Languages with exotic and interesting features

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Re: Languages with exotic and interesting features

Postby Querneus » Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:27 am

outcast wrote:But Sino-Tibetan Mandarin Chinese has 比 (bi3) in basic comparisons, and also 和。。。相比 (比起来), akin to "compared to". The Koreanic family too has words equivalent to "than": 보다 (hboda) , and also 에 비해 (compared to) . I think Hindi has से ? Anyways, in the two other completely separate language families I have familiarity with, there are structures basically identical in their use to "than", or "que" / "als" etc. So I would doubt I just was just lucky enough to pick the exceptions outside Indo-European to this feature. I wonder what is the more "default" way to mark the entity that is the comparison's reference point then in most languages? Suffixes? Special verbal conjugation? Strict word order?

It depends on how you define things, according to what is considered interesting. Here, the weirdness of the European "than" is that the word doesn't have much of a metaphor in terms of location (as a metaphor) or a verb involving exceeding something in some way. It's explained in the "chapter" linked to from the map: Comparative Constructions. (The categories are also defined by meaning, so a noun marked with a case of location (in-X, from-X...) would still count as a location metaphor.)

So, this is opposed to than-words that refer to a location metaphor, typically prepositions/postpositions such as "from" (Arabic من min, Hindi से se) or "in/to" (Classical Chinese 於 yú), and opposed to than-words that refer to verbs meaning 'exceeding X' or 'more compared to X' (Mandarin 比 bǐ, Cantonese 過 gwok3), or as a further possibility, a "conjoined" construction involving a joined short clause ("She is tall and you're short", "She is tall and you're not", "Her, you, she is tall", etc., all meaning She is taller than you).

According to that one WALS map I linked to, languages tend to have, as their default than-word, a word or construction using a location metaphor. French "de" would count as one incidentally, since the word also means "from" (je viens de la France), but "que" is the default word in this language, which aside from this use has only very grammatical uses...
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Re: Languages with exotic and interesting features

Postby golyplot » Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:33 pm

tungemål wrote:The Japanese don't even conjugate verbs in persons and they still omit the pronoun, so you have to "guess" who did something.

They can leave out a lot more than that. I recall seeing a Japanese lesson that translated as "A) What happened to your glasses? B) I'm wearing contacts today!". However, the literal translation of the Japanese was something like "A) Glasses? B) Today, contacts!"
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Re: Languages with exotic and interesting features

Postby tungemål » Sun Apr 11, 2021 1:36 pm

Many interesting replies in this thread.

But no-one studied an exotic language like native american ones (except maybe IronMike), a Papua New Guinea language or an australian aboriginal language? In those you can find some really strange features. For instance number systems based on 27 (Papua New Guinea).
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