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View Diary: ÍslensKos: The Icelandic Language, Or, What's So Scary About Super-Long Words? (109 comments)

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  •  This is a great way (11+ / 0-)

    to spend my day as an indoor-goblin with my number-prophet.

    I would, however, dispute your characterization of the compounded English translation of the super-word as 'not scary'. Presumably, if English did this with any regularity, it would become less scary, but adult English readers lean heavily on word length and 'shape' for fluent reading, and jamming them together seriously throws us off even when we technically know the component words.

    There's a reason why uncommon compounds are hyphenated even though English is perfectly capable of simple compounding.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 12:53:37 PM PDT

    •  Putting words in the genitive is sort of like (6+ / 0-)

      hyphenating.  It makes it a lot easier to see how words connect together.

      To be fair, the process requires a bit more mental computing power than using spaces as is done with long words in English, although not much.  On the upside, it not only saves a bit of space when written out, but also helps group related concepts together.  Let us take a random sentence from the front page of Morgunblaðið today to demonstrate:

      "EFLA verkfræðistofa undirritaði nýlega fjórða rammasamninginn sem félagið hefur gert við Statens Vegvesen, eða norsku vegagerðina."

      In English, that is literally:

      "EFLA engineering office signed recently the fourth framework agreement which the group has done with Statens Vegvesen, or the Norwegian road construction [department]."

      To write that in English as it is written in Icelandic, however (using a hyphen to represent where there's a clear declension break):

      "EFLA engineering-office signed recently the fourth framework-agreement which the group has done with Statens Vegvesen, or the the Norwegian road-construction [department]."

      Note how related concepts are usually neatly grouped together?

      •  It's not so much that it uses more (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, Rei

        computing power as that it uses a different kind of computing power - one which English readers aren't practiced at, even in our native language.

        (We are very well-practiced at a similar process in audio decoding; we blend words all the time when we talk. The analogous visual process is entirely learnable. But it's a new skill, just like e.g. learning a new alphabet, which slows down the acquisition of written languages that require it.)

        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

        by kyril on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 01:25:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then there is this. (11+ / 0-)
          Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

          www.languagehat.com/archives/000840.php

          Time is a long river.

          by phonegery on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:20:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's actually misleading (8+ / 0-)

            I'm not sure about the research itself (this is posted all over the place, but a link to the supposed article is never given) but the claim is untrue.

            1) Even the above passage is read more slowly than a correctly-spelled version would be. It's still technically readable - although one might stumble over a few of the words, and this version is less readable than the more common quote because some of the misspellings are miosspelled - but it won't be read as fluently as it would be if it were correctly spelled.

            2) The passage mostly contains short, common words with common transpositions. These words would be easily readable even if the last letter (and in some cases the first) were transposed in common patterns: hte, englihs

            2) The jumbling of the longer words in that passage is done in a fairly specific, deliberate manner: it generally follows common transposition patterns. Letters aren't moved "too" far away from their neighbours, and in general, 'chunks' are simply reversed. The overall shape of the words is relatively similar to the original.

            Compare:
            uinervtisy
            utneisviry

            bcuseae
            basuece

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:16:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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