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Author Topic: English is weird  (Read 117054 times)

Thrillho

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #550 on: 29 Jul 2015, 00:45 »

...are we sure that's still English at this point?

Pretty prejudiced thing to say, bro
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #551 on: 29 Jul 2015, 04:18 »

The joke was that as an American, it was painfully inaccurate. It's more English than the garbage I speak.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #552 on: 03 Aug 2015, 20:14 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #553 on: 03 Aug 2015, 21:28 »

What kind of language produces the non-ironic phrase "sanitary sewer"?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #554 on: 03 Aug 2015, 22:03 »

My favorite grammatically-correct sentence in English is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo."  Wikipedia only recognizes it as Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, but I like to make it more violent with added buffaloing.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #555 on: 04 Aug 2015, 05:11 »

My favorite grammatically-correct sentence in English is "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo."  Wikipedia only recognizes it as Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, but I like to make it more violent with added buffaloing.

Earlier in this thread, I think we established that literally any number of repititions of the word buffalo is grammatically correct
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #556 on: 04 Aug 2015, 05:13 »

I'm not saying that to be a dick, I'm genuinely uncertain whether we did that as a group or if it was all in my head.

I tend to make things up
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #557 on: 04 Aug 2015, 15:15 »

I'm not saying that to be a dick, I'm genuinely uncertain whether we did that as a group or if it was all in my head.

I tend to make things up

It probably happened.  My fault for not (at least) skimming the thread before jumping in.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #558 on: 05 Aug 2015, 02:58 »

Listening to a video on YouTube, I was surprised to hear Magellan (as in Ferdinand Magellan the explorer and navigator) pronounced "Majellan". I have always heard and pronounced the name with a hard G, and Wikipedia lists the two pronunciations as alternatives. Is this a variation between US English and "Commonwealth" English?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #559 on: 05 Aug 2015, 04:05 »

I've never heard anyone pronounce it with a hard g, so I guess so.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #560 on: 05 Aug 2015, 04:44 »

The OED only lists a hard g, while Merriam-Webster only lists a soft g.  Curiously the Oxford Dictionary of American English also shows it as hard - so what do they know?

As the name is adapted from the Portuguese Magalhães (which has a nasalised pronunciation I think), a hard g would be nearer the original.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #561 on: 05 Aug 2015, 05:09 »

I sometimes hear people pronounce Los Angeles with a hard g which is just...what? It's not the city of angles!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #562 on: 05 Aug 2015, 11:40 »

Listening to a video on YouTube, I was surprised to hear Magellan (as in Ferdinand Magellan the explorer and navigator) pronounced "Majellan". I have always heard and pronounced the name with a hard G, and Wikipedia lists the two pronunciations as alternatives. Is this a variation between US English and "Commonwealth" English?
I've never heard his name pronounced with a hard G.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #563 on: 06 Aug 2015, 21:43 »

I sometimes hear people pronounce Los Angeles with a hard g which is just...what? It's not the city of angles!

I've heard that before, but the person speaking was always saying it as a kind of joke
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #564 on: 07 Aug 2015, 15:16 »

*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #565 on: 08 Aug 2015, 14:22 »

*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*

I have no idea what that word is, or how it should be pronounced. I assume it's a word pronounced differently than it looks like it should, kinda like Nachitoches. Maybe not a place name, though. I'll find out after I post this comment
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #566 on: 08 Aug 2015, 14:59 »

It's a Japanese word, and so should be pronounced with four even syllables, with a like ah, u like oo, e like eh, and the s hissy.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #567 on: 08 Aug 2015, 16:10 »

It's a Japanese word, and so should be pronounced with four even syllables, with a like ah, u like oo, e like eh, and the s hissy.

Yeah, I had to google it. Apparently, it's something related to swords/swordmaking? Nachitoches is something like 'nack a tish.'
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #568 on: 08 Aug 2015, 19:59 »

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #569 on: 10 Aug 2015, 02:34 »

*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
Or Beijing as Beige-ing.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #570 on: 10 Aug 2015, 02:42 »

*Cringes at TV as people who should know better pronounce Masamune as Massarmane*
Or Beijing as Beige-ing.

1. How is that pronounced, out of interest? Never heard it said any other way.

2. Is there not an argument that if you're speaking English, then a city should be pronounced in an English accent? The majority of people tend to say 'Paris' rather than 'Pareeee,' and many other locations have different spellings in their own language, never mind pronunciations.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #571 on: 10 Aug 2015, 03:00 »

Bay-jing. Bay as in Baywatch. Jing as in jingle-bells. Simple as that; when speaking English there is no need to worry about getting the tones right.

