five consonants

ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi - the basics

The Hawaiian language is as interesting as it is complicated, and it’s impossible to travel to the Hawaiian islands without encountering it in some form or another. Whether it’s on street signs, landmarks, or simply trying to explain which island you’ll be visiting, you will be using the language in some way during a visit.

Let’s start with the basics:

The Hawaiian language consists of 13 letters, including five vowels, seven consonants, and a glottal stop known as an `okina.

Vowels are usually pronounced in much the same way one would expect to pronounce them in Spanish:

  1. a ——> “ah”
  2. e ——> “eh”
  3. i ——-> “ee”
  4. o ——> “oh”
  5. u ——> “ooh”

Consonants in the Hawaiian language are:

  1. K
  2. L
  3. W
  4. H
  5. M
  6. N
  7. P

And lastly, there’s the `okina. The `okina represents a glottal stop. Say the phrase “uh-oh” out loud. Do you hear the little break between “uh” and “oh”? That’s a glottal stop. The `okina is represented with a ` , similar to a backwards apostrophe. Not all fonts allow for this, though, so a regular apostrophe is often used in its place.

All consonants in the Hawaiian language are followed by a vowel. That is to say, a word cannot end in a consonant, and two consonants cannot be written or spoken together.

It is possible, though, to have two vowels next to each other. Similar vowels, like two a’s, will have an `okina between them, like in the word “ʻaʻā” (pronounced “ah-ah”), which means “stony, rough lava.” Dissimilar vowels, on the other hand, lead a speaker to form different vowel sounds that are not possible using the standard vowels on their own. “Pau,” for example, is often used today to mean “done” or “finished,” and is pronounced like the English word “pow.” Similarly, “Lanikai” on the island of O`ahu, is pronounced “lah-nee-kye.”

The individual vowels are still pronounced, but because of the way they are spoken together, they form a different sound. Take “pau” again, for instance. Technically, it’s pronounced “pah-ooh,” but when spoken, it forms a “pow” sound like we use in English.

(Photo via Wikipedia)

Captain Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778, marking the first time the language had ever been heard by Europeans. Prior to discovery, and for a period of time immediately afterwards, the Hawaiian language had no written representation other than picture symbols in the form of petroglyphs.

(Photo via

It wasn’t until the arrival of other Europeans and protestant missionaries in the early 1800s that the Hawaiian language took a written form. The missionaries used written language as a means of spreading their religion, and interestingly, it led to a nearly 100% literacy rate, a feat which many countries today have trouble emulating.

These missionaries weren’t all good for the language, though. Many of the missionaries discouraged the use of the Hawaiian language, and many parents saw the language as a barrier to success for their children. As a result, the number of Hawaiian speaking individuals dropped from 37,000 to just 1,000 around the turn of the 20th century.

This loss of culture led to a revival for the language, though, and in 1949, the first Hawaiian-language dictionary was printed. Also around this time, Hawaiian-immersion preschools began to form, which took English-speaking children and put them into a formal schooling environment in which the Hawaiian language was used.

Still, in 1997, there were only 2,000 native speakers of Hawaiian left in the islands. The late 90s and early 2000s brought a new push towards reviving the language, and its numbers are now above 24,000.

The island of Ni`ihau, is currently the only location in the world where the Hawaiian language is predominant. On Ni`ihau, children are raised speaking Hawaiian, and around the age of 8, they begin to learn English. The preservation of the language on this island is only possible because of its status as a privately owned property and the fact that outsiders are prevented from communicating with residents.

While there are many more nuances to the Hawaiian language, these are simply the basics. After reading this, you should be able to pronounce street names like Waiānuenue Avenue, Kawaihae Road, and Haleakalā Highway, right?

Maybe not yet, but with a little practice you could do so without any trouble at all.



Day 2: Language Learning - Korean (Hangul)

Learnt basic words formed by the first five consonants and vowels and took practice tests.

