In this episode I discuss which languages are easiest to learn for native speakers of English, and what factors make languages easy or difficult to learn, including grammar, spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, the availablity of resources, and so on.
In this episode I talk about the Czech language (čeština / český jazyk). I give an overview of the language itself, talk about my efforts to learn it.
Examples of Czech noun cases
- Nominative: (Já) ji vidím = I see her
- Genitive: Její květy jsou modré = Her flowers are blue
- Dative: Dávám jí květiny = I give her flowers
- Accusative: Ona mě vidí = She sees me
- Vocative: Ahoj Evo = Hi Eva
- Locative: Jsem doma = I am at home
- Instrumental: Ona cestuje autobusem = She is travelling by bus
Some Czech tongue twisters without vowels
- Chrt pln skvrn zdrhl z Brd.
A greyhound full of spots escaped from the Brdy (mountains)
- Chrt pln skvrn zhltl hrst zrn.
A greyhound full of spots swallowed a handful of grain.
- Chrt pln skvrn vtrhl skrz trs chrp v čtvrť Krč, prv zhltl čtvrt hrst zrn.
A greyhound full of spots barged through a tuft of cornflowers into the Krč neighbourhood, (but) first, it swallowed a quarter-handful of grain.
- Plch zdrhl skrz drn, prv zhltl čtvrthrst zrn.
A dormouse escaped through a turf; first it swallowed a quarter-handful of grain.
- Zdrhl krt skrz drn, zprv zhltl hrst zrn.
A mole escaped through a turf; first, it swallowed a quarter-handful of grain.
- Vlk pln žbrnd zdrhl hrd z mlh Brd skrz vrch Smrk v čtvrť srn Krč.
A wolf full of poor-quality beverages escaped proud from the mists of Brdy through the Smrk hill into the roe deer district of Krč.
- Prd krt skrz drn, zprv zhlt hrst zrn
A mole farted through grass, having swallowed a handful of grain
- Škrt plch z mlh Brd pln skvrn z mrv prv hrd scvrnkl z brzd skrz trs chrp v krs vrb mls mrch srn čtvrthrst zrn
A miser dormouse from the mists of Brdy full of spots from manure, firstly proud, pushed (with its fingers in a specific way) a dainty of bitchy roe deer, quarter-handful of grain, off the brakes through a tuft of cornflowers into the dwarfed willows.
Translations and recordings by Rhee Diculous
Information about Czech
Tunes features in this episode
Hajej, můj zlatouškou (a Czech lullaby)
In this episode I talk about language families – what they are, and how they develop, and I introduce some major and minor language families.
According to Wikipedia, a language family is “a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family”.
According to Ethnologue there are currently 142 different language families and 7,111 living languages. The ten largest languages families account for about 88% of the world’s population, and 74% of the world’s languages.
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Here’s an illustration a the family tree of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages:
More information about language families
The tune featured in this episode
In this episode I talk about grammar – what it is, where it comes from, how it develops, and how knowledge of grammar can help you to learn languages. This post was partly inspired by this post on the Polyglots (Community) group on Facebook.
What is grammar?
It is defined by the Oxford Dictionaries as follows:
The whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology (including inflections) and sometimes also phonology and semantics.
A set of actual or presumed prescriptive notions about correct use of a language.
The Free Dictionary defines grammar as:
1a. The study of how words and their component parts combine to form sentences.
1b. The study of structural relationships in language or in a language, sometimes including pronunciation, meaning, and linguistic history.
2a. The system of inflections, syntax, and word formation of a language.
2b. The system of rules implicit in a language, viewed as a mechanism for generating all sentences possible in that language.
3a. A normative or prescriptive set of rules setting forth the current standard of usage for pedagogical or reference purposes.
3b. Writing or speech judged with regard to such a set of rules.
According to Wikipedia, grammar in linguistics is:
The set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes phonology, morphology, and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics.
To non-linguistics grammar might be:
rules of spelling and punctuation.
a generic way of referring to any aspect of English that people object to.
I also invited members of the Omniglot Fan Club on Facebook to provide their definitions of grammar.
Music featured in this episode
In this episode I talk about the international language, or la lingva internacia, otherwise known as Esperanto. I look into it’s history and development, and discuss the language itself.
Here are some native speakers of Esperanto (they do exist) talking in Esperanto:
How Esperanto can help you to learn other languages:
This is an original song in Esperanto:
Music featured in this episode
The Esperanto anthem, La Espero, written by L.L. Zamenhof:
Mwmpwy Porthaethwy / Menai Bridge Fancy
More information about Esperanto: