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Chung at work / Chung pri práci

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Chung
Diglot
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Joined 5660 days ago

4228 posts - 8256 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 521 of 541
03 July 2015 at 1:43am | IP Logged 
Thank you, everyone. It's good to be well enough to check in here regularly.

stelingo wrote:
Nice to have you back on the forum, Chung, and I hope your health problems are behind
you.

Would you say Written and spoken Finnish differ as much as Written and spoken Czech?


I find it hard to be exact on the point, although (and Serpent and Cavesa may vehemently disagree) I maintain that the difference between the spoken and written forms of these languages is great enough that a foreign learner of either language would be wise to study it. The variation may not neatly fit the definition of diglossia, but in my experience, it's pretty damned close.

There's nothing unusual for native speakers to use formal language on foreigners, even in informal contexts since foreigners who have learned the language typically are exposed only to the standard/written language as encountered in classrooms or self-instructional kits (not to mention from news broadcasters). This is just accommodation on the part of the native speakers. On the other hand, foreign learners could be in for a shock when realizing that they understand far less communication between native Czechs or Finns than their ability in or exposure to the respective written/standard language could have them believe. Speed of native speech isn't the only thing (I was initially befuddled by Facebook posts and comments made by my Finnish friends among themselves as there's a largely accepted way to express colloquial language visually, and it goes beyond English with its contractions and slang(y) forms. This is distinct from conventions in online chat or texting)

Serpent and I discussed the degree of the difference between spoken and written forms in this thread.
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stelingo
Hexaglot
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United Kingdom
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 Message 522 of 541
03 July 2015 at 1:51pm | IP Logged 
I knew you would have already written a post on it, Chung. So, from what I understand
Standard Czech diverges from colloquial Czech due to the language of the educated and
ruling classes being German for several centuries. Was this also the case in Finland,
with Russian being the prestige language?

My problem with Czech now is that I'm familiar with the main differences in grammar and
vocab between the two variants, but I feel I speak a strange mixture of them both, using
a colloquial case ending in one sentence, then the more formal ending in the next.
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vonPeterhof
Tetraglot
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Russian FederationRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 523 of 541
03 July 2015 at 3:19pm | IP Logged 
stelingo wrote:
So, from what I understand Standard Czech diverges from colloquial Czech due to the language of the educated and ruling classes being German for several centuries. Was this also the case in Finland, with Russian being the prestige language?
Pretty much, except it was Swedish instead of Russian. Aside from several periods in the later decades of the Russian Empire, Finland was pretty autonomous and the Russian language didn't play much of a role there. In fact many Russians at the time were exasperated that in order to enter what's supposed to be just another part of their empire they had to pass a border checkpoint where the border guards didn't speak a word of Russian. Swedish on the other hand was very well entrenched due to Finland having been an integral part of the Swedish kingdom before Russia took it. A famous quote from one of the Swedish-speaking leaders of the Finnish cultural revival movement went something like "Swedes we are no more, Russians we can never be, so let us be Finns".

Oh, by the way, welcome back, Chung! Looking forward to hearing your impressions about Uzbek.
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stelingo
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 Message 524 of 541
03 July 2015 at 3:50pm | IP Logged 
Ah yes, I'd forgotten about the Swedish language community in Finland. I flew with
Finnair to China last year, and I have to say I found the sound of Finnish quite
strange. It reminded me of some intergalactic language George Lucas might have made up
for Star Wars.
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Chung
Diglot
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Joined 5660 days ago

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20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 525 of 541
03 July 2015 at 5:50pm | IP Logged 
Rahmat, vonPeterhof.

With Czech, it's not so much that the elites were Germanophones as much as conscious decisions by the intellectuals in the Czech National Revival of the 18th and 19th centuries (especially Josef Dobrovský). By that time, the Habsburgs' Germanization had relegated Czech to an oral language among the peasants with the attendant changes to what we would largely recognize now as obecná čeština. To develop a written language (which got conflated to "standard language"), the Czech intellectuals used the Bible of Kralice as their model even though that was a translation from Latin (or was it Greek) to Czech as used in the late 16th century. (cf. difference between Early Modern English and Modern English). At least in theory, there was nothing stopping Dobrovský and company from codifying/standardizing Czech based on the language of the peasants ca. early 19th century and so avoid creating this relatively large gap between the standard and colloquial variants.

To expand a bit on vonPeterhof's comments, it was probably because of Czarist control that Finnish ever had a chance to evolve from the language of the subjugated peasantry to the prestige language. Upon forming the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809, it was useful to the Russians to weaken the subjects' link to the previous overlords by turning a blind eye to nascent Finnish nationalism as it eroded the status of Swedish (and indirectly the prestige of the elites there who had become heavily if not totally Swedified cf. Fennoswedes). This wasn't really a case of St. Petersburg being magnanimous to its new subjects. Unfortunately for the Russians, the logical conclusion was exemplified in that quotation mentioned earlier. It's by Johan Vilhelm Snellman a Fennoman or part of the group of intellectuals whose mother tongue was usually Swedish but who wanted to elevate the prestige of Finnish language and culture. By the turn of the 20th century, Russification and state of the Finnish national consciousness meant that for these intellectuals and politicians, independence rather than autonomy was the only way to go. Having Russian overlords was just as unacceptable as having Swedish ones.

For me Finnish sounds rather like Hungarian but the relatively few cognates aren't always easy to recognize unless pointed out (e.g. Fi: kolme, Hu: három "three"; Fi: mennään!, Hu: menjünk! "Let's go!"; Fi: viime "last, preceding"; Hu: vég "end"; Fi: , Hu: éj "night").
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Cavesa
Triglot
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Czech Republic
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 Message 526 of 541
03 July 2015 at 7:39pm | IP Logged 
Well, to precise the story of the Czech language a bit, or rather complete it: The "famous" diglossia between the old based standard and modern spoken Czech is overrated by the simple fact that large parts of the country are still using the standard kralice based grammar in speech. While all the regions have some specific words, not that many actually, the spoken Czech is not a monolith that differs gramatically from the written language. Most people shocked with the "diglossia" just haven't heard anyone outside Prague and Western/Central Bohemia usually. Prague and Bohemia was one of the most progressive and industrial parts of the AU Empire, therefore the language had evolved much more, while the agricultural southern Moravia had been still close to the roots.

Truth be told, Dobrovský and company would have done best had they left the language to rot as the language was the main reason why the czechs wanted independence at the beginning of 20th century, which lead to disasters. But as they chose to exhumate it, they could have taken their contemporary Bohemian speech as the model, that is true. I think they didn't because of their romantic dreams of recovering our centuries lost national confidence. They failed.
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stelingo
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 Message 527 of 541
03 July 2015 at 8:14pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
Rahmat, vonPeterhof.


Who's Rahmat?

Edited by stelingo on 03 July 2015 at 8:16pm

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stelingo
Hexaglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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 Message 528 of 541
03 July 2015 at 8:18pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:

Truth be told, Dobrovský and company would have done best had they left the language to
rot as the language was the main reason why the czechs wanted independence at the
beginning of 20th century, which lead to disasters.


I've never come across anybody as negative about their own country and language.


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