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  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Wind, wind, wound, wound

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by GingerCoffee, Feb 9, 2016.

    What weird words.

    Wind - The wind blows.
    Wind - Will you wind the clock?
    Wound - He wound the clock.
    Wound - The wound was deep.

    They're homographs. But how strange that there would be two different homographs for a different tense of the same word.

    Just sharing my thoughts. :)
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Presumably the wound was deep because there was an edge to the wind, and it cut you like a knife?
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I remember back in second grade, the class was reading a book where the character was dyeing wool. A student next to me was growing more and more upset because she thought it was the word "die" instead, like the wool was a sentient being that was dying. So I quickly drew her a sketch. The top had "dye" with cloth in a pot, and the bottom had "die" with a stick figure with x's for eyes. I circled the top and wrote, "That's what we're talking about."

    English is a funny language sometimes. The same word can have multiple different meanings, multiple different contexts.
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I have the utmost respect for anyone who learns English as a second language. So much of it makes no bloody sense, and the only real way to learn the bizarre rules and pronunciations is to read, voraciously, from a young age.

    You were as sweet as a kid as you are as an adult. :D
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've got my gripes with written English, everyone knows this, because too often it seems like English goes out of its way to be contrary. Why isn't wind (v.) winde? That makes sense. But then we have sense, which should be sens, if we're going to pay any respect to that whole vowel+consenant followed by E rule. This is one reason I love Spanish. Spanish has its own insanities (like never-ending sentences that begin with a preposterously long predicate and you're 50 words in before you even get a glimpse of the freakin' subject of the sentence), but when it comes to spelling the logic is unquestionable. It is rigidly phonetic and the letters all have a single job to do, even the vowels. If you can say it, you can spell it.
     
  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or we could try Chinese. You only have so many ways to put together words of one syllable, even when you add four tones for each.

    Mama man ma. ma si. mama ma ma. Mother rode a horse. The horse was slow. Mother scolded the horse.

    Se, English isn't so bad
     
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  7. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Humorous aside when my Chinese/Roman female MC Marcia used that phrase to give my Roman MC centurion Antonius (and much later her lover and future husband) his first Chinese lesson. "This is something my mother taught us to help us say tones right..." Didn't work out well for my Latin speaking centurion the first time. Lost track of the ma's and just trailed off. Marcia giggles (not something she does a lot of). "Not bad... but let's work on that a bit." He eventually became quite good at han-yu. Of necessity.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Tell me about it. This whole time everyone has been getting my name wrong. :D
     
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  9. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Weird is weird because it weirdly ignores the 'I before E, except after C' taught rule :)



    Weird. The word weird has now lost all meaning. We must invent a new word for it....
     
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  10. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    From what I've been told by language tutors, (fact not verified) English is the hardest to teach because of it's contradictions and same spellings for different meaning words, with Japanese being amongst the easiest for the reason that it's dominated by specific words. If I recall I think there were 13 or so words as titles denoting levels of stature or respect, similar to the English "Mr.".
     
  11. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Try learning German as second language. I wouldn't like to try that :D

    English is easy by comparison I am sure. I learned it by reading and reading and making sense of words out of context. I almost never (which means maybe once a year) looked a word up. That's why my grammar may be a bit weird or "wierd" ;)
     
  12. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    German is easier than you'd think, we owe a lot of English words to strong Germanic roots

    House - Haus
    Mouse - Maus

    And also for fun

    Kaulquappe - Tad Pole. (Cow Crapper)

    But, it honestly follows a lot of the same rules as English.

    Gibt mir dein -
    Give me your -

    The only exception in that sentence is that dein/your responds to the sex of the next word used.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In linguistics the idea of "easy" and "hard" languages is something we usually try to put to rest. All languages have their difficulties and areas of intuitive "easiness", and often those facets don't really show up until you actually try to learn that language with earnest. How people perceive the learning of another language has many variables. Is the persona already bilingual? Perhaps already a polyglot? Is the new language structurally similar to the person's native language? Does the person have a facility for languages? Spanish, for example, looks deceptively easy to most speakers of English until they try to learn more than a handful of verbs. Seriously. So - many - irregular - verbs. o_O And how the verbs function with prepositions is often very different to how it is in English. For a language that has such a gorgeously simple spelling system, one would think someone would have cleaned up that mess of verbs. Every Russian verb is actually a pair of verbs, a perfective and imperfective verb. Sometimes the perfective is an easily predicted variation of the imperfective and other times it's a completely different word. The case system of Russian can be a nightmare for anyone who speaks a language without that feature, but for some (like me) it's a wonderful organizational scheme that lets you know what every word is doing in the sentence.

