In which I squee about pronunciation of long words - Tactical Ninja
Apr. 3rd, 2014
11:13 am - In which I squee about pronunciation of long words
Last night I had a zombie dream. It was like The Walking Dead - Andrea was there even - except more realistic. Well, realistic in that in my dream you couldn't just stick a knife between their eyes and push it in as though their skull was made of rubber.
Even ancient skulls that have been dead for years ar neither soft nor thin enough to do this, as evidenced by all the archaeology in the world ever. There is absolutely no way that you could do it to a zombie that's only been a zombie for a year or two. And if there were some thing that made their bones soft enough to do it, they wouldn't be very bloody mobile, would they?
In one building, someone had removed their heads altogether and replaced them with animatronic smiling ones that gave you helpful information about how to find your way around the building. We killed those too. They were creepy. Creepier than the normal zombies, even.
Today's Finnish phrase is "Sinun kengästäsi roikku vessapaperia." Which means "You have toilet paper stuck to your shoe."
Such useful things to learn!
One of the things I'm finding with Finnish is that it has a fair few similarities with Māori. For a start, you pronounce all the letters. In counting, there is none of this 'eleven, twelve' business. You go straight from 10 to 10+[insert number here] So we have:
English - eleven
Māori - te kau ma tahi (ten and one)
Finnish - yksitoista (yksi being one, toista being 'teen' I guess, because the teens in Finnish are all the numbers from 1-10 with 'toista' after them).
And because I live in New Zealand which has Māori as an official language and thus it appears on all official documents, place names, road signs, people's names, and is part of the general vernacular*, I'm not afraid of words made up of long strings of letters, all of which you pronounce.
I went to school in Maungaturoto. My brother lives up Kaiwharawhara Road. I bet pretty much everyone who's not a kiwi skimmed over those words and made no effort to pronounce them in their heads. But it's easy! No really, it is!
In Māori (unlike English) the pronunciation of vowels is easy.
A = ah
E = eh
I = ee
O = aw (or 'or' without the US pronounced 'r' sound)
U = oo
Any vowel with a macron over it (like this - ā) is pronounced longer, as if the vowel is said twice. Spelling it twice is the alternative for those without a macron on their keyboard. Vowels together are both pronouned, a bit shorter than usual. So 'tau' ends up sounding like 'toe' in English.
And all you need to know about the consonants is that they are all pronounced too, the 'r' is rolled, and 'ng' is pronounced the way you would at the end of the word 'bring'.
 t_c_da just reminded me that there's also the 'wh' sound which is said as an English 'f' (more or less).
Now say with me: Taupo. Ngongotaha. Te Rauparaha. Easy!
Kiwis in particular have no excuse not to learn how to do this. And my having made that effort in the past, have found I can apply my lernins to Finnish.
Thus, when I come across a word like myötähäpeää, my brain doesn't have a conniption, because I know I just pronounce every letter. And the ä (two dots above) letters are the short versions of the main letter. So in Finnish, you get this:
A = ah
E = eh
I = ee (said short, almost like 'ih')
O = aw
U = oo
Look familiar? Yep, it's just like Māori! Convenient! Realistically, all the vowels are said a bit shorter than in Māori, but the basic pronunciation is the same. And then you have the two dots:
ä = a as in bat
ö = o as in drop (Sorry, don' t have a US equivalent here. To my ear, the US drop sounds like draap, and I don't think US English has an equivalent sound, so assume this is the UK drop).
And if you put two letters together, you say them twice, vowel or consonant. You also say the 'h' wherever you see it. The y is a bit o-ey (rather than the English 'ye' sound). The j is a y. See, there are rules! And unlike English, they're pretty straightforward! So, I don't freak out when I see myötähäpeää, I just set about sounding it out.
I doubt my pronunciation is all that good yet, but my point is that big long words aren't that hard to work out, and having dealt with Māori words all my life, and having some similarity between the rules, really helps.
So: juoksenteisinkohan - not that hard. I'm told it means "I wonder if I should run around aimlessly?" And apparently myötähäpeää means "The feeling you get when someone does something embarrassing and you're watching."
See? This is why I like this language, and suspect I will like the culture it springs from.
This weekend is apparently going to be quite nice, up until about Saturday lunchtime. I plan to take Turtle out for a fish. Dr Wheel is going to give the Cosmic another burl as well.
Anyway, I just put this on Facebook because I hardly say anything there and I thought I should remind people I'm alive:
"I'm pretty sure that introversion vs extroversion is a false dichotomy. Even the 'energy flow' explanation seems to not really cover it fully. I think that a person can be introverted or extroverted at different points in time, and that it's also possible to be both at the same time on occasion. Like gender and sexuality, it's a spectrum."
It's probably not as bollocks as left-brain right-brain theory, but it's on that spectrum IMO.
* Māori is now taught in schools. It wasn't when I was a kid. Thus, younger people have a much better grasp of the language than older people, and there's some resistance among older white folks to trying to learn it, or pronounce it properly, because they are afraid of feeling silly. This resistance gives me myötähäpeää.