Re: Lack of ambiguity in Czech, was Re: EU allumettes
|From:||Racsko Tamas <tracsko@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, May 5, 2004, 20:18|
On 5 May 2004 "Mark P. Line" <mark@...> wrote:
> The "Czech is a conlang" and the "last 650 words surviving the Habsburg
> oppression" things are urban legends, I'm afraid.
I was silent until now, however, I'm a Slovak-Hungarian biligual from
my childhood. The traditional liturgic language of my particulal ethnic
group is the so-called "Biblichtina" (i.e. biblical Czech).
The latter statement -- "last 650 words surviving the Habsburg
oppression" -- is surely a legend. I have books printed in Czech in the
Habsburg Empire during the era of "draconian measures".
Of course there was an oppression that caused that the literary
language was frozen in its 16th century state (this is the
Biblichtina). Therefore the language had to be renewed in the period of
the national renaissance. This period began in 1809 with the
outstanding grammar of the excellent linguist Jozef Dobrovsky'
(Lehrgebäude der böhmischen Sprache).
So there were always more words in Czech than 650, both in archaic
literary language and in the people's language. Even this was another
problem: the people's language changed during the 17-18th century while
the literary language not. So the same problem occurred as in Greek:
Czech had its "katharevusa" and "dimotiki" (or Norwegian "bokmaal" ~
"landsmaal"). And it even has it: the efforts in the 19th century were
not enough to entirely eliminate the difference between the literary
and the colloquial language.
The former statement -- "Czech is a conlang" -- is a true to a
certain extent. But almost all of the _literary_ languages are
construated lingustic systems (and IMHO rather auxlangs then conlangs).
In Central Europe, probably it's a bit more obvious than in an
"average" Western Europe language.
However, I'm not able to recall the suspected unambiguity of the
Czech at all. E.g. in the sentence "Zavolejte sem pani'!" 'Call here
the lady/ladies' have six meaning: the Adressee can be 2pl plain, 2sg
polite and 2pl polite, while the Object can be in singular or plural.
When I say "novy' me<si'c" nobody knows without the context whether I'm
talking about the 'new moon' or about the 'new month'. Etc.
[Czech notation: e< = e with caron, y' = y with acute, i' = i with