A Brief Overview of the Langues d’Oil

The French language is only one of the langues d’oil, a group of languages that developed out of Old French around ~1000. They’ve all been separated from Old French for about 1,000 years. It’s uncertain how many of these are still alive. It’s also unknown how many are still full languages and how many have simply turned into dialects of regional French. Mutual intelligibility is also not known with most of these languages and few if any studies have been undertaken. Another problem is that the languages themselves range from forms of regional French to full-blown separate languages.

The French language itself is a langue d’oil called Francien that was chosen as the de facto French language several hundred years ago. However, as recently as 100 years ago, 80% of conscripts in the French Army in WW1 could not speak French!

Percheron, spoken very close to Paris. Said to be extinct but there are still some speakers. Together with Sarthois in Manceau.

Berrichon, spoken in Berry. Said to be extinct but still has speakers.

Tourangeou, spoken in Tours. Said to be extinct, but it is still spoken in the rural areas.

Orleanais, said to be extinct but still spoken in the rural areas.

Manceau or Mainot, spoken in Mans. Said to be a French dialect, but is really a language. Said to be extinct but still spoken. Includes Percheron and Sarthois.

Sarthois, spoken in Sarthe, probably a separate language. Together with Percheron in Manceau.

Mayennais, spoken in Mayenne, probably a separate language.

Gallo, still spoken in Brittany, 300,000 speakers. Lot of Breton words. Gallo was formed from Manceau, Sarthois, Mayennais, and Percheron.

Angevin, spoken in Anjou, together with Gallo but a separate language. Said to be nearly extinct but still spoken.

Poitevin, spoken in Poitiers, separate language. There are still native monolinguals in their 60’s who cannot even speak French!

Saintangenais, spoken in Western France, separate language. Still fairly widely spoken. This is together with Poitevin.

Norman or Normand, different types, separate language, still spoken. Cotentinais still has native speakers in their 40’s, farm workers.

Gernesiais Norman, spoken on Guernsey. Probably two different languages.

Jerriais, spoken on Jersey, separate language from Gernesiais.

Sercquiais, spoken on Sark Island, only 15 speakers left, separate language.

There are different Norman forms spoken on the mainland in Normandy. Cauchois, Cotentin, etc.

Picard, spoken in Picardy, still widely spoken in different forms that all seem to be dialects of one language. A separate language, still fairly widely spoken, especially by coal miners.

Champenois spoken in Champagne, still spoken but going extinct, separate language. Ardennois is a dialect spoken in the Ardennes, still spoken.

Lorrain spoken in the Loire, still spoken in different forms but going extinct.

Bourguignon, separate language, still spoken in Burgundy. Fairly widely spoken.

Bourbonnais, probably a separate language, spoken in Burgundy. Close to Berrichon.

Franche-Comte, still spoken in Franche-Comte mostly by old people.

Repost: Englishes, Portugueses, and Chineses

In the comments to a previous post, Goyta made several comments. First of all he noted that the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese are considerable, especially when a Brazilian hears a less educated, working class or rural Portuguese.

He also said that when European Portuguese are interviewed on Brazilian TV, Brazilians wish they had subtitles. Wanting to have subtitles when you see a video of someone speaking is actually a symptom that you are dealing with another language. He said the differences are particularly severe when it comes to IT. He said he cannot understand 99% of what is written in a European Portuguese IT magazine, whereas with a regular publication, he can get 99% of it.

It does appear that the differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are pretty significant, more significant than the differences between US and British English.

On other hand, I find Hibernian English spoken in Ireland to be nearly incomprehensible, though it is said to be just a dialect of English. It’s clearly been influenced extensively by the Irish language. Scots, the regional English spoken in Scotland and exemplified by the movie Trainspotting , is actually a completely separate language from English. That movie actually needed subtitles. On the other hand, there is a Scottish English dialect that is not Scots that is pretty intelligible.

We can always understand British English no matter who is writing it. Same with understanding spoken Australian and New Zealand (Kiwi) English. British English is often written a bit differently in slang expressions, but we pick them up. The formal writing is totally understandable.

There have been huge fights on Wikipedia between British English and US English speakers with complaints from the Brits of bullying by the Americans. There was an attempt to fork the English Wiki into Br and US versions but it failed. Wikipedia demands that you have an ISO code in order to get a Wikipedia and ISO codes only come from SIL, who publishes Ethnologue. I petitioned for a few new languages a couple of years ago and they all got shot down.

There is an ongoing war between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese on the Portuguese Wikipedia with complaints from the European Portuguese of bullying on the part of the Brazilians. Gotya noted that he, a Brazilian, could not read Portuguese IT materials. This is unfortunate. All written British is intelligible to us. We can read anything written in the UK, though most of our reading material here is from the US. I can read The Economist and The New Standard and The Spectator with no problems at all.

As a Californian, I speak completely normally, of course, and have no accent whatsoever! Haha. We can understand the Midwest accent perfectly, though it can be different. It sounds “flat”. They also insert rhotic consonants before some consonants at the end of a word and the raising of the preceding vowel – “wash” becomes “worsh”.

The Oklahoma accent is different and sometimes it can be hard to understand. I heard some people speaking Oklahoman in the doctor’s office the other day for a minute or so I thought they were speaking a foreign language! Of course they were mumbling too. Then I asked them where they were from and they said Oklahoma. At that point, I had caught onto their accent and could understand them perfectly.

I do not know why the Texan accent is said to be hard to understand. We understand it perfectly, but it sounds funny. We make a lot of jokes about it. George Bush has a strong Texan accent. There is also an Arkansas accent (Arkies) that is different but understandable. This is also the source of jokes. In this part of California there are many Whites who still speak Arkie and Okie. They are the descendants of those who came out here from the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s. Steinbeck wrote a book about this called The Grapes of Wrath.

Other than that, there are no accents in the West.

There is some sort of a Kentucky-Tennessee accent, but I am not sure if they differ. This is also a source of jokes. It’s sort of a general Appalachian accent, and it’s the source of jokes about inbred hillbillies and whatnot.

The Southern accent is well-known but usually understandable. My brother went to live in Alabama though and he said that the workers in the factory he worked at were often completely unintelligible. The Blacks were worse than the Whites, and they had separate accents. He has imitated their incomprehensible accent to me and it’s pretty hilarious.

I have heard poor Blacks from Memphis on the Cops show who were completely unintelligible to me. People with more money and status tended to be more comprehensible. I sometimes have a hard time understanding a Mississippi or Alabama accent, but it’s no problem. Our Southern politicians all have thick Southern accents.

Cajun English from Louisiana is often unintelligible to us, but the people with more money and status are quite intelligible.

There is also a Black accent from the coast of South Carolina called Gullah that is hard to understand. The Blacks from around there speak something like it and you can pick it out if you are sharp. It has a pretty, lilting sound to it. It’s different from the standard Southern accent and is sort of charming.
Moving up the coast, there is a Virginia accent that is softer, pleasant and charming.

There is the famous New York accent, which to us laid back Californians sounds horribly rude, obnoxious, loud and belligerent. Some forms of it also sound ignorant – these tend to be associated with working class Whites in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

One thing they do is to glide and lengthen rhotic consonants – “New York” becomes New Yawwk” “Brooklyn” becomes “Bwwoklyn”.

A similar accent seems to be spoken in New Jersey, but it may be different. One again, it involves lenition of rhotic consonants, in this case turning them into dipthongs with long vowels. “New Jersey” becomes “New Joiisey”. This is also a source of jokes.
There is a Boston accent which is completely understandable. Ted Kennedy speaks that. It involves the lenition of hard consonants into glides and the end of a word – “car” becomes “caw”.

I believe there is a sort of a slow drawl from Vermont and New Hampshire too. Those people, especially the older men, are known for not talking much. Men of few words.

Some Blacks around here still talk with thick Black accents that sound Southern even though they were born in the Central Valley.
There is also an “Ebonics” English (for lack of a better word) that is spoken here by sort of ghettoish or semi-ghettoish Blacks. It is frankly, almost completely unintelligible. They seem like they are talking with their mouths full, mumbling and speaking extremely fast, running all of the sounds together.

Everyone who talks like this can also speak Standard English thank God, and they can quickly move in and out of that Ebonics talk when you talk to them. It’s sort of a language for them to talk so that we can’t understand them, I think. To us, it sounds sloppy, low class and ghetto, but it reportedly a full-fledged language.
The Blacks in the Caribbean do not speak English! That makes me feel good because I can hardly understand a word they say. Each island has its own form of Creole English which is a completely separate language.

I think that Indian English (Chichi derogatorily) and West African English need to be split into separate languages because they are often incomprehensible to us. This is a case of regional Englishes evolving on their own. Further, West African English often differs a lot in its written form.

Indian English is often so mangled in its written form that it is incomprehensible, but more educated writers are comprehensible. The tendency to drop articles is very annoying and makes written Indian English sound ignorant to us. Don’t mess with our damned useless articles!

Reading about the Chinese languages, there are efforts underway to get speakers to speak proper Putonghua, whatever that means. Speakers from different parts of China still speak Putonghua with an accent that can be heavy at times.

Here in the US, we do not have this problem. Even our politicians still speak in heavy regional accents, and no one cares. We can always understand them. There is no national effort to get everyone to speak proper English that involves wiping out regional accents, though I understand that in the corporate world, they are offering classes to help people get rid of Southern accents, which are stereotyped as sounding backwards, ignorant and racist. I think this is sad. Our regional accents are what makes this country great.

Goyta also notes that Brazilians are starting to speak Spanish and the neighboring Spanish speaking countries are starting to speak Portuguese. When I was dealing with them 5-10 years ago, most Brazilians did not speak much Spanish (They acted like it was extremely low on their list of priorities) and Spanish speakers had zero interest in learning Portuguese (In fact, they regarded the suggestion as offensive and preposterous!)

Goyta notes that with regional integration, more Portuguese are speaking Spanish and more Spanish speakers from nearby countries are learning Portuguese. Spanish is becoming a prerequisite to getting a good job in Brazil. This is good as it’s good to see Latin Americans getting together.

It is also true that in China there has been a big fight over Chinese language classification. The unificationist – fascist types, associated with the Communist government (and actually with the Nationalist government before also – this is really a Chinese elite project) insist that there is only one Chinese language.
This goes along with racism of Northern Chinese against Southern Chinese and to some extent vice versa. This racism is most evident in the Cantonese vs Mandarin war in China.

Cantonese speakers say that they speak the real Chinese and that Northern Chinese speak a bastardized tongue derived from the old Manchu language. Cantonese speakers also resent that a Northern Chinese was turned into the national tongue and imposed on them against their will. They also say that Northern Chinese are really from the South and that the real NE Asians are the Mongolians, Koreans, Manchu, Japanese, etc. Genetic studies show that this is not the case.

Northern Chinese say that Southern Chinese are not real Chinese and their blood is “contaminated” with Tai types like the Tai, Zhuang, Vietnamese, etc. There is probably something to this.
Although Putonghua is the only official language in China and there is a war going on against the regional Chineses, enforcement has been held off against Cantonese. And Cantonese  areas are still where you will hear the least Putonghua and the most regional Chinese in all spheres of life. Cantonese is also allowed on the radio and TV, whereas regional Chineses had previously banned from the media.

The Putonghua-only campaign has been too successful and regional Chineses are being wiped out. There is now a regionalism movement arising in China to promote and retain regional Chineses.

I think that the Putonghua campaign has been good, but that China should promote bilingualism. The Putonghua campaign has not yet been successful. As of 2001, only 53% of Chinese could speak Putonghua, but it has probably risen a lot since then as the government is really pushing this hard.

China clearly needs a language that they can all speak. For its entire history, many Chinese have not been able to speak to each other, including folks from one village to the next if you go to the southeast and the central coast. Provinces like Fujian, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Henan and Hunan are notoriously multilingual.

