What is the "correct" pronunciation of a loan word?
In English, we often try to attempt the native pronunciation of loan words. And we don’t allow our writing system to control the way we pronounce foreign words. For example, we don’t pronounce “faux pas” as “fowks pass”, and if a friend asked for a “tor-till-ah” instead of “tor-tee-ya”, or “ka-rah-jee” instead of “kara-ah-gee”, you might politely correct them.
In Japanese however, it seems like no such effort is made. Foreign words are transposed into the Japanese writing system, and then read phonetically with seemingly little effort at maintaining the original pronunciation. Muhk-don-aldz becomes ma-ku-don-aru-do; work becomes waa-ku.
In English we know that a Spanish-origin word with two consecutive Ls makes a Y sound. Why then, don’t Japanese people know that you don’t need to pronounce all the extraneous vowels that the Japanese writing system forces into English-origin words? Japanese people certainly use more English loan words than English people use Spanish loan words, so it’s not an issue of familiarity.
I have a theory to expain this phenomenon. First, we have to assume the following things are true:
Some sounds or combinations of sounds that exist in one language don’t exist in many others. This means when a word is borrowed from a different language, the borrowing language often can’t reproduce the pronunciation perfectly as it appears in the native language.
People generally try to pronounce words correctly, as this leads to better communication and understanding, even if this effort is subconscious.
My theory is this, and it applies to any language: the “correct” pronunciation of a loan word is not the native pronunciation. It is actually the pronunciation that gets the closest to the native pronunciation while still only using sounds and combinations of sounds that exist in the language borrowing the word.
I was really satified when I came up with this because it explains a few odd happenings.
It explains why Japanese people make no effort to avoid pronouncing the extraneous vowels they add between consonants in English loan words (because such combinations of sounds simply don’t exist in the Japanese phonetic system).
It explains why people find cooking show hosts pretentious when they suddenly pronounce an ingredient with its native pronunciation, like “parmesan” (because the native pronunciation is “overshooting” - they did not use the agreed upon english pronunciation of the loan word).
It explains why, if I ask a supermarket staff member where the “tofu” is, with perfect Japanese pronunciation, they most likely will not understand me.
That said, my theory may be wrong, and as someone with no formal education in linguistics, I would love it if a real linguist or linguistics student responded to this post with a different opinion or more information!
💬 Linguistics Challenge 📚 - January
This challenge will teach you the basics of linguistics step-by-step over the course of 12 months.
This month, we'll start with: an introduction to linguistics & phonology.
Each month you get a few exercises (depending on how complex the topic is), so you can take breaks in between days or use those days to revise and practice. I’ve put links to all the topics on which i made blog posts, but you’re very welcome to do your own research online.
This challenge is based on what I learned in the first semesters of my linguistic studies at uni, and it’s aimed at giving you a broad introduction and teaching you the most important concepts from several different fields of linguistics.
Throughout the month, you'll get the chance to apply your new knowledge in some exercises and tasks. If you want, you can share your work via reblog with the tag #linguisticschallenge, i'd love to see your contributions :)
Also, feel free to follow me so you won’t miss next month’s challenge!
Inform yourself about what linguistics is and the different fields of linguistics. During the course of these monthly challenges, you'll probably learn more about each one of them
Inform yourself about the linguistic fields of phonetics and phonology and what they analyse
Look at the IPA alphabet (the English one is enough for now, the international one is quite big and complicated) and try to understand how it works
Find out the differences between vowels and consonants
Look at the vowel charts and learn where in the mouth vowels are pronounced and how you can describe/define vowels by their position (e.g. open vs. closed, front vs. back)
Task: Make a list of all the vowel phonemes and their descriptions based on their positions in the vowel chart
Look at the consonant chart. First off, look at the different ways consonants can be articulated (fricative, plosive, etc.)
Now, look at the consonant chart and look at the different places where consonants can be articulated (bilabial, palatal, glottal, etc.)
