Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 March 23

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March 23[edit]

Dag Hammarskjold Pronunciation[edit]

I'm confused over the pronunciation of the 'skj' in "Hammarskjold".

  1. The dictionary says the Swedish pronunciation is \ˌʃ\.
  2. About this sound Wikipedia's pronunciation pronunciation by a native  sounds like an \h\ with no \s\ anywhere.
  3. skj (trigraph) says that the Swedish skj sounds like \ɧ\, but the article ɧ is itself ambiguous regarding pronunciation.

What's going on here?

Thanks, -Thegoodearth (talk) 01:15, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

The correct spelling is pronunciation. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:34, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, fixed. --Thegoodearth (talk) 02:08, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
See (and hear)öld/. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:41, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Wow, that's a really useful site! So it confirms #2. Any thoughts on #1 and #3? --Thegoodearth (talk) 02:08, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The first one is a lazy way for English speakers to pronounce it without having to put too much effort into it. It is sort of but not exactly correct. The ʃ is also used to pronounce the k in Linköping, even though that is a different phoneme. Adam Bishop (talk) 07:03, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Well the first linked site is simply not the Swedish pronunciation. Which is indeed /ɧ/ (no 's' and ö is /ø/), and the 'standard' Swedish pronunciation of it has it as a sound essentially unique to Swedish - so it's difficult to transcribe. Moreover, it's fairly strongly dependent on the dialect. For instance, /ʃ/ isn't necessarily 'wrong', it's how the sound is pronounced in Finland-Swedish (sometimes approaching /tʃ/). Adam, actually the sound in 'Linköping' is /ɕ/; 'standard' Swedish doesn't use /ʃ/. But the difference is minor. (indeed most Swedes pronounce their English /ʃ/-sounds as /ɕ/). --Pykk (talk) 13:06, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I know, I mean English speakers use /ʃ/ in Linköping (or at least, when the world hockey championship was there, the Canadian TV commentators pronounced it that way). Adam Bishop (talk) 17:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Ugh. That probably explains... please see Talk:Voiceless_postalveolar_fricative#Sound_sample:_too_palatal and history of File:Voiceless_postalveolar_fricative.ogg, which is created by User:Peter Isotalo. No such user (talk) 15:02, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

first mystery novel[edit]

The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) by Edgar Allan Poe is "generally" considered the first mystery fiction, but I got a different view in William Godwin which says his Things as They Are or The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794) is "virtually" the first mystery novel. Is this someone's point of view or is it widely accepted/debated? Jay (talk) 04:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

It's certainly a fairly personal-POV kind of thing, insofar as there's no absolute definition of what constitutes a 'mystery' novel. (And even if there was, the determination of which novels fit the criteria would be subjective). That said, Rue Morgue is the one that I've heard most often referred to as the origin of the modern detective novel. While it's certainly not the first novel with a mystery in it, its influence on subsequent 'detective' stories like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie's works, is pretty much undisputed. So whether or not it was 'first' as in 'first published', it will still remain 'first' in the sense that its later influence essentially created an entire genre. --Pykk (talk) 13:31, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The Murders in the Rue Morgue is not a novel. Algebraist 13:39, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
But it was novel when it came out. Clarityfiend (talk) 02:10, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

No beginning sentences with an arabic numeral[edit]

I have read in several places that it is considered improper to begin a sentence with an Arabic numeral. 1) Does this rule exist in languages other than English? What about other writing systems? I believe Japanese has no such rule. 2) What is the origin of this rule? If it has to do with preventing ambiguity, then it makes no sense as, for instance, beginning a sentence with a (captialized) name would create similar ambiguity. Is it for cosmetic reasons? Anyway, Arabic numerals have long existed in both "capital" and "lowercase" forms (look at very old books to see "lowercase" digits). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:06, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

In my experience, German writers have no compunction about starting sentences with an Arabic numeral, so at least the rule is not common to all languages that use the Latin alphabet. As for "capital" and "lowercase" digits, that isn't really what the difference is. Text figures (what you and some other people call "lowercase" digits) are intended to be visually congruent in running text, while the full-size lining figures we're familiar with from typewriters and computers are intended to be monospaced (even in proportional-width fonts) so that they can be used conveniently for mathematics. —Angr 11:13, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I can concur that Japanese has no such rule, but, generally, because of Japanese sentence structure, it is rare that a sentence even begins with a number, never mind a numeral. It does happen, but not often enough to make an orthographical rule (basically because it is mostly colloquial to start a sentence with a number, anyway).--KageTora (talk) 12:17, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
But is it that colloquial to start a sentence with a noun that happens to start with a number, like the name of a month or year? If I say "April is the cruellest month" or "1968 was a very turbulent year", wouldn't I start the sentence with a number, possibly a numeral, in Japanese, even non-colloquially? —Angr 12:45, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to start a sentence in Japanese with a number, as in a date, time, or counter. In fact, there would be no logic in rephrasing a sentence that begins with a number (as you might with a sentence like "1968 was a very turbulent year"). It's kind of a moot argument in Japanese though, as there are many words that actually contain numbers in them, and you can't just "spell out" a number (without looking like a preschooler). (talk) 15:43, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Unless you consider writing 四月 "spelling it out" and writing 4月 "starting with a numeral". —Angr 16:38, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Even in English some people are happy to start sentences with a numeral. (Me, for example.) Capitalization does seem to be the reason that others object to it. Years ago I remember noting that in Reader's Digest, a magazine that values brevity, they actually did "capitalize" numerals in that position: they used old-style figures anywhere else, but lining ones at the start of a sentence. If I may simulate the effect by using O and o for the two styles of 0, a sentence might look like "6,OOO to 8,ooo people were affected." I've never seen this anywhere else and I don't know if they still do it. --Anonymous, 19:56 UTC, March 23, 2009.

learning a new launguage[edit]

Other than spanish, what is the most usefull launguage to learn?? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

For most people, the answer is English. If you want a better answer than that, you'll have to tell us what languages you know, and what use you intend to put your newly learned languages to. Algebraist 18:03, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
If you are a native English speaker, French would be generally good answer. Wrad (talk) 18:05, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I found these discussions in the archives.
-- Wavelength (talk) 18:32, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I found these pages from a Google search.
-- Wavelength (talk) 18:42, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Here are some more external links.
-- Wavelength (talk) 19:17, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
English, Spanish, Chinese, French and Russia can probably take you through most countries on earth. It completely depends on where you live and in what context you are likely to be required to use foreign languages.
You should consider why you want to learn a language, as different languages are useful for different things: for travel, for business (Chinese might be a good choice depending on your line of business), for academic reasons (German for science or philosophy, Italian and French for art history, Russian for various things), for religious reasons (Hebrew, Arabic, Ancient Greek...), for impressing prospective employers, for increasing linguistic knowledge or stretching your brain (Czech? Navajo? Finnish?). --17:34, 25 March 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Maltelauridsbrigge (talkcontribs)