great many people remember speaking it, and there's a considerable body of spoken Serbo-Coat on film and audio recording. But it's essentially a dead language — except for purposes of linguistic study.

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    37. David, you appear to believe in magic. One day English gets renamed, let's suppose, 'South Brittanic' for England, 'North Brittanic' for Scotland, 'American' for the US and so on --- will English go out of existence? Will so many new languages start existing and being spoken? What's in a name? A rose under a different name---nay, under so many new different names--would still be a rose, would it not? Let Americans not just say but even write eg 'the cennrr of the ciddy' while you Brits go on with 'the centre of the city' --- it will continue being the same thing and the same language, no? Add to this 'aluminum' vs. 'aluminium', 'stroller' vs. 'pram', 'hood' vs. 'bonnet' etc. etc. --- still, English under these different names would 'smell just as sweet'. Does that not stand to reason?

      The Croats insists on their diphthongs, 'mlijeko', that Serbs on their non-diphthongs, 'mleko'... that of course is very true...

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    38. Wojciech

      David, you appear to believe in magic. One day English gets renamed, let's suppose, 'South Brittanic' for England, 'North Brittanic' for Scotland, 'American' for the US and so on --- will English go out of existence? Will so many new languages start existing and being spoken?

      The impossible magic would be for English to 'get renamed'. It would take the political activity of thousands and the acquiescence of billions. In that impossible event, the new languages would, of course, exist. But it won't happen, so they won't.

      In that impossible event, any linguist who objects will be ignored. Linguists who agree will be cited as authorities.

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    39. David

      'In that impossible event, the new languages would, of course, exist.'

      but would they be really new, those 'new' languages?

      As a linguist, I would indeed treat the emergence of such 'new' languages as a chance to boost my productivity: I would publish the same thing, 'A Descriptive Grammar of ...' twice, thrice, fource over, just exchanging the name of the language, and perhaps a couple of minor details inside, such as got(ten) and '... that he (should) not smoke'.

      Re German: you were wrong previously, the ministries work on a common SPELLING, not language, standard. In Swiss High German eg 'ohne' (without) reigns the dative, not the accusative as in German High German, and it would be preposterous to foist the 'bundesdeutsch' case on the German Swiss, no such attempts are made afaik.

      We acquiescence: well, we acquiesce in various things, such as that there is no British Empire to speak of any more, or that Canada is no longer called 'British North America', etc. In Poland, they like 30 years ago took to calling Dutch (holenderski) --- 'niderlandzki', Netherlandic, a weird (to say the least) quirk of some overzealous bureaucrats, the word had gone out of use over 200 years ago, now with younger generations 'niderlandzki' is taking root, though old 'fools' like myself still find it ridiculous and avoid it; there are young fools who believe that 'Dutch' and 'Netherlandic' be two different languages...

      What you write about linguists ignored and cities-as-authorities reflects, I fear, on the respectability of linguistics as a science. Or would have reflected if it had been true.

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    40. Wojciech

      but would they be really new, those 'new' languages?

      If the nation states said so, yes.

      I may be only partly true that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, but it's entirely true that a political unit (populus as well as politicians) with an army and a navy can (if thee wish) turn a dialect into a language.

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    41. David,

      I would agree that a populus etc. can decide to call its hitherto-existing language some other name, this most certainly. Is that all you mean? If some silly politician decides to call the Polish of Gdańsk and environs 'Pomeranian', this alone, regardless if the new name gets acquiesced-in after 20 years of bullying and fooling us into using this name, won't change anything about the linguistic fact that Pomeranian is the same language as Polish, not even a different dialect (in the Serbo-Croatian area there are various dialects but their borders do not coincide with 'Croatian' or 'Serbian') thereof. If you have got a different dialect in the true sense of the word, e.g. Luxemburgian, you can certainly decide to start it on a development separate from that of its 'Mother-language', but that is a different story. Serbian and Croatian are not separate dialects in this sense, but rather like Standard German (Hochdeutsch) in D, A and CH, or Standard French in F, B and again CH. (Standard Serbo-Croatian is significantly younger and less well-entrenched than either standard German or standard French, hence, perhaps, the whole mess...).

