Talk in a language you don't know

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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Tikolm » Thu 26 Jul 2012 8:46 pm

linguoboy wrote:Is it? It looks like we got the same sentences. They all begin with mae which is the only verb in the sentence. (Don't let cysgu fool you; verb-nouns are not verbs.)

Oh, whoops. See, I didn't know what mae was. (In fact, I still don't.) But if verb-nouns aren't counted as verbs in the word order, what are they counted as? White space? Adverbs?
I know that Google searches work differently depending on where you are. It wouldn't surprise me greatly to find that GT's results are location-dependent as well.

????? Location-dependent? Why?? What for? Does "the fat cat was sleeping on the mat" mean different things in different dialects of English? I know Google loves to mine information about where you are, but what's that got to do with translations?
They also seem to change over time, whether based on the translations people are requesting or something else.

So if I tried to translate the same sentence a few months later, it would come out differently?
I still don't see any evidence that it does in fact prefer SVO. Can you give me some examples?

I'll try this again. Here's another sentence I got hold of: Yr arth dringo dros y bryn. (The bear climbed over the mountain.) This looks to me like SVO, but it's eminently possible I've read it wrong again.
This is one of the reasons why I consider it not to be trusted.

True enough, but it's all I know about. I suppose I could dig around on Catchphrase for the better part of a day, but I'm not certain they have a translator.
It is. When you put two nouns together like that in Welsh, it will be read as a possessed-possessor relationship (or, more generally, a modified-modifier relationship), e.g. cathod Tikolm "Tikolm's cats". There's no special marking for the genitive construction in Welsh. It's all handled with word order.

That's correct. What you're referring to is sometimes called the "Celtic genitive construction" and, if my book on this is right, the same thing was done in Old French. (Not that that last matters.)
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby linguoboy » Thu 26 Jul 2012 9:24 pm

Tikolm wrote:Oh, whoops. See, I didn't know what mae was. (In fact, I still don't.)

It's a form of the verb "to be". The most common single form, in fact.

Tikolm wrote:But if verb-nouns aren't counted as verbs in the word order, what are they counted as? White space? Adverbs?

From a grammatical point of view, they're nouns.

Terms like "VSO" and "SVO" are gross oversimplifications. The "V" gives the location of the conjugated verb. So German is considered SVO even though the word in second position is often an auxiliary and the main verb comes last, e.g. "Sie hat ihn gesehen". Hat is the third-person singular present tense form of haben "have", so this is the equivalent of saying "She has him seen" (a word order which was once possible in English as well).

The Welsh equivalent of this sentence is Mae hi wedi ei weld (lit. "Is she after his seeing"). Mae, the conjugated verb, comes first. Next is the subject, then a linking particle, then the object. The action is expressed by means of a verb-noun. You can see it's a noun by the fact that the logical object is treated as the possessor. "His seeing" = "the seeing of him" = "seeing him". So the basic order is considered to be V (mae) S (hi) O (ei). The presence of gweld is irrelevant.

Tikolm wrote:I'll try this again. Here's another sentence I got hold of: Yr arth dringo dros y bryn. (The bear climbed over the mountain.) This looks to me like SVO, but it's eminently possible I've read it wrong again.

What you have there isn't a complete sentence in Welsh. Dringo is a verb-noun, not a verb. To make it a full sentence, you need to add one. For instance, the auxiliary naeth "did":

Naeth yr arth ddringo dros y bryn. "The bear climbed over the hill."

Tikolm wrote:
This is one of the reasons why I consider it not to be trusted.

True enough, but it's all I know about. I suppose I could dig around on Catchphrase for the better part of a day, but I'm not certain they have a translator.

Or you could, you know, actually learn the language. And of course you could always ask someone who speaks it (like me, Simon, or YngNghymru).

Tikolm wrote:
It is. When you put two nouns together like that in Welsh, it will be read as a possessed-possessor relationship (or, more generally, a modified-modifier relationship), e.g. cathod Tikolm "Tikolm's cats". There's no special marking for the genitive construction in Welsh. It's all handled with word order.

That's correct.

Thanks! You don't know how much your validation means to me.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Tikolm » Thu 26 Jul 2012 10:42 pm

linguoboy wrote:It's a form of the verb "to be". The most common single form, in fact.

I see.
From a grammatical point of view, they're nouns.

