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~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 12:06 AM
I thought I would pose an interesting question for some fun debate. That being:

What is the most efficient language in the world?

You can look at this on a few different levels, but let me start out with a couple thoughts for now, let some discussion ensue, and we elaborate further from there.

First of all, in interpersonal communication, which language allows for people to get their message across the most efficiently? Which language is the most concise, less confusing, etc.? Or is this truly subjective as opposed to objective? Different languages of the world are structured quite different, even with different alphabets and the like, so surely there must be some advantages and disadvantages?

And secondly, on a deeper level, consider this. We essential "think" in our own languages, for the most part. As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word, our brains are, in one aspect, "wired" to our native language(s). As a prepare a paragraph or a speech in my head, I'm thinking in my chosen language. The "voice" inside my head "speaks" my language. So, therefore, again, what is the most efficient language? Which language allows for the brain to think, process, etc. better on the whole?

I realize this is somewhat abstract, and perhaps, as I said above, more subjective than objective, as nothing could ever really be proven I suppose, but I thought it would be an interesting concept for discussion. I look forward to reading your thoughts. :cool:

Lacero
Jun 29, 2005, 12:08 AM
As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word...Binary is the most efficient language. Now if humans can be trained to think and talk in 64-bit binary.... :p

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 12:10 AM
Binary is the most efficient language. Now if humans can be trained to think and talk in 64-bit binary.... :p

Thanks Lacero - any thoughts on the rest of my essay, in terms of human languages? ;)

rockthecasbah
Jun 29, 2005, 12:21 AM
Thanks Lacero - any thoughts on the rest of my essay, in terms of human languages? ;)
In that case, hebrew. Its awesome. Vowels are underneath letters, and they don't have mulitple pronounciations. woo woo jews rock :) ! Plus it's musical and words are easy to remember. Yeah hebrew pretty much is amazing in every way. You even get to read it from right to left!

Mavimao
Jun 29, 2005, 12:21 AM
Esperanto.

Absolutely no irregular forms of grammar. Short, simple, and actually sounds pretty.

Doctor Q
Jun 29, 2005, 12:23 AM
Binary is the most efficient language. Now if humans can be trained to think and talk in 64-bit binary.... :pHuffman encoding makes it even more space efficient (in most cases). In fact, even run-length encoding can make it more space efficient.

Ugg
Jun 29, 2005, 12:24 AM
I've always been fascinated by English. The language has readily and sometimes shamelessly adopted words from every major language in the world. Its breadth allows much more nuanced expression than many others. I believe English has about a million words and French and German 300-500 thousand. Based on vocabulary alone, French or German would be much more efficient, but the gender thing adds a lot of complexity to German and French that is totally non-existent in English.

As Lacero says binary is extremely efficient, but I seriously doubt that it could ever be an efficient language because it would be virtually impossible to speak it. Human languages have always been spoken before they were written so binary would have to be ruled out.

Shard, I think it would be helpful to know what kind of efficiency. Most efficient at picking up women, most efficient in the sciences, literature, etc. As far as basic communication between people, Esperanto probably wins.

Also, all languages are related so in some cases it would be a matter of splitting hairs, Spanish, Italian and French are closely related and I think it would be impossible to say any of the three was more efficient than the other two. The same with German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, etc, etc.

Mavimao
Jun 29, 2005, 12:48 AM
Being bi-lingual, and having tutored people in different languages other than their own, the most difficult part is understanding the smallest little details that make a world of difference. Sure one can learn how to ask where the bathroom is and so on and so forth, but to be capable of engaging in actual conversation requires you to understand differences in clauses, conjugations, spelling, even patterns in speech.

In French, as in so many other languages, one can teach you a whole series of lessons on grammar only to have them tell you at the end, "there are exceptions to all these rules. Let's start from scratch." For example, in French, it's commonly known that adjectives come after nouns ("une voiture bleue" litterally, 'a car blue'). However, there are exceptions to adjectives that describe size, age and these go BEFORE the noun. Let's not forget to show how to congugate them depending on the sex and amount of the noun! After that we can then teach them about irregular adjectives! Oh should we also mention that there are adjectives that are possible to put in front on the noun that normally should go behind?

And this is just adjectives! I haven't even gotten started with the subjunctive!

So you see, languages are a difficult, however rewarding, thing to learn. But after studying Esperanto a bit, I can say that without a doubt, it is a very easy language to learn vis-a-vis other natural languages. I would go more into detail about it, but it's late and I have work in the morning. Instead, here's a link that talks all about it:

http://www.esperanto-usa.org/about_eo.html

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 12:53 AM
I've always been fascinated by English. The language has readily and sometimes shamelessly adopted words from every major language in the world. Its breadth allows much more nuanced expression than many others. I believe English has about a million words and French and German 300-500 thousand. Based on vocabulary alone, French or German would be much more efficient, but the gender thing adds a lot of complexity to German and French that is totally non-existent in English.

