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Language Changes

Postby Freakzilla » 08 Nov 2009 21:24

This topic was split off from a CoD Reading Group topic, resulting from a question about Leto and Ghanima speaking French.

I guess Frank didn't think the old "language of diplomacy" would last, huh?
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 08 Nov 2009 21:43

Frank didn't think any language would last, maybe that Arabic would hold out the longest (which maybe is how it will go).
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Freakzilla » 08 Nov 2009 23:34

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Frank didn't think any language would last, maybe that Arabic would hold out the longest (which maybe is how it will go).


Depends on who wins the next (current?) crusade. :wink:
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 09 Nov 2009 01:26

Freakzilla wrote:
A Thing of Eternity wrote:Frank didn't think any language would last, maybe that Arabic would hold out the longest (which maybe is how it will go).


Depends on who wins the next (current?) crusade. :wink:


So yeah, Arabic it is. :wink:
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby SandChigger » 09 Nov 2009 04:45

Nonsense. I don't think FH was making any comment about the staying power of Arabic. Besides, which Arabic do you mean?

There is no one Arabic language: MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) is a kind of convenient fiction. People speak a wide variety of dialects. Just like "Standard English."

No language spoken today will remain unchanged even 1,000 years, let alone 10,000 or 20,000. FH's Fremen is more or less phonetically simplified Egyptian Arabic, which is patently impossible unless you assume some sort of wholesale linguistic rejuvenation program undertaken by the wild Fremen Reverend Mothers, like is described in The Dune Encyclopedia. ;)
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Schu » 09 Nov 2009 06:39

Not to be anglo-centric, but I imagine it will be english that stays the longest in a recognisable form, since it had the good fortune to be the lingua franca at the time when the world started networking like crazy. If this had happened some other time, it could well have been spanish, french, arabic, german, dutch, portugese, latin, italian, greek, whatever.

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Serkanner » 09 Nov 2009 06:47

Schu wrote:Not to be anglo-centric, but I imagine it will be english that stays the longest in a recognisable form, since it had the good fortune to be the lingua franca at the time when the world started networking like crazy. If this had happened some other time, it could well have been spanish, french, arabic, german, dutch, portugese, latin, italian, greek, whatever.


I'll put my money on Chinese.
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby inhuien » 09 Nov 2009 07:14

Schu wrote:Not to be anglo-centric, but I imagine it will be english that stays the longest in a recognisable form, since it had the good fortune to be the lingua franca at the time when the world started networking like crazy.
I think you have this completely backwards, it would be the most isolated or insular language that will remain the most unchanged.
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Schu » 09 Nov 2009 08:37

The main reason I put my bets on english is that it gets recorded and written and shared more than any other language, and while in some ways this allows a lot of change, it means at least that there's a certain standard of what english is that everyone knows (ok, not everyone knows, but there are people that use shitty grammar etc. in every language I'm sure), that it is less prone to break up into dialects etc.

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Nov 2009 09:06

This is a great topic to discuss but let's try to focus on this chapter from CoD.

If y'all want, I'll split it out into a new topic. :)
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Re: Language Changes

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Nov 2009 10:06

If y'all think of a better title I'll change it.
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 09 Nov 2009 13:18

SandChigger wrote:Nonsense. I don't think FH was making any comment about the staying power of Arabic. Besides, which Arabic do you mean?

There is no one Arabic language: MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) is a kind of convenient fiction. People speak a wide variety of dialects. Just like "Standard English."

No language spoken today will remain unchanged even 1,000 years, let alone 10,000 or 20,000. FH's Fremen is more or less phonetically simplified Egyptian Arabic, which is patently impossible unless you assume some sort of wholesale linguistic rejuvenation program undertaken by the wild Fremen Reverend Mothers, like is described in The Dune Encyclopedia. ;)


Fair enough, you're totally right. I think you can see how I would have gotten that idea though.

Also, I assumed (wrongly) that Arabic would remain more pure because of Islam and their wanting to keep the Koran from ever changing one tiny bit, and it being "gods favourite language" and all, wheras people who speak say English seem to be the polar opposite, with almost every person trying to personally contribute to the rapid change of the language (how many people do you know that haven't ever come up with their own new style of grammer to some degree, or given words new meanings (usually through ignorance, but sometimes through wit)...).
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Omphalos » 09 Nov 2009 13:49

SandChigger wrote:Nonsense. I don't think FH was making any comment about the staying power of Arabic. Besides, which Arabic do you mean?

There is no one Arabic language: MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) is a kind of convenient fiction. People speak a wide variety of dialects. Just like "Standard English."