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    42.  1. My impression is that this discussion suffers from a lack of determinateness of the word language. David emphasises the function of language as a means of establishing social groups and more especially of providing nations with a separate identity, whereas Wojciech seems to refer to a means of communication that has a certain structure which is different from that of other languages. Here’s my proposal to put an end to this confusion: let’s henceforth call David’s notion idlang [ˈɪdlæŋ] and Wojciech’s structlang, taking conlang as a model for word formation. Further -lang words may be coined when it seems necessary or helpful.

       2. I would like to make it clear beyond doubt that Serbo-Croatian has split into four (not three) separate idlangs. According to Wikipedia the Montenegrin Constitution ‘was ratified on 19 October 2007, declaring Montenegrin as the official language of Montenegro, as well as recognising Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.’ Please also note that the Montenegrin alphabet is unique among the BCMS alphabets in that it possesses the letters Śś Źź, like Polish. The Cyrillic equivalents are С́с́ З́з́ which to the best of my knowledge do not occur in the alphabet of any other idlang.

       3. It is also interesting that Omniglot’s Tower of Babel translations given for Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian all look quite different. This might be indicative of a development towards separate structlangs. Or it might not.

       Charlie Ruland

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    43. I can only say that I don't understand this 'idlang' business. Is British (English) English and American English different idlangs? Because the Brits spell 'theatre' and then Yanks 'theater' or because the former say 'have you eaten yet' annd the latter famously say 'did you eat yet'?

      If Tusk and his chummies decreed that we don't speak Polish in Gdańsk but say 'Pomeranian' only because have certain linguistic mannerisms and quirks not so often met with in say Cracow and (and their behest) shall henceonward write in runes---would that create a Pomeranian idlang?

      Omniglot's translations are different phrasings of the same, e.g. the Croatian says 'All earth had one language' whereas the Serbian says 'There was on the whole earth one language...', and the Bosnian says 'All earth spoke ... one language'. My God, do different phrasings create different something-or-other-langs out of one? Is 'England expects that every man shall do his duty' and 'England anticipates that all members of the personnel will discharge their respective tasks' really written in two different ....-langs?

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    45.  Wojciech:
      Is British (English) English and American English different idlangs? Because the Brits spell 'theatre' and then Yanks 'theater' or because the former say 'have you eaten yet' annd the latter famously say 'did you eat yet'? [...] My God, do different phrasings create different something-or-other-langs out of one?

       No, it doesn’t matter for idlangs how similar or different the idioms used really are. You are again thinking only in terms of structlang. It’s like wedlock: what matters is not the fact that you share your lives or have children, but that you solemnly declare you are a married couple.

       Charlie Ruland

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    47. CORRECTED VERSION OF EARLIER POST

      homoid/Charlie

      Up to a point, Lord Copper. I can accept idlang (though I don't much care for the name) but with one caveat.

      David emphasises the function of language as a means of establishing social groups and more especially of providing nations with a separate identity

      I would say exclusively providing nations — a loaded term, so let's say 'states' or 'political entities' — with a separate identity. The identity-reinforcement does not distinguish languages from dialects.

      So we'll have to invent two new terms idlect and structlect for the two views of what a dialect is.

      Structlects are recognised by linguists — either by accepting popular perceptions of dialects, or by analysing structlangs for significant variations.

      Idlects arise from cultural and political forces. When those forces succeed to the point of external recognition, the idlect becomes an idlang.

      It's that external recognition I had in mind when I wrote of at least three successors to Serbo-Croat. There are teach-youself Bosnian books widely available, and other superficial marks of normality and acceptance. That, I suggest, is far less true of Montenegrin. Two questions arise:

      • Are the measures of the Constitution irreversible in the feasible near future?
      • How many people outside the region have woken up to this constitutional status?