Learn the difference between voiced and voiceless consonants
Task: Make a list of all the consonants and their descriptions based on the place of articulation, the way of articulation, and whether they're voiced or voiceless
Find out what graphemes, phonemes, and allophones are and what kinds of brackets are used for them (e.g. <...>, /.../, [...])
Learn about stress in words and sentences, what kinds of words are stressed (if you don't know about word types yet, don't worry, you'll learn about them soon), and how to show stress in phonetic transcriptions
Learn about the rules for when to use unstressed [i] and [u] in phonetic transcriptions
Task: Use the IPA chart and try to phonetically transcribe some words, e.g. your name, your favourite animal, etc. (e.g. Espen = /'espən/, bears = /bæz/). There are several programmes where you can check your transcriptions
Inform yourself about linguistic liaison
Task: Use the IPA chart and try to phonetically transcribe a quote, lyric, joke, etc. Again, you can use a programme to check your work.
If you’re quick or want to learn more, you could check out my linguistics masterpost to see if i made any new posts on this topic after creating this challenge. You could also take a look at these book tips:
Skandera, Paul and Peter Burleigh. “A manual of English phonetics and phonology.” Tübingen: Narr. 2016.
Roach, Peter. “English Phonetics and Phonology. A practical course.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2009.
McCully, Chris B. “The sound structure of English: an introduction.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2009.
Crystal, David. “A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics.” 2008.
Next month, we'll look at the fields of morphology and word formation!
Joulukalenteri - luukku 6
6th of December is the independence day of Finland. Yay!
Finland gained independence in 1917. Before that, it had been a part of the Russian empire from 1809. Before that, Finland had been a part of Sweden for almost 600 years. Time before Sweden is not very well documented.
So Finland became independent on 6th of December in 1917, breaking apart from the Russian empire and quickly fell into a civil war, where the socialist Punaiset and nationalistic Valkoiset fought against each other. However, the civil war is not usually discussed a lot, since it has left great scars in the generation, and the ones that came quickly after it. It fights against the notion that Finns are one people, and included horrible actions towards the opposite sides. However, Talvisota (the Winter war) during the Second World War, is a thing celebrated on independence day a lot, although it kinda has nothing to do with the day itself, only that by "winning" (not losing more) the Winter war, Finland was able to keep its independence.
The way independence is celebrated in Finland is also rather tame. I personally do not celebrate it at all. Some organisations have some celebrations, but mostly the celebration is limited to Linnan juhlat, which is a party for the president and guests chosen by them, usually "culturally important and significant people" like politicians, artists, and diplomats. Linnan juhlat is also televised. There are no fireworks or anything special to be honest. People just maybe meet up, have a meal and watch Linnan juhlat while commenting on the clothes of the guests. The independence day is also a national holiday with paid leave and one of the few official flag-flying days.
You can watch Linnan juhlat yourself on Yle Areena 6.12. 18:50 UTC +2 at https://areena.yle.fi/1-63757535 (it might be smaller this year because of Covid-19)
The independence day is not important to me, and I am not a patriotic person. I know that some things really suck in Finland, like some social rights issues for example. I do think that living in Finland is still rather nice though, and I kinda wish that celebrating the independence day would revolve a little less around war, patriotism and nationalism, and more around Finnish culture, languages, diversity and progress. And luckily I feel it's switching to that direction!
🇫🇮 Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää! 🇫🇮
biggest language wtf moment is when you can understand every single word of a sentence but you still have no idea what it actually means
Hey did you know I keep a google drive folder with linguistics and language books that I try to update regularly
UPDATE because apparently not everyone has seen this yet the new and improved version of this is a MEGA folder
I know there's so many more urgent things but if you like this resource you may consider buying me a ko-fi to keep this project alive
My favourite thing about (most) Germanic languages:
Norwegian: due (pigeon), drue (grape)
Danish: due (pigeon), drue (grape)
Swedish: duva (pigeon), druva (grape)
Dutch: duif (pigeon), druif (grape)
Afrikaans: duif (pigeon), druif (grape)
Frisian: duif (pigeon), druif (grape)
German: Taube (pigeon), Traube (grape)
A few notable outliers: English, Scots, Icelandic
just keep swimming~
language learning (affectionate): there are so many words!!
language learning (derogatory): there are so. many. words.
does anyone have any tips or know any free ways to help me learn spanish? i already use duolingo but i really wanna do something more along with it. i appreciate any advice!
