Sunday, August 29, 2004

Talking About Language

A few days ago I was looking for a great site I had found awhile ago that had sound clips of different languages. Specifically, I wanted to find the Mandarin Chinese sound clips that pronounced "ma" in the 4 different tones. After doing a Google search I found the site, called Fonetiks: The Online Language Laboratory. It's a service you have to subscribe to if you want to have free access to the entire site, but the free samples are fun to listen to. The Chinese sound clips show how difficult it can be to get used to a tonal language, but listening to them helps a lot if you're learning Chinese.

While I was searching for this site I found some other insightful articles and websites about language in general. The Linguistic Society of America writes about what an accent is, Phrasebase serves as a community for language learners to help each other, and a Microsoft blogger posts a article about German being a language of love, if not to love ( I loved the comments on that one). Personally, I've grown to enjoy how German sounds somewhat aggressive and forceful since I associate that with importance and authority, but the compound words are confusing.

My favorite languages would have to be Japanese, Italian, and Latin. I like the way Japanese and Italian sound, and Latin because it is useful for learning other romance languages. Arabic, Persian, and Hindi rank highly for me because they flow nicely together according to my ear.

The language I dislike most is French. It has nothing to do with the people, the country, the history, or the structure. It has everything to do with the teachers I had. I learned from them that if you have a bad language teacher you'll grow to despise the language itself for long after you quit learning. It's sad and I wish things had been better, especially since visiting Montreal, but French ranks low on my list thanks to my odious instructors.

Searching around the web, walking around town, or talking to friends; everywhere there is something about language! Good thing it's a topic that never gets old. It's boring, confusing, funny, dynamic, insightful, and powerful. Why didn't we understand this in English class??