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'[OT] Posters with English as 27th language'
2005\12\19@060237 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Olin Lathrop wrote (in the thread "[PIC] Comparing PIClist and Microchip
Forum on PIC topics"):

[While responding to the message, I came to think that I maybe didn't
"read" you right, got ticked off (but then maybe not completely without
reason), by two things:

"... has a larger fraction of totally clueless bozos and those to whom
english is the 27th language, but post anyway."

1- The close proximity of "clueless bozos" and "to whom English is the 27th
language", and
2- The use of "English is the 27th language" as a derogatory term to mean
"a really bad English" -- without seemingly any clue what it means to speak
27 languages.

I guess my response is about why I think you may have done that, and why
this didn't sound "right" to me.]


>> Maybe you should take it with just a bit of gratefulness that somebody
>> is trying to post in your language rather than in hers.
>
> Why?  

You are lucky to live in a world (and I believe that this is only
temporary, as pretty much everything) where English is the de facto
international communication standard. That makes things easier for native
English speakers. Some hundred years ago or so, it was French. Maybe in
hundred years from now, the standard will be some form of Chinese.

So just be lucky that you live in a world that speaks English, rather than
it expecting from you to speak something else. I don't know whether you
know how it is to speak a language that's not your first; but if you don't
know, take it from one who does that it's a lot easier to speak your first
language. (OTOH, you lose out on being forced into a valuable experience...
but then, you always can get that experience by your own free will. :)

> If someone asks me for free advice, [...]

When posting in a public forum or list, usually that's not asking /you/ for
advice (unless responding to a post from you, like I do -- but then, I'm
not asking for advice).

> [...] it's their obligation to make understanding their question above my
> hassle threshold.  

I don't think this makes sense. I have no clue where your hassle threshold
is, and I don't know how I (or anybody else) could determine that. So it
makes no sense to make it an obligation of mine to rise above your hassle
threshold.

> If I chose to not receive messages from forums that tend to have a high
> fraction of hard to understand posts, that's completely my business and
> within my right.  

Of course. I never said it wasn't.

> I don't have to be "grateful" to anyone for trying to ask me a question.

Did I say you "have to be" grateful (or anything)? To answer that rhetoric
question: no, I didn't. Did I say that you should be grateful for somebody
trying to ask you a question? Again my own answer to that rhetoric
question: no, I didn't.

I wrote "maybe you should take it with just a bit of gratefulness that
somebody is trying to post in your language". I'm pretty sure (even with
English not being my first language) that this doesn't mean or imply that
you "have to" do anything, or that you should be grateful for being asked
something. So why are you acting as if it did?

That's what I meant. Communication is not so easy, even for people whose
first language is English. It always takes a certain amount of goodwill, to
interpret what you read in the way it might have been meant. Just extend
that, be happy (or grateful?) that most of the international forums are
English and not Chinese or French, and try to see that reading bad English
every now and then is the other side of the same coin that has you not
having to post in Chinese (or heavens forbid, in French :) on the front
side.

> Maybe, but my goodwill is limited when doing things for free.  

This whole thing was not about you doing things for free. You do what you
want, and read and respond to what you want. I was answering to the
(implied, perceived, expressed?) attitude -- and was just trying to add a
thought or two to that situation. Not criticising, nor trying to make you
do things you don't want to do.

Gerhard

2005\12\19@123206 by Danny Sauer

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Gerhard wrote regarding 'Re: [OT] Posters with English as 27th language' on Mon, Dec 19 at 05:05:
> You are lucky to live in a world (and I believe that this is only
> temporary, as pretty much everything) where English is the de facto
> international communication standard. That makes things easier for native
> English speakers. Some hundred years ago or so, it was French. Maybe in
> hundred years from now, the standard will be some form of Chinese.

There's a big difference between cutting someone some slack because
they haven't really gotten a good handle on English and being grateful
that someone can take some time out of their busy schedule to
half-heartedly learn the language that everyone else on a forum uses.
The first is reasonable, but the second?  If someone wants to
participate in a forum which is exclusively English, then they need to
be able to communicate clearly in English.  That's not being mean or
insensitive, it's just the way it is for any language.

BTW, it's not just non-native speakers.  I've worked with people whose
families have spoken exclusively English for generations, and who
*still* can't clearly get their ideas across in writing.  They're
either non-native, or dumb - it's not clear from their writing alone,
since both appear so similar without hearing the accent.  Though, it
was clear on the security camera I bought yesterday.  One of the
features is "a firm crust".  I have no idea what the crust of a
security camera would be, but I guess it's firm on my model.  That was
probably just a poor translation.  A very poor translation.