This was fun but it’s just the beginning. Fighting! ❄❄

Bengali Alphabet #1: Vowels

Hi everyone! This is the first in a series of lessons about the Bengali writing system. Bengali uses the Bengali script. In this first lesson, I’m going to go over the 11 Bengali vowel letters, called স্বরবর্ণ Shôrobôrno. Let’s get started!

অ: The first vowel is অ, and its name is স্বরে অ shôre ô. This letter can make two sounds: ô [ɔ], like the in lot, or o [o], like the in no (except without the off-glide at the end). The sound you use is governed by vowel harmony, which I’ll leave for a future lesson. Don’t worry about it too much; for now, just know that when in doubt, you use ô.

আ: This vowel is called স্বরে আ shôre a. It makes the sound a [a] like in father.

ই ঈ: These two letters are হ্রস্ব ই hrôssho i and দীর্ঘ ঈ dirgho i, and both make the sound i [i], like ee in meet. These two letters represented different vowels in Sanskrit, but are now pronounced the same, so you just have to memorize which one to use.

উ ঊ: These two letters are হ্রস্ব উ hrôssho u and দীর্ঘ ঊ dirgho u, and both make the sound u [u], like oo in food. Like ই and ঈ, you have to memorize which one to use.

ঋ: This vowel is called ri (yes, ri is a vowel). It’s like ree in reed, and its use is quite rare.

এ: The name of this vowel is e. It can make two sounds. The first and more common is e [e], like ay in day except without the off-glide at the end. The second pronunciation is ê [æ], like a in cat. The pronunciation of this letter, like with অ, is governed by vowel harmony rules, which I’ll cover later.

ঐ: This vowel is called oi and represents the diphthong oi [oi], which is like oy in boy.

ও: This vowel is called o and represents the sound o [o], like the vowel in no (except without the off-glide at the end).

ঔ: This vowel is called ou and represents the sound ou [ou], like the ow in bow.

In summary:

  • অ: ô [ɔ] (o in lot); o [o] (o in no)
  • আ: a [a] (a in father)
  • ই: i [i] (ee in meet)
  • ঈ: i [i] (ee in meet)
  • উ: u [u] (oo in food)
  • ঊ: u [u] (oo in food)
  • ঋ: ri [ri] (ree in reed)
  • এ: e [e] (ay in day); ê [æ] (a in cat)
  • ঐ: oi [oi] (oy in boy)
  • ও: o [o] (o in no)
  • ঔ: ou [ou] (ow in bow)

There you have it! These basic vowel letters can only be used at the beginning of words and after other vowels. In the next lesson, we’ll discuss the first five consonants and how to use vowel with consonants. In the meantime, your homework is to transliterate the following nonsense words:

এই, ওই, আই, এও, ঋও, এউ, অও, আও

We hope you enjoyed the lesson! If you have any questions, feel free to send us an ask!

The notoriously difficult phonology of the Polish language has always caused much trouble and confusion for neighbouring nations. But what are the absolute hardest words?

Germans look at Polish and see incomprehensible series of consonants. While to the east, Polish sounds so strange to Russians that they even have a verb for Poles speaking their language: pshekat. To top it off, Czechs think Poles sound like Czech children with a speech defect.

The most troublesome feature of Polish orthography is what linguists call complex consonant clusters ‒  series of consonants without any vowels. They occur in many languages, including English; for example, in the word ‘shrug’ the letters shr form a consonant cluster. But while English usually draws the line at three consonants, Polish sometimes joins as many as five consonants, a phenomenon called the Polish syllable structure, which is allegedly surpassed only by Georgian in terms of complexity.

Here are some outstandingly difficult examples of this damning syllable structure for you to have a crack at. Good luck!

1. Żółć

This word is comprised purely of Polish letters ‒ Latin letters that were modified with Polish diacritic signs. In terms of pronunciation, English-speakers still stand a chance, but they would need to know the sound every letter stands for… (Incidentally, this all-Polish word means ‘bile’. Could the choleric Polish temperament result from their impossible language?)

2. Szczęście

If you think happiness is hard to find, try pronouncing it in Polish! The Polish word for ‘happiness’ consists of a sequence of two Polish digraphs (sz, cz), a nasal e sound, the Polish diacritic ś, another digraph (ci), and a final e (which is probably the only sound you’ll be able to pronounce on your first go).

