History UsefulNotes / Linguistics

26th Oct '15 7:25:18 AM Scorpion451
Is there an issue? Send a Message


! Language Myths and Misconceptions

to:

! Language Myths Controversies, Myths, and Misconceptions



This myth is common enough that we have a [[Main/LanguageEqualsThought trope]] of that name. In linguistics, it's known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and it's largely discredited, at least in the strong version (a language completely determines thought). Some version of the weak version (our language influences thought) is generally accepted, though.

to:

This myth concept is common enough that we have a [[Main/LanguageEqualsThought trope]] of that name. In linguistics, it's known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and it's largely discredited, at least in while the strong version (a language completely determines thought). Some version of the weak version (our language influences thought) is largely discredited, the weak versions ("language ''influences'' thought" and "language ''reflects'' thought"), ''are'' generally accepted, though.
with quite a bit of supporting evidence.

For instance, people have greater difficulty distinguishing between colors that their language does not recognize as fundamentally different: Survival-level languages such as young pidgin languages or those of hunter-gatherer societies usually have words for at most "warm color", "cool color", and "grey-brown". When asked to group color samples, native speakers of such languages consider it ''fundamentally obvious'' that green and blue are just hues of the same color- anything more is splitting hairs. Children who have not yet been taught their colors will often do the same.

Language does not ''dictate'' thought- their eyes can see a difference, and those among them used to working with color such as artisans and weavers, can divide the spectrum in more precise ways when asked. For the most part, however, the difference between the subdivisions "green" and "blue" is ignored even by those aware that there ''is'' a difference, ''because there is no word-trope defining that difference as important''. For those struggling to relate, a modern example: Russian artists have a slight advantage, having been taught from an early age that ''sinii'' and ''goluboi'' are obviously different. Meanwhile, many native speakers of other latin based languages have to slowly retrain their brains to acknowledge the radical difference between blue and cyan before they can mix paints properly.
15th Jun '15 10:50:05 PM karstovich2
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* '''"Peruse" ''really'' means "read closely"''': the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy etymological fallacy]] (or in Troper, FromTheLatinIntroDucere). Words mean what they mean, not what they meant. Saying that a word used almost universally to mean one thing ''actually'' means something else is just silly. Closely related to ''X isn't a word'', which is often equally dumb. All of this is mostly the fault of English teachers going around telling people that dictionaries are authorities instead of descriptive references. Of course, most linguists agree that almost everything in dictionaries is wrong anyway.

to:

* '''"Peruse" ''really'' means "read closely"''': the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy etymological fallacy]] (or in Troper, FromTheLatinIntroDucere). Words mean what they mean, not what they meant. Saying that a word used almost universally to mean one thing ''actually'' means something else is just silly. Closely related to ''X isn't a word'', which is often equally dumb. All of this is mostly the fault of English teachers going around telling people that dictionaries are authorities instead of descriptive references. Of course, most linguists agree that almost everything in dictionaries is wrong anyway. That said, none of this is to say that there isn't some practical utility in insisting on some distinctions, but it's necessary to recognize that these distinctions are inherently artificial social constructs. (Just because something is a social construct doesn't mean it isn't real--and if you don't believe that, why don't you just hand me those meaningless pieces of paper in your wallet?)
13th Feb '15 7:33:09 AM unokkun
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* Next we have the Combining Stage, where the child figures out word-order, affixes, and those auxiliary words like the possessive 's, negatives, where to use "the" and etc. At this point kids start to understand more language specific grammatical rules and we see kids turning into little grammar nazis. Once the child learns a rule of grammar, he or she will insist in applying it to everything, exceptions be damned (a experiment to parents of 1.5-year-olds, teach your child that adding "-ed" turns a verb into the past tense, wait a few days for him to practice, then ask him what is the past tense for "go", and your child will of course say "goed", you will correct him with the correct answer, and he will not believe you, and you two will so bicker for the next hour. And it will be a long while before he learns the exceptions.).

to:

* Next we have the Combining Stage, where the child figures out word-order, affixes, and those auxiliary words like the possessive 's, negatives, where to use "the" and etc. At this point kids start to understand more language specific grammatical rules and we see kids turning into little grammar nazis. Once the child learns a rule of grammar, he or she will insist in applying it to everything, exceptions be damned (a experiment to parents of 1.5-year-olds, teach your child that adding "-ed" turns a verb into the past tense, wait a few days for him to practice, then ask him what is the past tense for "go", and your child will of course say "goed", you will correct him with the correct answer, and he will not believe you, and you two will so bicker for the next hour. And it will be a long while before he learns the exceptions.). Fun fact: this will happen even if the child has used "went" before.)
20th Oct '14 3:54:05 PM the-arrogant-elitist
Is there an issue? Send a Message


