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Chung at work / Chung pri práci

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Evita
Tetraglot
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Latvia
learnlatvian.info
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Speaks: Latvian*, English, German, Russian
Studies: Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 129 of 541
27 March 2012 at 11:55am | IP Logged 
Right, I wasn't implying that tones are important. They do exist but it shouldn't be a major concern for people learning Latvian. It's much more important to get the difference between short and long vowels and pronounce them correctly. For example, I've heard a lot of Russians speak Latvian more or less fluently but many of them have trouble with the long vowels, especially when they're at the end of a word, like in the Locative case (darbā) or verb present tense (runā). They pronounce them too short and it's noticeable. Long vowels should always be long.
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Chung
Diglot
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Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 130 of 541
27 March 2012 at 4:03pm | IP Logged 
viedums wrote:
Some Latvian etymologies – strādāt (work) is cognate with Russian stradàtj (suffer). There’s a semantic parallel with French travailler and English travails. Compare Latvian, Russian and other IE words for feet, legs and nails and they seem mixed up, e.g. Latvian nagi “nails” and pēdas “footmark, trace”. Russian has the taboo term medvyed or “honey eater” for bear, but in Latvian it’s lācis or “licker.”


Geeze, you're right about strādāt and you now remind me of the literary Slovak word strádať which I've never used but seen only a couple of times in print. I am aware though of the conflating in IE of body parts pretty much below the thighs.

viedums wrote:
I recall learning that Latvian borrowed a set of Finno-Ugric terms for things dealing with the sea. Possible ones might be kuģis “boat” (or was it laiva), jūra “sea”, kaiva “gull”.


That's interesting as I learned that it was the other way around for jūra (Cf. Estonian järv "lake"; Northern Saami jávri "lake").

viedums wrote:
I would advise learners to just ignore “tones” in Latvian. There are isolated examples of minimal pairs like augsts “high” vs. auksts “cold” which sound the same except for a different tone, but context will always make the intended meaning clear. I consider myself fluent in Latvian, and I have no idea what any of the tones are supposed to be. There is a lot of variation between dialects in any case. Any Latvian “philologist” who tells you to pay attention to this is guilty of fetishizing the language (sorry Evita!) A common problem with Latvians in any case.

If you know German and have access to a university library, you might want to check out the four volume dictionary by Muehlenbach and Enzelīns, it’s a great window into what the language was like in its feudal past.


Thanks.
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viedums
Hexaglot
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Thailand
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 Message 131 of 541
27 March 2012 at 5:34pm | IP Logged 
That's an excellent point, Evita - the distinction between long and short vowels is really key. Missing it in the cases you mention (locative and verb endings) could easily lead to miscomprehension. It can also be tricky keeping track of long and short vowels in verb conjugation, one set (the one ending in –īt) works a bit differently. The point about it being a problem for Russians speaking Latvian is right too – I heard Ušakovs give an interview in Latvian, he spoke at a fast pace but his garās patskaņas were nonexistent!

Chung, I don’t know anything about Finnish or Estonian, but you might look into the work of Valdis Zeps. He was a linguistics prof at Wisconsin (now deceased) who did his PhD at Indiana and was very knowledgeable about Finno-Ugric. His dissertation was published as “Latvian and Finnic Linguistic Convergences”, it’s basically a list of cognates, including many terms from the West Latvian dialects.   Most of them are pretty obscure, though, and it didn’t strike me as being a particularly useful work for learners of these languages.

One L-F cognate just came to mind - "puika" means boy.





Edited by viedums on 27 March 2012 at 5:42pm

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Evita
Tetraglot
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Latvia
learnlatvian.info
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 Message 132 of 541
27 March 2012 at 7:04pm | IP Logged 
viedums wrote:
I heard Ušakovs give an interview in Latvian, he spoke at a fast pace but his garās patskaņas were nonexistent!

Since this is a language forum, I should correct you. The correct phrase is "garie patskaņi".

Regarding Latvian and Finnish - not much vocabulary overlap there, just a few words for fun. Puika (Latvian, boy) - poika (Finnish, boy), laiva (boat, L) - laiva (ship, F). The most amusing though is this expression:

firma maksā - firma maksaa - the company is paying. We had great fun over this with our Finnish colleagues because the expression was true.
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viedums
Hexaglot
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Thailand
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 Message 133 of 541
28 March 2012 at 3:39am | IP Logged 
Thanks for the correction, Evita. I must have assumed patskanis was like skana gender-wise. Guess I'm a bit rusty!


