Readers' Feedback

Languages

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Generated : 17th December 2017


089

Joy Tucker

HI, I've enjoyed your website for years now, being a keen student of languages, an English teacher, an interpreter and a dual USA/UK citizen. I was born and raised in New York and became a naturalised UK citizen after marrying a Brit. I enjoy reading your comparisons of UK/American English.

I noticed a couple of things:

Growing up in the States, we would say we're pissed off (or politely, teed off). Maybe now Americans say they're pissed, but we didn't. we called a handbag a pocketbook and a purse a purse or wallet.

In the States we seldom called them automobiles - that was a bit technical. we called them cars.

And I have a few things to add:

A subway is a subterranean passage or a subterranean train.

Outside house steps in New York and Tri-State are called the stoop. We used to play stoop ball as kids.

acne: UK-spots, USA - pimples

UK - moggy, USA - alley cat

Money to ride on the bus: UK - bus fare, USA - car fare

UK - train carriage, USA train car.

UK- "bucket and spade", USA - "shovel and pail"

UK- "fell" pregnant, USA- became pregnant (got pregnant)

UK- went to hospital, USA- went to the hospital

UK- doctor/dentist/MP's surgery, USA- doctor, dentist, politicians office. surgery is only in "the" hospital.

Lists: UK- Fred, Mary, John and Edna. USA- Fred, Mary, John, and Edna.

I'm an ESOL teacher, but I'm still confused by the difference between UK and USA grammar - I use both interchangeably without realising the difference. Perhaps you could compile the grammatical differences? That would be real useful (haha)

Regards, Joy

KryssTal reply:

Thanks for that.

One interesting difference is the use of do and have.

Do you have the keys? USA Yes, I do, UK Yes, I have.

And the word get

USA Can I get a coffee? UK May I have a coffee?

USA cheating on, UK cheating.


088

Alexander Coolof

Hi!

Thank you very much for your highly educative and very interesting website.

To make it even more informative allow me to suggest you a few corrections considering the most spoken languages tablet.

There it's written that Russian is spoken in Russia and Central Asia. Well, Russian is spoken in Central Asia, it's true. 50% of Kazakhstan's population isn't Kazakh, for instance, and speaks Russian.

But, firstly, Central Asia is very underpopulated and, secondly, where Russian IS REALLY spoken outside today's Russia is the Ukraine and Belorussia where 90% (if not more!) of people are NATIVE Russian speakers or are bilingual (anyway, Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian are extremely similar).

That's why I recommend you to add the Ukraine and Belorussia, as well as BALTIC COUNTRIES (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) and TRANSCAUCASIA (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaydjan and, now, South-Ossetia and Abkhazia) because there Russian is an unofficial second national language (take Georgian POWs of the last year's South Ossetian conflict who all spoke Russian and South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's presidents Kokoyty and Bagapsh who hold official diplomatic speeches in Russian.

Moreover, the names of these countries - Georgia, Armenia, Estonia, Lithuania - are, in fact, known to the international community in their Russian variant because their self-designation are totally different, for example, the Russian Armenia is called "Hayastani" by Armenians themselves, Georgia ("St.George's country") is "Sakartvelo" for Georgians, Estonia is "Eesti" ("-ia" is a typical Slavonic and Russian inflexional ending) and Lithuania is, in fact, "Lietuvos".

And Moldavia (another Russian "-ia") is "Moldova".

Thus, Russian is spoken in Russia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe (the Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia + Baltic States) and Transcaucasia.

Let alone the Russian immigrants spread all over the world.

For example, do you know where the oldest Russian minority is living? Well, in China, in Harbin. That's why all tourist guides refer to it as to the "most European city in China" - because it was built by Russians.

Here are some pictures of it: http://www.t255.narod.ru/a255-china/harbin-2-07.jpg

or here (old Harbin) http://www.hi-edu.ru/e-books/AK/images/0041-058.jpg

or here is the Russian church: http://www.qrz.ru/articles/photos/story162/st-sophia.jpg (initially, there were 30 Russian churches in Harbin).

Well, thank you and good luck!