3. Pszczyna

With a name like this, this town in Southern Poland certainly stands out on the map. But despite looking rather daunting, Pszczyna features only three consonants one after the other (the digraphs sz and cz stand for one sound each). But we’re just getting started in terms of difficulty…

4. Następstw

The final letter sequence in the Polish word for ‘consequence’ features a headache-inducing cluster of four consonants, but don’t worry. You’re not likely to encounter ‘następstw’ too often since it is the genitive plural (and thus not infrequently used) form of the word ‘następstwo’. What’s genitive plural, you ask? In Polish, words like adjectives and nouns have six or seven versions depending on their grammatical function in a sentence. But never mind that now.

5. Źdźbło

We’re sorry. We know ‘źdźbło’ looks really awful. But no worries, it’s actually only four sounds, not five: Ź, DŹ, B, Ł. Surely, that’s slightly helpful news? Either way, this terribly difficult word means ‘a tiny leaf of grass’.  

6. Bezwzględny

Here we have five consonants AND five sounds to be pronounced. Fittingly, it means ‘ruthless’.

7. Szymankowszczyzna

Now that you’re an expert, the name of this small village shouldn’t pose too much difficulty (the longest consonant cluster is a mere three consonants long). You will be reassured to learn that it is one the longest place names in Poland and most places you’ll visit are actually easier to pronounce.

8. Szczebrzeszyn

Another town, Szczebrzeszyn is famous for being the beginning of the most famous Polish tongue-twister. Ready?

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie

It means ‘In Szczebrzeszyn, a beetle buzzes in the reed’. No? Try again!

9. Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz :)

This name appears in the cult Polish movie How I Unleashed World War II when a Polish prisoner pretends to be thus named in order to thwart the Nazi officer who has to keep track of prisoners’ identities. His reaction is probably illustrative of most foreigners’ frustration with the devilish Polish phonology.

BONUS: Try putting them all together! Apologies in advance..

The ruthless Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz went from Szczebrzeszyn to Szymankowszczyzna and then Pszczyna. And though he was sometimes overwhelmed with bile, oblivious of the consequences, he eventually found happiness in a tiny leaf of grass.


Bezwzględny Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz wyruszył ze Szczebrzeszyna przez Szymankowszczyznę do Pszczyny. I choć nieraz zalewała go żółć, niepomny następstw znalazł ostatecznie szczęście w źdźble trawy.


anonymous asked:

As a deaf person with limited/no context for how words sound, I'm finding the conlang community's fixation on starting with sound to be a huge stumbling block when trying to learn how to make conlangs that aren't signed. Do you have any advice on how to work around that?

Two three actually four things:

(1) “Phonology” doesn’t simply refer to sound. (I mean, etymologically it does, but not in linguistics.) Phonology refers to how a language uses unanalyzable, meaningless units (phonemes) to create larger chunks that do have meaning (words or affixes). In a spoken language, this refers to spoken phonemes (e.g. /p/, /b/, /d/, etc.). In a sign language, this refers to places on the body, motion, and handshape. If you know ASL, compare the sign for APPLE to the sign for ONION. These are almost exactly the same sign. You put your hand in the 1 handshape with the first two segments completed curled under, you put it up to your face and twist a couple times. The difference is whether you put your hand up next to your eye, or up at your cheek. That’s the only difference between those two words. Thus, the difference between APPLE and ONION in ASL is the same difference (quantitatively) as the difference between English “meet” and “mitt”. I share this example to show you how the principle behind the arrangement of both systems—signed and spoken—is the same. They differ in their expressions (i.e. through speech sounds and through movements done with the hands and body in particular places), but the notion is that there are certain things that have no meaning (for example the place next to the eye in ASL), but you can use those things in combination with other bits that have no meaning to form meaningful units.