Most of these places have a lot of very high mountains, and transportation was typically very poor. Even today, you can scarcely get around by vehicle and you sometimes have to walk from one place to the next, sometimes for dozens of miles! Bottom line is they were very isolated from each other.

These places also retained a tradition of being hideouts for “hillbilly” types where there was a lot of unemployment and many folks turned to crime. Also criminals fled to the mountains where they could hide. Upshot was that due to all of this, and people seen as backwards, lazy, stupid and thieving, people from the rest of China had no interest in going to these places anyway.
When people left these parts of China to go to big cities, they were stereotyped in a way similar to how ghetto Blacks and Browns are in the US. This made them want to stay in their mountains.

Repost: Berber Genes in Europeans

Interesting stuff about Berber % in modern Europeans and speculations about the Berbers being the remains of some of the most ancient proto-Caucasians. In other words, if you are White, the Berbers are like your most ancient grandparents.

Berber Genes in Europeans

It seems reasonable that Southern Europeans especially would have a considerable amount of Berber genes in them. This has been disputed by certain Southern European White racist bloggers like Dienekes Pontikos and Racial Reality. These bloggers are vociferously opposed to the notion that Southern Europeans are anything but pretty near pure White.

For instance, here Dienekes states gives Berber percentages in Europeans as follows:

Nation          Berber %

Spain           1%
Italy           1.75%
France          2%

I am going to disagree with this assessment, though I admit I am not an expert on the subject. Looking at this journal article (table here). we come up with something a lot different. From Cruciani et al 2004:

Ethnic Group                Berber %

Spain (Cantabrian Pasiegos) 30%
Spain (Cantabria)           17%
Southern Portugal           12.2%
Northern Portugal            4%
Spain (Basques)              3.6%
France                       3.5%
Spain (Asturias)             2.2%
Southern Spain               1.6%
Northern Italy               1.5%
Central Italy                1.2%
Italy (Sicily)                .7%
Sardinia                      .5%

The Berber genes seem to have come to Europe for the most part in the past 3,000 yrs. Cantabria is an interesting place. The Cantabrians, in particular the Pasiegos, are said to be quite distinct genetically, almost like the Basques. No one really knows what this is all about.

During the Moorish invasion, they conquered all the way up to the southern mountains of Cantabria, a province in the far north of Spain on the coast next to the Basque region. Perhaps this is where the Moorish (Berber) genes came in.

Looking at the figures above, most Berber genes appear to have gone into Iberia in tandem with the Moorish conquest. Strangely, they are concentrated in the North of Spain. This doesn’t make much sense to me.

The Cantabrian language is still spoken here. It is said to be a dialect of Spanish, but actually it is part of the Extremaduran language spoken in Caceres in Extremadura. People say it is dying out, but in the mountains children are still being raised speaking Cantabrian. They show up in school as Cantabrian monolinguals and their teachers cannot understand them.

Extremaduran-Cantabrian is really just Eastern Leonese, which got cut off from the rest of Leonese ~400 years ago and came under heavy influence from Old Castilian. Nowadays East Leonese proper scarcely exists in either Asturias or Leon. Extremaduran itself spoken in Caceres is endangered, has no official status, and but has 500,000 speakers, including monolinguals (!). A Spanish informant who grew up in the region told me that Extremaduran has only 17% intelligibility with Spanish. And he has been hearing it off and on his whole life.

Leonese has only 50,000 speakers, is considered very endangered, but does have special status in Castile and Leon. And children are still being raised speaking Southeastern Leonese or Porteno. Leonese is part of the Asturian-Leonese language, with Asturian spoken in the north in Asturias and Leonese spoken to the south in Castile y Leon.

Asturian has 550,000 speakers, but is considered endangered.

A related language is Mirandese, spoken in Portugal. This language looks a lot like Portuguese, but it is actually a branch of Asturian-Leonese. It has 83% intelligibility with Southeastern Leonese or Porteno. It has only 15,000 speakers, but it seems to be recovering. It is spoken in Miranda do Douro state, and this is another name for the language.

About the Berbers, I consider them to be one of the most ancient, if not the most ancient, Caucasian groups in existence. Berbers go back at least 20,000 years and possibly up to 50,000 years in North Africa. Much of the Berber group may have come from the Middle East in the past 10,000 years. There is a huge split between Berbers and Sub-Saharan Africans.

The Mozabites, the Tuaregs and the Chenini-Douiret are quite different from the rest of the Berbers. Why? Probably genetic drift.

These men are Mozabites, possibly some of the most ancient Caucasians on Earth, with a genetic line going back up to 50,000 years. Though White nationalists probably freak out if you say these people are White, they are most definitely Caucasians. The fellow in the right forefront also looks Caucasian – he looks somewhat East Indian.

The two men standing at the top could be East Indians or some strange Mediterranean type. Given that East Indians are also one of the most ancient Caucasian groups on Earth, it figures that these Berbers resemble Indians. Both groups came out of the Middle East – the Berbers probably 42,000 years ago, and the East Indians about 17,000 years ago.

There are few genetic differences between Berbers and North African Arabs, which means that North African Arabs are simply Arabized Berbers. There are lots of great photos of Berbers at this link.

The origin of the Berbers is nevertheless quite obscure. This article suggests that both Berbers and Europeans came out of the Levant about 40-45,000 years ago. Obviously, prior to that, they came out of Africa. A date of 40-45,000 years is about right for the genesis of the Caucasian race. The homeland of the Caucasians is often said to be located in the Caucasus itself.

This line rose in Southwest Asia (the Caucasus) and then moved to Africa along the Mediterranean, not via Somalia – Yemen as the Out of Africans went. They moved first into the Levant, and from there went to Europe and to North Africa, both at the same time. This line went to the Cro-Magnon as well as the Berber, and both came out of the Levant about 40-45,000 years ago.

Another very interesting looking Mozabite fellow. There are some Mediterranean types who look something like this, but I have a hard time pinning this phenotype down. Clearly, they are Caucasians, but other than that, they look pretty sui generis. A recent genetics study, though poorly done, seemed to show the Mozabites as one of the most ancient ethnic groups on Earth and a source population for many other groups outside of Africa.

The Uighurs in Central Asia were also a source population for many diverse groups all over the place. The Uighurs may be the remains of ancient Caucasian-Asian hybrids that go back up to 40,000 years.

The first Caucasians were probably a mixture of 1/2 Africans (possibly Maasai and Tutsi types from Central Africa) mixed with ancient proto-Asians from China (who may have resembled the Ainu). From this strange mixture arose the original Caucasians, probably in the Caucasus and southern Russia, but maybe also in Iran.

There is good evidence that the first Caucasians, including the Cro-Magnons, looked a lot like Black Africans, in particular the Caucasoid-appearing Africans such as the Maasai and the Tutsi. Cro-Magnon skeletons look like the Masai more than any other modern skeleton. Cro-Magnon skulls are more likely to be confused with Negroid skulls than any other.


Cruciani, F.; La Fratta, R.; Santolamazza, P.; Sellitto, D.; Pascone, R.; Moral, P.; Watson, E.;  Guida, V.; Colomb, EB.; Zaharova, B.; Lavinha, J.; Vona, G.; Aman, R.; Cali, F.; Akar, N.; Richards, M.; Torroni, A.; Novelletto, A.; and Scozzari, R. 2004. “Phylogeographic Analysis Of Haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events within and out of Africa.” American Journal of Human Genetics 74:1014-1022

A Bit on Breton and Other Minority Languages of France

@SHI, responding to this post:

Sounds like Welsh or something in the Celtic languages family.

Perhaps, Breton or any other minority languages? I think it’s spoken in modern France.

Yes, it is Celtic. Good job for getting that.

Nope, it’s not Breton. Yes, Breton is spoken in Brittany in France at the far northwestern part of the country. It stems from a migration by Welsh speakers to that part of France in 1300, so it’s close to Welsh. Apparently they can’t really understand each other though. I would guess ~30% intelligibility, if that.

Both languages are part of a branch of Celtic called Byrthonic. Believe it or not, 2,000 years ago, Byrthonic languages were the only languages spoken in England and Wales. They’ve gone extinct now except for Welsh, Manx, and Cornish.

The other branch is called Goidelic and includes Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

Although Breton has 500,000 speakers, it’s not in very good shape because France tries to destroy every non-French language spoken in the country. Most speakers are older and there are few young speakers.

However, a number of private schools have been set up to teach children. The teach them a new form called Unified Breton, which oddly and comically enough is so different from the other Breton languages spoken that the older speakers cannot understand these New Breton speakers.

France has even attacked the other langues d’oil, of which French (Parisien) is only one. Parisien happened to be the langue d’oil spoken in Paris, so it became Standard French. However, in WW 1, 80% of French troops could not speak French! Can you imagine that?

They spoke the other langues d’oil, the various Occitan languages (perhaps as many as 18),  Arpitan  or Franco-Provencal (which may also be u to 20 languages), Souletin Basque, Breton (four different languages), Alsatian (German), or West Flemish. Incredible, isn’t it? The other langues d’oil are in horrible shape, though most have not gone extinct yet.

They split from Parisien and the other langues d’oil from Old French around 1,000 years ago, so they are very divergent. Intelligibility between Poitevin and Lorraine is estimated at 1%! Believe it or not, Poitevin still has monolinguals in their 60’s. A form of Norman spoken on the border of Normandy and Brittany also has monolinguals, usually farm workers in their 40’s and 50’s. Isn’t that incredible?

SHI: It’s clearly not Manx or Cornish.

Ha ha, what makes you so sure about that second opinion, my man?

Most of the Languages of the Iberian Peninsula Are Halfway Between Two Other Iberian Languages

Or Asturian-Leonese, Galician, and Oliveno are halfway between Castilian and Portuguese, better. Or Catalan, like Occitan, is halfway between Spanish and French, better.

Getting even fancier, Extremaduran-Cantabrian is halfway between Asturian-Leonese and Castilian. Or how about Mirandese and Rio de Onorese, halfway between Asturian and Portuguese. Getting even crazier, how about Murcian and Andalucian, halfway between Mozarabic and Castilian. Or Eonavian-Ibino, halfway between Asturian-Leonese and Galician. Or Fala, halfway between Galician and Asturian-Leonese.

I’m not quite sure what to do with Manchengo and Aragonese. They’re just splits off the Castilian trunk. The latter is for sure a separate language. The former, could be.

The Spanish from the south of Spain is quite different from the Spanish of the north of Spain. Castilian actually came from way up in the north in Cantabria and spread south after 1100, taking out the Kingdoms of Leon, Asturias, Aragon, etc. as it moved south. The Kingdom of Castile is simply the kingdom that came out on top, so it’s language got to be the standard.

Leonese, Asturian, and Aragonese are simply the forms of Iberian Romance that were spoken in those Kingdoms.

Interest fact, Portuguese is actually a dialect of Galician and not the other way around! Not only that but Portuguese and Castilian were one language until Galician-Portuguese split off in 1300. Galician and Portuguese did not split until ~1500. The split between the two is analogous to the split between Scots and English.

Aragonese didn’t split from Castilian until later, I believe in the 1600’s. That’s why it is so close to Spanish. Asturian-Leonese and Castilian probably split ~1300 also.

European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese Are Almost Two Different Languages by Now

PB: The Portuguese Royalty set up shop in Brazil during Napoleonic Wars. Other former colonies of Portugal understand European Portuguese better than Brazilian Portuguese. Brazil likely received Portuguese from Royals as earlier settlers spoke Tupi or Tupi-Portuguese blend.

Indeed the Portuguese made the same mistake as the Spanish. They didn’t bring any chicks over! Nothing but a sausage fest on those boats to Brazil. It was another story when they landed of course, as the place was full of horny Indian women for the taking, and take them they did. There was a famous case of a Portuguese man who had ~10-15 Tupi Indian wives and maybe ~50 kids between them all. People wonder how Brazil got so race-mixed. Well, there ya go.