The soft "French-style" J is as foreign to Chinese as it is to English. I quite take the point that English-speakers say Pariss not Paree, and Mewnick not Moonshen, but the correct pronunciation of Beijing is truer to normal English pronunciation of the letters of the romanisation than the incorrect one is.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #572 on: 10 Aug 2015, 03:13 »

Those are two separate discussions in fairness. I didn't realise Beijing had a hard 'j', and will take that on board from this point forward.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #573 on: 10 Aug 2015, 03:46 »

Even the BBC occasionally lets a Beige-ing slip through, I'm sorry to say.  Standards aren't what they were, mumble mumble...
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #574 on: 10 Aug 2015, 09:35 »

Saw this, thought of this thread.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #575 on: 10 Aug 2015, 12:50 »

I did once have a conversation with someone who pronounced somewhere around Bay-zcheing but he had a rather nasally, throaty accent so I think that may have had something to do with it. Being the mimic that I am, I naturally copied him and it probably bled into subsequent usage for a while. Not, I might point out, that I discuss Beijing with any regularity.

As an aside, being a mimic has been very useful in picking up the correct pronounciation of Welsh place names and eastern european surnames.

As an alternative aside, if you ever happen to be in Snowdonia in Wales, keep an eye out for old mileposts and their oddly anglicised spellings of place names. Dolgellau suffers from a multitude of these.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #576 on: 10 Aug 2015, 16:31 »

I did once have a conversation with someone who pronounced somewhere around Bay-zcheing but he had a rather nasally, throaty accent so I think that may have had something to do with it.
In Chinese, there are two sounds that are roughly like the English hard J, and they are romanised in pinyin as J and ZH respectively. Someone actually learning Chinese needs to know how to pronounce them distinctly, but when speaking English I recommend just saying both like the J at the beginning of "jungle".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #577 on: 10 Aug 2015, 18:36 »

I'm guessing the J one is used in Beijing?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #578 on: 10 Aug 2015, 19:18 »

Exactly correct. By contrast Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, and 3rd largest city in China, is pronounced Gwung-joe
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #579 on: 10 Aug 2015, 19:19 »

Wait, that example confuses me, because the j in "Joe" is the same as the j in "jungle".
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #580 on: 10 Aug 2015, 20:02 »

What kind of language produces the non-ironic phrase "sanitary sewer"?

It's basically a marketing term.  As opposed to a storm sewer, a sanitary sewer is a sewer used for sanitation purposes.  When you're trying to sell people on the idea of indoor plumbing, calling the system "sanitary" will get more support. 
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #581 on: 11 Aug 2015, 05:50 »

Wait, that example confuses me, because the j in "Joe" is the same as the j in "jungle".
When speaking English it is perfectly OK to pronounce both J and ZH in Chinese words the same, like the J in jungle. As I said earlier:
In Chinese, there are two sounds that are roughly like the English hard J, and they are romanised in pinyin as J and ZH respectively. Someone actually learning Chinese needs to know how to pronounce them distinctly, but when speaking English I recommend just saying both like the J at the beginning of "jungle".

Edit: I just notice that this was my 5000th posting on this forum!
« Last Edit: 12 Aug 2015, 15:56 by Akima »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #582 on: 11 Aug 2015, 06:54 »

Ahhh, I missed that they were pronounced the same.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #583 on: 11 Aug 2015, 15:57 »

I suppose I'd get into a LOT of trouble by calling it "Peking"?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #584 on: 11 Aug 2015, 15:59 »

Is that just a different transliteration of the same characters?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #585 on: 12 Aug 2015, 16:05 »

Essentially, yes it is. To save myself some typing:
There are few avenues for misunderstanding that Chinese people and "Westerners" have left unexplored. Just to scratch the surface, there are:

Romanization problems. Imperfect and changing systems for writing down Chinese in the Roman alphabet. This is how Chou En-lai changed to Zhou Enlai, and Mao Tse-Tung became Mao Zedong. The habitual omission of tone-marks from English-language texts makes correct pronunciation, and therefore meaning, a matter of guesswork. Untutored readers will inevitably pronounce the letters of the romanization in the manner habitual in their own language, producing ear-bleeding solecisms like pronouncing Cáo Cāo (one of the central characters of The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, and many anime, comics, video-games etc.) as "Cow Cow" (it is "Tsao Tsao"). For English-speakers, correct reading of the old Wade-Giles romanization, or modern Pinyin, requires study. Only the Yale romanization (developed for the US Army) was created with the specific intent of making it relatively easy for native English-speakers to approximate correct Chinese pronunciation, and in many ways it's a pity it went out of style.