I hope my information will help make your website even better!

KryssTal Reply: Thanks for your interesting additions.


087

Steven Rodgers

Hello

I read with interest and amusement your website on the differences between American and British English. I don't know if this site is still active, but, if so, I thought you might be interested in knowing that nearly a third of the supposed "Americanisms" are incorrect. I am an American writer and educator, and would be happy to help you correct some of the obvious misperceptions; among them:

1. The word CAR is used most of the time in America. Automobile is just a more formalized version, but it is rarely used.
2. ICED TEA is tea with ice, but when asking for simply TEA, Americans nearly always mean hot tea, just as the British do!
3. INDIAN is also used in America to mean "people of India," just as it is in Britain. Often, however, due to Columbus' original blunder, the aboriginal people of America are often referred to as "American Indians."
4. A bathroom is actually most often used to mean a room with a bath or shower, although small rooms in houses with only a sink and toilet are sometimes called "half baths". When referring to a public place with only toilets and no showers, they are usually called RESTROOMS.
5. It is true that some people colloquially refer to BUNS as posteriors, but, again, just as in the UK, Americans use BUNS to mean baked bread.

There are dozens more, but not knowing if you are still updating your site, I won't list more for now. Please let me know if you'd like help.

KryssTal Reply: Good afternoon, Steven.

Thanks for your corrections. I'd be interested to know which part of the USA you're based in as the use of these words does vary.

Thank you for your swift reply.

In answer to your question regarding which part of America I'm from...I am orginally from Portland, Oregon (a few hours south of Seattle, on the Pacific coast), but have lived in Montana, Wyoming, and Maryland, and I have lived in the Washington DC area for the past 10 years. You are certainly right in saying that dialectical differences exist from various regions within America. such as EAST: soda WEST: pop. EAST: on line to buy.. WEST: in line to buy... ..but, just as in Britian, the vast majority of words and phrases used are consistent throughout the nation, to which I have first-hand knowledge.

At any rate, I've gone through the list and wanted to comment on a few other surprises I discovered on your list. By and large, these apply to nearly all Americans, east and west:

1. One is regarding the Interestate Highway system. In the West, they are nearly always called FREEWAYS, probably a reaction to the Eastern system of having to pay tolls on many roads, and HIGHWAYS are major roadways with intersections and stoplights. In the EAST, both are commonly referred to as HIGHWAYS.
2. A queen is of course a female monarch, just as it is in Britain. It is only used on rare occasion as a colloquialism for homosexual.
3. Tap and faucet are both used in America. We refer to TAP water, or what beer someone has ON TAP. It is perhaps more accurate to say that TAP is usually the means of obtaining water or beer (as opposed to from a bottle or can) and FAUCET is the metal device itself, such as "I have to replace my kitchen faucet."
4. JELLY and JAM are both used in America, but they are two slightly different things. JELLY is set, stiff, it has, in essence "jelled", hence the name. JAM is runnier, more of a liquid form.
5. Television shows are frequently referred to as PROGRAMS (with just a more phonetic spelling). It is probably just easier to say SHOW, so that is frequently used as well.
6. INSECT is a word every American first grader would certainly know (and the intelligent ones would also point out that a spider is NOT, as it has 8 legs instead of 6). BUG is just another colloquialism that is often used, probably because there are such strict scientific definitions for the word INSECT, but BUG can apply to any creepy, crawly, tiny animal.
7. MAD has always meant insane in American English. It is just that, over time, so many insane individuals appeared ANGRY, that MAD and ANGRY have become almost synonymous. If someone says to watch out for the "mad dog," however, the assumption most always will be that it is INSANE, not ANGRY.
8. We also use the word AUTUMN, but again, The FALL of the year is perhaps more poetic sounding, so it is the preferred term.
9. I am sure some Americans use the word CHEESECLOTH, but I have always referred to it as MUSLIN myself, and that's what I've always heard it called.
10. Probably the most common word for a law enforcement person is POLICE OFFICER, although COP is sometimes used colloquially.
11. THONGS are also something Americans wore on their feet. However, when it became somewhat trendy for women to wear similarly shaped bikini bottoms, it became confusing to continue to refer to footwear as thongs; thus, most began calling them "FLIP FLOPS." This is much the same thing that happened when homosexuals usurped the word GAY, so that it became impossible to say that the party was very GAY without getting some very strange looks.
12. The purse / handbag use is not really consistent, but generallly, if it is big, it's called a bag, or handbag; a little smaller, it's called a purse. Inside the purse, women might have a pocketbook to carry money, but if it's small enough to fit in a pocket, it would be called a wallet or billfold.
13. It is true that a TRAMP is sometimes used for a loose woman, but we also used it for the type of person CHARLIE CHAPLIN portrayed in his most famous films. Unfortunately, it has become somewhat politically incorrect in recent years to refer to tramps, hobos and bums as anything other than homeless.
14. Americans use both PISSED and PISSED OFF when angry, but both are considered vulgarisms.
15. Americans use both words SHOP and STORE. As a noun, shop is often used to mean a small store. The main difference is that STORE is most often the noun, and SHOP is more often used as a verb, or, even more commonly, as the gerund, as in "let's go shopping."

