Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by TheGoodTexan, Jun 20, 2019.
It's been a nice summer here all through hune, I'm hoping huly will be about the same.
Basically, Chinese is like the "Latin" of Asia - lots of root words have a Chinese language ancestry, especially science / medicine / inventions. Like the word for "umbrella" basically the same in Korea, Chinese, Japanese, and other languages.
But there is loads of variation amongst Asian languages, even more than than for all the European languages. Thai, Lao, Cambodian (Khmer), and Vietnamese all have similarities like Dutch, German and English have similarities - but they're not the same language. Interestingly, Chinese isn't really a language - there are several dialects of Chinese all different enough from each other they would qualify as separate languages if China were a bunch of countries instead of one monster country. Mandarin Chinese is the "official" version but I'm not even sure it has the most speakers.
Traveling alone in Japan, I was in a very crowded train station in Oita. Because of a delayed train, there was a lot of apparent stress and confusion.
Everyone seemed to be speaking Asian languages, then I heard a man and his wife conversing in German. Though I'm a native English speaker with only a few semesters of German language in college many decades prior, the German sounded perfectly familiar to my ears, though I didn't understand much of the conversation. I approached the couple--a German man with a Japanese wife--and said a few words in faulty German, and they immediately switched to fluent English.
Then, across the room, I saw blond hair, blue eyes and a pretty face, in a sea of Asian faces. We walked toward one another, chatted for a moment, then started to board the train together. As I started to follow the blond woman into a train car, another woman behind me grabbed my arm and pulled me onto the next car, where her husband and children were boarding.
Her husband was laughing. Earlier that day, I had been stranded for a couple of hours at another station with this family, on holiday from Korea. While we were stranded, I had told the husband, who spoke English, about my wife and family. He explained that his wife, who spoke no English, grabbed me and pulled me on the train to make sure that I didn't follow the "dangerous" blond woman and do something I might regret. His wife was sure that blond women in this part of Japan were all Russian prostitutes.
Sorry to hijack the thread, but the idea that English and German were in the same language group reminded me of the moment when this became apparent to me.
One of my British friends likes to say that the United States and Great Britain are two nations separated by a common language. (I later found out that the originator of that comment was George Bernard Shaw.)
Damn, none of my friends are that famous!
Short answer: there is much more diversity in Asiatic languages than in most European languages.
Most European languages (with exceptions like Finnish, Hungarian and Basque) are cousins within the same family. Many Asian languages, however, are from completely different families, i.e. as similar to one another as English is similar to Chinese.
For example, I believe that English and Russian are much more closely related than say Chinese and Vietnamese, or Japanese and Thai.
In a practical sense, I think you can basically take that next step and answer your question: however related any two major Asian langauges might be in an academic sense, in a practical one they hardly corrolate at all. If you speak Japanese, you have basically zero chance of being able to have a real conversation with someone who speaks Korean. The vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar...they all have major differences and end up being mutually unintelligible.
The other part that was hinted at is the cultural/nationalist element. Even if two of them were mutually intelligible, ethnic pride and historical animosity is so strong in many cases that they wouldn't use it anyway! I don't think there's anything special about this. I've seen Canadians fume when being mistaken for being American, and Americans curse a blue streak for being called Canadian, and if you can think of two countries with a closer relationship and more commonalities, well...I'd like to hear it.
As was mentioned, in Japan and China there are Chinese characters common to both languages where the essential meanings of the pictograms are the same, and this can be handy because it gives you some idea of what something is even if you can't suss out the particulars. When I was travelling in China my basic knowledge of Japanese turned out to be really useful. I had a fighting chance to understand and use a restaurant menu, or places on a map or a street sign, not because I had a foggiest clue how to pronounce or use any given word in Chinese, but because of the commonalities with Japanese. But I don't think this sort of correlation exists between many Asian languages. However influential Chinese was in the ancient world, its characters aren't used much outside of China and Japan.
But none of this translates to spoken communication. They are basically solitutes unto themselves.
I had a boss who would say something to Japanese business visitors (in English). When they didn't understand, he would repeat what he had just said, only louder. When they still didn't understand, he would ...........
I don't think volume is an aid to language translation.
Well, when you find yourself in that situation it's too late to learn the language so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
With almost all languages there is some "cross breeding", but typically, Asians with different languages won't understand each other.
The only language I know of that is not related to any other language is Catalan.
I suppose, ..... but just upping the volume can be a bit ... undignified.
Perhaps another tack may help: rephrasing the sentence, using hand jestures. If all fails, draw a picture.
Draw a picture of an old guy wearing cargoes and a tee hollering at them? You ain't been at this translating business too long have you?
According to Wikipedia, Catalan is related to several languages:
"Catalan bears varying degrees of similarity to the linguistic varieties subsumed under the cover term Occitan language (see also differences between Occitan and Catalan and Gallo-Romance languages). Thus, as it should be expected from closely related languages, Catalan today shares many traits with other Romance language.
Relationship with other Romance languages
Catalan shares many traits with the other neighboring Romance languages (Italian, Sardinian, Occitan, and Spanish). However, despite being spoken mostly on the Iberian Peninsula, Catalan has marked differences with the Iberian Romance group (Spanish and Portuguese) in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and especially vocabulary; showing instead its closest affinity with Occitan and to a lesser extent Gallo-Romance (French, Franco-Provençal, Gallo-Italian).
According to Ethnologue, the lexical similarity between Catalan and other Romance languages is: 87% with Italian; 85% with Portuguese and Spanish; 76% with Ladin; 75% with Sardinian; and 73% with Romanian."
As a baseball fan, I really like the Japanese version of the word: 'Basu-boru'.
I stand corrected.
I can't recall the source of my snippet of trivia. It certainly wasn't Wikipedia.
It could be worse ...... Draw a picture of a young guy wearing cargoes.
Or ... Draw a picture of anyone wearing a safari suit.
Perhaps better to just shout at them until they smile, pretending to understand, meanwhile muttering to each other ..... *&$#))*
Oops, I had the right country, but the wrong language.
So I need to edit:
The only language I know of that is not related to any other language is Basque.
Now you got it!
Bigger mistakes have been made.
Catalan to me sounds a bit like a stepping stone between Spanish and French.
There are other isolates, but it is not always clear to what extent. Japanese and Korean for example are/were considered isolates. Some think the languages might be related, but other linguists are unconvinced.
To give you an idea of how far apart they are, I'll use English as an example again: it's much much easier to prove that English and Iranian are related than to prove the same for Japanese and Korean.
Madar = mother
Baradar = brother
Padar = Father (closer to Spanish padre)
Tondar = Thunder
Dar = Door
Asia is the biggest continent in the world spanning from the Russian Ural mountains in the west to Japan in the East to India, Srilanka and The Maldives in the South all the way to Australia further south-east. There are a total of 48 countries in Asia.
Most Americans think of Asians as just the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Cambodians etc. They have a certain "Asian" facial feature in mind comprising of slant small eyes and high cheekbones but there exists a large number of Asians who do not resemble this physical stereotype you Americans have in mind at all. Indians, Pakistanis, Nepali, Sri-Lankans, Bangladeshis etc are South Asians whose languages are directly derived from Sanskrit. Then there are the Afghans, Iranians and the Arabs in the Middle East. Further east would be Indonesians, Guineans and the South Pacific Island nations. There are hundreds of major languages and thousand local dialects spread across the length and breadth of Asia.