    To bring the conversation back to @GingerCoffee's original post, English often affects a "Special Snowflake" status as regards its idiosyncratic spelling, attributing this frustrating feature to a host of conquests from invading peoples bringing their languages with them, to a propensity for borrowing words from other languages, blah, blah, special snowflake unique history, blah, blah. The truth is that pretty much every major language in current, healthy use across the globe can make the exact same same claims. The only real difference leading to the idiosyncrasy of spelling in Modern English is a dogged resistance to ever accepting any sort of genuine spelling reform. Most other languages have had several in order to keep the orthography in sync with changes in pronunciation, assimilation of foreign words, etc. English is just stubborn as a mule in this regard.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Quite honestly, all speakers of their own language think their own language is the hardest language there is. And quite honestly, native speakers of the language usually have no idea what actually makes their language difficult to a foreigner. I think the Spanish is the only people to readily and happily say their language is easy. Try telling someone that their native tongue is easy and you'll usually offend them, as if being difficult makes them smarter, like they can take any credit for knowing their mother tongue to native standard!

    The Czechs think Czech is the hardest. The French think French is the hardest. The English and Americans think English is the hardest. Convince someone it's impossible and you'll find people giving up - kudos to you, your language has now gone extinct :superagree:

    Truth is, if a language is easy, that's a good thing. It means more people will want to learn it, because it's easy. And the more people who speak the language, the more useful the language becomes. Why on earth do we love to claim our language is difficult?

    That's why I readily tell others, look, Chinese is easy. It has no plurals, no cases, no tenses, and whatever word you learn remains in exactly the same form with the same pronunciation no matter how you use it, no matter when you use it, no matter whether you speak of the past, present or future! So the tones can be tricky - but who doesn't like to sing? How are tones so different from singing? It's not, really. Oh but there's the Chinese script you say. You honestly think a 3-year-old kid learns how to write, for example, the word: "praise"?

    upload_2016-2-10_19-29-20.png

    Of course not. We learnt stuff like this at nursery:

    upload_2016-2-10_19-30-36.png
    (person/human)

    upload_2016-2-10_19-33-30.png
    (big)

    Speaking of which,

    upload_2016-2-10_19-33-30.png upload_2016-2-10_19-30-36.png

    Big person = Adult :D The way words are formed is highly logical.

    So yes, by the time you hit the age of 7, you've had 5 years of education, so when you get to the word "praise" - you're not trying to figure it out as a million individual lines. You're reading it as several words put together, namely the "speech" radical, then the word "first" put together twice, then beneath the two "firsts" there's the word "shell". Not got a clue why it's constructed this way, but the way you remember the word, therefore, is actually more like "Speech, first, first, shell" - and that may sound confusing until you realise you've learnt ALL three of these words since nursery and know how to write them with your eyes closed.

    It's like trying to spell "contradiction" - it's not difficult because you're not worried about how to write the letter C, and it's not difficult because you're no longer spelling it in your head as C-O-N-T-... etc. But you remember it as groups of sounds, like this: "Con-Tra-Dic-Tion" And these sounds are easy because you've spent all your time as a bumbling 5-year-old sounding out, like C-A-T, M-A-N. So when the word "Madman" comes, you don't go M-A-D-M-A-N. You go Mad-Man.

    (interesting fact: when I was 6 or 7 and didn't really speak English, I played DOS games that required me to type in the commands in English. The names of the games were in English. When I wanted to play Aladdin, I literally did memorise it as A-L-A-D-D-I-N - it was like a chant in my head. I did not go A-Lad-Din - there were no sounds. Only the name of each letter. Then I had my mind blown when I was introduced to phonics)

    Every language has its quirks. And whether a language is difficult for you will depend on your background - it's easier for Czechs to learn Polish, because they're both Slavic languages. Easier for Italians to learn French. Fact that I already read Chinese means I don't have to struggle with the Kanji in Japanese and there're systems that we share, making aspects of it very natural to me that wouldn't be natural to a pure European.

    Every language is easy and, get deep enough, every language is difficult. If you're motivated, know a related language with shared characteristics, have the privilege to be fully immersed in the country where the language is spoken, have a desperate need to speak it because nobody speaks the language you actually know - if any or all of these conditions are met, then you shall have success in any language I believe, particularly the last condition :superagree:

    Anyway, in conclusion, Chinese is easy :ninja:

    Now, Finnish on the other hand...... o_O
     

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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For anyone who cares, the quality of Chinese that Mckk is describing here is referred to as analytic. Chinese is highly analytic. The opposite of analytic is synthetic. Russian with a complex set of double verbs for perfective and imperfective, full set of conjugations for every situation, and case system to denote parts of speech for adjectives, nouns and pronouns is highly synthetic.

    I've not studied grammatical and syntactical trends for Sino-Tibetan (Mandarin and Cantonese both belong to that family), but in Indo-European languages, the trend across time is to go from highly synthetic to at least partially analytic. English is kinda' in the middle, leaning more to analytic than synthetic.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Would that be spelling reform because they adopted another alphabet? I remember Peking changing to Beijing and other changes in Chinese spelling.

    What form did the spelling reforms take? I'm curious.
     
