Open Source Beats Walled Gardens In Spoken Languages Too

from the what-do-french-and-aol-have-in-common? dept

Earlier this week, Webster’s and the Oxford English Dictionary announced that it would include the word “google” from now on as an official word. But of course English doesn’t have any one list of official words, there are just dictionaries that give their opinions about appropriate and established usage. And this is no trivial feature of the language. English’s extensibility allows it to adapt to cultural and technological changes quicker than languages with centralized boards determining what words are appropriate, as exists for French (it wasn’t until 2000 that French came up with an approved list of internet-related words so that speakers didn’t have to use vile English ones). Of course there are some advantages to walled gardens; grammar and spelling rules are really consistent across French, unlike English’s gangly mess that give kids fits in spelling bees. But this mess is a function of English speakers incorporating the best of what other languages and cultures have, and so may be one factor (among many others) of the language’s success across the globe.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Open Source Beats Walled Gardens In Spoken Languages Too”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jamie says:

Spanish is another structured language

The royal academy in Spain organizes the Spanish language just like the French do. I don’t know how successful the French are in keeping their language consistent, but Spanish is remarkably consistent in its spelling and grammar rules.

So much so, that I was able to teach myself to read and write it without needing any instruction. As a child I was bilingual in Spanish and English. Moved to the US while still very young, and learned to read in English. I retained the ability to speak Spanish, but never read it (my parents did not speak it). As an adult, I suddenly realized that I could read Spanish perfectly. Not only that, I could write Spanish words even if I had never seen the word written down, since the spelling always matches the pronunciation.

Howard (user link) says:

Re: Spanish is another structured language

Hmmm… I’m currently studying Spanish, and while it is mostly phonetic, certain exceptions are giving me fits. For instance, since the ‘h’ is never pronounced, how do you know when to write it? Or since the ‘g’ and the ‘j’ sometimes have exactly the same sound, how do you know which to choose? Or for that matter, the ‘x’ is sometimes pronounced the same as ‘g’ or ‘j’ — and there doesn’t appear to be any dependable rule on that: “Mexico” is pronounced “meh’-hee-co”, but “exitos” is pronounced “ek’-see-tose”.

There also appears to be a large difference in the way certain letter-pairs are pronounced. Listening to native speakers pronounce ‘ll’, I have heard at least four distinct sounds used, varying from a soft ‘y’ to a hard ‘j’, and sometimes like a combination of ‘j’ and ‘ch’. I’ve even heard the word “calle” pronounced “cahd-jeh”. Likewise, the sound for ‘v’ varies on a smooth continuum from a ‘v’ to a ‘b’.

Since I am a musician, it’s possible that I’m hearing differences that native speakers do not notice, or do not regard as being different.

Another explanation for this was given to me by a Columbian native. I listen to a Spanish radio station in the Dallas area, so I hear a lot of TexMex. According to the Columbian, TexMex is bad Mexican, and Mexican is poor Spanish.

At any rate, Spanish does NOT appear to perfectly phonetic.

Jamie says:

Re: Re: Spanish is another structured language

Not sure about the ‘h’, but the ‘g’, ‘j’, and ‘x’ letters all have different sounds to native speakers. Sometimes to non native speakers the sounds seem the same (or may actually be the same because your voice cannot properly pronounce them). As for the ‘ll’. You are correct. The pronunciation can vary for different dialects/accents much like British and American English pronunciation.

The word “exitos” is not proper Spanish. It’s slang. Spanish spoken in Texas, and in most of Mexico is filled with slang. So that word is not a good example. Though that doesn’t mean you don’t have a point.

Spanish is not perfectly phonetic, but it is more phonetic than most languages in the world. Consequently, if you can speak it, you can probably read and write it. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly functionally.

Cheryl Geller (user link) says:

Re: Doesn't anyone remember the definition of Goog

I remember that “google” was a mathmatical term used to stand for “the largest number” in the whole world. That when math found what that mythical number was, it would be called a google. I loved that word before it became what it means now. My other favorite “words” are “pyroclastic flow” & “load bearing wall”. But they are really phrases. I was trying to find the mathmatical definition for google when I found this blog. I cannot find the mathmatical definition of google anywhere, it is really scary in a way. My computer dictionary has google as meaning the search engine, and looking on internet based dictionaries yielded the same definitions. I thought I was going crazy till I found this blog. I’m gonna go see if google, the math term, is in my dictionary. Somehow, googling google just doesn’t seem right.

AJ Mancini says:

Re: Spanish is another Structured Language

Not necessarily, they say that people who are good at music and are good with complex rythms often encountered in music are inherently better at math and linguistics. Also, the ability to distinguish sounds is honed by practicing music, therefore musical people can better distinguish the sounds of language

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...