Later they brought Black slaves over, and the country was darkening up awful fast. Not that that matters really, but the rulers thought this was an catastrophe. In the 1800’s, they implemented an emergency project called Blanquimiento or the Whitening  Project. This involved mass encouragement and importation of as many White settlers from Europe to Brazil as possible.

The goal? To Whiten the place up, dammit! I always chuckle when I think of this project. Like Hell you could get away with that anywhere in the Current Year. The UN would probably drop a nuclear bomb on anyone who did.

PB: Was this just a romantic Brazilian fantasy or is Brazilian Portuguese more for Lords and Ladies? Basically, what’s the Portuguese equivalent of Castilian Spanish?

Oh Eu Portuguese is absolutely the gold standard lol. Br Portuguese is considered to be much more slangy. A lot of the older tense and mood inflections that have gone out of Br Portuguese are still present in Eu Portuguese. E

u Portuguese can understand Br Portuguese just fine. I mean Brazil has, what? 15-20X as many speakers as Portugal? Portuguese people watch Brazilian movies and news all the time. Their TV is flooded with that stuff.

On the other hand, with a speaker base maybe 7% of the size of Brazil’s, Brazilians don’t get exposed to much Eu Portuguese. This may be more of a problem in written material. I have heard that Br Portuguese can only understand ~50% of Eu Portuguese written material, and it’s a big problem.

The language is written differently in both places. In terms of written language, Brazil would be the equivalent of Castilian Spanish because they continue to write Portuguese based on Portuguese from the 1600’s! The time of the Jamestown, the Mayflower, and Shakespeare.

Imagine if we spoke English like we do now but we still wrote it in Shakespearean Middle English? Crazy or what? By the way, I can only understand 27% of Shakespearean Middle English, and I understand exactly 0% of the Old English of Beowulf.

So there is this huge diglossia issue between the spoken language and the written language, similar to the case of Western Punjabi, spoken in Pakistan, more or less intelligible with Eastern Punjabi spoken in India but written in a completely different way. Indian written Punjabi is more like Sanskrit or Hindi with all sorts of Indianisms. Written Eastern Punjabi is full of Arab and Persian borrowings, and it is very hard for Western Punjabi speakers to read.

Czech also has two languages – a spoken language and a written language. I believe that the written language is an archaic Czech frozen in the 1700’s.

I believe there are some other languages that are written differently from how they are spoken, but they elude me now.

So the way Br Portuguese is written, it is indeed a language for Lords and Ladies, correct. But for spoken Portuguese, Eu Portuguese would be the more archaic and classic form.

Portuguese is actually a rather complex language if you wish to speak it correctly, which few Portuguese speakers bother to do.

I knew a Brazilian woman who proudly told me that her written Portuguese (the 1600’s) was superb, as she used to be a Portuguese teacher. This took me aback a bit, as I thought this was an easy language. The spoken language also has a lot of complex verbal forms, some of which have gone out of the rest of Romance, like the Future Subjunctive.

They are having all sorts of problems in Brazil nowadays but maybe not in Portugal, with Br Portuguese speakers neither writing nor speaking the language properly.

That’s prescriptivist, but so what? Languages have rules. Are you going to speak the language properly or you going to ignore all the rules and botch it up? I can’t believe that linguists actually think that is a stupid question and think it’s real groovy to go ahead and botch up any spoken or written language any way you wish.

“It’s all just nonstandard, dude,” they say, taking another hit on the bong.

Yeah right.

The Non-Castilian Languages of Spain

Spanish hit the other languages hard but after the dictatorship things got a lot better. Catalan is the official language of the region. I recently met several mostly Castilian speakers from Catalonia and they told me that they all understood Catalan. Whether they spoke it or not was another man. A young man there was a native speaker.

Basque is actually doing quite well. I think ~20% of the population are native speakers and there are quite a few second language speakers. There are Basque schools, Basque media, Basque signage, on and on. I recently met a young college aged man who was a Basque native speaker. Quite a few children are still being brought up in Basque. I am not sure if there are any Basque monolinguals left.

Native Catalan speakers might be ~35% of the population, and many children are still being brought up in Catalan. There are Catalan schools, Catalan media, Catalan as an official language in the government, etc. There is a huge pool of Catalan second-language speakers. There are probably not any Catalan monolinguals left, but if there are, it is an old lady in a tiny village in the mountains.

There is a form of Catalan spoken in La Franga and the Strip in Aragon that speakers say is a separate language. There are regular calls to have it recognized. However, in spite of the fact that speakers say that they speak a separate language, Catalan speakers say they can understand it just fine.

I think it is called Chapurillo a variation on the term churro, etc. which means more or less broken Spanish or bad Spanish. Many of the languages above are called churros or chapurros, and many Spaniards think they are just forms of broken Spanish spoken by poorly educated people.

Even speakers of these languages often think that they simply speak broken Spanish or bad Spanish, are often ashamed of their speech, and refuse to speak it. Speaking churro also implies ignorance, rural residence, poverty, lack of intelligence, etc.

There is dialect called Churro spoken in this same region around La Franja. It is probably the most diverse Castilian dialect in Spain. It seems to be a form of Aragonese Spanish with a lot of Catalan or Valencian mixed in.

Valencian is spoken in Valencia and the Valencian speakers insist that they speak a different language from Catalan although there is 94% intelligibility between the two. Catalan speakers do not want to break up the language and refuse to recognize Valencian as a separate language.

There is an Institute of the Valencian Language, an official orthography, etc. In particular, Valencians reject the Catalan orthography as they say it does not suit the language that the speak. ~20% of Valencians speak Valencian. It is in much worse shape than Catalan.

There is a form of Catalan that is spoken on the Mallorca Islands in three different dialects. Some have difficult intelligibility with Catalan, and they are probably closer to Valencian. Whether these qualify as separate languages is not known. Mallorcan is one of these dialects of Catalan.

There are forms of speech spoken on the border of Catalonia and Aragon in the very high mountains that are definitely not Catalan and probably not Aragonese. However, the official language institutes of Catalan and Aragon both claim these speech forms. One is called Benasquesque. This is a very remote mountain region. Whether this is a form of Catalan, a form of Aragonese or a separate language altogether it not known. It’s obviously Catalan-Aragonese transitional.

Murcian, spoken in Murcia, is mostly a Spanish dialect called Murcian Spanish, albeit quite a strange one. There are regular calls to have it recognized as an official language, but they go nowhere. However there is a hard form of it called Panocho spoken in the remote mountains in Eastern Murcia that cannot be understood outside the region. Andalusians cannot understand it either. It is probably a separate language. It has 6,000 speakers.

Mantegno spoken in La Mancha is part of a “Southern Castilian” that ranges to Andalucian. When Mantegno speakers go to Madrid, they say they are not understood. This is probably also a separate language. When spoken in rapid speech, intelligibility even with Andalucian Spanish/Extremaduran Spanish is 50%.

Andalusian is mostly a Spanish dialect albeit an extremely divergent one. However, there are a few villages in the mountains where a hard Andalucian is spoken that is not intelligible even to other Andalusian.

Aragonese is still spoken in Aragon. It is not fully intelligible with Castilian, and it is a separate language. This region was under the crown of Aragon, hence a different speech evolved here. It sounds a lot like Spanish. There are 30,000 Aragonese speakers.

It is an official language in the state of Aragon but Spain refuses to recognize it. It was formerly spoken in three forms like Extremaduran, and like that language, only the remote northern form survives. Otherwise Southern and Central Aragonese turned into dialects of Spanish, Aragonese Spanish.

Aragonese is spoken in the very high mountains of the Pyrenees in villages that are often almost totally depopulated. There are still children being brought up in Aragonese though, especially around the Benasquesque-speaking region. The children show up at school as Aragonese monolinguals.

Extremaduran is still spoken in Extremadura by 100,000 speakers. It is a highly Castillianized form of Eastern Leonese that got cut off from the rest of Leonese 400-500 years ago. Otherwise Eastern Leonese is nearly extinct. It is spoken in the mountains in tiny depopulating villages which is where it originated.

I know a Spanish speaker who actually grew up in the region, has been hearing Extremaduran all his life, and he can only understand 17% of it. The accent is wild. There is much confusion as Extremaduran is also called Castuo, and Extremaduran is the northern form of Castuo from the mountains that survived while Southern and Central Castuo turned into dialects of Spanish.

However there may be some “Extremaduran” spoken in the south too, as my friend has a word list from a tiny village in Bajadoz, and he said he could only understand 50% of the lexicon. This may be some far southern form of Extremaduran. Southern and Central Castuo is just a Spanish dialect, albeit an odd one, but it is heavily spoken and often confused with Extremaduran because people refer to both by the same term. Extremaduran is an official language in Extremadura, but Spain refuses to recognize it.

strong>Oliveno is spoken on the border of Portugal, but it’s not Portuguese. It still has ~3,000 speakers. It is spoken in a single village. Officials refuse to recognize this language, and Portugal says it is just Portuguese. It is a sort of heavily Castillianized Portuguese. Portuguese speakers say they can’t understand a word of Oliveno.

Asturian is still very much alive although it is not an official language of Spain. It is an official language of the state of Asturias. ~20% of Asturians speak Asturian and I believe there are children still being brought up in Asturian.

Leonese is the same language as Asturian spoken to the south and is in much worse shape. It is also not an official language of Spain but it is an official language of Castille and Leon where it is spoken. Amazingly, there are still Leonese monolinguals in the high mountains in Northwestern Castille and Leon.

Leonese was their first language and they learned Spanish in school but subsequently forgot Spanish and now speak only Leonese. There are still children being brought up in Leonese in the tiny depopulated villages in the mountains of Southeastern Castille and Leon near the Portuguese border. This form of Leonese is often called Porteno, and it is quite close to the Mirandese language spoken in Portugal.

There is actually a language called Eonavian/Ibino spoken between Asturian/Leonese and Galician. It is a completely separate language but no one will recognize it as such. It is closer to Galician but it is not Galician. There are still native speakers of Ibino, not sure about Eonavian.

Galician is still doing quite well. ~35% of the population of Galicia speak Galician. Almost all also speak Castilian. It is an official language of Galicia and Spain. There are Galician schools. There is some Galician media but not nearly enough. You hear Galician a lot more in the rural areas than in the big cities.

A very Castillianized Official Galician is used in the media, and it has high intelligibility with Spanish of 78%. A much harder Galician is spoken in the villages in the mountains where intelligibility with Spanish is as low as 40%. The form of Galician spoken in the far south on the border with Portugal is not intelligible with Portuguese or the rest of Galician and is not spoken outside the region. It is actually a separate language though no one will recognize it.

Rio de Onoro is a village on the Portuguese border. Rio de Onorese is still spoken, though everyone thinks it is extinct. It is a form of Mirandese spoken in Spain and should be recognized.

Cantabrian is said to be a form of Spanish, but actually it is part of Extremaduran. Extremaduran is nothing less than Eastern Leonese and Far Eastern Asturian that started going over to a form of Old Spanish ~500 years ago. Asturian-Leonese survived in the coastal mountains and in the mountains of Extremadura to the far south, but the rest of it mostly went extinct. Today Eastern Leonese is just about dead.

But Extremaduran speakers say if they go to Cantabria, everyone understands them, and it sounds like they are speaking the same language. These same speakers say that if they go to Oviedo in Central Asturias where people speak Asturian and speak Extremaduran, they are not understood. Therefore Extremaduran and Asturian-Leonese are two different languages, and Cantabrian, instead of being a Spanish dialect, is part of Extremaduran.

Some Cantabrian speakers held out for a long time in the rugged mountainous province where some areas are still reachable only on foot or maybe by donkey. One speaker said his recently deceased grandmother was a Cantabrian monolingual who died in the last 20 years. She had stubbornly refused to learn Spanish as she considered it to be “an imposed language.”

