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Thread: Difficulty in Learning another Language?

  1. Top | #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bronzeage View Post
    I graduated high school fairly good in conversational Latin, but now I have little more than Salve and Vale.
    Yeah, if you don't use it you lose it.

    A few years back my wife located someone she had known from long ago. At the time he could read English newspapers so she was surprised that he wasn't speaking to me in English. Too long without using it--he had gone from being able to read the paper to not being able to do simple conversation.

  2. Top | #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    Icelandic is particularly isolated. (E.g., the half-life of its Swadesh List is much longer than that of most languages.) Does it best preserve North Germanic morphology?
    Its word morphology is much more conservative than that of most other present-day Germanic languages. That of German is somewhat more conservative.

    Here's a summary:
    St Wk Art
    m f n m f n m f n
    Sg Nom -ur - - -i -a -a -inn -in -idh
    Acc - - - -a -u -a -inn -ina -idh
    Dat -i - -i -a -u -a -inum -inni -inu
    Gen -s -ar -s -a -u -a -ins -innar -ins
    Pl Nom -ar -ar - -ar -ur -u -inir -inar -in
    Acc -a -ar - -a -ur -u -ina -inar -in
    Dat -um -um -um -um -um -um -inum -inum -inum
    Gen -a -a -a -a -na -na -inna -inna -inna

    Sg = singular, pl = plural, m = masculine, f = feminine, n = neuter
    St = strong declension, wk = weak declension, art = suffixed definite article (its initial i often drops out)

    Adjective and pronoun declensions are similar. Adjectives are in the strong declension when in an indefinite noun phrase, and the weak declension when in in a definite one, with a definite article, demonstrative pronoun, or possessive pronoun. This is a feature of the older Germanic languages, and it survives in varying degree in the present-day ones, with one exception: English. However, Middle English had a much-reduced version of that feature, much like what Dutch now has.

  3. Top | #33
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    Let's look at Old English.

    St Wk
    m f n m f n
    Sg Nom - -u, - - -a -e -e
    Acc - -e - -an -an -e
    Dat -e -e -e -an -an -an
    Gen -es -e -es -an -an -an
    Pl Nom -as -a, -e -u, - -an -an -an
    Acc -as -a, -e -u, - -an -an -an
    Dat -um -um -um -um -um -um
    Gen -a -a -a -ena -ena -ena

    Old English adjectives had similar declensions, and they were in the strong declension in indefinite noun phrases and in the weak declension in definite noun phrases.

    By Middle English, the strong and weak forms are both unchanging, with the weak one formed from the strong one with a suffixed -e. Dutch is similar. An adjective gets -e unless it is for an indefinite neuter singular noun.

  4. Top | #34
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    In the Continental Scandinavian languages, noun declensions are much more simplified, but like in Icelandic, they have suffixed definite articles. A rather oversimplified summary:
    • Common: -n
    • Neuter: -t
    • Plural: -na, -ne

    A further complication is that when a noun has an adjective, a definite artlcle is also placed before the adjective. I used Google Translate:

    • English: A dog. The dog. Dogs. The dogs. A big dog. The big dog. Big dogs. The big dogs.
    • Swedish: En hund. Hunden. Hundar. Hundarna. En stor hund. Den stora hunden. Stora hundar. De stora hundarna.
    • Norwegian: En hund. Hunden. Hunder. Hundene. En stor hund. Den store hunden. Store hunder. De store hundene.
    • Danish: En hund. Hunden. Hunde. Hundene. En stor hund. Den store hund. Store hunde. De store hunde.
    • Icelandic: Hundur. Hundurinn. Hundar. Hundarnir. Stór hundur. Stóri hundurinn. Stórir hundar. Stóru hundarnir.
    • German: Ein Hund. Der Hund. Hunde. Die Hunde. Ein großer Hund. Der große Hund. Große Hunde. Die großen Hunde.
    • Dutch: Een hond. De hond. Honden. De honden. Een grote hond. De grote hond. Grote honden. De grote honden.

    For "dog", the English cognate is "hound", a dog for hunting. Google Translate's translations of "big" differ: a West-Germanic form *grot and a North-Germanic form *stor. The West-Germanic one has English cognate "great".

  5. Top | #35
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    German adjectives with indefinite / definite determiners:
    - Ind Def
    m f n pl m f n pl m f n pl
    Sg Nom -er -e -es -e I- -er I-e -e I- -es I-e -en D-er -e D-e -e D-es -e D-e -en
    Acc -en -e -es -e I-en -en I-e -e I- -es I-e -en D-en -en D-e -e D-es -e D-e -en
    Dat -em -er -em -en I-em -en I-er -en I-em -en I-en -en D-em -en D-er -en D-em -en D-en -en
    Gen -en -er -en -er I-es -en I-er -en I-es -en I-er -en D-es -en D-er -en D-es -en D-er -en

    Noun declension (German nouns) is simpler.

    Here are the most common patterns. In the plural, the dative adds -n if the plural does not already end in -n. In the singular, feminine nouns are usually indeclinable, and proper names and masculine and neuter nouns usually have -(e)s in their genitive.

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