The only other problems I saw was that I would say that baseball and cricket are really two different games, albeit ones with similarities, and I wouldn't categorize them as one game with two different names. Likewise, I believe the differences in the WWII dates are simply referring to our respective countries' involvements in those conflicts. I don't see it as an anomoly or inconsistency at all.

I enjoyed reading your site, and I hope the comments help. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

KryssTal Reply: Thanks for your interesting notes. A few of these items are not meant to be taken too seriously.


086

Tohar Yarden

I am writing to you in order to correct what I believe is an error in the table showing the evolution of the latin alphabet in your website.

I am a native Hebrew speaker, and have always taken an interest in different writing systems. The ancient Hebrew alphabet was closely related if not identical to the Phoenician alphabet; like Greek, Hebrew had (and still has) a letter coming after Heth/Eta - the letter Teth, which became the Greek Theta.

In your table you have omitted this letter, claiming Theta to have developed from Heth together with Eta. It is unlikely that the letter Teth was absent from the Phoenician alphabet, when it is included in two alphabets that are based on the Phoenician.

The Ancient Hebrew Teth was used to represent a hard T, and its shape was that of a circle crossed by a line at an angle of 45 degrees. Its similarity to Theta further supports the notion that it was its ancestor.

I can also inform you that the meaning of "Kaph" is a palm of a hand. If you wish, I will try and provide you with the meanings of other letter-names.

Also, in your Hebrew Alphabet page you have mentioned "Ivrit" as a language different from Hebrew. Ivrit is only the Hebrew word meaning "Hebrew", just like "Deutsch" is the Germans' word for their language. The language is the same one, except for many new words that were formed during the centuries to adjust it to the changing times, and a presumed change in pronunciation. Any modern Hebrew speaker can read texts from biblical times, once familiar with the ancient alphabet.

I hope you will take my comments to your attention, for the benefit of readers of your site. I will be glad to be of further assistance.

KryssTal Reply: Shalom

Toda for your comments. I will publish them in my feedback section.

Shalom KryssTal

I must correct myself: I have come across the Rosetta project website since I sent you the message. Over there, people more professional than me have classified Ivrit as a language other than Hebrew, and have articles that define it.

Nonetheless, I still stand behind my comment on the origin of Theta.


085

Dr. William N. Brown
http://www.amoymagic.com

Ahoy from Amoy!

What an informative website--a real example for us (as we struggle to put together a better website about Xiamen (formerly Amoy).

My family and I have lived in Amoy since 1988, and I've been teaching MBA in Xiamen University. I've written several books about Xiamen and Fujian (Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen, The Fujian Adventure, and Mystic Quanzhou--City of Light). This is such a fascinating province that in 1992 I became Fujian's first foreigner to get permanent resident. I could spend a lifetime here and never see it all.

I'm glad to see your comments on the Amoy Dialect (which I still can't speak, though I'm okay in Mandarin). As you know, it is closer to the ancient Chinese language than Mandarin, and beautiful to listen to--though the eight tones can wreak havoc with your sanity.