Formerly there was a separate language called Montanes spoken in the mountains, while Cantabrian was spoken on the coast. Half a century ago, they could not understand each other. But now with leveling, the people in the mountains understand the people on the coast just fine.

There are reports that Cantabrian may be going out in Cantabria. But Cantabrian is still spoken and it is children are still being brought up as Cantabrian monolinguals. In the mountains, the children all show up at school speaking only Cantabrian, and the teachers can’t understand the students.

The Linguistic Crack-up of America and France: Coming Soon

A great comment on the coming linguistic breakup of the USA and France. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s fascinating nevertheless.

Francis Meville: English is a genocidal language, of course. I have some good news for you, though. That language is about to suffer an defeat that will be as surprising and fast as the fate awaiting the American nation proper, which won’t survive four more years of Trump. How so? As you know America, or rather Murrica, is being engulfed in a maelstrom of obscurantism as never experienced during the Middle Ages proper.

Murrica is being indoctrinated into the rejection of everything French as essentially evil, this being facilitated by France’s being governed by a president who plainly hates every French for a different reason.

Another aspect of this rejection is unfortunately the fact that such an opinion is not entirely mistaken right now, as the late French Republic is specializing in being the international refuge haven of figures like Epstein and the world teacher of fake Left deconstructionism at the service of world capital.

As you know there are more words of more or less French origin in English than of Anglo-Saxon or other Nordic origin and also more of them in English than there remain in modern French, the French language having been severely culled of a great part of its vocabulary during the Era of Enlightenment.

A movement is developing right now in Trumpland to remove from American English all words known to be of more or less French origin and also of learned classical Latin and Greek origin, as the classical European culture is denounced as something that should be phased out together with humanism and democracy.

When they could not find real Anglo-Saxon root words to replace them (something impossible as phonetic evolution would have made many such root words sound all alike), they would rather resort to Klingon or Hebrew.

They won’t succeed in that linguistic utopia of restoring Anglish of course, but they will succeed in dividing the American English language into two unbridgeable halves as the Second Civil War develops (there is no future for the US after Trump, and California will be the first state to secede) and do their best to teach the young a form of language making them incapable of accessing works written during the humanistic era.

Blue State America will take the opposite direction, rejecting all English words that sound too populist in favor of polysyllabic jargon of the kind loved by the fake Left. Both languages do not differ too much as regards their real daily usage in the beginning but have completely incompatible official terminology as regards their legal use.

Moreover not all Blue States will agree on the same kind of ideal sophisticated English to use so as to distinguish from the Morlock kind of language that will become the norm in Murrica.

People of California will try their best to distinguish from East Coast intellectuals they despise through the use of gender-neutral forms and other transformations deliberately planned to prevent books from other generations to be understood by the young, while the East Coast will stick to old school sophisticated expression.

England will be subject to the same phenomenon. English there will divide among that of the Brexiters and that of the Remainers, though Brexiter English will not be Murrican at all.

British English being already very divided by social class and regional jargons, the divide will come easy: there will be simply no longer any Queen’s English as a norm of reference to be striven to by all, and Britishers of Pakistani and Indian origin will do their best to distinguish between each other by a very different kind of English too.

India as you know speaks English quite well for one sole reason mostly, employment in telephone service for Western clientele, and they will have to adapt to a rapidly fracturing English with the result various Indian castes and regions specializing in varieties of English less and less mutually intelligible.

The resulting mess will have the consequence that English will cease to be any guarantee of good communication with colleagues worldwide in any domain, especially as regards pronunciation and terminology, each splinter of the Anglophone society trying to redefine the whole language according to their ideology.

Zionist Jews will speak and use modern Hebrew only, so as not to be heard by outsiders. In addition, it will require goys to come to the Jews’ language if they want some chance to be talked to (and even then not to be welcomed). The reverse will not be true any longer, as the Jews all drift rightwards, they will also fall more and more prey to their most rabid rabbis that will do their best to bring them back into ghetto life conditions.

Another factor differentiating Jews from goys will be that the US Ultra-Right will speak Murrican only as a second language while the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Paraders will rather use Californian Google English.

Nevertheless, in practice the new fashionable non-Jewish language among Jews will be Russian, which will gain in prestige for scientific communication. Actually the greater body of the Anglosphere will be very rapidly crumbling all over America like a decomposing corpse due to America’s abandonment by its very soul, which is Zionist Israel.

Ten or twelve years will suffice to break up the English language into linguistic fiefdoms less mutually intelligible than those of modern Arabic. Actually it will be far worse because there will be absolutely no agreement on a classical norm to teach to anyone, whereas dialect-speaking Arabs also know at least some Quranic Arabic and can access the literary language through official media.

Learning one variety or another of English just won’t procure any great advantage as regards communications any more than learning Dutch or Urdu.. With four more years of Trump, America will become the laughingstock of the world and the very symbol of idiocracy, and when the country enters full-scale irreversible civil war, it will become a negative symbol of status.

People will just be ashamed to speak their language and consider that written English as we knew it is a dead language to be mastered as such by foreigners – to be read and written without much caring about how to speak it. Moreover, even as a written language, English is considered to be particularly ambiguous compared to others and not a great advantage for expressing scientific thought.

The French language will also know a similar fate as France enters civil war due to malignant multiculturalism. Old Classical French will become ridiculed and morally condemned as language of bad ideas to be eradicated by all parties involved (including the white nationalists). A new modern genderless norm will become obligatory while each region returns to some form of langue d’oil

Though by a strange turn of things, French will still be conserved in its classical form in several parts of Northern and Black Africa. The reason once more being the same as in the US.

That is that the soul of the modern form of the French language has actually been Jewish since the Era of Enlightenment in a tremendous and obdurate effort not to be constrained by Christian thought, and when the Jewish soul entity suddenly no longer wants to have anything to do with you even as a subservient body, you crumble and decompose.

Spanish despite its multiplicity of accents and regional varieties will still refer to a common Castilian norm and therefore become the new serious language even in the US for the reason that it has never been the linguistic body of a Jewish soul but always quite the opposite.

Quite like Spanish, German, whose fate has already been detached forever from that of the Jewish entity for the various reasons we know of (the Nazi episode and also the fact that German Jews always used to have their own variety of the Jewish soul), will not undergo such a mortal break-up.

Anyway it is in its written official form, German is a language as artificial as modern standard Arabic, to be learned at school by all Germans, not in family.

But modern English has a Jewish soul due to the fact that it formed in great part thanks to Calvinist Reformation which was a movement where the believers fancied themselves as kinds of Old Testament Jews being restored. French also has a Jewish soul due to the fact that with Royal France defined itself as the Roman Church’s Elder Daughter.

Hence modern free-thinking modernistic France had to define itself logically as Israel’s Elder Adoptive Daughter just to gain the right to free debate and high culture on equal standing with Latin. But what has been happening up to now is the gradual death of the former Aufklärung Jewish culture under the triumph of Netanyahu’s anti-cultural anti-humanist Zionism and also of scientific transhumanism to a lesser degree.

The soul to which English referred as a body was to be quickly departed into some other dimension, as the body just decomposes and very quickly.

The apparent cause of the break up will be first, a malignant White Nationalism doing their best to vomit everything too French-sounding and identifying with Vikings rather than with the American Founding Fathers as the founders of their identity, and second, utter self-hate from the part of the French proper, generating in return anti-populist reaction from the coastal chattering classes.

Are There Any Native Born Americans Who Are Monolinguals of a European Language?

SHI: Are there any descendants of European-origin Americans who don’t speak a word of English? Mostly as a result of living in isolated communities.

I’m thinking along the lines of the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, or Canadian French speakers in places like Maine.

It’s a very interesting subject. If you’re determined, no one can impose their linguistic hegemony on you or your families.

Oh I really doubt it. Everyone who grows up here speaks English. I really doubt if there are any US born monolinguals of any European languages. The monolinguals were mostly immigrants, not people who were born here. I know a Jewish gf of mine had a grandmother who was pretty much a Yiddish monolingual. She died maybe 20 years ago but she may have come here on a boat.

A friend of my Mom’s mother was pretty much a Norwegian monolingual. Worse a lot of them had no language at all anymore as they had forgotten their first language and they never learned English well. I know that Paula’s mother used to say,

“I have forgotten all of my Norvegian, and I never learned good the English!”

But that woman came on a boat too. It’s strange if you think about, people who are not fluent in any language anymore. How odd. What language do they think in? Broken whatever?

However, there are some Quebeckers in Canada who are French native speakers, and they just don’t speak English well at all. Whether you would qualify them as monolinguals or not, I am not sure.

I know there are some in Spain. There are still a few Leonese monolinguals and until recently, maybe 20 years ago, there were Cantabrian monolinguals. One man talked about his grandmother who died twenty years ago, a Cantabrian monolingual. She had stubbornly refused to learn Spanish or Castilian as she called it. She said it was an “imposed language.” So there is an example of a person stubbornly hanging on to their linguistic identity and refusing to have Spanish imposed on her. It’s a cool image, I think.

The Leonese monolinguals are old men in the mountains who learned Spanish in school but then forgot all of it and now speak only Leonese. And there are some Eonavian monolinguals too, old women. There are probably no more Catalan monolinguals, or if there are, it’s some old woman in a rural area. There might be a few Basque monolinguals. I doubt if there are any Extremaduran, Asturian, Aragonese, or Galician monolinguals, but you never know.

But those are languages native to Spain, so a corrolary of here would be monolingual speakers of Indian languages of which I doubt there are any. But there was a monolingual speaker of Chukchansi Yokuts until the early 1960’s. But even most of those folks spoke some English. For instance the Chukchansi speaker did speak a broken English.

English as a Genocidal Language Attacking Other Tongues Spoken in the Anglosphere – USA

English has had a genocidal affect on the other languages spoken here, but many non-English languages still survive and some are quite thriving.

Pennsylvania Dutch is still quite alive with 300,000 native speakers. I think is is just a dialect of Rhenish German. It’s actually two separate languages and they can’t understand each other.

There are many other languages in the US that have been taken out by English. Most of the Indian languages spoken here have been driven extinct or moribund by English. A few like Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo, Mohawk, Pueblo, some Alaskan languages, a couple of Indian languages of the US South, are still doing well.

Most of the others are in bad to very bad shape, often moribund with only 10 or fewer speakers, often elderly. Many others are extinct. However, quite a few of these languages have had a small number of middle aged to elderly speakers for the last 25 years, so the situation is somewhat stable at least at the moment.

Almost all Indian languages are not being  learned by children. But there are still children being raised speaking Cherokee, Navajo, Pueblo, Mohawk, and some Alaskan and Southern US Indian languages. Navajo is so difficult that when Navajo children show up at school, they still have  problems with Navajo. They often don’t get the  language in full until they are twelve.

However, there are revitalization efforts going on with many to most Indian languages, with varying amounts of success. Some are developing quite competent native speakers, often young people who learn the language starting at 18-20. I know that Wikchamni Yokuts has a new native speaker, a 23 year old man who learned from an old who is a native speaker. In California, there is a master apprentice program going on along these lines.

There are a number of preschool programs where elders try to teach the  languages to young children. I am not sure how well they are working. There are problems with funding, orthographies and mostly apathy that are getting in the way of a lot of these programs.

There are many semi-speakers. For instance in the tribe I worked with, many of the Indians knew at least a few words, and some of the leadership knew quite a few words. But they could hardly make a sentence.

Eskimo-Aleut languages are still widely spoken in Alaska. I know that Inuktitut is still spoken, and  there are children being raised in the language. Aleut is in poor shape.

Hawaiian was almost driven extinct but it was revived with a revitalization program. I understand that the language still has problems. I believe that there are Hawaiian medium schools that you can send your child to. There may be only ~10,000 fluent speakers but there are many more second language speakers with varying fluency.