--Danny

2005\12\19@131639 by Enrico Schuerrer

picon face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Danny Sauer" <spam_OUTpiclistTakeThisOuTspamdannysauer.com>
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 19, 2005 6:32 PM
Subject: Re: [OT] Posters with English as 27th language


| Gerhard wrote regarding 'Re: [OT] Posters with English as 27th language'
on Mon, Dec 19 at 05:05:
| > You are lucky to live in a world (and I believe that this is only
| > temporary, as pretty much everything) where English is the de facto
| > international communication standard. That makes things easier for
native
| > English speakers. Some hundred years ago or so, it was French. Maybe in
| > hundred years from now, the standard will be some form of Chinese.
|
| There's a big difference between cutting someone some slack because
| they haven't really gotten a good handle on English and being grateful
| that someone can take some time out of their busy schedule to
| half-heartedly learn the language that everyone else on a forum uses.
| The first is reasonable, but the second?  If someone wants to
| participate in a forum which is exclusively English, then they need to
| be able to communicate clearly in English.  That's not being mean or
| insensitive, it's just the way it is for any language.

I'm afraid IMHO this viewpoint is toffee-nosed. I've learned technical
English for 9 years in school and commercial English for 8 semesters on
university. Nevertheless my English isn't good, I know this fact - but I can
understand a technical description, sometimes with the help of a dictionary.
And I'm awfully sorry - there is no PIC mailing list in my native language,
believe me, I would prefer.


|
| BTW, it's not just non-native speakers.  I've worked with people whose
| families have spoken exclusively English for generations, and who
| *still* can't clearly get their ideas across in writing.  They're
| either non-native, or dumb - it's not clear from their writing alone,
| since both appear so similar without hearing the accent.  Though, it
| was clear on the security camera I bought yesterday.  One of the
| features is "a firm crust".  I have no idea what the crust of a
| security camera would be, but I guess it's firm on my model.  That was
| probably just a poor translation.  A very poor translation.

May be you should test your camera - and you will have a surprise on the
taste.
|
| --Danny

Enrico
--
Vienna, Austria

2005\12\19@134906 by James Newton, Host

face picon face
> BTW, it's not just non-native speakers.  I've worked with
> people whose families have spoken exclusively English for
> generations, and who
> *still* can't clearly get their ideas across in writing.  
> They're either non-native, or dumb - it's not clear from
> their writing alone, since both appear so similar without
> hearing the accent.  Though, it was clear on the security
> camera I bought yesterday.  One of the features is "a firm
> crust".  I have no idea what the crust of a security camera
> would be, but I guess it's firm on my model.  That was
> probably just a poor translation.  A very poor translation.

Let me point out an example:
http://hobby_elec.piclist.com/e_menu.htm is a mirror I provide for a
Japanese guy who is absolutely prolific in documenting his many projects and
teaching how to do things with PICs, computer languages, manufacturing, and
so on. His work is brilliant and something that I would aspire to. But he is
a 50 some odd year old native of Japan and does not speak English well. He
uses a translation program and attempts to edit the result into something
that is generally useful. There are lots of problems.

Should he take the time to learn to speak better English? Just so he can
share what he has done with foreign peoples? Or should he concentrate on
writing more in his native tounge and hope that someone will take the time
to correct his English and send the updates to him?

I guess my point is this: Why complain about people who come with their hand
out and do not speak English well? There are also many people who come
bearing gifts and do not speak English well. Rather than punish those who
need, please consider rewarding those who give. Those who need and do not
know how to ask properly should be, at worst, ignored and at best referred
to a resource for learning how to ask or to a resource where they already
know how to ask (e.g. a native language forum for the same subject).

Saying something negative about an ESL (English as a Second Language)
speaker shows that we are unable to see things from any point of view other
than our own and implies that we have no respect for that language and
people. Nothing needs to be said. My mother taught me: "If you can't say
something nice, don't say anything" but more than that, Mr. Twain taught me:
"It is better to remain silent and appear stupid than to open your mouth and
remove all doubt"

---
James Newton: PICList webmaster/Admin
"the ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit"
jamesnewtonspamKILLspampiclist.com  1-619-652-0593 phone
http://www.piclist.com/member/JMN-EFP-786
PIC/PICList FAQ: http://www.piclist.com


2005\12\19@144759 by olin piclist

face picon face
James Newton, Host wrote:
> Should he take the time to learn to speak better English? Just so he can
> share what he has done with foreign peoples? Or should he concentrate on
> writing more in his native tounge and hope that someone will take the
> time to correct his English and send the updates to him?

If other people want his stuff badly enough, they will translate it.  In the
end though, his work won't get the exposure it would if it were written in
english.  That's not predjudice, just the way things are.  It's a simple
fact that there are a lot more technical people that can speak english well
enough than Japanese well enough.

> I guess my point is this: Why complain about people who come with their
> hand out and do not speak English well?

Actually I wasn't complaining about them.  I only mentioned that I don't
subscribe to some Microchip topics that have a large fraction of hard to
understand posts.  Someone else took offense to that.  The reason some of
these posts are hard to understand is because the poster write english
poorly.  I wasn't passing judgement on these posters, but the reality is
that these posts are difficult and annoying to read, so I turn off the
forums where they are more likely.  Yes, I think some people that are really
bad at the language are essentially rude by posting, but that's my opinion
and I've never told anyone they shouldn't post because of that.  However I
have every right to decide what I want to read and not read on my own time.

> Saying something negative about an ESL (English as a Second Language)
> speaker shows that we are unable to see things from any point of view
> other than our own and implies that we have no respect for that
> language and people.

