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Language and thought.  
10:22pm 26/09/2008
 
 
Benjamin
So, I'm trying to learn German. I had been using my daily train ride for reading, but I got curious, so Xanth was set aside. (They're not children's books, damnit!) I've managed to get a hold of a some really excellent software for learning languages called Rosetta Stone. It seems to be working, slowly but surely. I've noticed an odd but welcome consequence of learning a new language, although it may too early to tell, but it seems to be affecting my thought processes to some degree. Nothing really profound, just structural changes, slight alterations of focus. Because, I think the sentence structure of German is different. Instead of "The woman drinks water", it's "The woman water drinks". The re-ordering seems to not have any real meaning, other than to confuse poor bastards trying to wrap their heads around it. (And I don't even want to contemplate the horrors of the German adjectives) but it seems to have a subtle effect on the idea represented. This is completely subjective, of course, but it seems the the English phrasing places emphasis on the action, whereas the German version seems to focus more on the participants (the woman and the water). They both convey the same meaning on the simplest level, but when comparing the two mental images, I perceive some subtle differences. It's difficult to quantify those differences with any degree of precision, especially in English, lol. I'm curious about those differences, and the cultural distinctions they might be related to, and especially the possibly chicken-or-the-egg comparison of the two. there's also the possibility that the different structuring of words seems to be loosening up my mind a bit, enabling slightly different ideas than would have come using English alone to phrase the problems and ponder possible solutions. Of course, this could very easily be nonsense, lol. I'll find out in the next few months I guess. but for now, I'm really enjoying learning a new language, and German is a pretty neat one, especially where music is concerned. From the sound of it, I can only imagine that it must be _fantastic_ for swearing in, lol. All those hard z sounds and 'ach' every other word ought to be really satisfying for blaspheming.
location: choo-choo!
mood: curiouscurious
music: Sigur Ros - untitled #8
tags: thinking
 
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 bunny42
 
08:02am 27/09/2008 (UTC)
 
 
bunny42
This is an interesting idea. I've noticed similar things in French. For example, the phrase "I'm glad to see you" translates literally from the French as "I'm glad for you to see me." Subtle, but intriguing. Not sure it affects my thought process, but it sounds different enough to make me stop and say "oh, that's cool." You're right, it is kinda musical.
 
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 lilith42
 
02:59pm 27/09/2008 (UTC)
 
 
Lilith
After taking two semesters of German, I have plenty of notes I can give you, I also have my Intermediate German book if you want to take a look at it. Since I haven't had anyone to speak German with I have kind of lost a lot of it, but I would be more than happy to relearn vocab and help you out with the conjugations and such :)

My German prof did teach us how to say "you bitch" in German, which is "du Hundin" :) He felt that was harmless enough, but refused to teach us the really dirty words, told us to find them out ourselves and he would correct any mistakes...no one did. :(
 
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