There are actually some European based languages and creoles spoken in the US.  A noncontroversial one is Gullah, spoken on the islands of South Carolina. There may be less than 5,000 speakers, but the situation has been stable for 30-35 years. Speakers are all Black. It is an English creole and it is not intelligible with English at all.

There is at least one form of French creole spoken in Louisiana.  There is also an archaic form of French Proper called Continental French that resembles French from 1800. It has 2,000 speakers. Louisiana French Creole still has ~50,000 speakers. People worry about it but it has been stable for a long time. Many of the speakers are Black.

Texas German is really just a dialect of German spoken in Texas. There are only a few elderly speakers left.

There are a few Croatian languages spoken in the US that have diverged dramatically from the languages back home that they are now different languages. The status of these languages vary. Some are in good shape and others are almost dead. One of these is called Strawberry Hill Gorski Kotar Kaikavian spoken in Missouri. It is absolutely a full separate language and is no longer intelligible with the Gorski Kotar Kaikavian spoken back home.

There are other European languages spoken in the US, but they are not separate from those back home. Most are going out.

There are many Mandarin and especially Cantonese speakers in the US.

There are many Korean speakers in the US, especially in California.

There are a fair number of Japanese speakers in the US, mostly in California.

There are many speakers of Khmer, Lao, Hmong, and Vietnamese in the US. Most are in California but there are Hmong speakers in Minnesota also.

There are quite a few speakers of Arabic languages in the US. Yemeni, Syrian, and Palestinian Arabic are widely spoken. There are many in New York City, Michigan and California.

There are also some Assyrian speakers in  the US and there are still children being raised in Assyrian. Most are in California.

There are quite a few Punjabi and Gujarati speakers in the US now. We have many Punjabi speakers in my city.

There are quite a few Urdu speakers here. Most of all of these speakers are in California.

Obviously there are many Spanish speakers in the US. English is definitely not taking out Spanish. They are mostly in the Southwest, Florida, and New York City, but they are spreading out all across the country now.

There are a few Portuguese speakers in the US. All also speak English. They are mostly in California but some are back east around Massachusetts.

The Sicilian Italian spoken in the US by Italian immigrants is still spoken fairly widely to this day. It has diverged so much from the Sicilian back home that when they go back to Sicily, they are not understood. This is mostly spoken in large cities back east.

There are quite a few Armenian speakers in the US and children are still being raised in Armenian. Most are in California.

There are some Persian speakers in the US, but not a lot. Most of these are in California too.

All of these languages are the same languages as spoken back home.

Sprung from Some Common Source

What is this famous quote taken from? The quote is from a famous speech. What is the speech? Who made the speech? When was the speech given (approximately)? Where was it given? What is the significance of this speech? Why is it so famous? What subfield of a popular Humanities field of studies was actually begun with this speech?

You don’t have to get all the answers right, but if you can tell us who made the speech, the approximate date and the significance of the speech that would be good enough.

That is actually all one sentence below. It seems like a run-on, but back in those days, people liked to write long twisting and turning sentences like that. I actually like the writing from this era a lot.

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists: there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family, if this were the place for discussing any question concerning the antiquities of Persia.

A Look at the Incredible Pirahã Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.

Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.

Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.

Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.

This post will look at the amazing Pirahã language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.


Pirahã is a language isolate spoken in the Brazilian Amazon. Recent writings by Daniel Everett indicate that not only is this one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn, but it is also one of the weirdest languages on Earth. It is monumentally complex in nearly every way imaginable. It is commonly listed on the rogue’s gallery of craziest languages and phonologies.

It has the smallest phonemic inventory of any language with only seven consonants, three vowels and either two or three tones. Everett recently wrote a paper about it after spending many years with them. Previous missionaries who had spent time with the Pirahã generally failed to learn the language because it was too hard to learn. It took Everett a very long time, but he finally learned it well.

Many of Everett’s claims about Pirahã are astounding: whistled speech, no system for counting, very few Portuguese loans (they deliberately refuse to use Portuguese loans) and evidence for both the much-maligned the Sapir-Whorf linguistic relativity hypothesis, and violation some of Noam Chomsky’s purported language universals such as embedding. It also has the t͡ʙ̥ sound – a bilabially trilled postdental affricate which is only found in two other languages, both in the Brazilian Amazon – Oro Win and Wari’.

Initially, Everett never heard the sound, but they got to know him better, they started to make it more often. Everett believes that they were ridiculed by other groups when they made the odd sound.

Pirahã has the simplest kinship system in any language – there is only word for both mother and father, and the Pirahã do not have any words for anyone other than direct biological relatives.

Pirahã may have only two numerals, or it may lack a numeral system altogether.

Pirahã does not distinguish between singular and plural person. This is highly unusual. The language may have borrowed its entire pronoun set from the Tupian languages Nheengatu and Tenarim, groups the Pirahã had formerly been in contact with. This may be one of the only attested case of the borrowing of a complete pronoun set.

There are mandatory evidentiality markers that must be used in Pirahã discourse. Speakers must say how they know something – whether they saw it themselves, it was hearsay or they inferred it circumstantially.

There are various strange moods – the desiderative (desire to perform an action) and two types of frustrative – frustration in starting an action (inchoative/incompletive) and frustration in completing an action (causative/incompletive). There are others: immediate/intentive (you are going to do something now/you intend to do it in the future)

There are many verbal aspects: perfect/imperfect (completed/incomplete) telic/atelic (reaching a goal/not reaching a goal), continuative (continuing), repetitive (iterative), and beginning an action (inchoative).

Each Pirahã verb has 262,144 possible forms, or possibly in the many millions, depending on which analysis you use.

The future tense is divided into future/somewhere and future/elsewhere. The past tense is divided into plain past and immediate past.

Pirahã has a closed class of only 90 verb roots, an incredibly small number. But these roots can be combined together to form compound verbs, a much larger category. Here is one example of three verbs strung together to form a compound verb:

xig ab op = “take turn go” or “bring back.” This refers to when you take something away, you turn around and you bring it back to where you got it to return it.

There are no abstract color terms in Pirahã. There are only two words for colors, one for “light” and one for “dark.” The only other languages with this restricted of a color sense are in Papua New Guinea. The other color terms are not really color terms, but are more descriptive – “red” is translated as “like blood.”

Pirahã can be whistled, hummed or encoded into music. Consonants and vowels can be omitted altogether and meaning conveyed instead via variations in stress, pitch and rhythm. Mothers teach the language to children by repeating musical patterns.

Pirahã may well be one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn.

Pirahã gets a 6 rating, hardest of all.

Arabic, French and English Versions of ISIS’ Claim of Responsibility for the Paris Terror Attacks

The initial statement was released in French and Arabic:

Here is the Arabic version first:

Original Arabic version.
Original Arabic version.

The following is the French version:

French version.
French version.

It’s not perfect, but this is the best English translation I could come up with.

In the name of Allah the merciful, the very merciful Allah:

Allah the transcendent has said: And they thought their fortresses would truly shelter them against Allah, but Allah came to them from where they didn’t expect and put terror in their hearts. He demolished their houses by their own hands as well as those of the believers. Learn this lesson, ye who is blessed with foresight. Surat fifty nine second verse

In a holy attack made possible through Allah, a group of believers and soldiers of the Caliphate, from the Caliphate – blessed with power and triumph be it through Allah – targeted the capital of abominations and perversion, the one which bears the banner of the cross in Europe: Paris.

A group which tore asunder its earthly ties chased the foe, searching for death on the path of Allah for the sake of His faith, His prophets and His allies, and the willing humiliation His enemies. They have been true to Allah, and true we consider them. Allah has conquered by their hand, and instigated fears in the hearts of the Crusaders in their own land.

Eight brothers wearing explosive belts and bearing assault rifles attacked precisely chosen determined places in the heart of the French capital.

The targets were the Stade de France during a match between opposing Crusader countries, France and Germany, which was attended by the fool of France, François Hollande; the Bataclan, where hundreds of heathens were gathered for a most perverse party; and many in the 10th, 11th and 12th arondissements simultaneously. Paris has trembled under their feet, and the streets tightened in their wakes. The death toll is at least two hundred Crusaders with many more wounded, glory and praise be to Allah.

Allah made it easy for our brothers by allowing them martyrdom, so their explosive belts went off on the heathens when the ammunition ran out. May Allah accept them among the martyrs and allow us to join them.

France and those who tread its path must know that they remain the main targets of the Islamic State and that they will continue to smell the stench of death for having led the Crusade, insulted our Prophet (PBUH), and boasted about fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes which were of no help in the reeking streets of Paris. This attack is only the beginning of the storm and a warning to those who heed the lesson to be learned.

Allah is the greatest. And power be to Allah and to his messenger as well as believers. But the hypocrites may never know. Surat 63 verse 8.

Answers to the Languages of Spain Post

Map of the languages of Spain.
Map of the languages of Spain.

There are nine languages in the map above.

You folks were not able to answer all nine of them correctly, so I will give you the answers.

Pink – Catalan

Light green – Aranese or Occitan (no one got this one)

Purple – Aragonese (no one got this one)

Aquamarine – Basque

Red – Castillian

Green – Asturian-Leonese

Yellow – Galician

Dark green – Extremaduran (no one got this one)

Brown – Fala (no one got this one)

Aranese is the Aranese dialect of Occitan which is either a separate language or a dialect of Occitan depending on how you look at it. Fala is actually a dialect of Galician but it is considered a language for sociopolitical reasons. There is another part of the dark green Extremaduran language which is typically not recognized. This is Cantabrian, spoken to the east of the green Asturian-Leonese area and to the west of the aquamarine  Basque area.

Linguistic/National Question

In what countries is the language spoken in the capital different from the language spoken by the majority of people in the rest of the country? As you can see, there is more than one country where this is the case.

Some cases from the past include

Austria-Hungary, where the capital Vienna spoke High German but most of the people spoke Czech, Slovak, Venetian, Slovenian, or Serbo-Croatian.

In Ireland, before English became popular in the early 1800’s, most people around the capital spoke English, while the majority of the population spoke Irish.

I found nine countries, two in Europe, two in Southeast Asia, two in South Asia, one in Oceania, one in the Caribbean, and one in Africa.

Hop to it!

Myth: Latin Died a Long Time Ago

SD writes:

I presume you want an answer based on ‘raw’ knowledge, that is, without looking up on the internet. Latin has been a dead language for a long time. I think even during the Roman empire, classical Latin was a language that only the educated elite spoke, and even they probably spoke in their own dialects at home.

It really depends on where you want to draw the line between classical Latin and vulgar dialects, but classical Latin as we know it has not been spoken as a native language for at least 2000 years. I’m quite sure the language spoken in Roman marketplaces was quite different from what 19th century classics professors would present their obscure papers in.

This is a common myth, and like so many myths, it’s not even true.

but classical Latin as we know it has not been spoken as a native language for at least 2000 years.


Incredible as it sounds, Latin lived as a native language into the 20th Century! He was born in Budapest, Hungary about 100 years before, maybe in 1836 or thereabouts. He was born into a very upper class, elite family, possibly with connections to Royalty. His family actually spoke Latin and the principal language of the home! So he was raised speaking Latin. Latin was his first language, and while he did learn a couple of other languages, Hungarian and maybe German, but Latin was the language that he was always most comfortable in. He said that his situation was not unusual among the class that he was born into.

At that time, Latin was widely spoken at least as a 2nd language. In earlier post, I pointed out that Latin was actually the official language of the Croatian Parliament until 1846!

He later moved to the US where of course he become a Classics Professor who specialiazed in teaching Latin at one of America’s most elite universities, possibly Harvard or Yale.

He died in 1936. I found his obituary and I believe it said he died when he was around 100 years old.

Latin lived as a native language until the 1930’s!