There aren’t a lot of signed conlangs because many conlangers aren’t as familiar with sign languages as they are spoken, and also because they are very difficult to record on paper. Any hearing person who’s studied ASL will be familiar with this: You go to class and learn, but what do you write down? I imagine every learner kind of tries to invent their own notation system to help them remember, but ultimately you just have to memorize it. That doesn’t really work for someone creating the language, though. Video is the best way to capture a sign language, but it’s not super practical (though it’s getting easier). I tried to create a phonetic transcription system for sign languages called SLIPA. I’m not sure if anyone has used it, but I think the principle is sound (or sound enough). Plus, as with the relationship between narrow transcription and romanization, I think it makes sense for the creator of the language to create a more streamlined system for use with their language that can then be explicated in a page with SLIPA.

(2) There are still other conlang types that make no reference to sound but aren’t signed. I made one called X. It’s a purely visual language (think hieroglyphs but with no phonological component whatsoever). There’s a lot to be done in this area of conlanging. You can go the picture/glyph route I did, or you could just do something totally different, as with Sai and Alex’s UNLWS. You could also do something like this:

  • #$% = cat
  • #$%* = cats
  • ##$% = big cat
  • ##$%* = big cats
  • #$$% = small cat
  • #$$%* = small cats

After all, even letters are just symbols. They can stand for whatever you want, or nothing at all! As long as you can describe what’s going on, that’s all that’s necessary.

(3) To your main concern, saying “the conlang community’s fixation on starting with sound” is, to put it mildly, unfair. I start with the sound system in the spoken conlangs I do, and I mostly do spoken conlangs. If I’m writing a book on how to create a language, that’s where I start, because I’m writing it. But just because I do it that way doesn’t mean most do. Even if you go to a forum or mailing list and you see most people falling into that pattern, that doesn’t mean that’s representative of the community either, because there are any number of people who simply aren’t replying or aren’t volunteering their methods. We’ve had the discussion within the community time and time again about where one starts a conlang, and there’s a significant chunk that start with the syntax. They’ll use English words or just nonce forms to realize the grammatical idea they’re interested in, and only grudgingly turn to the phonology after they’re done. Some don’t even get that far, because their interest wanes when it comes to phonology. This split even exists in linguistics, where we refer to P people (phonetics/phonology) and S people (syntax/semantics). Ask any linguist: these camps don’t always understand one another. The same is true in conlanging. A P person sees an S person’s awesome subordinate clause marking system with a makeshift phonology and says, “Is that your phonology? It’s a little unrealistic.” An S person looks at a P person’s incredible naturalistic vowel harmony system and says, “Why waste your time on that if you’re not even going to speak it? It obscures the morphology. I can’t make heads or tails of it. Just show me the interlinear.” And these are all hearing conlangers! If you’re only finding conlangers who are talking about phonology, then you need to look for other conlangers—like the Jeff Jones and Gary Shannon type of conlangers. This was, admittedly, an easier task when the community was smaller—before social media, ironically. But I swear to you: There are TONS of conlangers who share your interests.

(4) There are also lots of spoken conlangs that don’t bother too much about phonology. There are minimalist conlangs which, by definition, don’t really have a lot of material to work with, so there’s not much to design/learn in the way of phonology (e.g. three vowels, seven or eight consonants, no consonant clusters). There are also a priori auxlangs or otherwise non-natural spoken languages where you don’t find assimilation or dissimilation, or anything like that. If there are five vowels and ten consonants with ©V© syllables, then there are 555 possible syllables (if I counted right), and every syllable is valid and pronounced exactly as it’s supposed to be, and can occur next to any other syllable. Then there are other conlangs with complex but non-natural phonologies, where there are many distinctions to be made (many of which wouldn’t exist in a natural language), and the speaker must make them. I’m thinking of Ithkuil. There, is admittedly, some small amount of variation is allowed, but otherwise the way that sounds are arranged is almost mathematical. There is no concern for how the sounds fit together, or whether two words sound too similar: The grammar says what sounds go where, and that is that. Any type of project like I’ve described above incorporates aural phonology but in a way that I think makes a little more sense to an S person.


