For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, "An animal passed here." You have to specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of day), hearsay or such. If a statement is reported with the incorrect "evidentiality," it is considered a lie. So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually see his wives at that very moment, he would have to answer in the past tense and would say something like "There were two last time I checked." After all, given that the wives are not present, he cannot be absolutely certain that one of them hasn't died or run off with another man since he last saw them, even if this was only five minutes ago. So he cannot report it as a certain fact in the present tense. Does the need to think constantly about epistemology in such a careful and sophisticated manner inform the speakers' outlook on life or their sense of truth and causation?
Memorizing thousands of characters is just crazy, especially when you already have a phonetic system (sure it helps with homonyms, but in English we just deal with it ...)
Weirdest programming language is definitely Aheui because it's 2D and uses Hangul.
kyrademon: "Compounding resulting in words like Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz."
23: Yeah, the Latin alphabet hasn't aged well. In English and several Romance languages the random intermingling of historical and phonetic spellings creates most of the difficulties of Chinese characters without the advantages.
hoyland: I don't think people assert languages (other than conlangs, I guess) are meant to be either efficient (in whatever sense) or logical. Sticking with German as an example, I can't imagine the verb placement is either efficient or logical. But it still works.
hoyland: "As a random side note, when I was taking Danish, the textbook did not talk about 'common' and 'neuter' gender, but rather 'N-words' and 'T-words'. I think that was partly an intentional shift in how they wanted to talk about the gender of nouns and partly that the book was written to teach Danish in Denmark and thus had to be independent of the native language of the students."
It's so easy to read that they decided to have *two* phonetic alphabets with the same sounds, but different letters, just so the language wouldn't get polluted by writing loan words using the wrong alphabet. yup. definitely a sensible way to go about things.
23: ... until the invention of the typewriter made a low-alphabet-count important.
Which is completely irrelevant. The Japanese kana systems fit easily on a standard keyboard and are strictly phonetic (with three or so exceptions for particles). There are Hangul typewriters.
23:The problem is not "oh-ho-ho silly phonetic languages", the problem is that if you use one system for concepts, grammar, and sounds something's going to drift (in practice, usually sound). This is why there are mountains of words in English who have spellings that you must ignore in order to pronounce properly for mysterious historical reasons. And every time someone suggests spelling reform they get laughed out of the room, even though it worked just fine for Japanese and other languages.
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