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Left handed and right handed languages

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    Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 05:00
I am a native Spanish speaker, as you know. So, when I started to learn new languages I make an amazing discovery: every single other language I studied had the Adjective and Nouns in the reverse order! Confused
I learned English, and I have studied some Japanese, Chinese and Mapudungun. I don't known many languages actually, but I know a lot, considering that people from the New World usually don't learn many languages Wink. Now all those languages had the Adjetive-Noun order "reversed". So, after a while I realize that perhaps Spanish was the one that had it in the reverse order and not the others Confused

I call this curious thing, "right handed" and "left handed" languages. My question is, how many left hand languages do exist, like Spanish, and how many left hand languages are there, like English, Japanese, Chinese and Mapudungun.

You guys that know more than me on European and other languages, please help me to answer this question.


Edited by pinguin - 27 Jun 2011 at 05:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 07:19
Arabic is "left handed". Adjectives come after the noun in more than one form. an adjective in Arabic maybe a single word or an entire sentence.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cezar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 09:20
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

My question is, how many left hand languages do exist, like Spanish, and how many left hand languages are there, like English, Japanese, Chinese and Mapudungun.
Pinguin, I think all latin languages are "left handed". I think slavic ones are, too.


Edited by Cezar - 27 Jun 2011 at 09:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 09:34
Most IE languages puts the adjective first - the Latin languages are the major exception. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 11:56
I think slavic languages, at least Russian, allow both left-handed and right-handed constructs with some variation in connotation. But it's a bit confusing because they drop the predicative verb, so that 'ochi chorniye' correspongs to both  'the eyes are black' and 'black eyes'. ('ochi' being eyes).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 12:53
Noun before adjective in Persian.  Khane-ye bozorg - a big house, but if you say bozorg ast in khane it becomes this house is big, which is all the words exactly in reverse to english..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 14:42
 
In certain literary cases (mainly poems) adjectives can preceed the nound with some adjustment to the structure of the general sentence.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 15:17
Yes, in Spanish too, sometimes in poetry adjetives preceed nouns, but the thing just doesn't sound right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 15:20
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Arabic is "left handed". Adjectives come after the noun in more than one form. an adjective in Arabic maybe a single word or an entire sentence.
 
Al-Jassas


This is interesting. Do other afroasiatic languages, such as Hebrew, Coptic or other, follow the same "left handed" rule? Or is it only a particular construction of Arab?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jun 2011 at 15:21
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Noun before adjective in Persian.  Khane-ye bozorg - a big house, but if you say bozorg ast in khane it becomes this house is big, which is all the words exactly in reverse to english..


Interesting. If Persian is left handed, what about the Indoeuropean languages to the East? To India for example?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 2011 at 03:46
The correct term is the postpositioning of adjectives. Hindi (if we are going to become esoteric over Indo-European) also places the adjective after the noun and like the Romance languages demands conformity to number and gender. Interesting Hindi also maintains the traditional positioning of verbs as found in classic Latin: the verb is always last! As an aside, Hindi also has three forms of the second person pronoun as in Spanish and yes the Spanish tu carries the identical reservations found in the Hindi tU!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 2011 at 14:06
interesting! thanks doc
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hidden Face Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jun 2011 at 14:56
In Turkish adjective first. But when noun is first it becomes a complete sentence, and you don't have to use auxiliary words. 

Buyuk Ev. (a) Big house.
Ev Buyuk. (the) house is big. (A complete sentence)




Edited by The Hidden Face - 28 Jun 2011 at 14:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 02:16
So, it seems that most Indoeuropean languages are "left handed". Turkish is not indoeuropean and follows the standard East Asian pattern of "right handed" languages.

But if so, why English is "right handed" like the Asian languages and not "left handed" like the Southern European and West Asian indoeuropean languages?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 02:48
Sorry to rain on your parade, Pinguin, but in English adjectives can also go after the noun specially with respect to participial and adjectival clauses as well as in those instances where adjectival emphasis sets meaning [I like my coffee black.]. Perhaps such is an inheritance from those ambidextrous Normans, and their French, where a happenstance similar to the preceeding occurs also.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 03:05
I didn't expect anything else from you, Doc. Sure, these rules aren't 100% certain. You can also say in Spanish "buena mujer" instead of "mujer buena"... but we all know the meanings aren't precisely the same...
So, the origin is probably Norman. That's getting interesting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 08:46
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

So, it seems that most Indoeuropean languages are "left handed". Turkish is not indoeuropean and follows the standard East Asian pattern of "right handed" languages.


Germanic, Slavic, Greek, all put the adjective first, and  I was under the impression that the Indic languages did the same.. The Latin languages are the exception -in Europe at least. Some Slavic languages and e.g. Swedish *may* put the adjective afterwards also but it's not the "basic" use and changes emphasis or tone (making them rather ambidextrous in your layman's terms).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 12:12
There's probably truth in that English has both Germanic and French influence in this as in pretty well everything else. Hence for instance titles like 'Lord lieutenant' (plural 'Lords lieutenant') and 'Governor general' (plural 'governors general') contrasting with 'Major general' (plural 'Major generals'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2011 at 15:48
Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

So, it seems that most Indoeuropean languages are "left handed". Turkish is not indoeuropean and follows the standard East Asian pattern of "right handed" languages.


Germanic, Slavic, Greek, all put the adjective first, and  I was under the impression that the Indic languages did the same.. The Latin languages are the exception -in Europe at least. Some Slavic languages and e.g. Swedish *may* put the adjective afterwards also but it's not the "basic" use and changes emphasis or tone (making them rather ambidextrous in your layman's terms).
 