Many foreigners say they cannot learn Mandarin, much less Amoy Dialect, because they are tone deaf. As I write in Amoy Magic, that is nonsense. We English speakers all use tones as well. Consider my name, "Bill," when my wife uses the four different Mandarin tones on it.

1st tone. Bill... "Where are you?"
2nd tone. "Bill?" Is that you?
3rd tone. Bill..." I don't believe you!
4th tone. "Bill!" She's going to kill me!

So English, like Mandarin and Amoy, has tones! Thanks again for your website. Sincerely, Dr. Bill Brown,

KryssTal Reply: Ni how, ma

Thank you (she she) for your kind words. I love your tonal description using a wife's tone of voice. Mine uses glares to achieve the same effect. Nice to hear from you.


084

Debbie MacPherson

I am an independent museum designer www.accuracyandaesthetics.com working on a project with the Johns Hopkins University Digital Knowledge Center http://dkc.mse.jhu.edu/ .

I am pulling together a set of 10 diverse yet cohesive languages to use on a 5 year project part of this project is making a semantic model, assigning or inventing structures to show meaning and relationships across all of these translations. The words and translations will be generated by a group of theorists and artists the theorists will describe open problems and show visual examples, the artists will create works across all of the domains by isolating the aesthetics. There is a lecture series that accompanies the art show to 10 different cultures THE PLACES THAT SPEAK THIS SET OF LANGUAGES I AM LOOKING FOR.

We will compare the translation structures with structures that also have images and mathematics that do not need to be translated. The final decision about where this goes will be related to research institutes (theoretical physics, mathematics etc) and art museums that can form partnerships for example, the former USSR countries would be wonderful because maybe they are recently recovering their language and there are a few exciting universities and other research institutes there - but their museums sound dusty.

So my question is if it was you, who have an interest in both linguistics and theoretical physics if you today had to select a group of 10 languages that would be best for us to structure our model around (I have narrowed it down to 26 general and 2 broad categories) but if it was you - what do you think would be a good blend? Even if it was 15 instead of 10.

1. English
2. French
3. African French
4. Spanish
5. South American Spanish
6. German
7. Portuguese
8. Italian
9. Russian
10. Bulgarian
11. Turkish
12. Former USSR who are recently regaining their languages - former USSR republics (Azeri in Azerbaijan), Turkmen (in Turkmenia), Kazakh (in Kazakhstan), Kirghiz (in Kyrghystan), Uzbec (in Uzbekistan, land of Genghis Khan), Uigur (in Western China east of the Pamir Mountains.
13. Japanese
14. Arabic
15. Hebrew
16. Farsi (Persian)
17. Pashto
18. Songhai - remained close to its place of origin for 10,000 years.
19. Greek
20. Yiddish
21. Hindi/Urdu
22. Bengali
23. Mandarin
24. Wu
25. Disappearing language Australian aboriginal, Maori
26. Native American Tewa
27. Celtic
28. Niger-Congo Family - over 900 languages in this family in nine branches Fulani (Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso), Malinke (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast), Mende (Sierra Leone), Twi (Ghana), Ewe (Ghana, Togo), Mossi (Burkina Faso), Yoruba (Nigeria), Ibo (Nigeria), Kpelle (Liberia), Wolof (Senegal, Gambia) and Fang (Cameroon, Gabon, Guinea). In east and southern Africa the languages include Swahili (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Berundi, Zaire - the most spoken language in this family), Kikuyu (Kenya), Ganda (Uganda), Ruanda (Rwanda), Rundi (Berundi), Luba (Zaire), Lingala (Zaire, Congo), Kongo (Zaire, Congo, Angola), Bemba (Zaire, Zambia), Nyanja (Malawi, Zambia), Shona (Zimbabwe), Ndebele (the Matebele in Zimbabwe and South Africa), Tswana (Botswana) and its close relative Sotho (South Africa, Lesotho), Swazi (Swaziland, South Africa), Xhosa (South Africa) and its close relative Zulu (South Africa).