Basically, a linguist studies the structure of languages and whatever 'meaning' means, and then possibly applies this knowledge in some way. Linguistics has a number of sub-disciplines, such as historical linguistics (in which you study the evolution of languages, compare related languages and make deductions as to their mother language), descriptive linguistics (in which you describe the grammar, syntax and phonology of existing languages and document them), theoretical linguistics (in which you invent and use abstract tools to describe how language as a whole works), or applied linguistics (in which you, for example, help move computer-assisted translations beyond the Main/BlindIdiotTranslation or try to make cell phones into better conversationalists).

to:

Basically, a linguist studies the structure of languages and whatever 'meaning' means, and then possibly applies this knowledge in some way. In short, a linguist performs the scientific study of language. Linguistics has a number of sub-disciplines, such as historical linguistics (in which you study the evolution of languages, compare related languages and make deductions as to their mother language), descriptive linguistics (in which you describe the grammar, syntax and phonology of existing languages and document them), theoretical linguistics (in which you invent and use abstract tools to describe how language as a whole works), or applied linguistics (in which you, for example, help move computer-assisted translations beyond the Main/BlindIdiotTranslation or try to make cell phones into better conversationalists).
10th Jun '14 8:11:44 PM unokkun
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* '''"Peruse" ''really'' means "read closely"''': the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy etymological fallacy]]. Words mean what they mean, not what they meant. Saying that a word used almost universally to mean one thing ''actually'' means something else is just silly. Closely related to ''X isn't a word'', which is often equally dumb. All of this is mostly the fault of English teachers going around telling people that dictionaries are authorities instead of descriptive references. Of course, most linguists agree that almost everything in dictionaries is wrong anyway.

to:

* '''"Peruse" ''really'' means "read closely"''': the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy etymological fallacy]].fallacy]] (or in Troper, FromTheLatinIntroDucere). Words mean what they mean, not what they meant. Saying that a word used almost universally to mean one thing ''actually'' means something else is just silly. Closely related to ''X isn't a word'', which is often equally dumb. All of this is mostly the fault of English teachers going around telling people that dictionaries are authorities instead of descriptive references. Of course, most linguists agree that almost everything in dictionaries is wrong anyway.
6th Aug '13 9:22:08 PM Gemmabeta
Is there an issue? Send a Message


The origin of language has fascinated mankind from the dawn of civilization. For most of antiquity, people believed that language was an innate God-given power. They believed that if you take a bunch of babies, lock them into a room the second after they are born, and only have deaf-mutes take care of them, they will revert to speaking the "tongue of Eden", the original language that God uploaded Adam and Eve with. Wild stories flew around Europe (they actually did this experiment for real a couple of times in the During the Middle Ages--obviously, don't try this at home), about children who spontaneously started talking in Biblical Hebrew, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Greek. Of course this was all utter bull, in reality, two broad outcomes can result.

to:

The origin of language has fascinated mankind from the dawn of civilization. For most of antiquity, people believed that language was an innate God-given power. They believed that if you take a bunch of babies, lock them into a room the second after they are born, and only have deaf-mutes take care of them, they will revert to speaking the "tongue of Eden", the original language that God uploaded Adam and Eve with. Wild stories flew around Europe (they actually did this experiment for real a couple of times in the During the Middle Ages--obviously, don't try this at home), about children who spontaneously started talking in Biblical Hebrew, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Greek. Of course this was all utter bull, in reality, two broad outcomes can result.



* '''No word for Z''': This is one of the language myths that may actually be true. If you have never seen an airplane, you will not have a word for it. Where this myth goes wrong is when it comes with a notion of 'and these silly savages could never ever express this, and thus can't possibly ever understand it'. The thing is, every language can describe pretty much anything - if you encounter an airplane for the first time and describe it as 'big metal bird', then tada, you have a way to describe it. If the descriptive phrase 'big metal bird' becomes the standard thing to call an airplane in your speech community, then it will over time transform into a single lexical unit which should then be translated as 'airplane' instead of 'big metal bird'. Another option many languages use is to use an existing word in a metaphorical manner for a new concept - 'to broadcast' originally meant ''to scatter seeds'' before it became applied to transmitting messages.

