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The weirdest languages

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
rodrigoau
Triglot
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Australia
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Speaks: Macedonian*, English, Spanish
Studies: Italian, Turkish

 
 Message 1 of 8
02 May 2015 at 11:44am | IP Logged 
Who would have thought? Spanish is weird (relatively speaking), but Hungarian isn't.

Check this link if you haven't before.

http://idibon.com/the-weirdest-languages/


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Labebrett
Diglot
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Canada
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Speaks: English*, Spanish

 
 Message 2 of 8
07 May 2015 at 4:26am | IP Logged 
This is pretty interesting. I wouldn't have expected certain related languages to be so disparate.
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taqseem
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Switzerland
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34 posts - 47 votes
Studies: English

 
 Message 3 of 8
09 May 2015 at 11:13am | IP Logged 
i always knew there was something wrong with German.
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Henkkles
Triglot
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Finland
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544 posts - 1141 votes 
Speaks: Finnish*, English, Swedish
Studies: Russian

 
 Message 4 of 8
09 May 2015 at 11:44am | IP Logged 
As a Finnish speaker IE languages are all super weird to me. Possessive adjectives, noun gender, the verb "to have", reflexive pronoun... I was amused that Swedish and Norwegian were a lot higher than Icelandic on the weirdness scale though.
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richarddylan126
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United States
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1 posts - 1 votes

 
 Message 5 of 8
17 October 2015 at 8:32am | IP Logged 
rodrigoau wrote:
Who would have thought? Spanish is weird (relatively speaking), but
Hungarian isn't.

Check this link if you haven't before.



I think Spanish is not in the list of weird languages. I was reading something about
languages somehow through google i found a list. Here is the list of weird languages
10. Archi
9. Yupik
8. Sentinelese
7. Pawnee
6. Silbo Gomero
5. Xhosa
4. Pirahã
3. Rotokas
2. Khoisan
1. !Xóõ (Taa)
1 person has voted this message useful



Monox D. I-Fly
Senior Member
Indonesia
monoxdifly.iopc.us
Joined 3301 days ago

753 posts - 663 votes 
Speaks: Indonesian*

 
 Message 6 of 8
17 October 2015 at 6:10pm | IP Logged 
richarddylan126 wrote:
Here is the list of weird languages
10. Archi
9. Yupik
8. Sentinelese
7. Pawnee
6. Silbo Gomero
5. Xhosa
4. Pirahã
3. Rotokas
2. Khoisan
1. !Xóõ (Taa)


Never heard any of them.
1 person has voted this message useful



vonPeterhof
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Russian FederationRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 7 of 8
18 October 2015 at 8:36am | IP Logged 
richarddylan126 wrote:
rodrigoau wrote:
Who would have thought? Spanish is weird (relatively speaking), but
Hungarian isn't.

Check this link if you haven't before.



I think Spanish is not in the list of weird languages. I was reading something about
languages somehow through google i found a list. Here is the list of weird languages
10. Archi
9. Yupik
8. Sentinelese
7. Pawnee
6. Silbo Gomero
5. Xhosa
4. Pirahã
3. Rotokas
2. Khoisan
1. !Xóõ (Taa)
I've seen this list before, and it's hardly "the list" of weird languages. It's just a list of languages with unique or uncommon features that one author found to be weirder than most. The researchers from the OP's article tried to come up with an objective measure of "weirdness" based a number of comparable features across a large number of languages. While this study is far from comprehensive and the researchers' approach does have some questionable aspects (for example, not taking into account the native speaker populations and their share in the global human population), it's something very different from one guy writing up a few "obscure" languages and hyping up one or two "weird" features of each.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 18 October 2015 at 8:37am

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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4869 days ago

9078 posts - 16470 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 8 of 8
23 October 2015 at 1:09pm | IP Logged 
I have now read the article about weirdness, and the first observation is that it is based on The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS), and I would normally consider that as a fairly trustworthy source. The question is what the researchers have done to define weirdness, and here it seems that they first filter out some languages with insufficient data, and then they let each remaining language have one 'vote'. And then they base their calculations on the percentage of language that share a certain feature (as defined in WALS). The lower the percentage, the higher contribuition of that feature to the weirdness index.

This definition is actually quite logical, but maybe it would have been better to speak about 'atypical' or 'unusual' languages - not because of any negative connotations that may cling to the word "weird", but because this isn't an investigation based on qualitative evaluations apart from in the choice of checked features: once the features and the languages have been defined it ONLY deals with frequencies.

For instance the article mentions that inversion in yes-no questions is very rare: only 1,4% of the languages under consideration have this feature, and they are clustered in Europe. Attached question particles are much more common, and therefore it is quite logical that inversion in questions adds to the weirdness index.

And in spite of being a weirdo English has become a world language spoken by hundreds of millions of people, so the question is what practical consequences being weird have for the users and learners of a language. The silly orthography and chaotic rules for the use of prepositions pose more problems for learners of English than things like "do" and the odd inversion here and there do.

Edited by Iversen on 23 October 2015 at 1:23pm



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