Page 5 - Language Facts

The English language has a nearly defunct mark similar to an umlaut called a diaeresis. When is it used?

The diaeresis, which is pronounced as "die heiresses," is from the Greek. It means "divide," and the two dots are often mistaken for the umlaut. The diaeresis is completely different from the German umlaut. The umlaut is used to change the pronunciation of a vowel, and it sometimes changes the meaning of a word as well.

'The New Yorker' is one of the few publications that still uses it to distinguish between two vowel sounds in a word when they occur back to back, as in "naive" or "releect," for example.

So why has it's use nearly slipped into oblivion? Because the practical use of the diaeresis is of limited benefit. To better understand that answer, take a look at the word "cooperate." It may also be written as "co-operate," or "coöperate." In reality, most people do not have difficulty in pronouncing the word no matter how it is formatted. As a result, most people don't see much purpose in using a nearly obsolete symbol.

Besides, on many programs today, it can be challenging to get the diaeresis to stay over the correct vowel. It is often automatically taken off by modern technology, such as autocorrect.

Still, it's interesting to learn about how English usage has evolved.


Jersey Shore is called 'Macaroni Rascals' in Japan!

Jersey Shore is an American reality television series which ran on MTV from December 3, 2009 to December 20, 2012 in the United States.

The series follows the lives of eight housemates spending their summer at the Jersey Shore in the U.S. State of New Jersey. The show debuted amid large amounts of controversy regarding the use of the words “Guido/Guidette,” portrayals of Italian-American stereotypes, and scrutiny from locals because the cast members were not residents of the area.

The series garnered record ratings for MTV, making it the network’s most viewed series telecast ever. The series’ cast has also been credited with introducing unique lexicon and phrases into American popular culture.

The series has started airing in Japan, and with the average Japanese cable TV viewer being totally ignorant of American geography, the name “Jersey Shore” needed an explanatory subtitle. So MTV Japan has decided on translating the show to “MTV Jersey Shore—The New Jersey life of macaroni rascals”.


Here in Finland, the language is completely gender-neutral—they don't have any gender-specific pronouns like 'he' or 'she'

The Finnish language is completely gender-neutral. It does not have any grammatical gender whatsoever and the language has only gender-neutral pronouns. The word hn means both 'he' and 'she'. They also do not commonly use the male or female version of an occupation like actor or actress. The basic word is used for both genders.

For occupations of which the word 'man' is necessary, like 'fireman' or 'chairman' the Finnish word 'mies' (man) is used regardless of the gender of the person filling the position. Genderless languages use gender-inclusive words like 'human being', 'person' and 'business person' instead of businessman, for instance. Because of gender-neutrality in Finnish, they sometimes refer to a man as a 'she' or a woman as a 'he' when they speak English because it is a foreign concept to them.

According to 'The Handbook of English Linguistics', generic masculine pronouns and gender-specific job titles are instances "where English linguistic convention has historically treated men as prototypical of the human species." In Old English, the word 'wer' referred to males only and 'wif' to females only, while the word 'man' was initially intended to refer to both.

There are a growing number of people who are advocating for gender-neutrality in the English language.


Some awesome lists!

The U.S. is ranked 5th in population of Spanish-speakers. Who is number one?

For most purposes, the U.S. Is seen as an English-speaking country. What many people fail to fully consider is that it’s also a very diverse country in the category of spoken languages.

Looking at the figures, Mexico has, by far, the largest population of Spanish speakers, with about 107 million (at the time this data was collected). Next come Spain itself, Colombia, Argentina, and the U.S.

The U.S. Actually has more people who speak Spanish than Peru, Venezuela, or Chile! Since the U.S. Has a much higher population, even though it has about 34 million people who speak the language, it's use is not dominant, unlike the other nations on this list.

Also of note, is the fact that Spanish is not evenly spread throughout the country. For instance, 30% of residents in New Mexico speak Spanish, whereas it is very seldom used in other areas. It is more common in the Southwest region. Historically, that area was part of Mexico, and many people there are of Mexican descent.

All in all, Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It can be heard anywhere from Europe to America (North and South), and even certain parts of Africa and Asia that once had close ties to Spain.


Dyslexia is less common with readers of Asian languages than Western languages.Are we really all create equal?

Chinese languages and writing have attracted the attention of outsiders for many centuries. To this day, we’re still learning new things. One of the biggest differences between East and West is that many Asian languages use characters to represent words or ideas instead of letters.

Typical Chinese readers have heavy activity in the brain's left middle frontal gyrus (which relates to the memory of visual images). English readers show high activity in other regions of the brain. In each language, dyslexics have less activity in those respective places.

According to one estimate, 15% of English speakers are dyslexic. In Chinese, it’s about 7%. Actually, it may be more complicated than that, because there is debate about what is meant by “dyslexic.”

A reader/writer of English who commonly reverses letters is said to be dyslexic. Since there are Asian languages that use characters instead of letters, is it fair to even use the word?

What that all means is that it may be possible to be dyslexic in one language but not in another! Why? Because reading different languages requires different sets of skills, oftentimes. In English, it’s necessary to convert letters into sounds, but that does not hold true for some Asian languages.



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