It has nothing to do with respect.  Badly written posts, for whatever
reason, are difficult and annoying to read.  One possible reason can be not
knowing the language.  Chosing not to read the posts or avoid a particularly
high occurrence of them is just reality.  It's the way the world works.

Most foriegners are actually not so bad at posting in english.  The
occasional wrong tense or unusual usage of a word are easy enough to
overlook.  Of all the posters on the PIClist, I can only think of two I find
difficult.  One of them has interesting things to say, so I try to sortof
follow his posts anyway.  The other is a waste of time and I hit delete
pretty quickly.

> Nothing needs to be said. My mother taught me: "If
> you can't say something nice, don't say anything"

That's real PC, but neither realistic nor effective.  Sometimes a person is
not aware how his actions are peceived by others, and explaining it is doing
him a favor even if he thinks you're a jerk because of it.  However I don't
think bad english posts fall into this catagory since it's not something
that the person can fix readily and he's probably well aware of it.


******************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, (978) 742-9014.  #1 PIC
consultant in 2004 program year.  http://www.embedinc.com/products

2005\12\19@151413 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Danny Sauer wrote:

> Gerhard wrote :
>> You are lucky to live in a world (and I believe that this is only
>> temporary, as pretty much everything) where English is the de facto
>> international communication standard. That makes things easier for
>> native English speakers. Some hundred years ago or so, it was French.
>> Maybe in hundred years from now, the standard will be some form of
>> Chinese.
>
> There's a big difference between cutting someone some slack because they
> haven't really gotten a good handle on English and being grateful that
> someone can take some time out of their busy schedule to half-heartedly
> learn the language that everyone else on a forum uses. The first is
> reasonable, but the second?  

Good that you find the first reasonable; we start out with agreeing on
something :)  And that you don't find the second reasonable is not really a
problem with what I wrote, because I didn't really write that. (Or at least
I didn't mean to write that...)

I meant to be grateful that pretty much all international forums and lists
(and this /is/ an international list) are in English currently, recognize
how this makes things easier for native English speakers, and also
appreciate how it makes things more complicated for the others -- and, yes,
cut them some reasonable slack because of this (on which we agree :).

It meant also trying to imagine how it would be if it were different and
another language were the international standard (something that is not
impossible to happen) -- and trying to feel a bit how it could be. I know
that this is difficult, almost impossible, without first hand experience
how it is in a non-English environment; something that it seems a majority
of native English speakers have never experienced. That's why I'm trying to
express a few thoughts about this.


> If someone wants to participate in a forum which is exclusively English,
> then they need to be able to communicate clearly in English.  That's not
> being mean or insensitive, it's just the way it is for any language.

This kind of mixes things up a bit, IMO. Many forums are in English not
because of the topic or the participants' languages; they are in English
because English is the current international communication standard. This
of course lowers the language bar a bit, but it also increases the
information flow. And believe me, you won't like it when China will be
strong enough so that not the Chinese have to learn English in order to do
business, but the others will have to learn Chinese... It's a whole lot
easier the way it is now. You'll have plenty to complain about once it'll
be required to speak Chinese to get a decent job and maybe the only mailing
list about a certain microcontroller family is in Chinese and we'll be
trying to read and maybe write a bit and won't have a clue as to how much
sense it makes what we write :)


> One of the features is "a firm crust".  I have no idea what the crust of
> a security camera would be, but I guess it's firm on my model.  That was
> probably just a poor translation.  A very poor translation.

Of course. From what I've read from you, I gather that you are smart enough
to "translate" this translation. You also know you could've bought
"American" -- and you know why you didn't (and not only because not
necessarily the manual would have been better :). I guess a better
translation of the "firm crust" isn't worth the ten or twenty or fifty or
more dollars difference...

Again, I'd say be happy as long as they feel they have to do /some/
translation. Once the market tides go the other way, we'll have to learn to
read Chinese if we want to read about their stuff (and we probably will
want to). I don't exactly look forward to that (even though in principle I
enjoy learning languages and speak a few... :)

Gerhard

2005\12\19@155746 by Danny Sauer

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face
James wrote regarding 'RE: [OT] Posters with English as 27th language' on Mon, Dec 19 at 12:52:
> Let me point out an example:
> http://hobby_elec.piclist.com/e_menu.htm is a mirror I provide for a
> Japanese guy who is absolutely prolific in documenting his many projects and
> teaching how to do things with PICs, computer languages, manufacturing, and
> so on. His work is brilliant and something that I would aspire to. But he is
> a 50 some odd year old native of Japan and does not speak English well. He
> uses a translation program and attempts to edit the result into something
> that is generally useful. There are lots of problems.
>
> Should he take the time to learn to speak better English? Just so he can
> share what he has done with foreign peoples? Or should he concentrate on
> writing more in his native tounge and hope that someone will take the time
> to correct his English and send the updates to him?

No.  He is the giver, not the receiver, so it would be prefectly
reasonable to expect people *receiving* information from him to learn
Japanese - a process which I've heard to be quite difficult for the
English speakers whom I know to have tried.  That he provides
non-Japanese speakers anything at all is great.  It'd be just as great
if he published in Spanish, French, or any other language.