You don't think that all those regional variations will stick around once mankind gets off the planet, do you? Im sure that other local variations will develop as planets are colonized, but I seriously doubt that Egypt will launch a ship to one planet and Saudi Arabia a different ship to a different planet. Not at all. Once ships start going out people of all fiqh and ilm will be boarding them, mashing up local variations wherever they land. MSA is probably the best way to forecast what will come of it all. Unless there is another standard by which they can all communicate. Space travel and colonization are going to reduce certain things to their basest level; you cannot ever assume that the competitors that leave the Earth will be the same ones competing out in the cosmos. There is just too much time required to get to a sociological place where you even can compete with other worlds - the drift is going to be tremendous.

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby SandChigger » 09 Nov 2009 20:21

A Thing of Eternity wrote:Fair enough, you're totally right. I think you can see how I would have gotten that idea though.

Also, I assumed (wrongly) that Arabic would remain more pure because of Islam and their wanting to keep the Koran from ever changing one tiny bit, and it being "gods favourite language" and all, wheras people who speak say English seem to be the polar opposite, with almost every person trying to personally contribute to the rapid change of the language (how many people do you know that haven't ever come up with their own new style of grammer to some degree, or given words new meanings (usually through ignorance, but sometimes through wit)...).

The ability to read passages in the Qur'an in the original seems to be highly regarded among Muslims, so knowledge of the classical language will no doubt be maintained for a long time. (And as long as it is considered the "word of God" as written, it won't be rendered into authorized vernacular translations and the original forgotten with such translations used in worship. While I'm no fan whatsoever of Islam, I've always thought that a nice contrast with so-called Christians who are for the most part completely ignorant of Hebrew & Greek.) And while familiarity with the classical language will exert some influence on the spoken, it won't keep it from changing. I mean, look at the history to date: the modern dialects have developed in spite of the Qur'an, which was codified fairly early on in Muslim history, before the military conquests that spread the language across its current area. (Note that the modern dialects are by no means entirely the result of historical drift; there was also significant hybridization with local languages ... something also not prevented by an Arabic written standard.)

If you look for estimates of how many languages are spoken on this planet, you'll find a range of figures from the low to high thousands, but I'll let you in on a little secret, Thang, the actual figure is six billion something. Every child creates its language(s) anew, based on the language(s) it is exposed to. Just as no two people are ever exposed to exactly the same language data, and no two human brains are exactly identical, no two people speak exactly the same language. But the overlap is large enough that we usually don't notice and manage to communicate well enough. We perceive the English situation as being more chaotic just because we're more familiar with it. It's the same in Japanese and, I presume, in Arabic. (Does anyone else remember that oddball who showed up during the early days of the DN BBS warbling about his Bedouin/desert dialect of Arabic and how pure and beautiful it was and how it embodied and embraced all the languages of the world? And then his webdomain-squatter American wife popped in to share her amazing insights? Ah, as TAZ might say, good times! :lol: )

Omphalos wrote:You don't think that all those regional variations will stick around once mankind gets off the planet, do you?

Nope, that wasn't my point at all. It was that there isn't this monolithic, uniform entity called ARABIC.

Im sure that other local variations will develop as planets are colonized, but I seriously doubt that Egypt will launch a ship to one planet and Saudi Arabia a different ship to a different planet. Not at all.

Again, not anything I even hinted at. I mentioned that FH appears to have used Egyptian Arabic as one basis for his Fremen. (But not totally, because Egyptians usually pronounce J as a hard G.) But in Duniverse terms, the Fremen call themselves "the people of Misr", which is the Arabic name for Egypt, and claim to have originated in "Nilotic al-Ourouba". (Not sure yet what the last part means or whether this is a reference to a place on Terra or the whole is the name of a new planet, but "Nilotic" obviously has to do with the Nile River, no?) Hard to say exactly what he had in mind with that. ;)

Once ships start going out people of all fiqh and ilm will be boarding them, mashing up local variations wherever they land. MSA is probably the best way to forecast what will come of it all. Unless there is another standard by which they can all communicate.

Considering that's an important role of MSA today, I wouldn't be surprised.

Space travel and colonization are going to reduce certain things to their basest level; you cannot ever assume that the competitors that leave the Earth will be the same ones competing out in the cosmos. There is just too much time required to get to a sociological place where you even can compete with other worlds - the drift is going to be tremendous.

