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Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Help!!! Here in the meseta central many phonemes are missing

Posted by fracardi on November 28, 2009

Here in Madrid, you ask to a Spaniard to pronounce special in English (\ˈspe-shəl\) and he usually miss two out of the three phonemes of the word: the first, cause he puts a vowel at the beginning , the second, cause he substitutes sh with a simple s. And no, the guy doesn’t suffer any pronounciation deficiency. Simply, castellano is missing both phonemes: ‘sp and sh.

You get curious and you start digging more on this strange deficiency of castellano. You end up discovering that here in the meseta central many phonemes, extensively used in latin and anglosaxon languages, are simply and fully missed:

1) sh as in English “shelter”, in italian sciogliere, in French choix, in Portuguese chuchu

2) sp & st, as in Italian spezia / storto, in English special / stark

3) soft s, as in Italian rosa, in Portuguese rosa, in French rose, in English rose

4) strong z, as in Italian pazzo, in German katze

5) psi, as in Italian psicologia, in French psicologia, in English psicology

6) csi, as in Italian xilofono, in English xilophone

It dosn’t end here: castellano does mix b and v up, they are pronounced with the same sound.

On the opposite, castellano has just one phoneme unknown to Italian, the j in Javier. Well, the ll too is slightly different from italian gl, but they are very very similar.


1) As the meseta central weather, castellano is a dried up language

2) Spaniards easily kill other languages when they use only familiar phonemes to interpret them (that is … most of the time 😉

Hey, I like to live in the meseta central!


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Câmbios na ortografia do português

Posted by fracardi on November 28, 2009

Finalmente li com atenção os câmbios na ortografia portuguesa em vigor desde o começo desse ano. E também li um pouco das discussões sobre o bom e o ruim dessa mudança.

Eu vejo esta tentativa de unificar e simplificar a língua portuguesa como muito boa. Com a Internet, a língua vira uma só, as barreras geográficas caem. Justo que as letras não pronunciadas desapareçam, acadêmicas estas discussões de linguistas.

Mais e mais, o que importa é como os jovens escrevem na Internet, porque somente estas formas são indexadas pelo Google / Yahoo / Bing, e são assim as primeiras a ser encontradas. Se as regras gramaticais são fáceis, os jovens as seguirão, se não simplesmente a evitarão. Tudo este inteletualismo de linguistas fica no papel impresso, em alguns fundos de biblioteca.

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The future of languages 3

Posted by fracardi on June 9, 2008

Just found, through this post of BJ Epstein, an old post on NYT, about how many languages will die in this century. Many, but not as much as I imagined.

“SOME 6,500 languages spoken in the world today. And, according to the 2000 census, you can hear at least 92 of them on the streets of New York. You can probably hear more; the census lumps some of them together simply as “other.”

Here the link

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The future of languages 2

Posted by fracardi on December 9, 2007

Just met online Mark Griffith and found this very interesting web-site where the future of languages is the central issue of the author. Here the key point raised by Mark:

“Linguistic minorities are communities of ordinary people whose native tongue is not their country’s main official language. Swedish speakers in Finland, French speakers in Canada, Hungarian speakers in Slovakia – and hundreds more – are linguistic minorities. Thousands of unique language communities are becoming extinct. Out of the world’s five to six thousand languages, we hardly know what we’re losing, what literatures, philosophies, ways of thinking, are disappearing right now. So?

We may soon regret the extinction of thousands of entire linguistic cultures even more than we regret the needless extinction of many animals and plants. The planet is increasingly dominated by a handful of major-language monocultures like Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Indonesian, Urdu, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Swahili, Russian, Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Bengali – all beautiful and fascinating languages. But so are the 5,000 others!”

And here the link:

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The future of languages

Posted by fracardi on April 6, 2007

Given the current pace of globalisation, emigration, mixed-languages couples and tele-learning, the number of spoken languages is drastically falling, but, on the other hand, the number of people who are fluent in more than one language is steadily increasing.

It is obvious (and sad, I know) than in 1000 years very few of the indigenous Brasilian languages will be lost (today still 200 are surviving, out of the 5000 estimate in the pre-colombian age).

It is also obvious that major languages as English, German, French, Mandarin, Japanese will continue to thrive. But what about the languages currently spoken by few hundred-thousands or even few millions people (as Danish or Catalan)?

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