Geographic confusion problems. Applying the wrong name to places because the European asking "What is this place?" and the Chinese person answering didn't really understand each other. For example the city now known as Guangzhou (pron: Guang-jo) was called Canton based on the local pronunciation of the name of the province, Guangdong, in which the city is located.

Indirect adoption problems. Some English names for Chinese things are adopted from languages other than Chinese ones. One example is the word "China" itself, which comes from Sanskrit via Persian and Italian. Another is "Mandarin", a Sanskrit word adopted via Malay and Portuguese, meaning something like "counsellor" or "minister". Mandarin Chinese is so called in English, because it was the language spoken by officials, as opposed to the many other regional languages.

"Dialect" problems. The "official" language of China has been based on the North Chinese "Mandarin" family of languages for hundreds of years, but Europeans often entered China from Southern coastal regions where other languages like Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien etc. were, and still are, spoken. Even where the words are the same, and quite often they are not, the pronunciation can be very different.

Language change problems. Like any other languages, Chinese ones have changed over time. The first European scholars to study Chinese language seriously were Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, and they created the first Romanization systems. We still use many of the names they invented, such as Confucius (Kǒng Fūzǐ), but in some cases Chinese has changed since their time, leaving their romanizations behind like fossils.

The case of Peking is a combination of the last two. The word Peking originated with French Jesuit missionaries and is based on an old pronunciation that altered in a subsequent sound change in Mandarin. The pronunciation "Peking" is also close to that used by speakers of the Fujian "dialect" around the port city of Xiamen, through which much of China's early contact with European traders, missionaries took place. "Beijing" is closer to the Northern Chinese pronunciation, and is now of course the officially correct one. Bear in mind however that "B" is less "explosive" in Mandarin than English, and can sound quite close to "P" to the untutored ear.

Edit: increased the font size a bit.
« Last Edit: 13 Aug 2015, 05:20 by Akima »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #586 on: 12 Aug 2015, 18:36 »

Wow, you wait until I'm drunkish to post the wall of text concerning the romanization/verbalization of Chinese language?

I'll probably read it tomorrow when the hangover wears off, the whole discussion has been legit fascinating, but now is NOT the time!
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #587 on: 13 Aug 2015, 14:28 »

Time is an illusion
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #588 on: 13 Aug 2015, 14:30 »

Lunchtime doubly so.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #589 on: 13 Aug 2015, 20:35 »

Lunchtime doubly so.

You should send that in to Reader's Digest. They have a page for people like you
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #590 on: 13 Aug 2015, 20:36 »

For people who quote Douglas Adams?
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chaospersonified

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #591 on: 13 Aug 2015, 20:41 »



Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
« Last Edit: 13 Aug 2015, 21:05 by chaospersonified »
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #592 on: 13 Aug 2015, 20:46 »

I can't remember the wording, but it goes from that into a crash alerting Arthur Dent to the fact that his house is being knocked down.

Sorry, I found an audiotape of the first and last books when I was in sixth grade, as read by the author. Not even gonna lie, listening on a tape recorder in my parents' back room, that's a core memory for me.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #593 on: 13 Aug 2015, 20:53 »

For people who quote Douglas Adams?

Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
Argh, it's been a long day. I also wish you hadn't quoted my failure.
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Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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Re: English is weird
« Reply #594 on: 13 Aug 2015, 21:06 »

For people who quote Douglas Adams?

Also people who can quite the entire first chapter of Hitchhiker's Guide from memory.

 Your line would have been "'Drink up,' Ford said grimly, 'the world's about to end.'"
Argh, it's been a long day. I also wish you hadn't quoted my failure.

*does some modification*

I don't know what you're talking about
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #595 on: 13 Aug 2015, 21:20 »

Yeah, but now it's too late for me to delete my post and pretend it never happened :P
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MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #596 on: 13 Aug 2015, 21:25 »

Yeah, but now it's too late for me to delete my post and pretend it never happened :P

Pretend what never happened? What are you talking about?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #597 on: 13 Aug 2015, 21:48 »

Lunchtime.
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MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #598 on: 14 Aug 2015, 02:09 »

But it never happened - you imagined it.
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Re: English is weird
« Reply #599 on: 14 Aug 2015, 05:18 »

Just because it's an illusion doesn't mean it never happened.
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Quote from: Polonius
Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
MR ARCHIVE-FU MADNESS
Does anybody really know what time it is?
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
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