Romanian As a Romance Language Outlier

Andrei writes:

As a native speaker of Romanian, I suspect that the closeness between Latin and Romanian is vastly overstated. First let’s start with the obvious fact that nobody really knows how Latin sounded. Second, even though the Romanian base vocabulary is very much Latin, the use of Latin words is highly non-standard.For example while all other Neo-Latin languages use a world similar to ‘terra‘ to express the idea of ‘earth’, in Romanian is ‘pamânt‘ – coming from ‘pavimentum‘ (paved road). So a radical change in meaning.
There are hundreds of such examples where in Romanian worlds of Latin origin have very surprising meanings, meanings which cannot be guessed at all by any other speaker of neo-Romance languages. For political and patriotic reasons, Romanians tend to overestimate their language’s closeness to Latin, Italian and so on, but the truth is that Romanian is the oddest neo-Romance language in Europe, and distinctly different from all the others.
Still, Romanian is an interesting language to learn for people with a passion for Romance languages, as it gives you a better understanding of how many language registers existed in Latin. The other major neo-Romance languages will only give you an incomplete image of Latin, as they represent a highly correlated evolution of vulgar Latin, in which major feature appeared or disappeared simultaneously (i.e the case system, the neutral gender etc.). Romanian is something else and you can notice that the moment you dwell in the language.

What an interesting language this is. I mess around with many Romance languages, including Portuguese, French, and Italian. I already speak Spanish pretty well. I have tried to mess with Romanian but it is too weird and written Romanian does not seem to make much sense.
Wow! Instead of earth meaning land as it does in most sane languages, earth means pavement! LOL! Where did Romanian evolve? Manhattan?

Listen to the Romanian Language

Romanian as spoken by a Romanian TV announcer. I didn’t understand it when I first heard it. This time I listened right up close and I didn’t have the faintest idea of what she was talking about. If someone told me this was a Romance language, I would tell them that they were joking.

Here is another one, by a young man with thespian tendencies who loves the sound of his own voice and loves to see himself on film. The audio is much better on this one than on the TV announcer. It’s as loud and clear as you need it to be. Nevertheless, I did not have the tiniest clue of what he might be talking about, and I was basically lost in this whole video. It seemed like I might have heard a recent English borrowing or two, but that’s useless if you don’t understand what he is talking about.
Now mind you, I know Spanish quite well, and I also have some knowledge of French, Portuguese and Italian. I can understand Spanish videos fairly well, and I can understand something of Italian and Portuguese videos. French, not so sure. I can read it a bit, but I am pretty lost with the spoken language.
Nevertheless, despite my Romance background, I am utterly lost with Romanian, and not only that, but it doesn’t sound like Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian.
I have heard a TV announcer speaking Romansch once and if this sounds like anything, it might sound like Romansch.
What does it sound like? No idea. How about Italian mixed with Czech!?

A Look at the Italian Language

From here.
A look at the Italian language from the POV of an English speaker trying to learn it. Compared to other Romance languages, Italian is about average in difficulty.
Italian is said to be easy to learn, especially if you speak a Romance language or English, but learning to order a pizza and really mastering it are two different things. Foreigners usually do not learn Italian at anywhere near a native level.
For instance, Italian has three types of tenses, simple, compound, and indefinite. There are also various moods that combine to take tense forms – four subjunctive moods, two conditional moods, two gerund moods, two infinite moods, two participle moods and one imperative mood.
There are eight tenses in the indicative mood – recent past, remote pluperfect, recent pluperfect, preterite (remote past), imperfect, present, future, future perfect. There are four tenses in the subjunctive mood – present, imperfect, preterite and pluperfect. There are two tenses in the conditional mood – present and preterite.
There is only one tense in the imperative mood – present. Gerund, participle and infinite moods all take only present and perfect tenses. Altogether, using these mood-tense combinations, any Italian verb can decline in up to 21 different ways.
Italian has many irregular verbs. There are 600 irregular verbs with all sorts of different irregularities. Nevertheless, it is a Romance language, and Romance has gotten rid of most of its irregularity. The Slavic languages are much more irregular than Romance.
Counterintuitively, some Italian words are masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural. There are many different ways to say the:


Few Italians even write Italian 100% correctly. A problem with Italian is that meaning is inferred via intonation. If you mess up the intonation of your utterance, you’re screwed and will not be understood. However, there is no case in Italian, as in all of Romance with the exception of Romanian.
Italian is still easier to learn than French, for evidence see the research that shows Italian children learning to write Italian properly by age six, 6-7 years ahead of French children. This is because Italian orthography is quite sensible and coherent, with good sound-symbol correspondence. Nevertheless, the orthography is not as transparent as Spanish’s.
Italian has phrasal verbs as in English, but the English ones are a lot more difficult. The Italian ones are usually a lot more clear given the verb and preposition involved, whereas with English if you have the verb and the preposition, the phrasal verb does not logically follow from their separate meanings. For instance:
andare fuorito go + out  = get out
andare giù
to go + down = get down
However, in a similar sense, Italian changes the meaning of verbs via addition of a verbal prefix:

In these cases, you create completely new verbs via the addition of the verbal prefix to the base. Without the prefix, it is a completely different verb. Italian is somewhat harder to learn than Spanish or Portuguese but not dramatically so. Italian has more irregularities than those two and has different ways of forming plurals, including two different ways of forming plurals that can mean different things depending on the context. This is a leftover from the peculiarities of the Latin neutral gender.
Italian pronunciation is a straightforward, but the ce and ci sounds can be problematic.
Italian gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.
Often thought to be an Italian dialect, Neapolitan is actually a full language all of its own. Neapolitan is said to be easier than Standard Italian. Unlike Italian, Neapolitan conjugation and the vocative are both quite simple and any irregularities that exist seem to follow definite patters.
Neapolitan gets a 2.5 rating, fairly easy.

A Look at the Romanian Language

From here.
A look at Romanian from the viewpoint of an English speaker trying to learn the language.  Romanian is one of the hardest languages to learn in the Romance family.
Surprisingly enough, Romanian is said to be one of the harder Romance languages to speak or write properly. Even Romanians often get it wrong. One strange thing about Romanian is that the articles are attached to the noun as suffixes. In all the rest of Romance, articles are free words that precede the noun.

English  telephone the telephone
Romanian telefon   telefonul

Romanian is the only Romance language with case. There are five cases – nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, vocative – but vocative is not often use, and the other four cases combine as two cases: nominative/accusative and dative/genitive merge as single cases.

Nominative-Accusative aeroportul
Genitive-Dative       aeroportului

The genitive is hard for foreigners to learn as is the formation of plurals. The ending changes for no apparent reason when you pluralize a noun and there are also sound changes:
brad (singular)
brazi (plural)
Many native speakers have problems with plurals and some of the declensions. Unlike the rest of Romance which has only two genders, masculine and feminine, Romanian has three genders – masculine, feminine and neuter (the neuter is retained from Latin). However, neuter gender is realized on the surface as masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural, unlike languages such as Russian where neuter gender is an entirely different gender.
The pronunciation is not terribly difficult, but it is hard to learn at first.
Romanian is harder to learn than Spanish or Italian and possibly harder than French. However, you can have odd sentences with nothing but vowels as in Maori.
Aia-i oaia ei, o iau eu?
That’s her sheep, should I take it?

It may have the most difficult grammar in Romance. Romanian has considerable Slavic influence.
Romanian gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.

A Look at the French Language

From here.
A look at the French language from the viewpoint of an English speaker trying to learn the language. French is one of the hardest Romance languages to learn.
French is pretty easy to learn at a simple level, but it’s not easy to get to an advanced level. For instance, the language is full of idioms, many more than your average language, and it’s often hard to figure them out.
One problem is pronunciation. There are many nasal vowels, similar to Portuguese. The eu, u and all of the nasal vowels can be Hell for the learner. There is also a strange uvular r. The dictionary does not necessarily help you, as the pronunciation stated in the dictionary is often at odds with what you will find on the street.
There is a phenomenon called liaisons, or enchantainment in French, which is similar to sandhi in which vowels elide between words in fast speech. There are actually rules for this sort of thing, but the rules are complicated, and at any rate, the liaisons themselves are either obligatory, permitted or forbidden depending on the nature of the words being run together, and it is hard to remember which category various word combinations fall under.
The orthography is also difficult since there are many sounds that are written but no longer pronounced, as in English. Also similar to English, orthography does not line up with pronunciation. For instance, there are 13 different ways to spell the o sound: o, ot, ots, os, ocs, au, aux, aud, auds, eau, eaux, ho and ö.
In addition, spoken French and written French can be quite different. Spoken French uses words and phrases such as c’est foututhe job will not be done, and on which you might never see in written French.
The English language, having no Language Committee, at least has an excuse for the frequently irrational nature of its spelling.
The French have no excuse, since they have a committee that is set up in part to keep the language as orthographically irrational as possible. One of their passions is refusing to change the spelling of words even as pronunciation changes, which is the opposite of what occurs in any sane spelling reform. So French is, like English, frozen in time, and each one has probably gone as long as the other with no spelling reform.
Furthermore, to make matters worse, the French are almost as prickly about writing properly as they are about speaking properly, and you know how they are about foreigners mangling their language.
Despite the many problems of French orthography, there are actually some rules running under the whole mess, and it is quite a bit more sensible than English orthography, which is much more chaotic.
French has a language committee that is always inventing new native French words to keep out the flood of English loans. They have a website up with an official French dictionary showing the proper native coinages to use. Another one for computer technology only is here.
On the plus side, French has a grammar that is neither simple nor difficult; that, combined with a syntax is pretty straightforward and a Latin alphabet make it relatively easy to learn for most Westerners. In addition, the English speaker will probably find more instantly recognizable cognates in French than in any other language.
A good case can be made that French is harder to learn than English. Verbs change much more, and it has grammatical gender. There are 15 tenses in the verb, 18 if you include the pluperfect and the Conditional Perfect 2 (now used only in Literary French) and the past imperative (now rarely used). That is quite a few tenses to learn, but Spanish and Portuguese have similar situations.
French is one of the toughest languages to learn in the Romance family. In many Internet threads about the hardest language to learn, many language learners list French as their most problematic language.
A good case can be made that French is harder to learn than Italian in that French children do not learn to write French properly until age 12-13, six years after Italian children.
This is due to the illogical nature of French spelling discussed above such that the spelling of many French words must be memorized as opposed to applying a general sound-symbol correspondence rule. In addition, French uses both acute and grave accents – `´.
French gets a 3 rating for average difficulty.

A Look at the Spanish Language

From here.
This post will look at how difficult it is to learn Spanish for an English speaker.
Spanish is often said to be one of the easiest languages to learn, though this is somewhat controversial. Personally, I’ve been learning it off and on since age six, and I still have problems, though Spanish speakers say my Spanish is good, but Hispanophones, unlike the French, are generous about these things.
It’s quite logical, though the verbs do decline a lot with tense and number, and there are many irregular verbs, similar to French.
Compare English declensions to Spanish declensions of the verb to read.
I read
He reads

Yo leo
Tu lees
El lee
Nosotros leemos
Vosotros leéis
Ellos leen
pudísteis haber leído
hubiéremos ó hubiésemos leído

Nevertheless, Romance grammar is much more regular than, say, Polish, as Romance has junked most of the irregularity. Spanish has the good grace to lack case, spelling is a piece of cake, and words are spoken just as they are written. However, there is a sort of case left over in the sense that one uses different pronouns when referring to the direct object (accusative) or indirect object (dative). Spanish is probably the most regular of the Romance languages, surely more regular than French or Portuguese, and probably more regular than Italian or Romanian.
The trilled r in Spanish often hard for language learners to make.
One good thing about Spanish is that Spanish speakers are generally grateful if you can speak any of their language at all and are very tolerant of mistakes in L2 Spanish speakers.
Nevertheless, Hispanophones say that few foreigners end up speaking like natives. Part of the reason for this is that Spanish is very idiomatic and the various forms of the subjunctive make for a wide range of nuance in expression. Even native speakers make many mistakes when using the subjunctive in conditional sentences. The dialects do differ quite a bit more than most people say they do. The dialects in Latin America and Spain are quite different, and in Latin America, the Argentine and Dominican dialects are very divergent.
Spanish gets rated 2.5, fairly easy.