  17. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    So can anyone say why Old world English spells words like behaviour and others like it, the way they do but it has been changed in the New form of English? If words like that can be changed throughout time, why not be able to change words like wind (wind a clock) to winde?
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    As for easy or hard, there is an advantage if one can read the language which is where phonics comes in. Having to first learn a new alphabet such as needed to learn Chinese has to add a layer of difficulty. Learning a language verbally without the reinforcement of seeing it on the page would be hard for some people.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Nope, usually same alphabet. Spanish has had two major spelling reforms of which I am aware, the second one included the modification of the system of accent marks. Before, nearly all words in Spanish took an accent mark where the stress falls in the word (prosodic accent). Russian has had several which reduced the original Cyrillic by a goodly amount. Unnecessary complications and substitute letters were eliminated.

    Even English has had some very minor spelling reforms. Any geek worth his/her SCA card knows of the letters thorn and wynn that once decorated our language. It's the reason we mistakenly pronounce Ye Olde Shoppe as yee. That Y is actually a misread thorn in its blackletter version. It should be read exactly as you say it in Modern English, the.

    And then some languages like Dutch and Danish update their spellings on a very regular basis.

    ETA: The change of Peking to Beijing is a unique situation where the original spelling is actually not meant to be used by the average Joe/Jane. It's this other thing called transliteration, which simply boils down to spelling the words of one language with the alphabet of another, with the intent that this spelling system will be used by a closed community. Sometimes, when the language being transliterated contains sounds that are not present in the language in which the words are going to be read (in this case, English), you end up with some letters or groups of letters representing sounds that are not exactly intuitive unless you learn the transliteration system. When I learned transliteration for Russian, there were several sounds that were represented in the transliterated "product" by different punctuation marks*. There are several different systems of transliteration, with some of them having fallen into obsolescence. The one that gave is Peking wasn't a particularly good one, imo.

    * The Russian adjective for "small" is маленький. Transliterated, it's malen'kiy. See the apostrophe? That's the "soft sign" called мягкий знак (myagkiy znak). There's no equivalent in English to that letter or what it does. It palatalizes the consonant that comes before it, in this case an n. It turns the n into something similar to a Spanish ñ, but not exactly, as my instructors told me over and over and over again at the DLIFLC. In the end they gave up. My tongue already knew the ñ and it wasn't going to shift to the Russian version, which was minutely different, and frankly my ñ was a lot closer to the real thing than most of the other students in class. ;) It can palatalize other letters too, like L, and that's a really hard consonant to get right. It's like making a normal L sound, but instead of just the tip of your tongue touching behind your teeth, it's the whole perimeter of your tongue.
     
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  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee @Wreybies - I don't know the history behind the naming of Peking and the change to Beijing, but it's always been interesting to me that Peking sounds a heck of a lot more like Cantonese, and Beijing much more Mandarin.

    Cantonese transliterations are notoriously bad besides - I actually can't read Cantonese name transliterations well at all. For a start, the transliteration for the word "Ka" in my name is actually pronounced more accurately as "Ga". Why it's spelt with a K then, rather than a G, I have no idea. And "Yan" - the second word in my name - should sound more like "Yun". The English sound "Ann" isn't present at all.

    Yet, I was told all my life to spell it Ka-Yan. I stilll spell it this way because my goodness, Ga-Yun just looks ugly. But yeah, the transliteration makes little sense.

    Another reason Cantonese transliteration or any form of ping-ying is hard would be that it contains these silent sounds - I don't know the linguistic term for it - it's a consonant sound that's never sounded out. Imagine making the P sound, like Pah, but you never go as far as making that "puff of air" sound. Your throat/lips/whatever anatomical part that controls these things seem to "close" on the beginning of making the P sound. These "sounds" occur at the end of some words.

    Which is why I'd have no idea how to "spell" the number one.

    "Yak" (or maybe "Yuk"?) is the closest I can come, without knowing any standard spelling system. But there's no K sound. However, "Ya" is even worse. There's this silent consonant sound right at the end that gives it a quality that just isn't expressed by spelling. The way my husband transliterates it so he can remember Cantonese words (I try to teach him for fun from time to time) is he puts consonant sounds in little brackets at the end, to denote that the physical movement is made to produce that letter sound, but it is not sounded. In the case of "Yak/Yuk", he would write it like "Ya(k)". He often used Czech alphabet for transliteration because there are simply more sounds in Czech than in English and therefore easier to replicate the Chinese sounds in spelling more accurately.

    ETA: oops didn't realise I was using the Czech J - had to run back to correct it all back to Y :bigoops:
     
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  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's really interesting.
     
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  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This happens to me all the time, btw, with H and J when translating Spanish docs into English. Doesn't help that they're right next to one another on the keyboard. ;)
     
  23. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this thread should be moved to the horror genre section!
     
  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ha :) Why?
     
  25. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's scary stuff to us mere mortals. The more I read (past tense version of read) this thread the more convinced I became that writing is an arduous task.
     

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