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Re: French

From:Roger Mills <romiltz@...>
Date:Thursday, January 22, 2009, 4:46
Adam Walker wrote:

--- On Wed, 1/21/09, Adam Walker <carrajena@...> wrote:

> From: Adam Walker <carrajena@...> > Subject: Re: French > To: > Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 3:55 PM > --- Erbrice <erbrice@...> wrote: > > > > > Nederlands is de eerste taal ik leerde . (snip the rest) > > See, this is what always gets me. Frisian, Dutch and > Flemish are, historically, English's closest > relatives, yet I struggle to put together the basic > idea of a post like this. German is somewhat less > closely related, but not really any more > incomprehensible. The Skandinavian languages are > significantly less closely related, but rather more > inteligible? How can that be? And then we move on to > the Romance languages and even one spelled as > interestingly as French is far more comprehensible. I > have no problem picking up a novel in Galician (which > I have never studied) and following along well enough > to enjoy it. (I do admit Romanian is somewhat less > comprehensible than the other Romance languages, but > still comprable to Swedish or Norwegian, not nearly so > opaque as Dutch.) I even find Greek easier to muddle > through than Dutch.
I suspect it has to do with most peoples' ufamiliarity with Dutch. And academically, unless you're into Dutch history/lit, Germanic linguisitcs or Indonesian studies, you're unlikely to encounter Dutch. And the spelling is off-putting; but "eerst" is simply Germ. erst, "zeer" is sehr, etc. I've never studied Dutch; first began reading ir via 19th Cent. dictionaries of Indonesian languages (and that spelling differed from modern, so I couldn't find some words in the Du-Engl. dictionary :-(( ) I was a little familar with German linguistic vocab (by the same process) and eventually figured out most of the corrspondences, so between that and English resemblances (ie. "water" in both) Dutch became easier. I wouldn't dare try to speak it; once in Indonesia, at the bank, an elderly Dutchman chatted me up, I answered in my bad German, and we both understood each other. A weird experience at the time.... Linguistic material in Du. or Germ. is now easy; likewise (in Du) general intelligent writing (e.g. someone's History of the World that I read in Du. translation); but I doubt I could handle a slangy novel in either language. That's even hard in Spanish, which I know well. I don't agree about the Scandanavian languages, but there again, it's a matter of unfamiliarity. I can figure some of it out by relation with German (i.e sprogvidenskap (or whatever it is) is "Sprachwissenschaft" though it took a while...), but it's the common words that throw me; they don't look like anything familiar. As for Greek, never mind......