So they're just ordinary nouns? Interesting.
Terms like "VSO" and "SVO" are gross oversimplifications. The "V" gives the location of the conjugated verb. So German is considered SVO even though the word in second position is often an auxiliary and the main verb comes last, e.g. "Sie hat ihn gesehen". Hat is the third-person singular present tense form of haben "have", so this is the equivalent of saying "She has him seen" (a word order which was once possible in English as well).

The Welsh equivalent of this sentence is Mae hi wedi ei weld (lit. "Is she after his seeing"). Mae, the conjugated verb, comes first. Next is the subject, then a linking particle, then the object. The action is expressed by means of a verb-noun. You can see it's a noun by the fact that the logical object is treated as the possessor. "His seeing" = "the seeing of him" = "seeing him". So the basic order is considered to be V (mae) S (hi) O (ei). The presence of gweld is irrelevant.

Oh, dear. I didn't know there were so many auxiliaries all the time. That explains why I was misreading the sentences.
What you have there isn't a complete sentence in Welsh. Dringo is a verb-noun, not a verb. To make it a full sentence, you need to add one. For instance, the auxiliary naeth "did":

Naeth yr arth ddringo dros y bryn. "The bear climbed over the hill."

So what GT did wasn't SVO, it was just missing the auxiliary. And it thought a mountain was really a hill.
Or you could, you know, actually learn the language. And of course you could always ask someone who speaks it (like me, Simon, or YngNghymru).

I could, and I may well. What you don't seem to understand is that you can use a translator program to learn a language, provided that it's good enough, and this is kind of what I had in mind initially. Maybe not the best method, but it could work.
Thanks! You don't know how much your validation means to me.

I really don't need your sarcasm. What I originally wanted to say seemed too rude to me, hence my choice of words. The point was that you explained something I already knew.

(I'm done here now.)
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby linguoboy » Fri 27 Jul 2012 1:19 am

Tikolm wrote:
Naeth yr arth ddringo dros y bryn. "The bear climbed over the hill."

So what GT did wasn't SVO, it was just missing the auxiliary. And it thought a mountain was really a hill.

I'm not going to speculate on where exactly GT went wrong in its translation. That's just one possible way to fix the sentence. I tend not to use gwneud as an auxiliary, so a more natural thing for me to say is: Fe ddringodd yr arth dros y mynydd. (Fe is an affirmative particle, dringodd is a simple past inflected form.)

Tikolm wrote:
Or you could, you know, actually learn the language. And of course you could always ask someone who speaks it (like me, Simon, or YngNghymru).

I could, and I may well. What you don't seem to understand is that you can use a translator program to learn a language, provided that it's good enough, and this is kind of what I had in mind initially. Maybe not the best method, but it could work.

Do you know anyone who has learned a language this way?

Tikolm wrote:
Thanks! You don't know how much your validation means to me.

I really don't need your sarcasm. What I originally wanted to say seemed too rude to me, hence my choice of words. The point was that you explained something I already knew.
[/quote]
If you already knew it was a genitive construction, then why were you confused by my explanation?
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Tikolm » Fri 27 Jul 2012 5:16 pm

linguoboy wrote:Do you know anyone who has learned a language this way?

No, but according to your logic I have to in order to make a valid claim about it. It's only logical that one should be able to learn a language just from exposure to enough different sentences of it. That's essentially how the elders used to teach Cree, and from what I've heard, that approach worked far better than "traditional" classroom lessons. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the precise article on Wawatay News, so I'm not going to post it here.
If you already knew it was a genitive construction, then why were you confused by my explanation?

I wasn't. I'm sorry I gave that impression.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby linguoboy » Fri 27 Jul 2012 5:41 pm

Tikolm wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Do you know anyone who has learned a language this way?

No, but according to your logic I have to in order to make a valid claim about it.

That's not "my logic". That's empiricism--the basis for all scientific thought.

Tikolm wrote:It's only logical that one should be able to learn a language just from exposure to enough different sentences of it.

That seems like a recipe for acquiring passive knowledge of a language, but we don't usually describe people as having "learned a language" unless they also have an active command of it. This means forming your own sentences and using them to communicate with other speakers. How will this method make it possible for you to do that?

Tikolm wrote:That's essentially how the elders used to teach Cree, and from what I've heard, that approach worked far better than "traditional" classroom lessons.

Maybe you're talking about immersion? In any case, face-to-face interaction with fluent speakers is miles away from simply running sentences through an automatic translation programme.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Tikolm » Fri 27 Jul 2012 9:54 pm

linguoboy wrote:That's not "my logic". That's empiricism--the basis for all scientific thought.

