Go Back   Bloggingheads Community > Diavlog comments
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Notices

Diavlog comments Post comments about particular diavlogs here.
(Users cannot create new threads.)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #41  
Old 09-05-2011, 11:04 AM
ledocs ledocs is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: France, Earth
Posts: 1,165
Default Re: Simplification

Not for the food, for the drink, beer and whiskey. Or perhaps it was for the literature. Or the flower gardens.
__________________
ledocs
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 09-05-2011, 12:57 PM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Simplification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ohreally View Post
Normans were originally vikings, no? So why is it the Normans changed their language to French when they conquered Normandy and but then refused to change when they conquered England? I spot a certain inconsistency in Viking history.
True, they were. Is there an academic speciality called Vikingology? Your question is interesting though, even if you are being facetious.

Second question: If you lived in Normandy, why would you invade England and move there? For the food? [/QUOTE]

I can't answer for the Normans, but I am sure that every contemporary French tourist who crosses the Channel asks it.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 09-05-2011, 01:05 PM
SkepticDoc SkepticDoc is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Argleton
Posts: 1,168
Default Re: Simplification

Maybe it was the same reason the Romans did it.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 09-05-2011, 01:21 PM
miceelf miceelf is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,569
Default Re: Simplification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ledocs View Post
Not for the food, for the drink, beer and whiskey. Or perhaps it was for the literature. Or the flower gardens.
For the teeth.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 09-06-2011, 03:50 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,644
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florian View Post
A pleasant relief from the usual bhtv fare. I look forward to reading John's book.

Without being a professional linguist, I would dispute John's claim that what makes English unique as a language of empire is the result mainly of what happened to old English when the Vikings invaded England. Take the vocabulary of English. All the words I have bolded come either from French or from Latin, often via French. Indeed I once read that nearly 50% of the English lexis is of French origin or of Latin origin via French. And there are some words whose etymology is no longer even apparent, e.g. war (from "guerre"). Just off the top of my head, here are some common words whose French origin is obvious: debt, pay, purchase, lodge, common, curtesy, pray, repent, renounce, fruit, dinner, sauce, feast, veal, table, touch, manner, polite, police, medicine, peace, justice, grace, evidence, pardon....

The Norman Invasion (1066) changed everything in English. Middle English is more or less comprehensible to anyone studying English literature today because its vocabulary was completely transformed by the Normans. Old English is not. There are 39 words of French origin in the first 43 lines of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

So if English is a hybrid language, it is not only because the "Anglo-Saxons" were invaded by the Vikings but also because they were subjugated by the Normans in 1066. That and the fact that for the next five hundred years, English borrowed extensively from both French and Latin. To say that English is grammatically simple because it is the language of an empire, like Persian, overlooks the fact that its vocabulary (and the concepts that are conveyed by vocabulary) is largely the product of the Roman Empire and its continental heirs.
also, since the normans were the conquerors, the french-derived words of the same meaning usually have a more polite or upper-class connotation than the Anglo derived words. I think Pig/swine cattle/beef also show this split so the anglo pig is served to the normans as swine, and the anglo cow is provides the beef that the normans eat.

i havn't watched the DV, but i thought the Norman invasion was well accepted as the defining moment in transforming english into the weirdo language it is.
__________________
civil disobedience a problem? NO! Our problem is that people are OBEDIENT all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. -HZ
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 09-07-2011, 05:50 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Quote:
Originally Posted by popcorn_karate View Post
also, since the normans were the conquerors, the french-derived words of the same meaning usually have a more polite or upper-class connotation than the Anglo derived words. I think Pig/swine cattle/beef also show this split so the anglo pig is served to the normans as swine, and the anglo cow is provides the beef that the normans eat.

i havn't watched the DV, but i thought the Norman invasion was well accepted as the defining moment in transforming english into the weirdo language it is.
McWorter apparently believes that the importance of the Norman Conquest has been exaggerated, but I haven't read his book. You are right, though, about the conventional wisdom. Approximately 10,000 French words entered English as a result of the invasion, 75% of which are still in use. And when you add to those all the later borrowings from Latin and French, many of them essential for educated communication, it is debatable whether English is a Germanic language at all.

It is only a half-truth that the French loanwords for animals --veal, beef, venison, pork, mutton---were used exclusively for cooked meat. You find beef, veal and mutton also used for animals in the field up to the 17th century, according to my etymological dictionary.

Last edited by Florian; 09-07-2011 at 05:52 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 09-07-2011, 08:36 AM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,629
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Fascinating discussion! I confess I haven't really listened to Mr. McWhorter much until now. He's usually paired with Glen Loury to talk about, well, Black stuff, and I"m not that interested.

I was particularly struck by Mr. McWhorter's comments on the Black English "yo." Like most people, I thought of it as an interjection.

To learn that it is a particle was interesting to me, particularly since there is a word in Japanese, neh, roughly [NAY], which fulfills the same function, i.e., seeking confirmation or affirmation.

A: Isogashii desu, neh?

B: Soo desu, neh. Ima shigoto ga naka-naka susumanai.

A: You're busy, aren't you?

B: That's right. Work isn't going so well now.

Cool to find common threads where one wouldn't have expected any.
__________________
Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me outta this
--Warren Zevon--
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 09-08-2011, 03:24 AM
timboy timboy is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 13
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

From his previous book I take it that McWhorter would argue that while the Norman invasion introduced a lot of new words into English, it didn't change the grammar much - and he believes that the weirdo grammar was already in place before 1066.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 09-08-2011, 12:54 PM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Quote:
Originally Posted by timboy View Post
From his previous book I take it that McWhorter would argue that while the Norman invasion introduced a lot of new words into English, it didn't change the grammar much - and he believes that the weirdo grammar was already in place before 1066.
That's just not true. If I had access to Old English texts (pre-1066) I could quote you any passage and you would be unable to understand it, and not only because of the differences in vocabulary. It must be regarded as a foreign language. Try reading Chaucer, who wrote three hundred years after the Norman Conquest, and see how easy it is to understand.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 09-09-2011, 01:13 PM
Flaw Flaw is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 84
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Great one.
Reply With Quote
  #51  
Old 09-10-2011, 08:06 AM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Great Moravia
Posts: 1,117
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

There's a wrinkle though. McWhorter does says that the odd grammar of English was in place before 1066, but he argues that because it was considered substandard, it didn't show up very often in written documents. After the Norman conquest and the dominance of French in educated circles in England, the English literary tradition was renewed with a new standard, which included the bits that were considered ungrammatical previously -- an example of this would be the verb "do" as an auxiliary verb in questions and negative statements, as in "Do you have a dog"/"I don't have a dog". (This takes up a lot of time in beginning English classes.) McWhorter argues that this came into English from Celtic languages, and it does show up in Chaucer, apparently.

You said (in another post) that English can hardly be considered a Germanic language anymore. That might be true, but it definitely can't be considered a Romance language, either. The odd grammatical features that make English very different from its closest relatives (the auxiliary verb "do", the use of the present progressive, the collapse of case and gender) do not correspond with features in French grammar.

Also, one of the reasons Chaucer is hard to understand for modern English speakers is because of the vowel shift in the fifteenth century.
Reply With Quote
  #52  
Old 09-10-2011, 02:26 PM
Florian Florian is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kezboard View Post
There's a wrinkle though. McWhorter does says that the odd grammar of English was in place before 1066, but he argues that because it was considered substandard, it didn't show up very often in written documents. After the Norman conquest and the dominance of French in educated circles in England, the English literary tradition was renewed with a new standard, which included the bits that were considered ungrammatical previously -- an example of this would be the verb "do" as an auxiliary verb in questions and negative statements, as in "Do you have a dog"/"I don't have a dog". (This takes up a lot of time in beginning English classes.) McWhorter argues that this came into English from Celtic languages, and it does show up in Chaucer, apparently.

You said (in another post) that English can hardly be considered a Germanic language anymore. That might be true, but it definitely can't be considered a Romance language, either. The odd grammatical features that make English very different from its closest relatives (the auxiliary verb "do", the use of the present progressive, the collapse of case and gender) do not correspond with features in French grammar.

Also, one of the reasons Chaucer is hard to understand for modern English speakers is because of the vowel shift in the fifteenth century.
I meant just the opposite: that it is fairly easy to read Chaucer in comparison to Old English, despite the vowel shift. With footnotes anyone can do it. Anglo-Saxon, on the other hand, is unintelligible.

I agree that English can't be considered a Romance language either. But the fact that English and French share approximately 15,000 words, some via Latin, makes them close cousins as it were. And frères ennemis"? Enemy brothers?
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old 09-10-2011, 09:08 PM
rfrobison rfrobison is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 1,629
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florian View Post
...[F]rères ennemis"? Enemy brothers?
I believe the technical term is "frenemies."
__________________
Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me outta this
--Warren Zevon--
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old 09-11-2011, 01:20 AM
pod2 pod2 is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 213
Default Re: Science Saturday: Black Martian Linguists (John McWhorter & Joshua Knobe)

Wow! This just confirms Josh Knobe's status as most thoughtful, provocative, depth-plumbing interviewer in bastard-tongue-ese. He without fail seems to bring both core and commonly overlooked aspects of a thinker's work to light. Incredible.
Reply With Quote
 


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:30 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.