      What I like about the id view of dialect and language is that it's a particularly good fit with the view in Classical Greece where the terms originate. I actually studied Greek Philology as an undergraduate and the major work The Greek Dialects by Carl Buck was initially a great surprise. I now see that, in these new terms, Buck was writing about structlects, whereas the Greeks of the time were interested in idlects associated with a selection of geographical areas, to which particular literary genres were conventionally associated.

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    48. But a marriage is a conventional institution, whereas a language not (not in the same way,at least).

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    49. Gentlemen:

      As an addendum: I do not deny the obvious fact that, once Ruritania is split into Ruritania and Urbitania, and the common language of both parts, heretofore known as Ruritanian, is renamed in both parts Ruritanian and Urbitanian respectively, it can well develop after a few generations into two different languages. This has happen'd as we know innumerable numbers of times. If, that is, Ruritanians and Urbitanians are at daggers drawn with one another, do not entertain much contact, don't care about the common heritage (don't read the 'old' books) and what not. But Croatia and Serbia aren't like that (anymore) and soon all of'em we'll be just beans in the common European soup, aka the Belgian Empire. Some Serbians, some Croatians, some Bosnians and some Montenegrinoes (if that be the word...) might well think that they speak a different language than the other three, like your Punjabi who believed he spoke Urdu, or M. Jourdain who believed he spoke verse... they all err. That's no surprise, we human beings err often, perhaps most of the time.

      At least our host, Mr. John C. Wells, had the pluck---and the Lord-Russellian 'robust sense of reality'---to maintain that Flemish is the same language as Dutch. I have here in Gdansk a Flemish students who keeps praising the beauty of his natural tongue, setting it sharply apart from the less-than-beauty of that of his 'northern neighbours', yet even he calls it 'Dutch' and does not pretend that it be anything else than a variant of Dutch.

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    50.  Wojciech:
      But a marriage is a conventional institution, whereas a language not (not in the same way,at least).
       What matters is that you can declare linguistic entities to belong to the same language just as you can declare human beings to belong to the same family. This is completely independent of linguistic or structural similarity. There are so many examples that show that it is always possible for a structlang to be perceived as several idlangs (e.g. Farsi—Tajik—Dari) or vice-versa (e.g. Mandarin—Wú—Mǐn—Hakka—Cantonese—...). Language structure does not per se constitute linguistic identity. In some cultures the speech of men and women wildly differs on all levels (phonological, grammatical, lexical), yet as long as people declare that what they speak is the same language it has to be accepted that it is. Not to accept this means depriving those people of their right to self-determination. (Didn’t you cite from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?) To be sure: No one has the right to teach others the ‘correct’ classification or status of their language or ethnicity. People don’t need cultural missionaries. Never.

       David Crosbie (Mr Salter):
      So we'll have to invent two new terms idlect and structlect for the two views of what a dialect is.
       Fine, почему нет?

       David Crosbie:
      • Are the measures of the Constitution irreversible in the feasible near future?
       • How many people outside the region have woken up to this constitutional status?

       • I don’t know what it takes to change the Montenegrin Constitution, but why should they want to revert?
       • My guess is: very few so far.

       David Crosbie:
      What I like about the id view of dialect and language is that it's a particularly good fit with the view in Classical Greece where the terms originate.
       This I cannot judge. I don’t even know which non-Hellenic languages were spoken in Greece at that time let alone what role linguistic variation played among the Hellenes. However it is clear that it’s not possible to study Classical Greek without learning about dialectal variation. It seems to have been much more important in Classical Greek than a few centuries later in the more standardized κοινή Greek. — Generally speaking people always want to differ from their neighbours (or: be ‘identical with themselves’?) and therefore listen for even the slightest linguistic differences. Many locals can identify the speech of a particular place when to me it is just a, say, Irish accent. And this perceived diversity can be an obstacle to creating one’s own idlang. It is said that the Swiss Germans would long ago have split linguistically from the rest of the German speaking world if only they could agree on a homogeneous new standard of Swiss German. There’s variation everywhere... with the possible exception of coastal Pomerania ;-)