My point was that, if entering a forum where the preferred language is
known, one should be able to clearly communicate in that language if
one wants optimal results - no one's "entitled" to receiving good
results through poor communication.  The point was was not that
everyone should learn English - English is an awful language in may
regards.  Publishing for the web doesn't imply a specific language, so
a web page should either be in the language one's more comfortable
with or in the language most of the anticipated audience expects.

> Those who need and do not know how to ask properly should be, at
> worst, ignored and at best referred to a resource for learning how
> to ask or to a resource where they already know how to ask (e.g. a
> native language forum for the same subject).

Any friends I have from outside the US are almost exclusively friends
due to helping them in just that way.  I'm actually surprised to find
that more people aren't in the same position.  I often contribute to
the web sites of projects I want to use when the author is not a
native English speaker but provides an English translation, because
that's usually where I can provide the most help.

2005\12\19@161521 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> There's a big difference between cutting someone some slack because
> they haven't really gotten a good handle on English and being
> grateful
> that someone can take some time out of their busy schedule to
> half-heartedly learn the language that everyone else on a forum
> uses.
> The first is reasonable, but the second?  If someone wants to
> participate in a forum which is exclusively English, then they need
> to
> be able to communicate clearly in English.  That's not being mean or
> insensitive, it's just the way it is for any language.

Interestingly, some highly intelligent people who speak only English,
and who use it competently, seem to be particularly incapable of
understanding people with English as their n'th language, whose
English is not up to their standard *BUT* which is still very
intelligible to many other English-only speakers. In a list
environment, if people who were less competent and flexible in this
particular area were simply to (metaphorically) shake their heads and
move on to the next post, leaving the generally understandable albeit
less than classically constructed queries to be dealt with by those
who were somewhat more capable in this particular area, then all would
be well. Problems arise when the highly technically capable but
linguistically inflexible monoglots attempt to correct, chastise and
challenge the actually commendably capable polyglots. In the absence
of a query being specifically addressed to a particular person it
behoves those whose capabilities render them comprehensionally
incompetent to refrain from rabid response and to leave rational
replies to those who are, while perhaps less technically trained, more
linguistically labile. Don't you think?


       RM

2005\12\19@181808 by olin piclist

face picon face
Russell McMahon Esq. wrote:
> In the absence
> of a query being specifically addressed to a particular person it
> behoves those whose capabilities render them comprehensionally
> incompetent to refrain from rabid response and to leave rational
> replies to those who are, while perhaps less technically trained, more
> linguistically labile.

Gee Russell, I didn't know you were going to law school on the side.  But
really, this isn't the place for your Small Print 101 homework ;-)


******************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, (978) 742-9014.  #1 PIC
consultant in 2004 program year.  http://www.embedinc.com/products

2005\12\19@210519 by Mike Singer

picon face
Olin Lathrop  wrote:
> Gee Russell, I didn't know you were going to law school on the side.  But
> really, this isn't the place for your Small Print 101 homework ;-)

Ha-ha, I'm sure, Russell just demonstrated that sometimes native
English could be less understandable than 27th one.

Regards,
Mike

2005\12\20@212132 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
Russell,

On Tue, 20 Dec 2005 10:15:20 +1300, Russell McMahon wrote:

>...<
> Interestingly, some highly intelligent people who speak only English,
> and who use it competently, seem to be particularly incapable of
> understanding people with English as their n'th language, whose
> English is not up to their standard *BUT* which is still very
> intelligible to many other English-only speakers.

I think this is rather harsh.  I've always thought that one of the things about English that makes it suitable
for international use is that it is understandable even if you make a dog's dinner of it - a lot of other
languages (it seems to me) have strict rules which, if broken, make it unintelligible.  I wonder in how many
other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of grammer would work?

On the other hand, some people just don't have the skill of explaining themselves clearly in even their own
language, and I don't think this has any relation to what that language is.  ('scuse the grammar!)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\12\20@230759 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> On Tue, 20 Dec 2005

His birthday, fwiw,

{Quote hidden}

I don't.

> I've always thought that one of the things about English that makes
> it suitable
> for international use is that it is understandable even if you make
> a dog's dinner of it -

I agree - My point exactly.

While many, on this list and elsewhere, can handle English which is
somewhat "hacked about" there are some few who, despite their very
high intelligence and great skills in other areas, repeatedly
demonstrate their total inability to handle linguistic excursions
which are well within the range of normal (2 std deviations say), and
consequently take people to task over such rather than either ignoring
or accomodating them. In this instance and forum one particular person
comes to mind as I write :-) (and as I wrote).

> On the other hand, some people just don't have the skill of
> explaining themselves clearly in even their own
> language, and I don't think this has any relation to what that
> language is.  ('scuse the grammar!)

No scusing needed - that was inside 2 standard deviations ;-).


       RM

2005\12\21@065045 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Howard Winter wrote:

> I wonder in how many other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of grammer
> would work?

I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin or similar
to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm somewhat familiar
with.)