Thank you for any opinion or evidence you may be able to give me. Obviously your site is very helpful and fascinating and Im really glad I found it.

KryssTal Reply: What an interesting sounding project. Ten languages, eh?

1 It has to be English, the most widespread language. You could emphasise differences between USA / UK / Australian English and look at where some of the words came from as well as the history of the language.

2 A Latin language. Spanish would give the most countries - you could look at music (salsa, rumba, flamenco, meringue, etc). French could give some interesting historical stories like the French Revolution (with the metric system) and French impressionist art (Monet, Renois, etc). Italian with the sculptures and paintings of Rome and Florence. And not forgetting Galileo and his telescope and the battle with the Catholic Church. Or you could go for a "dead" language - Latin and showcase the Roman Empire. There is a UK TV documentary called "What The Romans Did For Us" which could give ideas about the legacy of Rome.

3 Certainly a Slavic language - Russian would be a good one. You could look at the Tsar, the Soviet era, Russian classical music, Mendeleev and the Periodic Table in Chemistry, the Orthodox church, the Cyrillic alphabet, the Soviet space program.

4 A Turkic language. here the choice would be between Turkish itself and Uzbek. Uzbekistan has some superb blue tiled mosques in Samarkand as well as the ancient mud brick city of Bukhara. Gengis Khan's tomb is here also. Turkey itself would feature the Ottoman Empire and the city of Istambul.

5 A Semitic language: Hebrew or Arabic. Arabic would be less well known in the USA and would allow a look at the Islam, the Muslim Caliphates with their spread of science during the European dark ages, the arrival of so-called Arabic numerals in the West and the rich tales of Arabic (genies, flying carpets, etc). This may help to counteract some of the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda doing the rounds in the West.

6 Greek. The ancient Greek civilisations, the myths the stories. Also Greek is the language of the New Testament. The development of the alphabet of mathematics of democracy, theatre, the Olympics.

7. An Iranian-Indic language. Quite a choice here. You could do Farsi and look at Iran and Persia. Politically interesting would be Kurdish. How the Kurds are left without a country and how they have been oppressed in several countries where they find themselves in. Or the Hindi - Urdu pair. Under Hindi you could look at look at India and its immense culture: Hinduism (the oldest extant religion), Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism. Under Urdu you could look at the Moghul Empire and the Taj Mahal. You could compare the two languages (which are almost identical) and look at why they use different writing systems (religion).

8. Mandarin would be an excellent example of a Sino-Tibetan language, a tonal language and a language written in a non-alphabetic writing system. The various dynasties of China could be examined as well as modern China under the Communists. Chinese medicine and science could be looked at.

9. Native American. I suspect you mean "Native North American" when you say this. Try Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs and still spoken in Mexico from where the word "chocolate" comes from) in Central America or Quechua from South America - the language of the Incas - look at Peru and its history.

10. An African language. Wolof from Gambia - Senegal allows you to look at the slave trade and the excellent rhythmic music of artists like Baba Maal and Yossou N'dour. Another may be the mongrel language of Swahili in Kenya - Tanzania. or perhaps the Zulu language from South Africa. An unusual one would be one of the click languages of Namibia. This would allow you to look at the rock paintings of the Bushmen and their life style. Amharic (Ethiopia) allows you to study this fascinating Christian and Muslim state in East Africa with its long and varied history.

I hope this helps. keep me informed on how you get on. Good luck.

Thank you thank you thank you very helpful.

When this show hits the road I will send you the schedule, maybe you will be able to attend one of the events. Have a great day and thanks.


083

Ken Westmoreland

Canadians call them Postal Codes, Brits call them Postcodes.

Beverley Hills CA 90210 is a ZIP code
London SW1A 2AA is a Postcode
Richmond BC V6X 2W7 is a Postal Code

Canadians differ from Americans in that they say 'zed', not 'zee'. Cheers.

KryssTal Reply: Thanks for that.

Also, 'queue' (UK) and 'line' (US). Should also be 'movie theater' ('not theatre') for US cinema.


