Some good suggestions for YA fiction, for those that like.
can someone please help me understand the concept of the grammatical case, in general, not in any specific language. i partially understand it but it isn’t clicking in my head and i’m going to be learning german this fall and i’ve been having a hard time wrapping me head around it. i understand…
From what you’ve said, you already know enough for learning German. That really is literally all it is - the different roles nouns have in a sentence have different cases. So German does with case what English might do with a preposition or with word order (I don’t speak German so can’t give an example but imagine a language where instead of saying ‘I stroked him with a feather’ you say ‘I stroked him a feather-INSTRUMENT' or even 'I stroked him a feather-with’. Just extra info, or the same info, but as a suffix instead of some other way of doing it.
There is more to it, if you want to get into the linguistics of how it all works. For instance, not all languages that have case have the same cases - some have lots and lots, and there’s a split between what are called nominative-accusative (like German) and ergative-absolutive languages, which use case for the same sort of thing but in a slightly different way. But all of this is not needed to speak the language :)
Sorry - I feel like I haven’t added anything much to this discussion. But rest assured you will know more than most people trying to learn a language with case.
Hooray! It’s been too long since Richard Dawkins last tweeted something massively ill-judged for me to blog about. (tw for after the readmore)
I just remembered a time when my partner was doing a theme tune/jingle/intro for a friend’s story collection and he needed the title to be creepy so I worked out how it would be if it was said backwards and wrote it out in IPA so I could say it easily and he reversed it and the result was creepy, and LINGUISTICS WAS USEFUL.
This is precisely what I have been doing all day.
He’s good value, that Gwynne chap. Two posts out of one little book which I haven’t even read.
In his preface, Gwynne explains about his use of pronouns. He notes that ‘he’ used to be used for ‘a member of the human race of either sex’, but now is found offensive by ‘some people’ (here, he implicitly compares these overly sensitive people to those sensible women who used to use ‘he’ ‘without hesitation or objection’). He (rightly) says that ‘he or she’ is ‘disagreeably clumsy’, but then irrationally dismisses singular ‘they’, a perfectly elegant and simple solution with good historical pedigree. His dismissal is based on nothing more than the ‘authoritative’ opinion of a style guide and Simon Heffer, who is a journalist, and whose work has been called ‘staggeringly erroneous’ and inconsistent by, you know, actual authorities on language (=linguists). So, he says, he will avoid generic ‘he’ where it is possible to do so, so as not to potentially annoy those namby pamby sensitive readers. However, avoiding it completely is beyond even Gwynne’s considerable writing skills, and so sometimes, he must use it to avoid awkwardness. He says,
Please be assured, therefore, on the few occasions that you see the all-embracing ‘he’ or equivalent, that it is occurring without any offence being intended.
Oh, well, that’s all right then. If he doesn’t mean any offence, there won’t be any offence. Permit me to make an extreme analogy, which I’ll put under a readmore as it contains highly offensive language (the ‘n-word’).
The odious Neville Gwynne is at it again, publishing books. This time, he’s written a Latin book. He’s so pompous, my immediate instinct is to disagree with anything he says, so when I saw an advert for it in the paper that said learning Latin would improve your English, I refuted it loudly and firmly to anyone who would listen.
I love Latin, and I think everyone should learn it. A friend who was subjected to the refutation pointed out to me several ways in which learning Latin can improve a person, and he actually mentioned things that most people never think of, such as scientific analysis (I think he said this, anyway - he said biology, so I suppose he may have meant that you’d understand binomial classifications better, which is true, but it would also help you with doing anything that requires careful, logical, rigorous analysis). This friend also agreed with Gwynne that Latin would improve your English, however, and until today I thought that I heartily disagreed with this point of view.