Gerhard

2005\12\21@094904 by Mike Hord

picon face
> > I've always thought that one of the things about English that makes
> > it suitable
> > for international use is that it is understandable even if you make
> > a dog's dinner of it -
>
> I agree - My point exactly.
>
> While many, on this list and elsewhere, can handle English which is
> somewhat "hacked about" there are some few who, despite their very
> high intelligence and great skills in other areas, repeatedly
> demonstrate their total inability to handle linguistic excursions
> which are well within the range of normal (2 std deviations say),

Perhaps these folks' problem with understanding "abnormal" English
produced by ESL (ETL, EFL, etc.) speakers lies in insufficient
exposure to widely varying native English speakers in their youth.

I had the good fortune of being born in Oklahoma, raised in Virginia,
and spending a good deal of my summers in North Dakota.  Very,
very few people find any type of inflection in my voice most of the
time, although I do tend to pick up a little drawl when around
Southerners for too long.

Mike H.

PS-  Happy birthday!

2005\12\21@121846 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> unintelligible.  I wonder in how many other languages a
> Yoda-like rearrangement of grammer would work?
>

Russian in Speaking the words arrange any way you may. A prefix or suffix
each has word tells part sentence of which. doesn't in work English good so
This.

---
James.


2005\12\21@122141 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> While many, on this list and elsewhere, can handle English
> which is somewhat "hacked about" there are some few who,
> despite their very high intelligence and great skills in
> other areas, repeatedly demonstrate their total inability to
> handle linguistic excursions which are well within the range
> of normal (2 std deviations say), and consequently take
> people to task over such rather than either ignoring or
> accommodating them.

"I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way" said Mark
Twain and I feel the same for people who can't manage a little puzzle in the
usage of words.

---
James.


2005\12\21@130628 by John S. Colonias

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face
I don't usually respond to OTs but I will make an exception here,
because my story has some relevance. When I was an undergraduate, a
fullbright scholar from Greece, I took an elective course in Philosophy.
After my first test, my professor scribled on my test paper, that he
expected those pursuing a course in Philosophy to be profficient in
their mother tongue, followed by a very low grade. During the following
test, I answered all questions in Greek. He called me to his office and
asked what was I trying to prove. I responded by showing him the notes
that he made in my previous test, adding that I wanted to prove that I
am, indeed, profficient in my mother tongue. He looked at me very
"pissed-off" and he suggested that I drop the course, which I did.

The result is that had he shown a compassion and some understanding as
to the problems that foreign students undergo in getting degrees in
other languages, he would have made my life easier, and probably
contributed in my further education by allowing me to take courses in
philosophy even if I was not profficient in the language that I was
studying.

I agree with James just as I agree with mark Twain.

John
{Original Message removed}

2005\12\21@130913 by Padu

picon face
From: "James Newtons Massmind"
>> While many, on this list and elsewhere, can handle English
>> which is somewhat "hacked about" there are some few who,
>> despite their very high intelligence and great skills in
>> other areas, repeatedly demonstrate their total inability to
>> handle linguistic excursions which are well within the range
>> of normal (2 std deviations say), and consequently take
>> people to task over such rather than either ignoring or
>> accommodating them.
>
> "I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way" said
> Mark
> Twain and I feel the same for people who can't manage a little puzzle in
> the
> usage of words.
>


I'm one of those who use english as a 27th language. I'm in the USA for the
last 5 years of my life and I handle my communication needs very well. Of
course I still make many errors, mainly grammatical when I'm speaking, but
there's also the issue of accent.

Most often than I like, I bump into people that are so arrogant that think
there is only one way of saying something, and "their" english is the right
one (or they are really mentally challenged to understand language
variations). My former boss was a perfect example. We were a team of
multi-cultural programmers (brazilian, russians, italians, etc), and
sometimes my boss couldn't understand what the russian guy was saying... but
I could... and my former boss had obviously his whole life experiencing
English as I only had 5 years.

Padu

2005\12\21@160118 by Russell McMahon

face
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Russell McMahon Esq. wrote:
> In the absence
> of a query being specifically addressed to a particular person it
> behoves those whose capabilities render them comprehensionally
> incompetent to refrain from rabid response and to leave rational
> replies to those who are, while perhaps less technically trained,
> more
> linguistically labile.


> Olin Lathrop  wrote:
>> Gee Russell, I didn't know you were going to law school on the
>> side.  But
>> really, this isn't the place for your Small Print 101 homework ;-)

Mike Escrit:
> Ha-ha, I'm sure, Russell just demonstrated that sometimes native
> English could be less understandable than 27th one.

Indeed. And part of my point.
But nobody mentioned the (atrocious) poetic content


       RM

2005\12\21@160513 by Jinx

face picon face
> Russian in Speaking the words arrange any way you may. A prefix
> or suffix each has word tells part sentence of which. doesn't in work
> English good so
> This.

Hmmm, he reply write good

2005\12\21@195513 by Mike Singer

picon face
James Newtons  wrote:
> Russian in Speaking the words arrange any way you may.
> A prefix or suffix each has word tells part sentence of which.
> doesn't in work English good so This.