       Charlie Ruland

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    51. Ad Charlie,

      I am aware of the Farsi-Tajik-Dari problem, or Hindi-Urdu or, closer to home, Bulgarian-Macedonian but I can't tell if they be separate languages already. As I wrote earlier, if two speech communities develop independently from 1 another they can develop 2 languages from what originally was just 1. No doud aboud it! My point was, rather, that in the case of Serbo-Croatian this has not happened yet, perhaps too little time has flown by, in the case of the Flemmings and the Dutch they had enough time but have not developed 2 different languages either. (As distinct from the Dutch and the Boers!). Nor have Yanks and Brits, he'en be thanks. What with self-determination: everyone be free to 'leave his/her language alone' (Robert A. Hall Jr.), and away from a previously common standard, and to call one's language anything to one's liking, AND even to rename one's language BEFORE it has become a different language from what it was before the renaming, except that the last one is ridiculous and mocks the sublime ideal of self-determination. I think Western Europeans (pretend to) connive with those excesses of linguistic self-determination in the Balkans out of a feeling of mature cultural superiority over those (supposedly) 'half-wild Balkan peoples', and not because they truly and sincerely believe 4 languages have arisen where formerly there was but 1.

      Chinese: there is 1 Chinese language (the C. l.: putonghua/guoyu... what not) and many Chinese languageZ (a somewhat, admittedly, paradoxical situation). And also, 'Chinese language' (singular) can be a collective term for all Chinese languageZ or some subset of them, sometimes.

      Swiss German: a standard dialect exists: Bahnhofbuffet-Olten-Dialekt :). But seriously, there were more serious reasons for not splitting off from German, such as having a 'big' standard language (for the Luxemburgians it's French, that's why they could afford splitting off from German, not consistently...).

      Pomerania is very variegated dialect-wise, probably to the highest degree in all of Poland, Cashubian dialects being sometimes most wildly unlike 1 another (here an analogy to Frisian or Sardinian). Yet it would be mockery to declare the standard language of that region a different language from Polish.

      Marriage: the madders ain't that simple, sir. There are fictitious marriages, entered for instance with a view to obtaining immigration privileges or such ... so a 'real marriage' is very well a matter of what the married couple do after the vows... (and not just the _prima nox_).

      What you write about recognising the place from the accent is strongly reminiscent of Prof. 'Iggins. I don't think it is true of all languages, some have less local variation than others, considerably less, even.

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    52.  Wojciech:
      I am aware of the Farsi-Tajik-Dari problem
       I am not. What’s the problem?

       Wojciech:
      I think Western Europeans (pretend to) connive with those excesses of linguistic self-determination in the Balkans out of a feeling of mature cultural superiority over those (supposedly) 'half-wild Balkan peoples'
       Wojciech, there are millions of BCMS speakers in Germany and the UK, so we know very well they are not ‘half-wild.’ For some of you in Poland they may be exotic and seemingly wild peoples, but certainly not for citizens of the countries who received a lot of immigrants from the Belkans.

       Wojciech:
      there is 1 Chinese language [...] and many Chinese languageZ (a somewhat, admittedly, paradoxical situation)
      Nema problema. In Chinese there is no singular-plural contrast, so 语言 yǔyán can mean both ‘language’ and ‘languages’ (or dual: ‘two/a couple of languages’).

       Wojciech:
      Swiss German: [...] there were more serious reasons for not splitting off from German, such as having a 'big' standard language
       This is new to me in the context of the Swiss Germans, yet it makes me curious. Where can I read more about it?

       Wojciech:
      (for the Luxemburgians it's French, that's why they could afford splitting off from German, not consistently...)
       This is nonsense, I’m afraid. The introduction of Luxemburgian never meant a turn away from Standard German, which has remained an official language all over the Grand Duchy. And Standard German might also remain official in Switzerland, why not? — Please also note that Montenegro recognizes Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian (as well as Albanian) and officially concedes that currently Serbian is the language of a larger part of the population than Montenegrin. It’s not an EITHER-OR, but rather an AND.