If you have a particular project in mind but the approaches you’ve seen don’t match it, do a little digging and find a similar project, and see how they got going. If you have the start of something and want to know about a similar project, just send another ask, and I’ll see what I can find (most of the early conlangers have websites that are still up. Btw, newer conlangers: Even though no one does websites anymore, we need a way to see your work! Hunting through Tumblr posts/tweets/FB group posts doesn’t work!). But if I can add a tl;dr to this: THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO CONLANG! You’re good, I swear! And hey, if no one can approach the way you want, why not invent it yourself and detail it? You may be creating a method/approach that will be a great help to others down the line!

It is late now, I am a bit tired; the sky is irritated by stars. And I love you, I love you, I love you – and perhaps this is how the whole enormous world, shining all over, can be created – out of five vowels and three consonants.
The Khoisan Once Were Kings Of The Planet. What Happened?

Today I found another good example of why popular science reporting should always be taken with a grain of salt–even if the statements are made by “a professor." 

I taught English composition for the first time this semester, and I was surprised by how little students questioned news reporting. They believed that there was far more expertise and fact-checking behind stories than there really is.

I had to tell them that often, journalists get things wrong; they have to write about many different subjects, and it’s impossible for them to have a good understanding of all of them. That there are financial and cultural constraints that work against rigorous fact-checking.

I also had to tell them that being an expert in one field doesn’t mean you’re an expert in another. "A professor” or “a scientist” is automatically credible. I was surprised at how often I had to ask, “a professor of what?" or "a scientist who is an expert in what?" 

I’m starting to collect examples like this in order to emphasize how important it is to question your information. Today’s example is especially good because of how much misinformation it packs into a short paragraph, and because the statements are attributed to "a professor” – who turns out, if you do some follow-up, to be a professor of molecular biology.

Can you describe the Bushmen culture and what is being lost?

The most important thing is the language. This is a “click language” in which clicks are like consonants. Linguists believe that the more clicks you have the older the language is, and this one has five, the most of any. There is also beautiful traditional music and singing that will be lost.

Let me highlight everything here that is either untrue or misleading.

The most important thing is the language. 

It is not a single language, but several unrelated languages.

clicks are like consonants.  

Clicks are consonants–they are just another type of consonant in these languages, like English “k” is a consonant.

Linguists believe that the more clicks you have the older the language is,

Linguists believe talking about the age of a language in this way is nonsensical.

and this one has five

Which of the several unrelated languages are you referring to? I’m not aware of any that only has five click consonants. Juǀ'hoan has almost 50 click consonants.  

the most of any.

There are many languages with at least five clicks, including some Bantu languages that gained clicks through contact with Khoisan languages, such as isiXhosa.

So, the person who made these statements is a molecular biologist who has co-authored an interesting paper on the genetics of the Khoisan peoples. This just goes to show how incredibly easy it is for smart people to get it wrong once they move outside their field of expertise, and how easy it is for journalists to pass that misinformation on.

Bad Apple - Bioloid Test
originally Alstroemeria Records ft. Namico

Bioloid Update

Unfortunately, I only have filters for a, e, i , u and o (ah, we soon get old) so Bioloid will be Japanese configured and I will Engrish as best as I can with a million more nuances and consonants.

Took five minutes and fixed up the gigantic mess that is his frequency spectrum that only one such as I could create, added a background track, and it sounds actually kinda nice for a computer-generated, filtered sound wave.

@goddammit-bio @linnua 

P.S. let me know how Tumblr’s player works because this is my first time posting any sound on here ever and I need to know if I should break down defeatedly because it’s almost midnight here and getting it to load took forever and a day.

Language Myths

Chapter 1 The meanings of words should not be allowed to vary of change

Some people have the opinion that the meaning of words in a language shouldn’t change and should stick to their original meaning. For example, nice used to mean foolish or shy, but gradually it has changed to the meaning pleasant. Those people want to turn that back, so every word has its original meaning again.

