Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 November 2

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November 2[edit]

French in Lady Gaga song[edit]

What does the French part mean that Lady Gaga sings at 3:48 in Bad Romance? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Gft1fuUR3s --124.254.77.148 (talk) 07:05, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I didn't listen, but various lyrics sites say it's "je veux ton amour et je veux ta revanche", which Google Translate says is "I want your love and I want your revenge". --Sean 13:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
She says: "je veux ton amour et je veux ta revanche, j'veux ton amour" ("I want your love and I want your revenge, I want your love") — AldoSyrt (talk) 22:08, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

pronunciation and language[edit]

following my question on my correct usage of the Welsh to the stationmaster it seems that he was corrrect. that in the context of our nationalities that i should pronounce the town with the English phoneme Ll. that language should be relative is confirmed by Wikipedia's own definition of pronunciation in that language can be spoken in different dialects and ways. Can this be progressed to language itself? It is said that Shakespeare himself introduced new words into the English language, and the language itself has changed in spelling from Old to Middle to Modern. Can we judge the correct speeling and language of others in such a dynamic context?--80.189.132.211 (talk) 07:24, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

There is no English phoneme 'Ll': there is an English phoneme /l/ (with two rather different allophones in most dialects, but that's not relevant here), which is often written <ll> though not normally at the beginning of words.
I'm not sure quite what your main question means, but see prescriptive grammar and historical linguistics. Insofar as 'correct' means anything, certainly it changes over both time and space. Most linguists (in the sense of those who study linguistics) today, believe that the grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation of a language are whatever is used by its speakers, and the idea of 'correct' is purely a social question, not a linguistic one. --ColinFine (talk) 08:36, 2 November

80.189.132.211 (talk) 20:25, 2 November 2009 (UTC) 2009 (UTC)

I believe from previous discussion that it was established that Llandovery is the English spelling of a Welsh town. Hence it would be an English phoneme that was at the beginning of an English word. The wikipedia entry states that ll is a digraph which occurs in several languages. In English the /ll/ represents the same sound as single /l/.--80.189.132.211 (talk) 14:22, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, ll in the English name Llandovery is a digraph, which is an element of orthography; it's not a phoneme, which is an element of phonology. Using angled brackets to indicate orthography, you can say that <ll> represents the same sound as <l>, namely /l/ (in most cases, but not in e.g. poollike, where <ll> really does represents two /l/ sounds). <Ll> is rare at the beginning of English words, but where it occurs it represents the same sound as <l>, hence:
The one-l lama, he's a priest.
The two-l llama, he's a beast.
And I will bet a silk pyjama there isn't any three-l lllama.
(I think that's Ogden Nash; if it isn't, it ought to be.) +Angr 14:53, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
It is, except he spelled it "pajama", and there's a counter to the last point: a "three-l lllama" is a big fire in Boston. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:28, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

thank you. i will not let pride get in the way of the truth. All opinions should be given space. As a layman I accept that LL is a digraph rather than a phoneme. By a quirk of nature the translation of the sound of Ll into English gave an English word that started Ll. Whether that start is described as a fractal, phoneme, allophone or digraph is for others better placed to state. My question, of which this is at the core of, is whether language is an absolute or is relative. I believe that in the present it is relative to the space and the observers in which it is spoken. Over the dimension of time it is prone to whim or fancy and changes like fashion to be correct one century and wrong another.--80.189.132.211 (talk) 17:07, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Everyone agrees language is relative. I don't see what "question" you are asking. Are you disagreeing with the way some people pronounce placenames starting with "Ll"? If you are, just say so. rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 17:12, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't claim to speak for everyone , just myself. It seems that linguists do specify that there is an absolute way to pronounce or spell a word. My original question was the opposite of what you think. I wanted to understand the correct way of pronouncing a word as an English speaker to a Welsh speaker. The consensus would seem to be that the stationmaster was correct: that as an English word, and as an English speaker, I should pronounce the start of the word as 'l'.--80.189.132.211 (talk) 17:26, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't think you'll find the same concensus in Wales; good luck on your travels! what will i find in Wales?80.189.132.211 (talk) 20:16, 2 November 2009 (UTC)62.121.27.161 (talk) 18:06, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
What is meant by an "absolute" way to pronounce a word? I'm thinking of an obvious example: "roof", which in some parts of the USA the "oo" rhymes with the "oo" in "look", and in other parts it rhymes with the "oo" in "aloof". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:33, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
an absolute way to pronounce a word in the space and time, that the observers find themself in, while also dependent upon the observers themselves. why am i defending what seems to be the jist of these pages that each'editor' has the right way to pronounce or spell a word ?80.189.132.211 (talk) 20:16, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't know of any trained linguist who says there's an "absolute way to pronounce a word". Where are you getting that idea? rʨanaɢ talk/contribs 18:57, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