to:

* '''No word for Z''': This is one of the language myths that may actually be true. If you have never seen an airplane, you will not have a word for it. Where this myth goes wrong is when it comes with a notion of 'and these silly savages could never ever express this, and thus can't possibly ever understand it'. The thing is, every language can describe pretty much anything - if you encounter an airplane for the first time and describe it as 'big metal bird', then tada, you have a way to describe it. If the descriptive phrase 'big metal bird' becomes the standard thing to call an airplane in your speech community, then it will over time transform into a single lexical unit which should then be translated as 'airplane' instead of 'big metal bird'.bird' (for example, if you break down the morphemes of the Chinese word for "train", it literally means "fire wagon"). Another option many languages use is to use an existing word in a metaphorical manner for a new concept - 'to broadcast' originally meant ''to scatter seeds'' before it became applied to transmitting messages.
30th Apr '12 3:33:47 PM Maverick
Is there an issue? Send a Message


* Following comes The Holophrastic Stage, where the child can speak in one word sentences. Parents love this one as the baby will say "mama, dada" over and over, and baby sitter hate this one as it is impossible to guess what in hell the kid means most of the time.

to:

* Following comes The Holophrastic Stage, where the child can speak in one word sentences. Parents love this one as the baby will say "mama, dada" over and over, and baby sitter sitters hate this one as it is impossible to guess what in hell the kid means most of the time.
26th Apr '12 5:56:50 PM TheThnikkaman
Is there an issue? Send a Message


There are uncountable versions of the 'Language X is so ''weird''' notion - take, for example, the Main/RealLife section of Main/StarfishLanguage. The trope is defined as 'an alien language completely unlike anything a human can perceive' - yet, there are many real life examples. What's important to remember is that in this aspect, we ''are'' influenced by our native language - the sounds we use, the grammar and syntax we're most familiar with will of course seem the most natural to us. But to speakers of these 'weird' languages, English will just seem as odd and peculiar - what, you can't just add a suffix to a verb to tell that you have personal knowledge of something, and didn't just learn about it via hearsay? They must be crazy!

to:

There are uncountable versions of the 'Language X is so ''weird''' notion - take, for example, the Main/RealLife section of we used to have in Main/StarfishLanguage. The trope is defined as 'an "an alien language completely unlike anything a human can perceive' - yet, there are many real life examples.perceive", which is why we had to axe it. What's important to remember is that in this aspect, we ''are'' influenced by our native language - the sounds we use, the grammar and syntax we're most familiar with will of course seem the most natural to us. But to speakers of these 'weird' languages, English will just seem as odd and peculiar - what, you can't just add a suffix to a verb to tell that you have personal knowledge of something, and didn't just learn about it via hearsay? They must be crazy!
11th Sep '11 3:20:11 PM PRH
Is there an issue? Send a Message

Added DiffLines:

See [[UsefulNotes/GrammarInForeignLanguages this page]] for a more in-depth look into the grammar of various foreign languages.
15th Jun '11 1:11:34 PM RickGriffin
Is there an issue? Send a Message


** Conversely, English lacks a single word for the concept expressed by French 'si' or German 'doch' which is an affirmative answer to a negative question. For example, if you're asked "Don't you like pie?" in English, you can be easily misunderstood - both "yes" and "no" could either confirm the assumption or refute it (Yes you don't like pie, or yes you do like pie?). 'Si' on the other hand, would invariably mean, "you are correct; I do not like pie".
*** Actually, replying "si" to the question "Don't you like pie?" / "You don't like pie?" would invariably mean '''"you're wrong; I *DO* like pie!"''' In that sense, then, "si" is affirmative in that it debunks the negative statement of assumed fact ("you don't like pie") present in the question.

to:

** Conversely, English lacks a single word for the concept expressed by French 'si' or German 'doch' which is an affirmative answer to a negative question. For example, if you're asked "Don't you like pie?" in English, you can be easily misunderstood - both "yes" and "no" could either confirm the assumption or refute it (Yes you don't like pie, or yes you do like pie?). 'Si' on the other hand, would invariably mean, "you are correct; I do not like pie".
*** Actually, replying "si" to the question "Don't you like pie?" / "You don't like pie?"
would invariably mean '''"you're wrong; I *DO* like pie!"''' In that sense, then, "si" is affirmative in that it debunks the negative statement of assumed fact ("you don't like pie") present in the question.
This list shows the last 10 events of 22. Show all.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=UsefulNotes.Linguistics