Declensional endings rather than prefix or suffix, I think.

Mike.

2005\12\21@224025 by Peter Todd

picon face
On Wed, Dec 21, 2005 at 09:18:44AM -0800, James Newtons Massmind wrote:
> > unintelligible.  I wonder in how many other languages a
> > Yoda-like rearrangement of grammer would work?
> >
>
> Russian in Speaking the words arrange any way you may. A prefix or suffix
> each has word tells part sentence of which. doesn't in work English good so
> This.

I find it very ammusing that I managed to absent-mindedly read that
whole paragraph without even *realising* that everything was out of
order...

--
.....peteKILLspamspam.....petertodd.ca http://www.petertodd.ca

2005\12\22@071556 by Howard Winter

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Gerhard,

On Wed, 21 Dec 2005 09:46:56 -0200, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

> Howard Winter wrote:
>
> > I wonder in how many other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of grammer
> > would work?
>
> I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin or similar
> to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm somewhat familiar
> with.)

Obviously I'm not a native speaker of anything but English, but I'm not sure - German has its rule that a verb
should be second or last in a sentence - would it be understandable if the verb was first, for example?  

Certainly in my experience trying to speak French but getting it slightly wrong seems to render it
unintelligible to a native speaker - or maybe that's a cultural, rather than a linguistic thing?

Speaking Dutch is a non-event, of course, because if I start trying to do so the dutchman will reply in
English anyway!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\12\22@074324 by Howard Winter

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Mike,

On Wed, 21 Dec 2005 08:49:03 -0600, Mike Hord wrote:

> Perhaps these folks' problem with understanding "abnormal" English
> produced by ESL (ETL, EFL, etc.) speakers lies in insufficient
> exposure to widely varying native English speakers in their youth.

I'm not sure if the "youth" thing is significant - I grew up in an environment where everyone spoke the same,
and I had little exposure even to people with different accents, let alone national backgrounds (except for my
grandmother, who was from a part of the country with a completely different dialect, and I could never
understand her!).

But in later life I mixed with people from all over the UK and parts of the former Empire, and learned to tune
in to their accents and dialects, to the point where I can, for example, not just understand a Kiwi but also
tell that they aren't Aussie!  :-)  Having practiced, I can now guess where someone comes from fairly
accurately, which in the UK means within about 50 miles!  :-)  I think it's an exposure thing, not limited to
childhood-exposure.

There was one memorable exception, a girl who has two things in common with Russell, her country of residence
and her Irish surname.  We were in a pub quiz and she was trying to tell me her idea of the answer to a
question, so there wasn't much context to go on and I couldn't understand what she meant by what sounded like
"ghost" with the "t" missing.  It was some time before I sussed that she meant "goose"!  For some reason it
made me feel really stupid...

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\12\22@081742 by Howard Winter

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Russell,

On Wed, 21 Dec 2005 17:07:42 +1300, Russell McMahon wrote:

> > On Tue, 20 Dec 2005
>
> His birthday, fwiw,

Happy Birthday (late!)  :-)  It's not one of those awful ones with a "0" at the end, is it?

{Quote hidden}

Well obviously - you wrote it!  :-)

{Quote hidden}

I'm not sure you can ascribe statistical properties to something that is inherently non-numerical, but never
mind...

> and
> consequently take people to task over such rather than either ignoring
> or accomodating them. In this instance and forum one particular person
> comes to mind as I write :-) (and as I wrote).

OK, I think I agree with you there - especially because it's so easy to ignore people and/or their questions.  
On a different but related topic, telling someone to do their homework before asking a question is acceptable,
IMHO, but telling them to improve their English is pretty unlikely to have a positive effect.

> > On the other hand, some people just don't have the skill of
> > explaining themselves clearly in even their own
> > language, and I don't think this has any relation to what that
> > language is.  ('scuse the grammar!)
>
> No scusing needed - that was inside 2 standard deviations ;-).

Well it does fall foul of:

"If ever a word was wrong at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is"  :-)

But rearranging it to correct that produces a level of convolution "up with which I will not put" !  :-)

I do sometimes use grammer which I know to be "wrong" (as I was taught, anyway) but which is easier to
understand and/or less awkward-sounding.  Such as using "they" to refer to a person of undetermined gender,
because "he/she" is just too darned clumsy in writing, and sounds daft when spoken.

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\12\22@193253 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Padu wrote:

> We were a team of multi-cultural programmers (brazilian, russians,
> italians, etc), and sometimes my boss couldn't understand what the
> russian guy was saying... but I could... and my former boss had
> obviously his whole life experiencing English as I only had 5 years.

I think this has not so much to do with English experience (even though
this of course makes it a whole lot easier, once the rest is in place), but
rather with attitude on one hand and the experience of having to
communicate in a different (second, third, ... :) language. (And the latter
can drastically influence the attitude.)

It seems to me that it's easier to understand somebody who's just learning
a language after having had this experience oneself.

Growing up in a big, great, successful country has its advantages, but it
definitely also has some disadvantages -- and the general lack of exposure
to other languages (a second, rarely a third, almost never a twenty-seventh
:) seems to be one of them. (In Germany, a certain proficiency in a second
language and basic knowledge of a third are required for entering
university -- for any major.) Then again, in certain parts of the country
this already has changed. And it's probably continuing to change... which
probably is a mixed blessing.

Gerhard

2005\12\22@194021 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Howard Winter wrote:

>>> I wonder in how many other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of
>>> grammer would work?
>>
>> I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin or
>> similar to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm somewhat
>> familiar with.)
>
> Obviously I'm not a native speaker of anything but English, but I'm not
> sure - German has its rule that a verb should be second or last in a
> sentence - would it be understandable if the verb was first, for
> example?

I don't think it would be any harder to understand than oddly arranged
English. There are even some elements in German that go a bit in the
direction of what James explained for Russian: for example the pronouns
have different forms (more different forms than in English), depending on
their grammatical function in the sentence. Which can help identifying the
meaning even if the position is incorrect.

I think poets writing in German do that just as much as in English.

> Certainly in my experience trying to speak French but getting it
> slightly wrong seems to render it unintelligible to a native speaker -
> or maybe that's a cultural, rather than a linguistic thing?

I can't really say that from my own experience -- when traveling in France
I never had problems, even with my rather limited French at the time. But
then, I was traveling by bike, and they like /that/ :)  I've heard that
people are having trouble making themselves understood in France, though,
more than in other places.

Gerhard

2005\12\22@222045 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
John S. Colonias wrote:

> The result is that had he shown a compassion and some understanding as to
> the problems that foreign students undergo in getting degrees in other
> languages, he would have made my life easier, and probably contributed
> in my further education by allowing me to take courses in philosophy
> even if I was not profficient in the language that I was studying.

And if he were smart, he might have taken the opportunity to have someone
with whom he maybe could discuss a bit some of the early philosophers'
works in their original language and translation problems and stuff... :)

A philosophy teacher who doesn't know about language and associated
problems is probably not really going deep. And that's what you want to do
when you study philosophy, don't you? So maybe you didn't miss out on a
lot.

Gerhard

2005\12\23@014045 by Mike Singer

picon face
Russell McMahon wrote:
> Mike Escrit:
> > Ha-ha, I'm sure, Russell just demonstrated that sometimes native
> > English could be less understandable than 27th one.
>
> Indeed. And part of my point.
> But nobody mentioned the (atrocious) poetic content

I did it earlier, asking you if William Faulkner was your granfather.

Mike.

2005\12\23@024813 by Vasile Surducan

face picon face
On 12/23/05, Mike Singer <EraseMEznatokspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:
> Russell McMahon wrote:
> > Mike Escrit:
> > > Ha-ha, I'm sure, Russell just demonstrated that sometimes native
> > > English could be less understandable than 27th one.
> >
> > Indeed. And part of my point.
> > But nobody mentioned the (atrocious) poetic content
>
> I did it earlier, asking you if William Faulkner was your granfather.

 This guy has something to do with white monkeys... never understood him.

:)

Vasile

>
> Mike.
>
> -

2005\12\23@031941 by Peter

picon face


On Thu, 22 Dec 2005, Howard Winter wrote:

{Quote hidden}

That turns a simple affirmative sentence into a question if you put a
question mark, or into an imperative without the question mark (and
with an optional exclamation mark instead).

Peter

2005\12\23@040717 by Mike Singer

picon face
Never mentioned Russell's  style of writing is pretty similar to
Faulkner's sometimes?


On 12/23/05, Vasile Surducan <piclist9spamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2005\12\23@043514 by Steph Smith

flavicon
face
parts of this thread remind me of an event that took
place on a NATO exercise;the man put in charge of
overall control was a 'Scouser' (from Liverpool)
At the end of the exercise on european commander
complained saying 'what language was that man speaking?'
to which the reply came,from a 'geordie' (native of newcastle)
'English';your lucky we didn't pick the scotsman to take his place;
even i have trouble understanding him...

2005\12\23@072500 by Howard Winter

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On 12/23/05, Mike Singer <KILLspamznatokKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
> Russell McMahon wrote:
> > Mike Escrit:
> > > Ha-ha, I'm sure, Russell just demonstrated that sometimes native
> > > English could be less understandable than 27th one.
> >
> > Indeed. And part of my point.
> > But nobody mentioned the (atrocious) poetic content
>
> I did it earlier, asking you if William Faulkner was your granfather.

Or even William McGonagall!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\12\26@120116 by dr. Imre Bartfai

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face
Hi,

please do not forget Hungarian as a BIG exception from this rule. (And
Finnish, as its relative.)

Imre

On Wed, 21 Dec 2005, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:


{Quote hidden}

> --

2005\12\26@141143 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
dr. Imre Bartfai wrote:

>>> I wonder in how many other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of
>>> grammer would work?
>>
>> I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin or
>> similar to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm somewhat
>> familiar with.)

> please do not forget Hungarian as a BIG exception from this rule. (And
> Finnish, as its relative.)