Evidence That Some Languages are Harder to Learn Than Others

From here and here.
The standard view in Linguistics is that there are no easy or hard languages for either children L1 learners or older and adult L2 learners. It is also said that all languages are equally complex and no language is more simple or more complex than any other. On its face, this seems preposterous, especially for L2 learners. Linguists say that it all depends on what L1 you are coming from.
There are anecdotal reports that Navajo children have a hard time learning Navajo as compared to children learning other languages, but Navajo kids definitely learn the language.
Reportedly, Nambikwara children do not pick up the language fully until age 10 or so, one of the latest recorded ages for full competence. Nambikwara is sometimes said to be the hardest language on Earth to learn, but it has some competition.
Adding weight to the commonly held belief that Arabic is hard to learn is research done in Germany in 2005 which showed that Turkish children learn their language at age 2-3, German children at age 4-5, but Arabic kids did not get Arabic until age 12.
This implies that from easiest to hardest, it is Turkish -> German -> Arabic.
Italian is still easier to learn than French, for evidence see the research that shows Italian children learning to write Italian properly by age 6, 6-7 years ahead of French children. So at least in terms of writing, it is much easier to learn to write Italian than it is to learn to write French.
Careful studies have shown that English-speaking children take longer to read than children speaking other languages (Finnish, Greek and various Romance and other Germanic languages) due to the difficulty of the spelling system. Romance languages were easier to read than Germanic ones. So in terms of learning to read, from easiest to hardest, it would be Romance languages -> Finnish/Greek -> Germanic languages except English -> English.
Suggesting that Danish may be harder to learn than Swedish or Norwegian, it’s said that Danish children speak later than Swedish or Norwegian children. One study comparing Danish children to Croatian tots found that the Croat children had learned over twice as many words by 15 months as the Danes. According to the study:

The University of Southern Denmark study shows that at 15 months, the average Danish toddler has mastered just 80 words, whereas a Croatian tot of the same age has a vocabulary of up to 200 terms.
[…] According to the study, the primary reason Danish children lag behind in language comprehension is because single words are difficult to extract from Danish’s slurring together of words in sentences. Danish is also one of the languages with the most vowel sounds, which leads to a ‘mushier’ pronunciation of words in everyday conversation.

Therefore, Danish is harder to learn to speak than Croatian, Norwegian or Swedish. From easiest to hardest to learn to speak, it is Norwegian/Swedish -> Danish and Croatian -> Danish.
Russian is harder to learn than English. We know this because Russian children take longer to learn their language than English speaking children do. The reason given was that Russian words tended to be longer, but there may be other reasons. So from easier to harder to speak, it is Russian -> English.
It is said English-speaking children reach full adult competency in the language (reading, writing, speaking, spelling) at age 12. Polish children do not reach this milestone until age 16. So from easier to harder, it would be Russian -> Polish -> English.
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A Look at the Portuguese Language

From here.

This post will look at the Portuguese language from the view of how hard it is to learn for the native English speaker. The European and Brazilian versions of Portuguese will both be looked at in this context.

Portuguese, like Spanish, is also very easy to learn, though Portuguese pronunciation is harder due to the unusual vowels such as nasal diphthongs and the strange palatal lateral ʎ, which many English speakers will mistake for an l.

Of the nasal diphthongs, ão is the hardest to make. In addition, Brazilian (Br) Portuguese has an r that sounds like an h, and l that sounds like a w and a d that sounds like a j, but only some of the time! Fortunately, in European (Eu) Portuguese, all of these sounds sound as you would expect them to.

Portuguese has two r sounds, a tapped r (ɾ) that is often misconceived as a trilled r (present in some British and Irish English dialects) and an uvular r (ʁ) which is truly difficult to make. However, this is the typical r sound found in French, German, Danish and Hebrew, so if you have a background in one of those languages, this should be an easy sound.  L2 learners not only have a hard time making them but also mix them up sometimes.

You can run many vowels together in Portuguese and still make a coherent sentence. See here:

É o a ou o b? [Euaoube]
“Is it (is your answer) a or b?”

That utterance turns an entire sentence into a single verb via run-on vowels, five of them in a row.

Most Portuguese speakers say that Portuguese is harder to learn than Spanish, especially the variety spoken in Portugal. Eu Portuguese elides many vowels and has more sounds per symbol than Br Portuguese does. Portuguese has both nasal and oral vowels, while Spanish has only oral values. In addition, Portuguese has 12 vowel phonemes to Spanish’s 5.

Portuguese has also retained the archaic subjunctive future which has been lost in many Romance languages.

Try this sentence:

“When I am President, I will change the law.”

In Spanish, one uses the future tense as in English:

Cuando yo soy presidente, voy a cambiar la ley.

In Portuguese, you use the subjunctive future, lost in all modern Romance languages and lacking in English  (except for may, which  might be a case of this tense in English):

Quando eu for presidente, vou mudar a lei.

“When I may be President, I will possibly change the law.” (Literal translation.)

The future subjunctive causes a lot of problems for Portuguese learners and is one of the main ways that it is harder than Spanish.

There is a form called the personal infinitive in Portuguese that also causes a lot of problems for Portuguese learners.

In addition, when making the present perfect in Spanish, it is fairly easy with the use have + participle as in English.

Compare “I have worked.”

In Spanish:

Yo he trabajado.

In Portuguese, there is no perfect to have nor is there any participle, instead, present perfect is formed via a conjugation that varies among verbs:

Eu trabalhei – because Eu hei trabalhado makes no sense in Portuguese.

Portuguese still uses the pluperfect tense quite a bit, a tense that gone out or is heading out of most IE languages. The pluperfect is used a lot less now in Br Portuguese, but it is still very widely used in Eu Portuguese. The pluperfect is used to discuss a past action that took place before another past action. An English translation might be:

He had already gone by the time she showed up.”

The italicized part would be the equivalent to the pluperfect in English.

O pássaro voara quando o gato pulou sobre ele para tentar comê-lo.

“The bird had (already) flown away when the cat jumped over it trying to eat it.”

Br Portuguese has difficulties centering around diglossia. It is written in 1700’s Eu Portuguese, but in speech, the Brazilian vernacular is used. Hence:

“I love you.”

Amo-te or Amo-o [standard, written]

Eu te amo or Eu amo você  [spoken]

“We saw them.”

Vimo-los [standard, written]

A gente viu eles  [spoken]

Even Eu Portuguese native speakers often make mistakes in Portuguese grammar when speaking. Young people writing today in Portuguese are said to be notorious for not writing or speaking it properly.

The pronunciation is so complicated and difficult that even foreigners residing in Portugal for a decade never seem to get it quite right. In addition, Portuguese grammar is unimaginably complicated. There are probably more exceptions than there are rules, and even native speakers have issues with Portuguese grammar.

Portuguese gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.