Never say "all", Styr, because such gets you into immediate trouble. As hinted at earlier by GCLE Russian has placement variations and in fact all Slavic languages because of the extensive case system and noun declension ensures that word order is relatively free. Naturally, we are now skirting very close to the grand debate over PIE [no, not 3.14159 etc., but Proto Indo-European] and hence makes an introductory background on changes and influences essential:
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jun 2011 at 22:54
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Originally posted by Styrbiorn Styrbiorn wrote:

Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

So, it seems that most Indoeuropean languages are "left handed". Turkish is not indoeuropean and follows the standard East Asian pattern of "right handed" languages.


Germanic, Slavic, Greek, all put the adjective first, and  I was under the impression that the Indic languages did the same.. The Latin languages are the exception -in Europe at least. Some Slavic languages and e.g. Swedish *may* put the adjective afterwards also but it's not the "basic" use and changes emphasis or tone (making them rather ambidextrous in your layman's terms).
 
Never say "all", Styr, because such gets you into immediate trouble. As hinted at earlier by GCLE Russian has placement variations and in fact all Slavic languages because of the extensive case system and noun declension ensures that word order is relatively free. Naturally, we are now skirting very close to the grand debate over PIE [no, not 3.14159 etc., but Proto Indo-European] and hence makes an introductory background on changes and influences essential:
 
In penguinic they are still right-handed though, but with left hands just as able to throw good punches now and then - I thought calling them ambidextrous would keep me out of trouble. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 04:47
Doc, "I like my coffee black" is not the same as "I like black coffee" since the verb 'to be' is inferred in the first case and 'black' is part of the verb.

As for postpositioning, Vietnamese does likewise with adjectives. "O dang kia nha trang nay" Beside that White (trang) House (nha) there.  "Ba cua toi co mot con meo vang va mot con meo den" My wife has a yellow cat and a black cat.  (con = classifier for animal - meo = cat - vang - yellow - den = black).

Afrikaans adjectives follow a similar pattern with English.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 09:46
Ambidextrous languages - I like that.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 10:06
And I like 'con meo' as a phrase for a animal that miaows. Thumbs Up  How about 'con yap' and 'con woof'?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 15:22
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Doc, "I like my coffee black" is not the same as "I like black coffee" since the verb 'to be' is inferred in the first case and 'black' is part of the verb.

As for postpositioning, Vietnamese does likewise with adjectives. "O dang kia nha trang nay" Beside that White (trang) House (nha) there.  "Ba cua toi co mot con meo vang va mot con meo den" My wife has a yellow cat and a black cat.  (con = classifier for animal - meo = cat - vang - yellow - den = black).

Afrikaans adjectives follow a similar pattern with English.
 
Lirelou in an earlier posting I explained this intricacy and I have done my best to avoid the jargon associated with "structuring" languages and thus move into the lost art of when an adjective is not really an adjective but "stands in" for a noun and demand that all must diagrammatize their sentences! Of course, it does not help matters that the topic is itself but a typical Penguin ploy on behalf of absurd hyperboles. Shall we discuss the topic in terms of regionalized conventions? Then there is the matter in English where certain adjectives must always be postpositioned (the postpositive)!
 
Some crazy "Latino" must have elaborated these English sentences:
 

Anyone capable of doing something horrible to someone nice should be punished.
Something wicked this way comes.

The president elect, heir apparent to the Glitzy fortune, lives in New York proper.

 
 
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 01 Jul 2011 at 20:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 15:40
PS: What we are really discussing here is the hangover from the heavy drinking of Enlightenment "joy-juice" that sought to straight-jacket the vagaries of languages against the ever present tendencies of the colloquial with respect to circumstantial meaning.
 
And now a Miss Grundy moment:
 
It is not
                        Afrikaans adjectives follow a similar pattern with English.
 
but rather
 
                        Adjectives in Afrikaans follow a pattern similar to that [found] in English.
 
How's that for applying some English to the rule book for this game. Come to think of it are you game at all for this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 16:11
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Of course, it does not help matters that the topic itself but a typical Penguin ploy on behalf of absurd hyperboles.


Stop the offenses, please. Angry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 16:26
I think Geoffrey would have liked "Something wicked this way comes". That's Geoffrey, as in Chaucer. Obviously a Ray Bradbury fan in his time. Come to think of it: Are you game for all this?  (Strunk strikes again!)


Edited by lirelou - 01 Jul 2011 at 16:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 17:26
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

I think Geoffrey would have liked "Something wicked this way comes". That's Geoffrey, as in Chaucer. Obviously a Ray Bradbury fan in his time. Come to think of it: Are you game for all this?  (Strunk strikes again!)
 
Hey, that's not cricket stealing my play! One must ask here what came first usage or the rules, after all who would dare challenge Geoffrey and the fact the adjectives have to follow the pronoun at all times. Besides, we could litter this field of dreams endlessy until the Penguin finally throws in the towel and 'fesses up to his mischief.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 17:48
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Of course, it does not help matters that the topic itself but a typical Penguin ploy on behalf of absurd hyperboles.


Stop the offenses, please. Angry
 
Is this an instance of protesting much or just simply too much? If one can not defend their position adequately, to call requests for the substantive little more than "offenses" is, to say the least, disingenuous. In this instance my observation is amply supported by the evidence contained amply within the very threads of this Forum. Just keep in mind that in all languages, what prevails is known as the  "Infinite Rule of Finite Means".
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2011 at 20:36
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Of course, it does not help matters that the topic itself but a typical Penguin ploy on behalf of absurd hyperboles.


Stop the offenses, please. Angry
For your (and perhaps Anton's) benefit, he called the hyperboles absurd not you. That's not ad hominem. You do quite often put forward absurd hypotheses. It's part of your charm and its certainly not an infringement of the Code of Conduct.


Edited by gcle2003 - 01 Jul 2011 at 20:38
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