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Chung
Diglot
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 Message 134 of 541
08 April 2012 at 9:21pm | IP Logged 
FINNISH

I've just worked through Chapter 12 of "Kuulostaa hyvältä". The course's dialogue was about Anna and Jutta looking for a gift at Arabia for Jutta's mother. The grammatical focus was the partitive plural and I had some trouble getting the correct answers for these exercises. As a result I spent some time reviewing the topic and rediscovered how the choice of ending is as complicated as it is. After going through all of the available reference material, I got the best understanding of which ending to use from "Finnish for Foreigners 1" and have been declining the nouns and adjectives from "Kuulostaa hyvältä"'s vocabulary lists up to chapter 12 in to the core cases.

The scheme reminds me slightly of inflection in Saamic languages since the ending used sometimes depends on how many syllables there are in the stem while other times the stem's final vowel changes because of the case ending. See here and here for what I've been struggling with.

I was also watching an episode of "Pasila" where the police chief orders one of his investigators to do guard duty after he refuses to mop the floor. I found it funny when they were using a gag with the comparative and superlative.

The gag starts here and happens again about a couple of minutes later. The gag's sequence is basically:

Se sopii minulle hyvin! "It suits [to] me well!"
Se sopii minulle paremmin! "It suits [to] me better!"
Se sopii minulle parhaiten! "It suits [to] me the best!"

The investigator, Pöysti (i.e. the guy with the pacifier) gets the last word on his boss by using the superlative much to his boss' displeasure who wishes that there were a fourth degree of comparison for adjectives (I don't know of any languages that go beyond the superlative).

For those who know Hungarian, the comparative suffix -bb has been linked to the -mmin used in Finnish adverbs' comparative degree which is related to the Finnish adjective's comparative suffix -mpi

E.g.

ala "area, space" (cf. ala-huone "lower chamber" (in politics)); alempi "lower" (Finnish)

alsó "low(er)"; alsóbb "[even] lower" (Hungarian)

***

LATVIAN

I have just completed Chapter 3 of the new edition of "Colloquial Latvian" and got introduced to the dative, dates and time, and more about numbers (including ordinals). I didn't have any huge difficulty with what was presented but I was finding that I was not retaining vocabulary quite as well and so have started to review "Teach Yourself Latvian"'s dialogues as both books progress similarly from start to finish.

***

POLISH

I did Unit 2 of "Reading Authentic Polish" and have given up on using DLI's Polish Refresher Course because I'm not getting that much out of it lacking the background in DLI's training for Polish as assumed by the refresher course. Instead I'll be working through "Kiedyś wrócisz tu..." as best as I can (the course is better suited for a classroom, but much of it is useful for independent learning, although I would like to do more speaking than just chatting with Polish friends in my hometown on the infrequent occasion when I meet them. For lack of anything better I'll probably start with redoing the speaking drills in Schenker's "Beginning Polish" but will keep looking for other stuff.

***

MISCELLANEA

As mentioned in the last entry, here's a set of expressions for disbelief.

- Disbelief

"No way! / You gotta be kidding!"
Ei oo totta! (Finnish - more "properly" it's Ei ole totta!)
Ez nem lehet igaz! (Hungarian)
Niemożliwe! (Polish)
Neexist! (Slovak)*

Unfortunately I don't know what "no way!" is in Northern Saami.

For the next entry, I'll include another set of expressions for disblief

***

* Slovak has a fairly colloquial but non-vulgar expression for disbelief: Ty kokos! / Ty kokso!. It literally means "you coconut" but basically fills the function of "No freakin' way!", "Get out!" or "That's nuts [to the point where one can't believe that]". I've heard this one more often among Slovaks younger than 35 than Neexist!.

Edited by Chung on 09 April 2012 at 8:47am

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vermillon
Triglot
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United Kingdom
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 Message 135 of 541
08 April 2012 at 10:31pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
I don't know of any languages that go beyond the superlative.


I've found this comment very surprising, as superlative is by definition the last.
However, it seems like Basque has an "excessive" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_grammar#Comparison). It's not "beyond" superlative of course, but I found it interesting to learn the existence of such a form.
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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5391 days ago

4228 posts - 8254 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 136 of 541
09 April 2012 at 8:50am | IP Logged 
vermillon wrote:
Chung wrote:
I don't know of any languages that go beyond the superlative.


I've found this comment very surprising, as superlative is by definition the last.
However, it seems like Basque has an "excessive" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_grammar#Comparison). It's not "beyond" superlative of course, but I found it interesting to learn the existence of such a form.


I'm sure that the police chief in "Pasila" would have tried to import Basque's fourth degree for adjectives into Finnish anyway to "one-up" the investigator's use of the superlative.


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