from declaring to speak for everyone you know claim to speak for trained linguists. you answer a question with a question and try to find fault with a scecific than answering the whole. maybe you could epand on an ANSWER.--80.189.132.211 (talk) 19:37, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

You are the one who has claimed "linguists do specify that there is an absolute way to pronounce or spell a word", and it is up to the person making a claim to back the claim with any evidence. If you can point to a Wikipedia article, or any web page, that states this, then it will be easier to discuss. I'll add to the discussion by rephrasing something that has already been stated: Linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive. A grammarian could be prescriptive, or an organization like the Académie française, which issues rulings on what the "correct" French language is; but this is not linguistics. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:06, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
OP: Your original question in this section appears to be "can we be critical about the way others speak and spell when language itself is changeable and changing?" The answer is yes, of course we can, and we do, just as we judge others on their dress, their behaviour, their attitude to personal hygiene, their choice of religion or football team, and so on. Were you rather meaning should we do so? If so, the only answers you will get will be personal opinion, which is supposedly outside the remit of the refdesk. Linguists know perfectly well that pronunciation is wildly variable; spelling is less so but still varies enormously depending on where you are and which authority you consult. Judgement of people for their language use arises from the relative prestige that we assign to the different variants, and why and how we do that is a whole field of study on its own. Why get tetchy with volunteers for their inability to answer a complex question with a simple answer? Karenjc 20:13, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The primary purpose of language is to communicate, not to impress, and it is successful if it gets the message across and unsuccessful if it does not. I remember asking for a ticket to Pwllheli at Euston railway station in London 20 years ago, using a velarised alveolar lateral fricative, and immediately being asked, "Can you spell that, please?". Clearly my pronunciation was not a success on that occasion. Ehrenkater (talk) 21:26, 2 November 2009 (UTC)


i apologise for my tetchiness. the answer was not an answer but a question whereby the volunteer claimed to speak for everyone and then for trained linguists. i wrongly assumed he was one .i said that from previous correspondence linguists seemed to have an absolut for what how something is said . I should have expanded that i think it is relative to the time and space and those involved in the correspondence. My example was fashion- he or she may think that they are in fashion and others are in or out of fashion and everyone else may have fifferent ideas.zzyzzva.--
If by "the volunteer" you're complaining about rʨanaɢ, both of his statements above are correct. By the way, you're agreeing with him, as far as I can tell. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:42, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

footnote: out of an innocent and reasonable question I became hurtful and hateful. I apologise.80.189.132.211 (talk) 07:39, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

As an aside, you may want to note the differences in pronunciation between North and South Wales. I was reminded on this when the BBC did a feature on the sea defences at Aberaeron last week. The presenter, Wyre Davies, is from South Wales and pronounced it "aber-erron" or something similar, but the local man they spoke to pronounced it "aber-eyeron". If the Welsh themselves can't agree on how their language is meant to be spoken, what chance do the rest of us have? --TammyMoet (talk) 11:25, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
You'll find examples of that anywhere you look. Most Australians pronounce Launceston "lawn-ses-tən", but the locals say "lon-ses-tən". A lot of Melburnians say something close to "mal-bən", while the rest of us say "mel-bən". And is it "new-cass-əl" or "new-kah-səl"? It doesn't mean they're at war with each other on how Australian English in general is spoken. -- JackofOz (talk) 19:42, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Cornishmen and women from Launceston say "lawn-ston".Alansplodge (talk) 19:08, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

There's a big list of such "local usages" at List of shibboleths. Grutness...wha? 23:32, 3 November 2009 (UTC)