But changing the meaning of a word can’t be decided by individuals, if a meaning of a word has changed it is because everyone started using the word in the ‘wrong’ way. For example, the word uninterested and disinterested. Disinterested means neutral whereas uninterested means feeling no curiosity. Even though these meanings differ, the word disinterested is often being used in the same way as uninterested.

I believe that changes like these in language cannot be stopped, because words mean what the speaker of the language in general want them to mean.


Chapter 2 Some languages are just not good enough

Minority languages such as Maori and Romansch are often seen as not good enough to become an official language of a country or the lingua franca. Reasons that are often used to say why a language isn’t good enough are because the language is ugly, there is no grammar, it isn’t logical or it doesn’t have the words to discuss certain topics.

Especially the last one is often used, why speak a language that needs to borrow words from another language to be able to communicate? The thing is most minority languages have not had the opportunity or time to develop or come up with such words, because it wasn’t spoken a lot. As time passes these languages will create their own words and will no longer have to borrow words. According to my research even English, which is now the lingua franca, used to borrow and still borrows words from other languages. There is no such thing as a language that isn’t good enough.


Chapter 3 The media are ruining English

In every period of the past there have been people who proclaimed that English was approaching its collapse and in every period there have been people who said or wrote things that are grammatically incorrect, all people do this, yet the media is blamed for it. There are two misunderstandings about media writing: the dirty fingernails fallacy, meaning journalists are sloppy language users, and the garbage heap fallacy, a belief that journalism is junk writing. These are untrue, journalists use words that are frequently used in other places.

Language changes and there are a few different views as to how it happens:

1.    Like a budding and blooming of flowers process, something that is hard to see no matter how long you stare.

2.    Tadpole-to-frog, a words meaning was assumed to turn into another over time.

3.    Young cuckoo, a new word appears in a community and competes with the existing one.

I believe that language change is a natural thing and that people can’t do anything against, they should just let things go.


Chapter 5 English spelling is kattastroffik

Knowing how to pronounce a word doesn’t guarantee that you can also spell the word correctly, because the spelling of a word can be different from the way it is pronounced.

English knows five consonants <a, i, o, u, e>, those are the letters in the alphabet, however English knows twenty-three vowels sounds. For example, in the words ‘fall’ and ‘fake’, both are spelled with and <a> but they don’t sound the same. Besides the vowels the consonants can also sound different, for example to two <g>’s in the word garage. To make the spelling of English even more difficult there are also silent letters, for example the <b> in debt and the <k> in know, this is because the words were taken from Latin or other languages.

Besides this there are a lot of different English accents around the world and depending on which accent you have you pronounce words differently. Therefore, knowing the spelling doesn’t guarantee that you know how to spell a word.

Words that are spelled in the same way but are pronounced differently are called homographs.

Words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same way are homophones.

Words that are spelled the same and pronounced the same way, but have a different meaning are called homonyms.

In my opinion the English spelling isn’t too difficult, because there are some patterns that you can follow and at one point you don’t even have to think about the spelling of certain words anymore.


Chapter 8 Children can’t speak or write properly anymore

For ages there are people that say that the English language is declining and they believe that one of the factors causing this are the young people or children. They believe that children don’t know how to speak and write properly. But this is a false statement. Youngsters are just as good at speaking as previous generations and might even be better at writing. It is not the writing and speaking that has become worse, instead the standards have become higher.

Also nowadays it is not about how well a child speaks English, it is about how well the child speaks ‘standard’ English, a variety of the language which is seen as the correct form. However, it is not well defined as a speaking variety, as it is mostly used for writing. Because of this people apply those writing rules to speech, but the rules of speech and writing are very different.

I think people should stop comparing different dialects to each other, as there is no such thing as only one correct form of a language. Language is about making yourself understandable, not about the correctness.


Chapter 10 Some languages have no grammar

To linguists the grammar of a language consists of the rules which the speakers follow when they speak, for example possible verbs or words or how to make plurals. Every known human language distinguishes between at least nouns and verbs, that’s a rule and therefore every language has grammar.

I also think every language has grammar, it’s just that one language has more rules than another one.


