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Learning about how language changes overtime is fascinating.  An excerpt from Lane Greene essay over at Aeon.

“There is something odd about the vowels of English. Have you ever noticed that every language in Europe seems to use the letter A the same way? From latte to lager to tapas, Italian, German and Spanish all seem to use it for the ah sound. And at some level, this seems natural; if you learn frango is ‘chicken’ in Portuguese, you will probably know to pronounce it with an ah, not an ay. How, then, did English get A to sound like it does in plate, name, face and so on?

Look around the other ‘long’ vowels in English, and they seem out of whack in similar ways. The letter I has an ee sound from Nice to Nizhni Novgorod; why does it have the sound it does in English write and ride? And why do two Os yield the sound they do in boot and food?

The answer is the Great Vowel Shift. From the middle English period and continuing into the early modern era, the entire set of English long vowels underwent a radical disruption. Meet used to be pronounced a bit like modern mate. Boot used to sound like boat. (But both vowels were monophthongs, not diphthongs; the modern long A is really pronounced like ay-ee said quickly, but the vowel in medieval meet was a pure single vowel.)

During the Great Vowel Shift, ee and oo started to move towards the sounds they have today. Nobody knows why. It’s likely that some people noticed at the time and groused about it. In any case, there was really a problem: now ee was too close to the vowel in time, which in that era was pronounced tee-muh. And oo was too close to the vowel in house, which was then pronounced hoose.

Speakers didn’t passively accept the confusion. What happened next shows the genius of what economists call spontaneous order. In response to their new pushy neighbours in the vowel space, the vowels in time and house started to change, too, becoming something like tuh-eem and huh-oos. Other changes prompted yet more changes, too: the vowel in mate – then pronounced mah-tuh – moved towards the sound of the modern vowel in cat. That made it a little too close to meat, which was pronounced like a drawn-out version of the modern met. So the vowel in meat changed too.

Throughout the system, vowels were on the move. Nobody in a 15th-century tavern (men carried knives back then) wants to confuse meet, meat and mate. So they responded to a potentially damaging change by changing something else. A few vowels ended up merging. So meet and meat became homophones. But mostly the system just settled down with each vowel in a new place. It was the Great Vowel Shift, not the Great Vowel Pile-Up.

Such shifts are common enough that they have earned a name: ‘chain shifts’. These are what happens when one change prompts another, which in turn prompts yet another, and so on, until the language arrives at a new equilibrium.”

“Clear language – lucid, rational language – to a man at war with both truth and reason, is an existential threat. Clear language to such a man is a direct assault on his obfuscations, contradictions and lies. To him, it is the voice of the enemy. To him, it is fake news. Because he knows, if only intuitively, what we know to our cost: that without clear language, there is no standard of truth.”

   -John Le Carré

   I do like the Germans and their language specific words, here is a list of some of them. :)
Engelsgeduld: (lit.: angel’s patience) great amount of patience
Feierabend: (lit.: party-evening) the rest of the day that remains after work
Fernweh: the desire/longing to travel to faraway places/ foreign countries
Fingerspitzengefühl: (lit.: fingertips-feeling) good skill in handling things/ sensitivity and empathy
Fremdschämen: (lit.: foreign shame) shame that arises from the compassion with someone who made a fool of himself
Geborgenheit: more than safety, protection and invulnerability, it symbolises peace, warmth and calm you feel especially when you’re with the people you’re close to (e.g. family, friends)
Gemütlichkeit: feeling of comfort
Habseligkeiten: valuable and personally important possessions
Innerer Schweinehund: (lit.: inner pig-dog = weaker self) the part of a person that they have to overcome to be productive
Kitsch: objects with superficial beauty that are actually useless but are appreciated nonetheless
Konfliktfähigkeit: (lit.: conflict ability/skill) ability to deal with conflict / ability to constructively solve interpersonal conflicts
Kummerspeck: (lit.: grief/sorrow bacon (fat)) gained weight from emotional overeating (especially after a breakup)
Lebenslüge: (lit.: life’s lie) a lie that you tell yourself to make life more bearable
Mitdenken: (lit.: with-thinking) ability to think for yourself and do more than what you were demanded to do / trying to find a conceptional solution to a problem together with other people
Sehnsucht: intense inner longing for somebody, something or a place
Schnapsidee: (lit.: schnapps idea) a ridiculous and crazy plan/idea you have while you are drunk
Sprachgefühl: (lit.: language feeling) feeling/sense of language, instinctive feel for a certain language / intuitive feeling of what is linguistically appropriate
Stehaufmännchen: (lit.: little stand up man) someone who doesn’t give up and begins anew
Torschlusspanik: (lit.: gate-closing-panic) the fear of missing something important / not being able to do some things (because you’re too old)
Verschlimmbessern: (lit.: verschlimmern=exasperate, verbessern=improve) improve something for the worse / make something worse but with having had the intention of improving it
Vorführeffekt: (lit.: demo effect) the effect that something you’re actually able to do doesn’t work when you want to demonstrate it to other people
Waldeinsamkeit: (lit.: forest loneliness/solitude) the seclusion/solitude of the forest
Warmduscher: (lit.: warm showerer/ somebody who showers with warm water) a wimp / a person that doesn’t like to leave their comfort zone
Weltschmerz: (lit.: world pain (world weariness)) gratuitous melancholia / kind of feeling experienced by someone who believes that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind / the feeling of anxiety caused by the ills of the world
Zeitgeist: (lit.: time-spirit, spirit of the time ) the dominant set of ideals and beliefs that motivate the actions of the members of a society in a particular period in time

