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Sapir/Whorf [Saturday 20 Mar 2010 at 01:40 pm]
Owen
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English may need to import words for such subtleties as angst or ennui, but can a native speaker of French or German ever truly plumb the depth of meh or squee?
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[User Picture]From: fangfaceandrea
Saturday 20 Mar 2010 at 11:15 pm (UTC)
dunno about French or German, but as an Spanish speaker I can say that yes, meh and squee are heartfelt words for me and many of my friends... not too common though, and now that I thing about it, we ermmm learned them thorugh our fandoms... huh...
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[User Picture]From: norwie2010
Saturday 20 Mar 2010 at 11:21 pm (UTC)
Well, we just import those words right back! ;-)

On a more scientific note, the english language has about double the word count than either french or german (which is partly due to it's origin in both french and german) but has a very low grade of flexion (german eg has a very high grade of flexion). Which means that the english language is turning slowly into a single syllable language (like chinse). More words but lower grammatical expression. Which also means you get all the cool words but we get all the beautiful sentences. ;-)
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From: beer_good_foamy
Saturday 20 Mar 2010 at 11:33 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't the German habit of making new words by combining old ones mean that the word for "squee" is something like "Internetentzückungsausrufchen"?
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[User Picture]From: norwie2010
Saturday 20 Mar 2010 at 11:43 pm (UTC)
Hr hr. Good one - but the beauty of "squee" is at least partially in it's short form (which expresses just so much). But i'm sure that "german beaureaucratic" (which is a language all of it's own) would do exactly as you said.
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[User Picture]From: owenthurman
Sunday 21 Mar 2010 at 12:45 am (UTC)
low grade of flexion

George Orwell had some plusgood recommendations for more flexion in the anglophonic world in the afterward to 1984.

[E]nglish language is turning slowly into a single syllable language

I wouldn't expect to go that far, but we do like to use sentence position for meaning. It helps us to be able to use all our verbs as adverbs and nouns and vice versa. I wonder if Chinese does that -- unfortunately I'm too old to learn.

you get all the cool words but we get all the beautiful sentences

I learned that when I first picked up just enough Spanish to read novels and poetry without a dictionary. The vocabulary is simpler but the subtlety of expression is not impaired; it takes different forms.

But, back on Sapir/Whorf, does that change how we think?
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