Just for the record :)

I didn't forget about Hungarian, Finnish, the Nordic languages, the Slavic
languages and others. That's why I said "pretty much all European languages
derived from Latin or similar to German" (meaning that IMO these can stand
a bit rearranging). This doesn't say anything about the many other European
languages that are not derived from Latin or similar to German.

Gerhard


'[OT] Posters with English as 27th language'
2006\01\01@083719 by Russell McMahon
face
flavicon
face
>> please do not forget Hungarian as a BIG exception from this rule.
>> (And
>> Finnish, as its relative.)
>
> Just for the record :)
>
> I didn't forget about ...

An excellent example (I think) of confusion of meaning of an English
construct.

>>> I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin
>>> or
>>> similar to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm
>>> somewhat
>>> familiar with.)

was taken (apparently) to mean something like.

       I think that pretty much all European languages
       are derived from Latin or are similar to German, and ...

whereas what was meant was (apparently) something like

       Of almost all of the subset of European languages
       which are either derived from Latin or which are similar
       to German (this subset including significantly less than
       all European languages) ...

The former interpretation is the less likely when one looks carefully
at what was written, but probably the easier meaning to embed in one's
brain as one reads at normal attention levels. Interesting.


       Russell McMahon


2006\01\01@101732 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> was taken (apparently) to mean something like.
>
>         I think that pretty much all European languages
>         are derived from Latin or are similar to German, and ...
>
> whereas what was meant was (apparently) something like
>
>         Of almost all of the subset of European languages
>         which are either derived from Latin or which are similar
>         to German (this subset including significantly less than
>         all European languages) ...
>
> The former interpretation is the less likely when one looks carefully
> at what was written, but probably the easier meaning to embed in one's
> brain as one reads at normal attention levels. Interesting.

What the author meant was (probably) "the class of Indo-German
languages".

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\01\01@112855 by Howard Winter

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picon face
Wouter,

On Sun, 1 Jan 2006 16:17:32 +0100, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I believe that in linguistics the correct techincal term is "Indo-European", with the other main group being
"Finno-Ugric".  Calling it -German doesn't make sense because Germany hasn't existed very long compared to the
family of languages.

Cheers - and Happy New Year,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\01\01@120045 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> I believe that in linguistics the correct techincal term is
> "Indo-European", with the other main group being
> "Finno-Ugric".  Calling it -German doesn't make sense because
> Germany hasn't existed very long compared to the
> family of languages.

I quick check showed me that "indo-germaans" is the old (now considered
incorrect) term for this language group. The current (and more correct)
term is indeed indo-european. It has been a few years since I was told
this at school, at that time I-G was probably still in use.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\01\01@134250 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Russell wrote:

>>> was taken (apparently) to mean something like.
>>>
>>>         I think that pretty much all European languages
>>>         are derived from Latin or are similar to German, and ...
>>>
>>> whereas what was meant was (apparently) something like
>>>
>>>         Of almost all of the subset of European languages
>>>         which are either derived from Latin or which are similar
>>>         to German (this subset including significantly less than
>>>         all European languages) ...
>>>
>>> The former interpretation is the less likely when one looks carefully
>>> at what was written, but probably the easier meaning to embed in one's
>>> brain as one reads at normal attention levels. Interesting.

Well, at least you confirmed that I wasn't exactly wrong -- even though the
phrase was apparently not well targeted to the audience :)


Wouter wrote:

>> What the author meant was (probably) "the class of Indo-German
>> languages".

The author was I. The context was:

>>> I wonder in how many other languages a Yoda-like rearrangement of
>>> grammer would work?
>>
>> I think in pretty much all European languages derived from Latin or
>> similar to German. (That's because those are the only ones I'm somewhat
>> familiar with.)

And I meant exactly what I wrote (I think :)  I'm familiar with German, and
also a number of European languages derived from Latin. The latter tend to
be pretty closely derived, probably due to the strong influence of the
Roman Empire. I think those "Yoda-like rearrangements" can be done in all
these languages I'm familiar with, and I tried to describe that subset of
the European languages with the expression "derived from Latin or similar
to German".

This is not only a small subset of the European languages, it is also an
even smaller subset of the Indo-European languages. I don't know a
significant portion of the Indo-European languages, so I certainly didn't
mean to speak for them. For example, AFAIK German is a different branch of
the old Germanic language (something like "New Germanic") than the Nordic
languages (Swedish, Norwegian, something like "Old Germanic"), and in that
quite different. I don't know those and didn't want to include them,
neither the Slavic languages and other European languages, much less all
the languages that fall under the "Indo" part of "Indo-European".


Howard Winter wrote:

> I believe that in linguistics the correct techincal term is
> "Indo-European", with the other main group being "Finno-Ugric".  Calling
> it -German doesn't make sense because Germany hasn't existed very long
> compared to the family of languages.

I'm pretty sure that the "German" in "Indo-German" is not derived from
"Germany" (the country), but rather from "Germans" or "Germanic" (the
people). These do have existed during a relevant period of the formation of
the Indo-European family of languages :)

Note that English is considered a Germanic language... at least here
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages :)

Gerhard

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