       Wojciech:
      Cashubian dialects being sometimes most wildly unlike 1 another (here an analogy to Frisian [...])
       How far does the analogy go? Do (at least some) people speak a Kashubian dialect as well as a Polish dialect as well as standard Polish (and maybe also standard Kashubian, if they can learn it at school or elsewhere)?

       Wojciech:
      There are fictitious marriages
       ... and there are ficticious languages. Yet even ‘constructed’ languages may be very thriving. Examples are Modern Hebrew and Indonesian. The latter now has over 20 million native speakers and several times as many are fluent L2/L3/Ln speakers.

       Wojciech:
      What you write about recognising the place from the accent is strongly reminiscent of Prof. 'Iggins.
       Yes it is. My mother was able to place a speaker of her dialect group quite narrowly, within a few miles. But of course this was not based on accent alone, but also on idioms, grammar etc. And I don’t think that would have been possible in a less rural area. Nor do I think is it still possible nowadays, due to the levelling effect of mobility and the mass media.

       Charlie Ruland

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    53. The Farsi-Tajik-Dari problem is the problem of whether they be separate languages in their own right or variants of the same language; maybe it's a problem just for me, as I know far too little about it. I am accustomed to thinking that the '3' are just 1, with local variations and variants but that's rather third-hand knowledge.

      Re the half-wild peoples, I was talking about peopleZ, not people, and the way they have been perceived in NW Europe at least since Bismarck's time ('Pomeranian grenadier'...).

      Re Chinese: sometimes when reference is made to 'the' Chinese language (język chiński) people ask back: which? So there is a problem, takes some clarification, some patience...

      Re Swiss German: look up any decent history of Neuhochdeutsch. Economic reasons were at play too, it was of little profitability to print books in a 'weird' (without the Alemannic-Swabian area) language-standard which was underway forming itself, so they gave up on it by mid-1750ies at the latest.

      Re Luxemburgian. Afaik German was made an official language of the GDoL only 1820 or thereabouts, L. never considering itself a German-speaking country, so introducing Letzeburghish in the XX century as the national language was only consistent and perhaps overdue. But they had (and have) French, as the Swiss (Deutschweizer) did not. Plus, as you correctly note, they never cancelled German as an official language.

      But Letzeburghish, Swiss German, Low German are clearly and distinctly different from German, it may be a matter of debate whether enough to count as separate languages, but clearly enough to count as separate 'language forms'. Calling them separate languages, furnishing them with a navy and an army would not be ridiculous. This is, as of 2013, not yet the case with our South-Slavic quadruplets, which continue being more like English in UK and US, or (standard) German in D and A. Let's wait another 60-90 years...

      Re Cashubian: there are people who speak a Cashubian dialect, write standard Cashubian (hardly anyone speaks it, but there are schools where they teach it, there is some literature in it), speak and write standard Polish. Some of them may speak a(nother) Polish dialect. Same with Sardinian (Italian for Polish of course).

      Re fictitious languages. Well, Hebrew was not all that fictitious, it was added-to by Eliezer ben Yehuda and others, but what was authentic in it from the Antiquity was carried-over. This is at least the story that I know. Indonesian --- no idea. Esperanto may be a better example. My point is that 'Serbian' etc. are not (yet) on a par with Hebrew or Esperanto, and when they will have become really distinct languages (in several generations' time) that'll be due to natural evolution as much as to aprioristic language-planning.

      With all due respect: every hamlet, nay, every cottage has its own dialect, people have their individual idiolects --- whither shall it lead when we go on recognising their self-determination in calling those micro-speech-forms fancy names? Am I free to call my (what to all ends and purposes is) standard Polish 'Upper-Callersmanian' because I pronounce the word 'kino' (movie-theatre) with a particular inflection?... This would mock the very idea of self-determination, I fear. Having grown up in a country where self-determination was costly (due to a dictature then in power) I'd oppose distributing it to anybody for free.

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    54.  Wojciech:
      The Farsi-Tajik-Dari problem is the problem of whether they be separate languages in their own right or variants of the same language
       When the language users say that they speak three separate languages the problem is solved: they are three languages. No matter what outsiders say about linguistic structure and classification.

