The Weirdest Languages

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The Weirdest Languages

#1

Post by I am nobody » Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:47 pm

https://corplinguistics.wordpress.com/2 ... languages/
Some linguists put together a metric for how unusual human languages are based on the prevalence of their features among other languages, such as how questions are formatted or the order of words in a sentence. English comes in at #33 out of 239, so there's some backing to the idea that it's a strange language, but that's well behind German (#10), Dutch, Norwegian, Czech, Spanish, and Mandarin, all of which make the top 25. Interestingly, Cantonese and Hungarian are all the way at the other end at 234 and 235 respectively.

One thing they don't address is the number of speakers for each language. Obviously this was made by linguists and the number of people who speak a language now isn't relevant to whether it's unusual compared to other extant languages, but from a practical standpoint I feel like that's really just measuring the presence of isolated communities. I don't think it necessarily makes sense to say that English or Mandarin's 1.3 billion speakers are unusual on the basis that there are a million people who do things differently but speak dozens of different languages. To me, it'd be interesting to have a second list where the features are ranked by the number of people who speak a language with those characteristics rather than the raw number of languages that use them.

I'd totally make that alternative metric, but the dataset on that site is broken and the site it was originally posted on seems to have been taken down. Alas.

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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#2

Post by CaptHayfever » Sat Apr 20, 2019 1:26 pm

They aren't saying that the speakers of the language are unusual, but that the language itself is.
Historically, prevalence of a language isn't based on its complexity/difficulty/weirdness, but on geographical barriers & on its speakers' tendency towards conquest.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#3

Post by I am nobody » Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:16 pm

^Right, I said that. It'd just be interesting to see a list that addresses which languages would be perceived as unusual by most people.

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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#4

Post by Saria Dragon of the Rain Wilds » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:27 pm

:highfive: @Heroine of the Dragon our languages aren't weird wooooo

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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#5

Post by Booyakasha » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:41 pm

That article got tiresome about a paragraph in.
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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#6

Post by Marilink » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:52 am

I couldn't think of anything to say for this thread but I want to contribute because language stuff is on-brand for me, so, thanks for sharing, Ian.

I was a little afraid the article's premise was going to be overly prescriptivist, but their research criteria make a lot of sense when you look at them.

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Re: The Weirdest Languages

#7

Post by Heroine of the Dragon » Thu May 23, 2019 1:07 am

Finally, something I do that someone has declared doesn't have a strong weirdness to it. LOL

Perhaps though... all languages have weirdness about them... depending on what you're trying to learn from them!! ;) :D
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