Thursday, 26 February 2009

Assuming words...

I’d hate to bore you by getting stuck on a theme but I learnt a new word today and it made me smile. So I’m going to write about it. I’m also going to make a few statement s about language founded on nothing stronger than my own observations and analysis. (Feel free to correct me if you know better – just do it gently!)

My word of the day is ‘radoholičar’ which I am told is the local equivalent of ‘workaholic’. (That, of course, is the link to yesterday’s post!) My thoughts on language are about the way new or foreign words are assumed into language. The English make much of the fact the French have a bureau, or some kind of official body, to protect the purity of their language. English just begs, borrows and steals - adding whatever seems to fit regardless of rules. So long as it can be spelled with its twenty-six letter alphabet it’s even happy to allow an accent or two.

Here we’re learning a language that’s spelled phonetically. This is a genius invention for beginners as there are no silent letters or multiple pronunciations to trip you up. (British comedy would be much the poorer if it suffered this constraint however!) Foreign words are spelled differently so they are pronounced the same – even names are treated like this. The example that’s stuck in my head since I saw it in a TV magazine is Vinz Von*.

(The actor in question is, of course, Vince Vaughn!)

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