Chapter 11 Italian is beautiful, German is ugly

Everyone has an opinion on languages, for example that French is beautiful and that German is ugly. People do not only think like this about languages but also about certain dialects within a language. One of the reasons people have these views is called ‘inherent value hypothesis’, which means that we find languages that have more prestige more beautiful than languages that don’t. Another reason for judging languages is because of its historical background, for example German is associated with Hitler and that’s why it is viewed as harsh and ugly. Associating languages with people or situations is called ‘social connotations hypothesis’.

I understand why the backgrounds of language influence the views people have of that language, but they should try to look beyond that. Because every language has something that makes it beautiful.


Chapter 13 Black children are verbally deprived

Some people think that black children are verbally deprived when it comes to speaking English, one of the reasons that is often mentioned is that it’s in their genetics, because their lips are too big. This is, of course, nonsense, because there are white people with big lips and black people with small lips and their lips don’t affect their way of speaking. Another reason was that the caretakers of the black children did not interact with them enough so the children couldn’t acquire the language properly, but this is also untrue.

This myth is also supported by some other myths, one of them is called the grammaticality myth, meaning which means that every structure that is not the same as the standard English structure is seen as wrong. Another myth that supports this is the logicality myth, meaning that the sentences they create would contain flawed logic when compared to standard English, for example the use of double negatives. However, not everything that isn’t standard English is wrong.

I personally don’t think the children are verbally deprived, what I do think is that they copy the language they hear around them, because that is how you learn a language. Since most black people live in an area where non-standard English is being spoken, the children will start to speak this as well.


Chapter 14 Double negatives are illogical

Double negatives are not as illogical as most people think they are. People always look at double negatives and say that it’s wrong, because they are applying the rules of mathematics, but mathematics and language are two completely different things and therefore you can’t apply their rules on each other.

Besides everyone uses double negatives sometimes, for example when you say someone is not unfriendly. You don’t think that person is nice but you want to be negative either, so you find something in between to be polite. Most people don’t even realize they are using double negatives and because of that most people use double negatives. So double negatives actually aren’t illogical at all, in fact come people even find the, charming.

Personally I don’t mind double negatives at all, even if people see it as incorrect. I’m sure most people make grammatical mistakes while speaking, probably even daily, but because no one notices we don’t label it as incorrect.


Chapter 15 TV makes people sound the same

A lot of people nowadays say that language changes because what people see and hear on television, but this is not true. For a change in language actual people need to be communicating with each other. Only then will the new language make such an impression that it will stick around in the language people use. For example, there was this boy called Vincent, both of his parents were deaf and didn’t speak. They encouraged him to watch TV to learn the language, but Vincent didn’t start speaking. Once he came in touch with other people that spoke to him, he started speaking.

I’m not quite sure I agree on this one, because to be honest I learned most of the English I use and know because I used to watch tons of English TV shows with subtitles when I was young. So maybe learning through TV doesn’t work for everyone, but I’m sure that for some people it does.


Chapter 18 Some languages are spoken more quickly than others

Some languages seem to spoken faster than other, to test if this is really the case people were timed while speaking their languages. Terms used during such an experiment are speaking rate an articulation rate.

After a lot of measuring and trying different ways of measuring they found that the difference in speed that a language is talked in is so small that you can’t really call it a speed difference.

Why a language might seem to be spoken fast or slow also depends on whether it is a syllable-timed or stress-timed language. In syllable-timed languages an equal amount of time is given to all syllables, making it seem slow. Whereas in stress-timed languages the stressed syllable is given more time and the other syllables are given less time, making it seem fast.

Also people with a different style of speech can make a language seem as fast or slow.

Besides this I personally think there is another reason why a language might seem fast. To me, for example, Dutch doesn’t seem that fast because I can fully understand it, but to someone who is learning the language it might be difficult to follow. So I think that the speed that a language has according to you as a person also depends on your understanding of the language.

It is late now, I am a bit tired; the sky is irritated by stars. And I love you, I love you, I love you – and perhaps this is how the whole enormous world, shining all over, can be created – out of five vowels and three consonants.
—  Vladimir Nabokov