       Wojciech:
      half-wild peoples [...] the way they have been perceived in NW Europe at least since Bismarck's time
       A lot has happened ever since, and many members of those peoples now live in parts of Europe further to the north and/or west. I doubt that the ‘general perception’ is still the same. What I find interesting, however, is to meet native Serbian speakers born and raised in, for example, Germany who say they ‘can’t stand’ the speech of Croats (or vice versa). — Why on earth should they be condemned by ‘scientific linguists’ to classify their own speech as something they ‘can’t stand’?

       Wojciech:
      sometimes when reference is made to 'the' Chinese language (język chiński) people ask back: which?
       Someone says, ‘I’m American.’ — Where’s he/she from? • A. The village of America, Limburg, Netherlands. • B. The United States of America. • C. Anywhere in North or South America.
       Someone says, ‘You can write me in Chinese.’ — Which language does he/she mean? • A. Classical Chinese of the Qín dynasty (whence the word ‘China’). • B. Standard Mandarin. • C. Any form of Sinitic, like Cantonese or Shanghainese.
       It may seem strange to you that Hong Kong has two official languages, Chinese and English, without ever stipulating what is meant by ‘Chinese.’ Most Hong Kongers speak Cantonese but write Mandarin and also learn to read Classical Chinese at school. The dictionaries I have from Hong Kong give both Cantonese and Mandarin pronunciations. Maybe your notion of what a language ‘should be’ is a bit Eurocentric. Languages mean different things and serve different purposes in different cultures. — And please don’t try to teach the Chinese the meaning of culture. They have the oldest surviving one and many Chinese still read texts from the Warring States period in the original version, whereas Italians typically perceive the much younger Classical Latin as — a completely different language.

       Wojciech:
      Deutschweizer
       The German word is even longer than that, it’s Deutschschweizer. Sometimes German words are overly long. Thus, Tschetschenien (14 letters) is Chechnya (8 letters) in English and Чечня (5 letters) in Russian.

       Wojciech:
      Calling them separate languages, furnishing them with a navy and an army would not be ridiculous. This is, as of 2013, not yet the case with our South-Slavic quadruplets
       It is not rediculous but very serious when speakers of one variant can’t endure the speech of their contemporaries — see above.

       Wojciech:
      whither shall it lead when we go on recognising their self-determination in calling those micro-speech-forms fancy names?
       Are the names of sovereign countries fancy names? I don’t think so.

       Wojciech:
      Having grown up in a country where self-determination was costly (due to a dictature then in power)
       Which dictatorship are you referring to? The Third Reich?

       Charlie Ruland

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    55. Charlie:

      'When the language users say that they speak three separate languages the problem is solved. they are three languages.'

      Can't they err? Are they, like Pope, infallible? And does that position not undermine all scientific linguistics? Why can't something analogous be true in medicine, economics, law? Or are you perhaps saying, there is no matter of fact here to err or be right about, it's just 'I say it it so and thereby I make it so'?


      'Serbian speakers born and raised in, for example, Germany who say they ‘can’t stand’ the speech of Croats (or vice versa).'

      I know such cases. Well, the 'speech', not the 'language', because the latter's manifestly the same. Some Germans are in the habit of mocking the 'ridiculous' Austrian diphthongs or Swiss monophthongs ('uuswiis')...

      Re Chinese you're probably right, I assume, but I can't see how it proves me wrong.

      'many Chinese still read texts from the Warring States period in the original version, whereas Italians typically perceive the much younger Classical Latin as — a completely different language.'

      but can they read these texts just because they can read contemporary Chinese (in any form)? If yes, why just 'many', why not 'all'? Italians can of course learn Latin too, if they have learnt it.

      Deutschweizer. Sorry, that was a 'haplology'.