Auntie Wanda on the Pronoun Game.

“Pronouns refer to visible sex and a man is referred to as a “he.”   Not everyone has to play your word games.”

“Pronouns aren’t malicious, they’re neutral words that refer to female people and male people respectively. The knowledge that our species has two sexes isn’t malicious either. 

I’ve never once had a gender identity proponent clearly articulate what they even think the words “woman” and “man” mean beyond being common words for people with specific sex-differentiated biology. As far as I’m concerned it’s a bunch of people adhering to and perpetuating sexist ideas that being a woman or man is something beyond biology, some inherent personality or behavior. And that’s malicious. “

I spent my years learning French in Highschool(and now forgotten). Now with double the disappointment as I realize how word-awesome German is.

Consider this small list of bon mots:

Weltschmerz – world weariness.

Schadenfreude – a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people

Backpfeifengesicht – It describes someone who you feel needs a slap in the face.

Sitzfleisch — (seat meat) – it describes a character trait. Those who possess a lot of seat meat are able to sit through and weather something incredibly hard or boring.

Dreikäsehoch (Three cheeses high) – However, what it describes is a person who is vertically challenged, implying they’re only as tall as three wheels of cheese placed on top of each other.

Schattenparker (Shadow parker) – This word is part of a series of insults for men which accuse them of unmanly behavior. In this case, of parking their car in the shadow to avoid heating up the interior.

Forget French as Canada’s second language it ought to be German. :>

german

un-words-eng

 

I’m a big fan of the German word – whenever I pick up tools, verschlimmbessern is often the result. :>

[Source]

Funny things found on tumblr. :)

  • spanish and italian: So THESE words are feminine and THESE words are masculine, and you ALWAYS put an adjective AFTER the noun.
  • french: haha i dont fuckin know man just do whatever
  • german: LET’S ADD A NEUTRAL NOUN HAHA
  • english: *shooting up in the bathroom*
  • gaelic: the pronunciation changes depending on the gender and what letter the word starts and ends with and hahah i dont even know good fucking luck
  • polish: here have all of these consonants have fun
  • japanese: subject article noun article verb. too bad there’s three fucking alphabets lmao hope your first language isn’t western
  • welsh: sneeze, and chances are you’ve got it right. idfk
  • chinese: here’s a picture. draw it. it means something. it can be pronounced four different ways. these twenty other pictures are pronounced the same but have very different meanings. godspeed.
  • arabic: so here’s this one word. it actually translates to three words. also pronouns don’t really exist. the gender is all in the verb. have fun!
  • latin: here memorize 500 charts and then you still dont know what the fuck is happening
  • sign language: If you move this sign by a tenth of an inch, you’ll be signing “penis”
  • russian: idk man its pronounced like its spelt but good fucking luck spelling it
  • Greek: so basically we’re going to add 15 syllables to every word you know and assign it one of 3 genders at random. Also good luck figuring out where to put the accents you piece of shit

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