Nolo contendere. ;)

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Freakzilla » 09 Nov 2009 20:46

SandChigger wrote:Nolo contendere. ;)


ENGLISH! :Adolf:
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby SandChigger » 09 Nov 2009 21:28

Oh come on, don't you ever watch any legal dramas? :lol:

No contest. (Lit. "I do not wish to contend [against the charges].")

Serkanner wrote:I'll put my money on Chinese.

Yeah ... just through sheer numerical superiority and growing economic clout.

Unless something derails them soon, you should brace yourself for a long-term Pax Sinitica. :(

(Really not a great choice, given the inherent difficulties of the language itself—limited phonetic inventory and syllabic structure with resultant rampant homophony and the dreaded tones—and the writing system with its steep learning curve.)

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Re: Language Changes

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 09 Nov 2009 21:53

Nothing like a language you have to sing. :wink:
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Re: Language Changes

Postby SandChigger » 10 Nov 2009 00:36

Aye. Tone sandhi are a special joy. :P

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Hunchback Jack » 10 Nov 2009 12:20

SandChigger wrote:(Really not a great choice, given the inherent difficulties of the language itself—limited phonetic inventory and syllabic structure with resultant rampant homophony and the dreaded tones—and the writing system with its steep learning curve.)


Tell me about it. My wife of ten years is Chinese, and what few words I know I *still* can't pronounce right.

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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Freakzilla » 10 Nov 2009 12:26

SandChigger wrote:Oh come on, don't you ever watch any legal dramas? :lol:

No contest. (Lit. "I do not wish to contend [against the charges].")


I was just kidding, I've entered NOLO pleas myself. :wink:
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Re: Chapter 06

Postby Idahopotato » 10 Nov 2009 13:09

Hunchback Jack wrote:
SandChigger wrote:(Really not a great choice, given the inherent difficulties of the language itself—limited phonetic inventory and syllabic structure with resultant rampant homophony and the dreaded tones—and the writing system with its steep learning curve.)


Tell me about it. My wife of ten years is Chinese, and what few words I know I *still* can't pronounce right.

HBJ


Some people just have an affinity for languages. After only three years with my Vietnamese wife, I can almost tell when her family is talking about me.

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Re: Language Changes

Postby Omphalos » 10 Nov 2009 15:45

I do very well with Tagalog. I can always tell what they are talking about, and most of the time what they are saying, even when they switch dialects to Visayan or Illocano or something else. And I got ten years in too.

I could also do the same with Finnish, back in the day. Not sure I could do that today.

But I had a Korean girlfriend in law school. could never make heads of tails of that one. Everything sounds the exact same to me. kudge-a-many-pany-ooooooOOOOOoooooo!!! Assozio! :think:

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Re: Language Changes

Postby SandChigger » 10 Nov 2009 16:04

Grammatically Korean's very similar to Japanese. More sounds, though, and more complex syllabic structure. Some really irregular verb stuff.

I like listening to it because it sounds a lot like the Japanese dialect farther north of where I am. Zun-zun-zun-zun-zunga hamnida! It's almost like I can (or should be able to) catch what they're saying, but never can. Messes with your head. That's why I like it. :D

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Re: Language Changes

Postby A Thing of Eternity » 10 Nov 2009 18:20

I used to hang out with kids from all over africe when I was in highschool, and they'd all sit around talking in some african language to eachother. Eventually I asked what language it was, thinking that it would be like India, where there a zillion languages, but most people speak a couple of the major ones - nope. They said they were all speaking different languages, the only one they all had in common was english. The languages were just close enough that they could all get the jist of what eachother were saying, even though they couldn't speak any of the other people's languages.

I always thought that was kinda neat, like a better version of how with some european languages there are enough borrowed/similar words that you can kinda catch a hint of what they're saying.
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Re: Language Changes

Postby chanilover » 11 Nov 2009 12:15

Omphalos wrote:I do very well with Tagalog. I can always tell what they are talking about, and most of the time what they are saying, even when they switch dialects to Visayan or Illocano or something else. And I got ten years in too.

I could also do the same with Finnish, back in the day. Not sure I could do that today.

But I had a Korean girlfriend in law school. could never make heads of tails of that one. Everything sounds the exact same to me. kudge-a-many-pany-ooooooOOOOOoooooo!!! Assozio! :think:


Can your kids speak Tagalog, Omph? I can speak basic Tagalog, but nowhere near enough to say I could get by in it. My mum only spoke English to us when we were growing up and only taught us a few bits and pieces so I never really got the chance to pick much Tagalog up. I think she wanted to make us more British than the natives! :lol:

I can get along pretty well in French and Spanish.
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