Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby Talib » Tue 12 Jan 2010 6:21 pm

Declan wrote:The same argument can be made for most languages, and also as a serious question, why wouldn't they be interested in learning Celtic languages?
Most people aren't interested in languages, period - they won't learn one unless they're forced to for some reason.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby linguoboy » Tue 12 Jan 2010 6:48 pm

Talib wrote:
Declan wrote:The same argument can be made for most languages, and also as a serious question, why wouldn't they be interested in learning Celtic languages?
Most people aren't interested in languages, period - they won't learn one unless they're forced to for some reason.

So given that, why is it surprising that when someone is actually motivated enough to learn a language, then don't necessarily choose one with the most general "utility"? As I look at it, people who learn languages for fun are freaks to begin with. Is it a surprise that they often end up choosing freakish languages?

I'd been studying Welsh on my own for a couple years before I went to college and met my first honest-to-goodness Welsh-speaker. He was a learner like me, but he'd had the opportunity to go to the Llŷn Peninsula and be immersed in the language. "Don't try to explain why you want to learn Welsh," he told me.

Someone once told me that if you really want to learn a language, it's not enough to hang out with it. You have to marry it. By the same token, explaining why you love a language enough to want to learn it is like explaining why you love a person enough to want to marry them. Which is to say it defies rational explanation altogether.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby Talib » Tue 12 Jan 2010 7:19 pm

linguoboy wrote:So given that, why is it surprising that when someone is actually motivated enough to learn a language, then don't necessarily choose one with the most general "utility"? As I look at it, people who learn languages for fun are freaks to begin with. Is it a surprise that they often end up choosing freakish languages?
I suppose not, but I'm just curious why so many people go for this particular family. For example, the Baltic languages have just as many interesting features. (Interesting, for my purposes = not SAE.)
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby linguoboy » Tue 12 Jan 2010 7:37 pm

Talib wrote:I suppose not, but I'm just curious why so many people go for this particular family. For example, the Baltic languages have just as many interesting features. (Interesting, for my purposes = not SAE.)

Quick, how many Baltic pop singers can you name?
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby Talib » Tue 12 Jan 2010 8:13 pm

About as many Irish-language singers.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby linguoboy » Tue 12 Jan 2010 8:36 pm

Talib wrote:About as many Irish-language singers.

I sincerely doubt that. Even Kate Bush has released a song in Irish. (Any guesses how many she's sung in Lithuanian?)
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby Talib » Tue 12 Jan 2010 9:01 pm

You might want to brace yourself: People who don't listen to Irish music tend to not know much about it.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby linguoboy » Tue 12 Jan 2010 9:25 pm

Talib wrote:You might want to brace yourself: People who don't listen to Irish music tend to not know much about it.

This entirely misses the point. Before you can fall in love with someone, you need to know they're out there. The prominence of Irish musical artists in the Anglosphere means that anyone routinely exposed to pop music has a greater chance of hearing Irish than any other language with a comparable number of speakers. Is there a person left on the planet who has never heard a song by Enya (alias Eithne Ní Bhraonáin)?

I think what surprises me in light of this is how relatively popular Welsh is among American learners despite the much lower profile of Welsh musicians and Welsh culture generally. But it heavily influenced one of the best-known conlangs ever, Sindarin, and I run into plenty of people who have followed the trail back from modern high fantasy to the proto-Arthurian source material.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby Talib » Tue 12 Jan 2010 9:29 pm

linguoboy wrote:The prominence of Irish musical artists in the Anglosphere means that anyone routinely exposed to pop music has a greater chance of hearing Irish than any other language with a comparable number of speakers. Is there a person left on the planet who has never heard a song by Enya (alias Eithne Ní Bhraonáin)?
I think you're exaggerating the diffusion of Irish music. Aside from Enya, I can't think of any artist who regularly sings in Gaelic. This might have to do with my tastes laying mainly in instrumental music (jazz and classical mostly) but I consider my knowledge of popular music to be pretty good.
I think what surprises me in light of this is how relatively popular Welsh is among American learners despite the much lower profile of Welsh musicians and Welsh culture generally. But it heavily influenced one of the best-known conlangs ever, Sindarin, and I run into plenty of people who have followed the trail back from modern high fantasy to the proto-Arthurian source material.
I think you've nailed it.
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Re: Hello, hola, привет, dia dhuit

Postby linguoboy » Tue 12 Jan 2010 9:46 pm

Talib wrote:I think you're exaggerating the diffusion of Irish music.

When there's a thriving homegrown Celtic music scene in bloody Belgrade? No, I really don't think I am.

Talib wrote:Aside from Enya, I can't think of any artist who regularly sings in Gaelic.

That was never the question. You only have to hear one song in Irish to get a sense for what it sounds like--which may be all you need to fall in love with it. That's why I mention Kate Bush. She has hundreds of thousands of fans who will listen to whatever she does, regardless of language, regardless whether any of them has any interest in Celtic music otherwise. You can say the same for Super Furry Animals, whose electro-psychedelia is about as far from traditional Welsh music as you can imagine. I now know Germans who can sing along to the chorus of "Pan Ddaw'r Wawr" without a damn idea what any of the words mean--people who would never in a million years have picked up a release from Twmpath or Meic Stevens.
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