082

Hyperhero

Hello. I red your very interesting web-page at http://www.krysstal.com/worldww.html about international standards etc. and international understandable writing.

In the paragraph with the heading "What Time Is It?" you suggest to write "Wall Street closes at 4:30 EST" and "The eclipse begins at 15:20 GMT". As far as I know, this notation is not in accordance with ISO 8601. Not everybody knows what time zone EST is (EasternStandardTime?), so it might be better to write 04:30-05:00 rather than 4:30 EST, as you can read at Markus KUHN's web page at http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/iso-time.html in the paragraph with the title "Time Zone".

Your example "The eclipse begins at 15:20 GMT" could, according to this ISO 8601 standard, also be written as "The eclipse begins at 15:20Z". And by the way, GMT is the old name for the time zone which today is called UTC rather than GMT.


081

ROBERT RUTHERFORD

I am looking for a Latin word named ELUTHERA. I would like to know how this is written in original Latin text.

KryssTal Reply: Greetings from Londinium,

Since ELUTHERA is already in the Latin alphabet (that's the alphabet used by English), it would be almost identical to what you have already written except that the U would be written as a V, hence:

ELVTHERA

Hope that helps.


080

Eman Simon

Mr. / Ms.

To whom it may concern:

My name is Eman Simon and I Attend Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, Maryland. I am writing to request information for my research paper on the origin of The English Language. My specific questions are:

1.)Who or whom created The English Language.
2.)When Was The English Langauge Created.
3.)How was the English Language created. What pattern or key did the creater use to decide what what be what.(how did they Decide the letter "A" would mean the letter "A" instead on another letter. How did "letter" or "Alphabet" come about.

These are my research questions your response are very important to my search because there are not many books that answer these questions the way that i ask. They dont specifically answer my questions. I ask if you please do your best to answer these questions as full and complete as possible. I appreciate your time.

KryssTal Reply: Hello Eman.

I hope this email finds you well.

You have asked many and separate questions and I will try to give you a helpful answer.

My essay on the origin and history of the English Language www.krysstal.com/english.html goes a long way in answering your first question.

All languages evolve and develop over time. Look at the way the English of the USA and England differ now in vocabulary (we say "waist coat", you say "vest"; we say "boot", you say "trunk"; we say "pavement", you say "sidewalk"), pronunciation (tomAAto, tomEIto; SIMulteneous, SIGHmultenoius; etc) and grammar (we say "can I HAVE a coffee", you say "can I GET a coffee"; we say "she beat him", you say "she was beating on him", we say "I'm well", you say "I'm good", etc).

I know you are speaking from North America because you say "grade" rather than "course marks". Also you failed to say what country you were writing from - you assumed that everybody on the internet would know - that tells me you are from the USA.

English has developed from the German-like language of the Angles and Saxons who migrated to England from what is now Germany and Denmark about 700AD. This language lost a lot of its complex CASE grammar. Case is where nouns change depending on what part they play in a sentence: examples that still exist in modern English are "I, we, us", "he, him, his", "lady, ladies, lady's ladies' ". After the invasion of the Normans French, English picked up French characteristics (plurals ending in S instead of EN - "shoes" used to be "shoen"). The language continues to change in grammar and vocabulary until the present day. And it continues to change. Words like "mouse", "gay", "chip", "ram" have acquired new meanings in the past 20 years or less. Words like "yuppie", "quark" are late 20th century creations.

Your second question is more difficult to answer. There is no sharp defining line between modern English and what was spoken before. If you read Shakespeare (from the 1600s) it can still be understood although some words have different meanings: AWFUL meant "full of awe", in other words "awesome" in modern day English. If you read Chaucer (around 1200s), this is almost a different language. But is difficult to draw the line and say exactly when English began. It's the same with LATIN and ITALIAN. One day people were speaking Latin; this changed slowly over time to Italian, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time that Latin no longer existed and Italian was spoken.

The third question is a question about writing. You can read about the origin writing and of the alphabet (including where the word comes from) in my essay www.krysstal.com/writing.html.

Good luck with your studies and thank you for writing.


© 2017, KryssTal

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