How to use Notion for Language Learners - a masterpost
So, I have been learning languages for a while now, and one of the things I have always been struggling with is having a space that could gather all the info I need, the spreads I used to make on my bullet journal, and maybe even something more.
Notion has become my best friend all over the last couple of years, but as I am a pretty sick perfectionist, I am still mastering the art of creating efficient templates, but I am slowly overcoming this problem of mine… In the meantime enjoy my favorite YouTube videos all about Notion x Language Learning:
how to make the best language learning plan | notion templates | AD by Anna Lenks
ULTIMATE LANGUAGE PLANNER IN NOTION FOR POLYGLOTS by me :)
How to make a language learning plan that WORKS ✨ Notion for language learners by Elysse Speaks
How To Make A Sentence Mining Database in Notion | Language Learning | Tutorial + Free Template by Leafling Learns
How I Created a 30-Day Language Study Plan That Works! by Shea Jordan
Create a language learning schedule that works + Notion Template! by Jusuf
updating my language learning notion 🖊 by Jo Renee Languages
Language Learning: Notion, RemNote And Reverso (French) by Red Gregory
How I plan and organize my life and languages | Notion tour 📝 by Lindie Botes
Hope you enjoyed this post, in the meantime I'll go and create the best language-learning hub you will ever see
Best language learning tips & masterlists from other bloggers I’ve come across
(these posts are not my own!)
THE HOLY GRAIL of language learning (-> seriously tho, this is the BEST thing I’ve ever come across)
Some language learning exercises and tips
20 Favorite Language Learning Tips
what should you be reading to maximize your language learning?
tips for learning a language (things i wish i knew before i started)
language learning and langblr tips
Tips on how to read in your target language for longer periods of time
Tips and inspiration from Fluent in 3 months by Benny Lewis
Tips for learning a sign language
Tips for relearning your second first language
how to self teach a new language
learning a language: how to
learning languages and how to make it fun
how to study languages
how to practice speaking in a foreign language
how to learn a language when you don’t know where to start
how to make a schedule for language learning
How to keep track of learning more than one language at the same time
Language Study Master Post
Swedish Resources Masterpost
French Resouces Masterpost
Italian Resources Masterpost
Resource List for Learning German
Language-Sanctuary Langblr Challenge
language learning checkerboard challenge
2+ months of language learning prompts
list of words you need to know in your target language, in 3 levels
bullet journal dedicated to language learning
over 400 language related youtube channels in 50+ languages
TED talks about language (learning)
Learning the Alien Languages of Star Trek
Feel free to reblog and add your own lists / masterlists!
if you’re learning a language you’re either “I have the vocabulary of a pretentious old literature professor but grammar is a sinful mistress who shall never cross the threshold of my house” or you’re “I only know what ‘strawberry’ and ‘to go’ mean but by ye gods I can make them jump through conjugation hoops and declension parcours that would peel the socks off your feet”. no in between
i have no idea how to structure this post but i wanted to let any language learners following me to know about pronunciator! it's a programme i just found out our local library gives us access to, but i think that you can also register for it on your own. it has a massive number of courses for over 160 languages—even kurdish, which is really hard to find courses on! some other languages they have that i saw just from a quick glance at their languages page are armenian, mexican sign language, hmong, and amharic. i don't have a catchy tagline here, i just think you should consider looking into if you can use it.
Learning Russian on Duolingo
Edit: Fixed “моя яблоко” to say “ мое яблоко ”. This is what I get for not consulting my notes.