All right, it's that too. Good enough. I will hold my peace.
That seems like a recipe for acquiring passive knowledge of a language, but we don't usually describe people as having "learned a language" unless they also have an active command of it. This means forming your own sentences and using them to communicate with other speakers. How will this method make it possible for you to do that?

If you acquire enough passive knowledge, you end up with enough information to put together your own sentences. At least, that's what I've reasoned out. You obviously haven't arrived at the same conclusion.
Maybe you're talking about immersion?

I wouldn't exactly describe it that way. Here's an example: you pick up a cup and say "the cup", then "my cup". Then you raise it to your lips and say "I drink from this cup" or something along those lines. Etc., etc. I suppose that's a form of immersion, but it's like calling Welsh a VSO language -- too simplistic (or maybe too generalistic).
In any case, face-to-face interaction with fluent speakers is miles away from simply running sentences through an automatic translation programme.

I know. However, it's not like I can put up an announcement for a fluent Welsh speaker where I live and just find one. I suppose I could find somebody on Skype if I tried hard enough, but I don't see that happening any time soon. I could also check out an embassy, but I don't want to pester them and I wouldn't know what to say or do. (No, this isn't your cue to give me advice, either. Not every "I don't know" is a request to be told.)
I'm truly sorry I started this thread. It's getting no one anywhere, and the idea was fundamentally flawed to begin with.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby linguoboy » Fri 27 Jul 2012 10:20 pm

Tikolm wrote:If you acquire enough passive knowledge, you end up with enough information to put together your own sentences. At least, that's what I've reasoned out. You obviously haven't arrived at the same conclusion.

I've reached my conclusion on the basis of having a solid passive knowledge of several languages which I cannot hold an effective conversation in. I've read a novel in Swedish, for instance, but my one attempt to chat in Swedish IRL was an utter failure. I literally couldn't answer the simplest questions.

Tikolm wrote:
Maybe you're talking about immersion?

I wouldn't exactly describe it that way. Here's an example: you pick up a cup and say "the cup", then "my cup". Then you raise it to your lips and say "I drink from this cup" or something along those lines. Etc., etc. I suppose that's a form of immersion, but it's like calling Welsh a VSO language -- too simplistic (or maybe too generalistic).

That is what is known as the direct method.

Tikolm wrote:
In any case, face-to-face interaction with fluent speakers is miles away from simply running sentences through an automatic translation programme.

I know. However, it's not like I can put up an announcement for a fluent Welsh speaker where I live and just find one.

Have you tried? You might be surprised; Welsh-speakers don't generally advertise themselves.

Tikolm wrote:I'm truly sorry I started this thread. It's getting no one anywhere, and the idea was fundamentally flawed to begin with.

What idea? The idea of trying to acquire a new language and looking here for help? It's a fine idea. But Google Translate is a badly-flawed tool for language instruction. Take another look at those other resources I sent you links to and just see if one of them wouldn't be more effective.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Elijah » Fri 27 Jul 2012 10:22 pm

ひらがながわかる, でもかたかなとかんじとわからない.
hiragana ga wakaru, demo katakana to kanji to wakaranai.
ぼくのにほんごはよくないだ: べんきょうしています.
boku no nihongo wa yokunai da: benkyou shite imasu.
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Re: Talk in a language you don't know

Postby Tikolm » Fri 27 Jul 2012 10:55 pm

Elijah wrote:ひらがながわかる, でもかたかなとかんじとわからない.
hiragana ga wakaru, demo katakana to kanji to wakaranai.
ぼくのにほんごはよくないだ: べんきょうしています.
boku no nihongo wa yokunai da: benkyou shite imasu.

(Because I don't know Japanese, and Google Translate is all I've got on hand as a translator, I'll just assume I'm replying to this: "Hiragana is known, but do not know and feel and Katakana. I'm not good in Japanese: I have been studying.")
I'm not good in Japanese either (read: I don't know more than diddly) and I don't know any of its writing systems beyond the の character. I haven't been studying it, but I have looked a bit at the Japanese book we've got lying around. If you want to talk to someone who actually knows Japanese, I'd suggest talking to gnunix. That is, unless I decide I'd rather fiddle with Japanese than Welsh, in which case you can talk to me as well (in Japanese) and I might be able to reply in the same language. Don't expect me to say a whole lot that isn't about magazines, dragons or Mr. Tanaka, though.
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