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08/09/2007

Comments

Glen Gordon

[this is good]

Very interesting. I can vouch for the fact that this language isn't anything like Mandarin at all.


Try to steer away from speaking of a "Chinese language", though. That usage of "Chinese" is actually meaningless. Mandarin and Cantonese are mutually unintelligible and are thus seperate <i>languages</i> themselves. Mandarin itself has dialects (like Beijing dialect) so to say "The Chinese language is an SVO language" is as vague as saying "The Romance language is an SVO language".


God, what is wrong with me? Nag, nag, nag. I'm so anal! ;)


Despite being SVO overall, Mandarin still has some dark SOV tendencies lurking in the midst. An example is the way in which it forms relative clauses (i.e. instead of "the bright girl who studied in school", one would say "the bright in school study girl"). That's not typical of SVO languages. This is not the case in Cantonese speech (SVO as well) which would tend to say something like "the bright girl study in school", if I'm not mistaken.

Glen Gordon

No wait, hold the presses, I'm wrong about Cantonese (see pdf on Cantonese relative clauses). Oh the shame. Ngo mou min. Cantonese seems to be doing the same thing as Mandarin... which is very un-SVO. So there you go. Two Chinese languages using voodoo word order.

PhoeniX

That sounds like the Chinese language<i>s</i> all right. Just like you have these odd tendencies of some verbs just refusing to be intransitive, because that would make Chinese's original ergative-absolutive tendencies uneasy ;)

What I'm talking about is the 我吃飯 (I eat/I eat rice) peculiarity, where it's simply impossible to just say 我吃 without explaingin <i>what</i> you are eating, and if you don't feel like specifying it's `rice'  by default.

Feel free to use Chinese characters by the way. Although my Mandarin is far from perfect, with a dictionary I get along quite well. Sometimes it might be easier to explain some stuff about Mandarin using the Characters.

I didn't get round to doing the next sentence today. The bodhisattva perceiver of world sounds was listening to the underwear of the world; so I figured something went wrong in my translation ;-) But I think I have it now, so maybe tomorrow.


Glen Gordon

There's definitely SOV and ergativesque craziness going on in Mandarin. You are probably aware of the exhilarating passive construction then:

昨天玛丽被狼人吃了.

Yesterday, Mary was eaten by a werewolf.

I'm better with Mandarin than Cantonese. For some reason, when I speak Cantonese, people look at me funny. Evidently, I'm only intelligible in languages with less than five tones. I guess I will have to accept my physical disability :( But I have Chinese characters installed on my computer so I can type whatever I want. I feel like a multilingual god! (I just have to learn to read what the hell I'm typing, hahaha.) 

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