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The English Language

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posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 05:37 AM
a reply to: CJCrawley

You got me thinking there, I haven't looked into it but mum, mom, mam, mama, ma seems universal for mother. Mam is actually the Welsh word for mother.

I wonder if Mmm was the most soothing sound for babies in 'babble' period lol?

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 06:09 AM
a reply to: grainofsand
I once read a suggestion that "ma" and "pa" and "ba" are the easiest sounds for a baby to make, being just the opening of the mouth.
Fond mother then interprets "ma" as a reference to herself, encourages the baby to repeat it, and that reinforces the association. Hence so many languages having a "ma" element in their word for "mother".

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 06:57 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

That makes a lot of sense

Perhaps we've found the favourite word/sound of all languages?

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 07:29 AM
A question is to follow.

Having grown up in the 1950-60s, I learned the alphabet in kindergarten, whole first words by sight in 1st grade, phonics via reams of worksheets in 2cd & 3rd grades, then it was reading books and writing book reports up through 8th gr.

In my first year of high school (9th gr), I guess I was initiated into the next, higher level of English by a member of the English teachers coven who taught the ritual of diagramming sentences. Over and over I would take my ritual tool, a pocket ruler, and break up and underline parts of sentences carefully copied with ballpoint pen onto lined paper. I remember performing this ritual in both a cool and a warm classroom, so it must have taken a year of practice to advance.

My question is this: does anyone still diagram sentences in school nowadays? I admit I liked this particular ritual, dissecting sentences (whereas I hated dissecting living things in Biology).

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 07:51 AM
a reply to: CJCrawley

What I find fascinating - I don't know if I read it in that book - is the fact that, when babies go through the 'babbling' phase, they pronounce all the speech sounds contained in every language on Earth. Makes sense, I suppose. I mean, you never hear about anyone having trouble speaking their mother tongue, do you? The sounds were already rehearsed during the 'babbling' phase.

This is true - it is believed that babies' brains are wired to learn ANY language that they are exposed to - but only up until a certain point ---- there's a "window of opportunity" for language learning to come very easily and naturally.

After that 'window' closes, the person must consciously study and memorize to learn a different language, and in fact, if a sound is not heard by the baby, they will lose the ability to make that sound....

rolled "r" sounds can be learned, but not everyone is good at it. Same reason we can't really make the clicking popping sounds of some tribal languages, and Chinese have trouble making the "L" sound.

Incidentally, when I speak Spanish all day when I haven't for a while, the muscles used to speak it get a little sore the next day! One has to hold one's mouth and tongue in a different way to get the pronunciation right. I did very well in pronunciation classes in college. It can be learned - but it takes effort.

Like playing a wind instrument - if you don't hold your mouth and lips just right and use your breath properly, it doesn't work. One has to practice, literally - practice. The amount of effort expended practicing speaking or reading aloud or playing an instrument is directly proportional to performance and precision.
edit on 6/2/2016 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 07:53 AM
a reply to: desert

I remember learning all that stuff, too - parts of speech.

I learned the most about them, though, when studying Spanish.

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 09:28 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

babies' brains are wired to learn ANY language that they are exposed to - but only up until a certain point ---- there's a "window of opportunity" for language learning to come very easily and naturally.

Yes, what Noam Chomsky once called the Language Acquisition Device.

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 09:29 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

I didn't know about Noam Chomsky saying so, but I believe you. He's a very smart guy. I learned about it in child development and brain training studies - based on scientific findings.

edit on 6/2/2016 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 2 2016 @ 08:46 PM
Chomsky and his linguistic theories are far more important than his politics.

Psychology was dominated by B.F.Skinner and the Behaviouralists until Chomsky demonstrated that we are not blank entities to be written on by external influences.

Language is built right into our brains. Nature as well as Nurture.

There was a horrible experiment performed long ago. The first link I find..

It is not quite the story I seem to remember....

posted on Jun, 3 2016 @ 05:05 PM
a reply to: desert

It is no longer the straight line type but, yes, it is still being done. Maybe not by school aged children now a days but at the college level, at least, it is taught as a branching structure. Truth be told, not very good at either! They give you a sentence to parse and check your work. I am always wrong on the tougher sentences for some reason. ?, oh well...

As far as the "ma" and "ba" and "pa" goes, that is mostly due to not-yet-developed mouth structures in babies. Ever notice little kids say, "Duce" instead of "Juice"? It is more difficult for children's mouths to get the "juh" part so they do best approximation and use the easier "Do". Maybe that is why "Dude!" is so popular!

posted on Jun, 3 2016 @ 10:28 PM
Okay --- so, my parents....
when I was growing up, word-play was a household open challenge.

My mom first introduced me to the phrase "blithering idiot". I loved it. It's so rarely heard or read, but I thought it was a real zinger......

And you know those roadside pull-over spots where they put a picnic table and a bronze "commemorative historical significance plaque"...For reading material during outdoor brief stops...

like Rest Stops with history as a placemat....and you can find them because they have a sign on the highway that says
"Historical Marker >"
(they're just, like, brown, though. UPS brown. Blend in with the surrounding overgrown disturbed landscape brown.

Sadly, Congress would probably prefer to just hang a plain old brown paper bag there on the previous mile-marker. Or a cardboard sign with crap lettering. They might still do that, I bet. Anyway, that's the so-called advertising pot-o-gold.....the "Call To Action!" that the state and national parks have out there for highway and byway surfers......