Phrasal Verbs in English

From here.
English verbal phrases or phrasal verbs are a nightmare for the English language learner. English language learners often say that phrasal verbs are one of the hardest if not the hardest aspects of learning English. Even after many years of even one or more decades of learning English, English L2 speakers often do not have phrasal verbs down pat (to have down pat is another phrasal verb by the way).
Phrasal verbs are not very common in other languages, and where they exist, you can often piece together the meaning a lot easier than you can in English. Phrasal verbs are formed by the addition of a preposition after the verb which changes the meaning of the verb. Phrasal verbs are probably left over from “separable verbs” in German. In most of the rest of IE, these become affixes as in Latin Latin cum-, ad-, pro-, in-, ex-, etc.. In many cases, phrasal verbs can have more than 10 different antagonistic meanings.
Here is a list of 123 phrasal verbs using the preposition up after a verb:
Back up – to go in reverse, often in a vehicle, or to go back over something previously dealt with that was poorly understood in order to understand it better.
Be up – to be in a waking state after having slept. I’ve been up for three hours. Also to be ready to do something challenging. Are you up for it?
Beat up
– to defeat someone thoroughly in a violent physical fight.
Bid up – to raise the price of something, usually at an auction, by calling out higher and higher bids.
Blow up – to explode an explosive or for a social situation to become violent and volatile.
Bone up – to study hard.
Book up – all of the booking seats have been filled for some entertainment or excursion.
Bottle up – to contain feelings until they are at the point of exploding.
Break up – to break into various pieces, or to end a relationship, either personal or between entitles, also to split a large entity, like a large company or a state.
Bruise up – to receive multiple bruises, often serious ones.
Brush up – to go over a previously learned skill.
Build up – to build intensively in an area, such as a town or city, from a previously less well-developed state.
Burn up – burn completely or to be made very angry.
Bust up – to burst out in laughter.
Buy up – to buy all or most all of something.
Call up – to telephone someone. Or to be ordered to appear in the military. The army called up all males aged 18-21 and ordered them to show up at the nearest recruiting office.
Catch up
– to reach a person or group that one had lagged behind earlier, or to take care of things, often hobbies, that had been put off by lack of time.
Chat up – to talk casually with a goal in mind, usually seduction or at least flirtation.
Cheer up – to change from a downcast mood to a more positive one.
Chop up – to cut into many, often small, pieces.
Clam up – to become very quiet suddenly and not say a thing.
Clean up – to make an area thoroughly tidy or to win completely and thoroughly.
Clear up – for a storm to dissipate, for a rash to go away, for a confusing matter to become understandable.
Close up – to close, also to end business hours for a public business.
Come up – to approach closely, to occur suddenly or to overflow.
Cook up – to prepare a meal or to configure a plan, often of a sly, ingenious or devious nature. They cooked up a scheme to swindle the boss.
Crack up
– to laugh, often heartily.
Crank up – elevate the volume.
Crawl up – to crawl inside something.
Curl up – to rest in a curled body position, either alone or with another being.
Cut up – to shred or to make jokes, often of a slapstick variety.
Do up – apply makeup to someone, often elaborately.
Dream up – to imagine a creative notion, often an elaborate one.
Dress up – to dress oneself in formal attire.
Drive up – to drive towards something, and then stop, or to raise the price of something by buying it intensively.
Drum up – to charge someone with wrongdoing, usually criminal, usually by a state actor, usually for false reasons.
Dry up – to dessicate.
Eat up – implies eating something ravenously or finishing the entire meal without leaving anything left.
End up – to arrive at some destination after a long winding, often convoluted journey either in space or in time.
Face up – to quit avoiding your problems and meet them head on.
Feel up – to grope someone sexually.
Get up – to awaken or rise from a prone position.
Give up – to surrender, in war or a contest, or to stop doing something trying or unpleasant that is yielding poor results, or to die, as in give up the ghost.
Grow up – to attain an age or maturity or to act like a mature person, often imperative.
Hang up – to place on a hanger or a wall, to end a phone call.
Hike up – to pull your clothes up when they are drifting down on your body.
Hit up – to visit someone casually or to ask for a favor or gift, usually small amounts of money.
Hold up – to delay, to ask someone ahead of you to wait, often imperative. Also a robbery, usually with a gun and a masked robber.
Hook up – to have a casual sexual encounter or to meet casually for a social encounter, often in a public place; also to connect together a mechanical devise or plug something in.
Hurry up – imperative, usually an order to quit delaying and join the general group or another person in some activity, often when they are leaving to go to another place.
Keep up – to maintain on a par with the competition without falling behind.
Kiss up – to mend a relationship after a fight.
Knock up – to impregnate.
Lay up – to be sidelined due to illness or injury for a time.
Let up – to ease off of someone or something, for a storm to dissipate, to stop attacking someone or s.t.
Lick up – to consume all of a liquid.
Light up – to set s.t. on fire or to smile suddenly and broadly.
Lighten up – to reduce the downcast or hostile seriousness of the mood of a person or setting.
Listen up – imperative – to order someone to pay attention, often with threats of aggression if they don’t comply.
Live up – to enjoy life.
Lock up – to lock securely, often locking various locks, or to imprison, or for an object or computer program to be frozen or jammed and unable to function.
Look up – to search for an item of information in some sort of a database, such as a phone book or dictionary. Also to admire someone.
Make up – to make amends, to apply cosmetics to one’s face or to invent a story.
Man up – to elevate oneself to manly behaviors when one is slacking and behaving in an unmanly fashion.
Mark up – to raise the price of s.t.
Measure up – in a competition, for an entity to match the competition.
Meet up – to meet someone or a group for a get meeting or date of some sort.
Mess up – to fail or to confuse and disarrange s.t. so much that it is bad need or reparation.
Mix up – to confuse, or to disarrange contents in a scattered fashion so that it does not resemble the original.
Mop up – mop a floor or finish off the remains of an enemy army or finalize a military operation.
Move up – to elevate the status of a person or entity in competition with other entities- to move up in the world.
Open up – when a person has been silent about something for a long time, as if holding a secret, finally reveals the secret and begins talking.
Own up – to confess to one’s sins under pressure and reluctantly.
Pass up – to miss an opportunity, often a good one.
Patch up – to put together a broken thing or relationship.
Pay up – to pay, usually a debt, often imperative to demand payment of a debt, to pay all of what one owes so you don’t owe anymore.
Pick up – to grasp an object and lift it higher, to seduce someone sexually or to acquire a new skill, usually rapidly.
Play up – to dramatize.
Pop up – for s.t. to appear suddenly, often out of nowhere.
Put up – to hang, to tolerate, often grudgingly, or to put forward a new image.
Read up – to read intensively as in studying.
Rev up – to turn the RPM’s higher on a stationary engine.
Ring up – to telephone someone or to charge someone on a cash register.
Rise up – for an oppressed group to arouse and fight back against their oppressors.
Roll up – to roll s.t. into a ball, to drive up to someone in a vehicle or to arrest all the members of an illegal group. The police rolled up that Mafia cell quickly.
Run up
– to tally a big bill, often foolishly or approach s.t. quickly.
Shake up – to upset a paradigm, to upset emotionally.
Shape up – usually imperative command ordering someone who is disorganized or slovenly to live life in a more orderly and proper fashion.
Shoot up – to inject, usually illegal drugs, or to fire many projectiles into a place with a gun.
Show up – to appear somewhere, often unexpectedly.
Shut up – to silence, often imperative, fighting words.
Sit up – to sit upright.
Slip up – to fail.
Speak up – to begin speaking after listening for a while, often imperative, a request for a silent person to say what they wish to say.
Spit up – to vomit, usually describing a child vomiting up its food.
Stand up – to go from a sitting position to a standing one quickly.
Start up – to initialize an engine or a program, to open a new business to go back to something that had been terminated previously, often a fight; a recrudescence.
Stay up – to not go to bed.
Stick up – to rob someone, usually a street robbery with a weapon, generally a gun.
Stir up – stir rapidly, upset a calm surrounding or scene or upset a paradigm.
Stop up – to block the flow of liquids with some object(s).
Straighten up – to go from living a dissolute or criminal life to a clean, law abiding one.
Suck up – to ingratiate oneself, often in an obsequious fashion.
Suit up – to get dressed in a uniform, often for athletics.
Sweep up – to arrest all the members of an illegal group, often a criminal gang.
Take up – to cohabit with someone – She has taken up with him. Or to develop a new skill, to bring something to a higher elevation, to cook something at a high heat to where it is assimilated.
Talk up – to try to convince someone of something by discussing it dramatically and intensively.
Tear up – to shred.
Think up – to conjure up a plan, often an elaborate or creative one.
Throw up – to vomit.
Touch up – to apply the final aspects of a work nearly finished.
Trip up – to stumble mentally over s.t. confusing.
Turn up – to increase volume or to appear suddenly somewhere.
Vacuum up – to vacuum.
Use up – to finish s.t. completely so there is no more left.
Wait up – to ask other parties to wait for someone who is coming in a hurry.
Wake up – to awaken.
Walk up – to approach someone or something.
Wash up – to wash.
Whip up – to cook a meal quickly or for winds to blow wildly.
Work up – to exercise heavily, until you sweat to work up a sweat. Or to generate s.t. a report or s.t. of that nature done rather hurriedly in a seat of the pants and unplanned fashion. We quickly worked up a formula for dealing with the matter.
Wrap up
– To finish something up, often something that is taking too long. Come on, let us wrap this up and getting it over with. Also, to bring to a conclusion that ties the ends together. The story wraps up with a scene where they all get together and sing a song.
Write up
– often to write a report of reprimand or a violation. The officer wrote him for having no tail lights.
Here is a much smaller list of phrasal verbs using the preposition down:
Be down  – to be ready to ready to do something daring, often s.t. bad, illegal or dangerous, such as a fight or a crime. Are you down?
Burn down
– reduce s.t. to ashes, like a structure.
Get down – to have fun and party, or to lie prone and remain there. Get down on the floor.
Drink down
to consume all of s.t.
Kick down – Drug slang meaning to contribute your drugs to a group drug stash so others can consume them with you, to share your drugs with others. Often used in a challenging sense.
Party down – to have fun and party
Pat down – to frisk.
Take down – to tackle.
Cook down – to reduce the liquid content in a cooked item.
Run down – to run over something, to review a list or to attack someone verbally for a long time.
Play down – to de-emphasize.
Write down – to write on a sheet of paper
Italian has phrasal verbs as in English, but the English ones are a lot more difficult. The Italian ones are usually a lot more clear given the verb and preposition involved, whereas with English if you have the verb and the preposition, the phrasal verb does not logically follow from their separate meanings. For instance:
andare fuorito go + out  – get out
andare giù
to go + downget down
German has phrasal verbs as in English, but the meaning is often somewhat clear if you take the morphemes apart and look at their literal meanings. For instance:
vorschlagento suggest parses out to er schlägt vorto hit forth
whereas in English you have phrasal verbs like to get over with which even when separated out, don’t make sense literally.

The Reality of Dialects in Italy

It’s often said that the dialects of Italy will be dead in 30 years. There is no way on Earth that that is true. On the other hand, the hard or pure dialects are dying, as they are all over Europe, in Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The hard dialects are often spoken only by the old now, and many old words have fallen out of use. The hard dialects often had a limited vocabulary restricted to whatever economic activity was typical of the area. A lot of the old dialects are now being written down in local dictionaries to preserve their heritage.
The dialects were of course killed by universal education, and this was a positive thing. All Italians should learn to speak some form of Standard Italian. In the old days when everyone spoke dialect, people had a hard time communicating with each other unless there was some form of regional koine that they could speak and all understand. It doesn’t make sense if you can only talk to people in a 20 mile or less radius.
A diglossia where hard dialects would exist alongside Standard Italian was never going to work. People are pretty much going to speak one or the other. As people learn Standard Italian, their local dialect will tend to become more Italianized. In other cases, the hard local dialect will tend to resemble more the local regional dialect.
For instance, in southern Campania, the region of Naples, in a part called Southern Cilento, there are still some Sicilianized dialects spoken, remnants from Sicilian immigrants who came in the 1500’s. These dialects are now dying, and the speech of the young tends to resemble more the Neapolitan Cilento speech of the surrounding area more.
In other cases, koines have developed.
There is a regional koine in Piedmont that everyone understands. There is a similar koine in West and East Lombard, the Western one based on the speech of Ticino. There is a Standard Sicilian, spoken by everyone and understood by all, and then there are regional dialects, which, if spoken in hard form, may not be intelligible with surrounding regions. A koine has also developed in Abruzze around Pesaro. There is “TV Venetian,” the Venetian used in regional TV, a homogenized form that has speakers of local dialects worried it is going to take them out.
Even where hard dialects still exist, the younger people continue to speak the local dialect, except that it is now a lot more Italianized and regionalized. A lot of the old words are gone, but quite a few are still left. So the dialects are not necessarily dead or dying, instead they are just changing.
In the places where the dialects are the farthest gone such as Lazio and Tuscany, the regional dialects are turning into “accents” which can be understood by any Standard Italian speaker.
The situation in Tuscany is complicated. Although the hard dialects are definitely going out, even the hard dialects may be intelligible to Standard Italian speakers since Standard Italian itself was based on the dialect of Florence, a city in Tuscany.
Florence was chosen as the national dialect around 1800 when Italian leaders decided on a language for all of Italy. But the truth is that the language of Dante had always been an Italian koine extending far beyond its borders, just as the language of Paris had long been the de facto Standard French (and it still is as Parisien).
This is not to say that there are not dialects in Tuscany. Neapolitan speakers say they hear old men from the Florence region on TV and the dialect is so hard that they want subtitles. And there is the issue of which Florentine was chosen as Standard Italian. A commenter said that the language that was chosen was the language of Dante, sort of a dialect frozen in time in the 1400’s. In that case, regional Tuscan could well have moved far beyond that.
Even in areas where dialects are said to be badly gone such as Liguria, local accents still exist. It is said that everyone in Genoa speaks with a pretty hard Ligurian accent. That is, it is Standard Italian spoken with a Genoese accent.
Many younger Italians are capable of speaking in what is called “close,” “strict” or “tight” dialect. This means the hard form of the dialect. Speaking in this hard dialect, they often say that outsiders have a hard time understanding them. They can also speak in a looser form that is more readily intelligible. People adjust their speech to interlocutors.
We seem to be seeing a resurgence of interest in dialects among young people. Even if they can’t  speak them, many understand them. Most young people grew up with mothers, fathers or certainly grandparents who spoke in this or that dialect, and they learned at least to understand it from them. In addition, in many parts of Italy, dialects are still going strong, and many young people at least understand the local dialect even if they do not speak it.

Check Out Massese

This is a news broadcast in the dialect of Massa, part of the dual city of Carrara Massa in the far north of Tuscany. This is actually an Emilian dialect related to Modenese in the province of Modena in Emilia. Carrara Massa was part of a political and religious unit with Modena for a very long time, and it influenced their dialects.
All of the dialects in this part of the far north of Tuscany near the border of Liguria have undergone such influence. As such, the dialects of Carrara Massa have seen little influence from the Tuscan dialects in the region although Massa has undergone a lot more influence from Versiliese, spoken in the historical area of Versilia along the coast just to the south.The dialect of Carrara is much more pure and has almost zero Tuscan influence, but the dialects of Massa and Carrara are similar.
There are about four different dialects spoken in each Massa and Carrara. It is said in Carrara that the dialects change every 100 yards! This may be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. The old dialect of Carrara is now spoken only by the elderly and the new dialect spoken by younger people is heavily Italiainized.
There are beautiful beaches in both Massa and Carrara and the women are said to be very beautiful.
The region to the north of the border with Emilia and just into Liguria around Sarzana just across the border in Liguria are similar. The dialects to the north are referred to as Lunigiana and Gargafuna in the mountains. The Lunigiana dialect is probably understandable throughout this region and is spoken by about 300,000 people. Outside the region in the rest of Tuscany and Liguria and in Emilia, intelligibility is probably marginal, although intelligibility tests with Modenese have not yet been done.
This is a Gallo-Italic dialect spoken in Tuscany.
This broadcast in the pure dialect of Massese is probably hard to understand for speakers of Standard Italian who do not speak a Gallo-Italic language. To me, it’s sounds very strange and sounds nothing like Standard Italian. It almost sounds French to my ears.