?

Log in

No account? Create an account

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

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

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'.

[edit] 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.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:fbhjr
Date:April 2nd, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm not at all sure I'm saying them correctly. But, I still appreciate the guide.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 2nd, 2014 10:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Me neither, to be honest. And I'm told that the Finnish have a habit of going 'close enough is good enough' and cutting foreigners a lot of slack, while Māori I think just really appreciate the effort in a country where many don't bother.

And I also think that no matter how hard we try, we'll always be slightly off. I guess that's what accents are.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:t_c_da
Date:April 2nd, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Couple of minor points...

You omitted to mention the Maori "wh" which can be one of the English fine sound, the whine sound, or the wine sound, depending on where in the country you are...

And the paragraph including the comment about the general vernacular* indicates a footnote that seems to have disappeared...

/pedant mode
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 2nd, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I totally did! I'll fix that. Caught the footnote on readthrough.

I'm sure the Finnish (or the Germans) have a word for the feeling you feel when you failed to do a proper edit and get caught out...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:tedwords
Date:April 2nd, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for the pronunciation guide!

And what is it about zombies being such a big theme today? I posted about zombies, too :L)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 2nd, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm gonna take a wild stab in the dark and say it might have something to do with the much-hyped series finale of Walking Dead (which I haven't seen) bringing zombies into everyone's awareness.

Either that or there's some kind of precognition going on and we should all start welding chainsaws onto the front of our cars stat.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:crsg
Date:April 2nd, 2014 11:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Fun fact: Japanese pronounciation is almost identical to Maori. There are a couple syllables there that Maori doesn't have and vice versa, but it's basically the same system, just in a different order (A, I, U, E, O). Ditto with the counting upwards from 10. While I can speak very little Maori, school taught me the basic pronounciation, and so I think that's why I don't often have a problem with that aspect of Japanese.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 3rd, 2014 02:22 am (UTC)
(Link)
That's interesting. I guess the thing that daunts me most about Japanese is learning the characters. I spent some time helping the YoT with his Japanese homework way back when, and it was kind of like Russian - there was first the code (characters), then the meaning of individual words, then the grammar. Three layers of incomprehensibility is very daunting.

Having said that, I've memorised the Cyrillic alphabet. That's at least a little bit similar to the one I'm familiar with though..
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:ferrouswheel
Date:April 2nd, 2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There is certainly some basis to left-brain right-brain differences!

Wernicke's area and Broca's area are both language focussed and generally in the left hemisphere.

Many nootropics function by increasing left/right brain communication. If they did the same thing, that'd be unlikely to result in elevated mental ability.

On the other hand, any simplistic explanation of left brain this, right brain that, doesn't account for the hemisphere flipping that occurs in some individuals, or the range of amorphous function in each side.

But then most things are not dichotomies. People seem easily sold on them because it's makes things simple. E.g. left/right politics, which is pretty much meaningless to anyone with a critical viewpoint.

The best thing about my PhD is it forced me to embrace uncertainty. Anyone claiming certainty is selling something.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 2nd, 2014 11:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Haha I like that last line!

Have I mentioned to you about the experiments that 'they' did with LSD and people who had lost the use of either the left or the right hemispheres? I can't remember which side was which, but one group got the effects of LSD and the others felt nothing.

That certainly implies there is something different going on with the hemispheres, but as you say, this idea of being 'left-brained' or 'right-brained' seems oversimplified to the point of basically being a crock of shit.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:slavezombie
Date:April 3rd, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
Any vowel with a macron over it (like this - ā) is pronounced longer, as if the vowel is said twice.
I always wondered about that, and â. If you know the difference between an â and ǎ, that would be impressive too.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 3rd, 2014 02:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, one is a circumflex and teh other is a caron. Or, one is a breve and the other is an inverted breve. Wikipedia tells me that much.

How they are used seems to depend on what language you're in.

And thank to finding that out, I häve älsö found out how tö püt an ümläüt on my Finnish charactërs. Thanks!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:strude1
Date:April 3rd, 2014 04:31 am (UTC)
(Link)
One of the things that would would balls up when pronouncing Maori words when I was a kid was getting the pauses in the wrong place within the word so for example I would read Whakarewarewa as Wha-kare-ware-wa ... causing all kinds of confusion :D
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 3rd, 2014 04:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
Dr Wheel did that the first time he tried to say Ngunguru, and now it's a standing joke. ;-)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:meathiel
Date:April 3rd, 2014 05:23 am (UTC)
(Link)
As we have the ä and ö (oh, and an ü) as well at least those letters don't confuse me ... haha ...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 3rd, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Does that mean that German keyboards have an umlaut on them? I have to use ascii to get it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread) (Expand)
[User Picture]
From:dragonvyxn
Date:April 3rd, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
that's so cool! yay language learning!!!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:tatjna
Date:April 3rd, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's pretty exciting - feels like cracking a code! ;-D
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:adam_0oo
Date:April 6th, 2014 02:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In the movie From Dusk Till Dawn, they actually comment on how the vampires are kind of soft, how you can easily stab them through their breast bone into their hearts.

Another unreality, vis a vis killing zombies in The Walking Dead is how everybody in the post apocalypse has no problem with head shot after head shot.
(Reply) (Thread)