Right? Yes, I recently learned that my Dad sardonically referred to those as
"hysterical markers"....
which completely cracks me up.

So lately I'd been thinking about these little linguistic blips in my memory and how embedded they are ..
and I was talking to my mom yesterday and shared with her that little fond blip...

I said, "Mom, I wanted to tell you that every time I hear the phrase 'blithering idiot' I think of you."

Those words came out of my mouth.

And she said, "Well, thank you!" with a smile in her voice......
and I peed myself a tiny bit laughing so hard while lamely explaining that it was because she had first said it, not because it fits her!!!!

so - I almost made a new thread to share those two phrases that my childhood graced me with:

blithering idiots and hysterical markers.

IDK - it just sorta seemed to fit in here.

idioms are fantastic tools for humor.....

posted on Jun, 4 2016 @ 04:43 AM
a reply to: draoicht

To quickly describe...two infants were isolated on a small island with a deaf-mute woman (presumably the mother) to see what language the children would end up speaking.

The result was, unsurprisingly, that they were dumb.

And here I'm using the modern British sense of dumb, meaning unable to speak. This is regarded as politically incorrect in the US, because of the close association with the similar-sounding German word dumm, which means stupid.

It seems the Americans have adopted the German meaning but retained the British-English spelling; it's an interesting indication of how the language evolved in the new world.

Of course, the American sense of dumb=stupid has, in turn, influenced modern British-English. So now, in Britain, we use the American sense of stupid in the terms dumbing down and dumb blonde.

posted on Jun, 4 2016 @ 07:25 AM
a reply to: CJCrawley

I seem to remember a story with just one child and a sad ending.

It is likely the experiment I was thinking of was created by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. The monk who wrote about it said

"But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments."

There is also an earlier story in Herodotus of a Pharaoh doing the same experiment.

On a happier note American English has many German words. It's fun to see how a language that was latinised in Britain after the Norman conquest took words from its cousins much later on a different continent.

Many of the German words will have come into English through Yiddish of course.

Schlep is the first one I think of, there are many more.


Schmuck, mensch and chutzpah

edit on 4-6-2016 by draoicht because: more german/yiddish words not worth a second post

posted on Jun, 4 2016 @ 06:53 PM

Thank you for answering my question re sentence diagrams. Interesting, that it evolved to a branching structure. I just might have to check it out!

re the incorrect sounds made by young children. Also very interesting, as my younger son had certain letters he could not pronounce correctly. My sister was a speech teacher, and I asked her if I should be concerned; she said, "No. He'll 'grow out of it'. " And he did.

ETA I still have my decades-old "Question authority" button

edit on 4-6-2016 by desert because: ETA

posted on Jun, 5 2016 @ 07:15 AM
a reply to: desert

ETA I still have my decades-old "Question authority" button

Yay!! I had a great bumper sticker, long since gone - need to see if I can find one online or at the head shop....

"Stay in School. Learn the System. Then Change the System."

Kinda got out of control, things did!

posted on Jun, 5 2016 @ 09:33 PM
Here's a word I just this minute discovered:


Any guesses?
Latin based, and having to do with location/source....

posted on Jun, 6 2016 @ 10:41 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

OMG decades ago a good friend who had a great sense of humor told us about "hysterical markers". I used that ever since, although not everyone seems to laugh. Maybe they were people who didn't care for historical markers and/or just never found it hilarious.

I spent many family outings in the backseat of a car, swerving along with the car (or feeling the force of U-turns) as my mother told my father of another marker we needed to read. I subjected my own kids to that routine; one turned out to have a passion for history, the other one could care less.

Check out the next generation of hysterical markers E Clampus Vitus . I have some in my area, and we came across another on recently in the National Forest.

.....also, this place has been my source for decades for buttons, shirts, etc

Villatic....?..... I dunno..... housebound, as in "I'm holed up in my villa" ?

posted on Jun, 6 2016 @ 08:59 PM
a reply to: desert

You know "hysterical markers"????
SO funny!

What about "Ahvukudew," and "Rododeodendrion"


Okay, yeah, villatic -

adjective 1. of or relating to the country or to a farm; rural.

Which, incidentally, is a relative of "villain".......

edit on 6/6/2016 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 11 2016 @ 01:40 PM
One very intriguing word:


I have always pronounced it "psychofant"
the other day somebody laughed when I said that, and said, "it's sycofunt"

I'm not sure I want to know that I've been mispronouncing it in my head forever.
Another word like that is


I habitually read it as "myzuld"
to be misled - to be tricked with wizardry 'he will misle you! You'll be the victim of misling!'

anyway - I had to learn to read it as "Miss Lead".....
okay - going back out onto the patio - I'm throwing myself a fantastic poolside party of one. So far. Mr Wigs has possibly agreed to join me. We'll see.
Online chess is much more compelling, I guess............
edit on 6/11/2016 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 11 2016 @ 07:08 PM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

That is better rhan my swap of "roadside" and "marker"! Love this thread for so many reasons (like, having never considering that idiom before!)

Let's keep it going!


edit on 11-6-2016 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: Tori spelling

edit on 11-6-2016 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: iam drunk

edit on 11-6-2016 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: Uh the system went cray-cray

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