      'speakers of one variant can’t endure the speech of their contemporaries '

      One variant of what (if not 'the same language')? Besides, such 'can't endures' are inordinate impulses that should be educated away, rather than supported and encouraged by giving their subjects weapons. As I said before, I can't see anything objectionable in calling one's speech whatever (Nether-Grubbledwaithesque for instance---it's 'als het U belieft, mijnheer', wenn es Euch beliebt, if this be to your liking... feel free); I only object to fooling oneself and others into believing that by being given a new name a speech form becomes a separate language in the scientific, linguistic sense of 'language'. This the majority of Flemmings, for instance, wisely do not do....

      ' Are the names of sovereign countries fancy names? I don’t think so.'

      Sovereign countries are conventional beings that men can create almost _ad lib_. (Question arises how viable they would be, but that's a different story.) Languages are not.

      'Which dictatorship are you referring to? The Third Reich?'

      No, People's Republic of Poland (1944-1989). It was a Communist (Soviet-style) dictature, certainly not so cruel as the Third Reich (especially to non-Polish nationals) but it had (while every dictature has some support from its subjects) less, not to say far less, moral support from its subjects than had that of the T. R. and was, as far as I can tell, more oppressive to its subjects than the latter to its.

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    56. Ad Charlie, David,

      to clarify one point in this debate.

      Suppose that there is a language X and a speech-community C, a proper subset of all speakers (native) of X.

      Now, I do NOT BY ANY MEANS deny that:

      1. C can form the wish to call X as spoken by itself (with local peculiarities, perhaps, and even without) something else, say 'Y' and---under suitable circumstances---even make a valid law of that wish.

      2. ... and subsequently work on making Y develop away from X as spoken by the rest of the X-speaking 'world' (all other speakers of X).

      3. This can be successful, after a few generations, and as a result, Y WILL, indeed, become and thenceforward be a language different from X.

      What I obstinately do deny (and you guys equally emphatically affirm, meseems) is precisely that what in my story happens under 3. can happen someplace directly after 1. and before 2. has begun.

      Hier steh' ich, ich kann kaum anders --- to (roughly) quote Dr. Div. Martin Luther.

      Full name --- see Profile

      P.S. And of course C may go on calling their speech 'Y' without ever proceeding to 2. or their hearts being at it, still less without achieving 3. --- see our friends the Flemmings.

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  10. I've heard the surname of South African tennis player Chanelle Scheepers pronounced /ˈskɪəpəz/ in English.

    In Afrikaans pronunciation there seems to be some variability in the height of the starting point of this diphthong according to a note in the Wikipedia article on Afrikaans phonology. According to my very limited experience, in English it only ever seems to map to NEAR and not SQUARE. This probably has a lot to do with the pronunciation of these English diphthongs in South African English, not just the pronunciation of the source diphthongs in Afrikaans. -Jongseong Park

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  11. St[NEAR]nkamp, rather than St[SQUARE]nkamp is probably a better approximation to the Afrikaans vowel (whatever be its true quality, as long as it's a diphthong), as most (non-rhotic) speakers of English have a monophthongal [ɛː] or [eː] in SQUARE, which is far from any Afrikaans vowel. Rhotic speakers might use TRAP, given its value in the American north, but I bet most would settle for /iː/, or would they?

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  12. The writer J.M. Coetzee, according to Wikipedia, is kʊtˈsiːə or kʊtˈsiː, though I’m sure I have also heard kʊtˈsɪə.

    I have met J.M. Coetzee in person, and heard him pronounce his own name many times as he gave a talk on his family history. It was definitely more like kʊtˈsɪə than either of the Wikipedia variants. His native language is English, despite the surname, so the pronunciation can be regarded as Anglicised.

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    1. kʊtˈsɪə

      I tried to learn Afrikaans as a kid, from a Langenscheidt manual, if I remember well they said there the Afrikaans 'ee' stood for a 'sehr enges /e/ mit folgendem Murmellaut' or some such to this effect, it was like 50 years ago, but I still remember how perplex't I was at that description. Corresponds somewhat to /ɪə/ does it not?

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  13. @Wojciech

    There are (or at least there were until recently) more native Urdu-speakers in India than in Pakistan. For most Pakistanis, Urdu is a second langauge, although it is the official language of the state.

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    1. Back in my Bradford days (late '60's), a colleague told me of a survey in Pakistan which included the question as to what language the the respondents spoke. Many replied in Panjabi that they spoke Urdu.

      Flash forward to the twenty-first century. Still the largest group of British Muslims have their origin in that part of Kashmir that lies within Pakistan and where a form of Panjabi is spoken. Some religious and cultural activists are calling for an element of Urdu-medium education in British schools to maintain the community culture.

      I get the impression that if you ask a Sikh and Muslim whether Panjabi is a language, you'll probably get two different answers.

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    2. "Still the largest group of British Muslims have their origin in that part of Kashmir that lies within Pakistan"

      Really? I have long held the notion that Panjabis, wheather Indian or Pakistani, speak Panjabi and Kashmiris (even Pakistani Kashmiris) speak Kashmiri. It is true that Pakistani Kashmir lies within the geographical reaches of Punjab, Pakistan, but the ethnic Kashmiris in that area are no more Punjabi speakers than I am (of course not all are Kashmiri speakers either - some other Dardic tongue maybe...Shina).

      On a different note, it is true that Urdu and Hindi in their purest (completely Persianized or completely Sanskritized) forms will be understood by very few people on either side of the border, scholars and politicians (strangely), among them; most people speak and understand an 'average' register that is neither tatsam Hindi nor Urdu. But, on an average, Indians struggle more than Pakistanis at understanding the heavily Persianized variant. This, however, is dependant on the speakers first language, whether like Punjabi or Kashmiri is greatly Persian-influenced, moderate influence like Bengali or Gujerati, or negligible influence like Marathi or Oriya.

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    3. Samopriya Basu

      I can only repeat what I was told back in Bradford in 1968. The largest grow of immigrant children were from around Mirpur in Azad Kashmir. I don't think this is controversial.

      Their language, I was told, was Panjabi. This view is echoed by the statement in Wikipedia for Mirpur

      Mirpuri, Pahari, Punjabi, Potohari dialects of Punjabi Language and Kashmiri language are the predominant languages of the City. Other languages spoken include Urdu and English.

      I didn't realise that this was controversial.

      Still, it doesn't affect the points I was making. You could say instead that some respondents replied in Kashmiri that they spoke Urdu. And you could say that some activists are demanding a modicum Urdu-medium education for children whose family originally spoke Kashmiri.

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    4. Ad David

      ' Many replied in Panjabi that they spoke Urdu ....
      I get the impression that if you ask a Sikh and Muslim whether Panjabi is a language, you'll probably get two different answers.'

      I set exams sometimes, therefore I know that people give most nonsensical answers to even seemingly very simple questions when they do not understand them and/or do not have the knowledge requisite for answering them meaningfully. And that even when they are supposed to understand the questions and have the knowledge, let alone when they are not.

      Full true name --- see Profile (google)

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    5. "I didn't realize that this was controversial."
      No, this isn't, at least to the best of my limited knowledge. I apologize if my stupid wording caused any sort of misunderstanding -- I was just surprised to learn that ethnic Kashmiris spoke Punjabi as their first language.

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    6. Samopriya Basu

      I suspect there's an interesting story of which i know only part. If only I'd asked more questions back in 1968.

      I was told that the largest group of children were from a valley that had been flooded for a dam project. If this was true, it may be that the core of the West Pakistani immigration to Bradford was indirect via Mirpur — i.e. that the dam was in a linguistically different area. It's not implausible that the first migrants from a place should themselves be migrants.

      I say West Pakistani because Bangla Desh had not then seceded. According to what I was told, the rest of the children spoke Bengali, Gujarati, Pashto and (possibly) Sindhi. They had no difficulty evolving a lingua franca that was easier than English, but the Centre also took in speakers of Jamaica Patois and Antilean Creole French.

      The children were supposed to be better prepared for mainstream secondary schooling after an intensive full-time course of English. It was always a silly idea for the Caribbean kids. I'm not at all sure it worked that well for the South Asian kids. I don't think any education authority uses centre like this any more.

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