Also, all languages are related so in some cases it would be a matter of splitting hairs, Spanish, Italian and French are closely related and I think it would be impossible to say any of the three was more efficient than the other two. The same with German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, etc, etc.
Isn't that essentially... Latin?! The Romantic languages, AFAIK are Latin based. Plus, w/ a dead language there's no new additions to befuddle someone, like, "muggle" in the Oxford. ;)

Mavimao
Jun 29, 2005, 12:59 AM
Isn't that essentially... Latin?! The Romantic languages, AFAIK are Latin based. Plus, w/ a dead language there's no new additions to befuddle someone, like, "muggle" in the Oxford. ;)


Wrong, wrong wrong. English is a Germanic language with a vocabulary largely borrowed from a Latin-based language (that being French. This occured after Normandy invaded England in the 12th century. Note that even French is a mixture of Celtic dialects and Latin).

EDIT: if we wish to get more technical, we could talk about the Indo-European family of languages which stems from Africa (I think). In any case here's a short history of the English language

http://www.wordorigins.org/histeng.htm

diddy
Jun 29, 2005, 01:01 AM
Isn't that essentially... Latin?! The Romantic languages, AFAIK are Latin based.
Correct.

My vote is Ancient Greek. An 8 word English sentence can become like 3 words in AG. Very complicated. Nouns mixed with adjectives, verbs with pronouns. Nuts.

dethl
Jun 29, 2005, 01:15 AM
In that case, hebrew. Its awesome. Vowels are underneath letters, and they don't have mulitple pronounciations. woo woo jews rock :) ! Plus it's musical and words are easy to remember. Yeah hebrew pretty much is amazing in every way. You even get to read it from right to left!

I wish it were that easy. I learned hebrew for my bar mitzvah and the torah and most other hebrew that you can find have NO vowels whatsoever. The vowels are just helpers until you've gotten the language down...that said I haven't bothered to study hebrew for years now :p

bousozoku
Jun 29, 2005, 01:23 AM
Korean is likely the most efficient written language since the method was developed only a few hundred years ago. I still feel Chinese characters are effective for getting a bulk of information across quickly and providing intelligent guessing of new characters' meanings.

European languages in general tend to be full of exceptions and are hardly efficient but perhaps, Hungarian, with its roots in Asia and Persia might lay claim to being efficient.

I'm not sure that any language that needs to have nouns declined for meaning would be efficient but they are never simple to learn. Ask anyone who has studied Latin, Ancient Greek, or Polish.

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 01:24 AM
Wrong, wrong wrong. English is a Germanic language with a vocabulary largely borrowed from a Latin-based language (that being French. This occured after Normandy invaded England in the 12th century. Note that even French is a mixture of Celtic dialects and Latin).
:confused: So how was I wrong? Germanic language borrowed from a Latin-based language.

First of all, in interpersonal communication, which language allows for people to get their message across the most efficiently? Which language is the most concise, less confusing, etc.? Or is this truly subjective as opposed to objective? Different languages of the world are structured quite different, even with different alphabets and the like, so surely there must be some advantages and disadvantages?
I speak Mandarin (Chinese) fluently, and I once knew Spanish, and I know some English, and I feel like Chinese and Spanish seem so much more personal and <sigh> I feel like I can't find English words to describe my sentiment! ARGH! I think that every language is beautiful and amazing in its own way and I feel like efficiency of a language can't really be quantified like this... Like that cliché about how the Inuit peoples have many different ways to say, "snow," I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think w/ languages, "less is more" in many instances.

ChrisBrightwell
Jun 29, 2005, 01:45 AM
What is the most efficient language in the world?ANSI C?

yg17
Jun 29, 2005, 01:47 AM
Im saying English just for the simple fact that its the only language I can speak fluently. I took Spanish in high school and it would seem every time we learned a rule about conjugating a verb or something like that, the teacher would then spend the next class lecturing us about all of the exceptions to the rule we learned the previous day. Also, things always seemed weird to me. To say you're 19 years old, you'd say "Yo tengo 19 anos" which literally means "I have 19 years" and there were other oddities which were hard to pick up. Then there were rules about formal, informal, ect. 2 words would have the exact same meaning, but one was OK to say, one wasn't (And we're not talking about the difference between feces and **** here :D) But then again, at least Spanish has rules for conjugating verbs, it doesn't seem English has any, but when you've been speaking English since you learned to talk, I suppose you don't think twice about any rules and just know what to say.


And Hebrew is in no way efficent, again, in my opinion. I too had to learn it for my Bar Mitzvah years back. Not only did I have to learn new words and conjugation rules, I had to learn an entire new alphabet, get used to reading right to left and get used to paying attention to whats under the letters. It isn't like learning Spanish where if you're not sure of the pronunciation, you at least know the alphabet and can sound it out. Then once you're good at reading Hebrew with the vowels, they take them away from you when you need to read out of the Torah. Considering I had only spent 3 years reading Hebrew prior, I pretty much had to memorize my Torah portion as I was not good enough to look at letters without vowels and say "I know what that word is!" t Wld b lk rdng ths sntnce, t stdnt, t wld nt mk ny snc (It would be like reading this sentence, to a student, it would not make any sence).



And of course, a native Spanish or Hebrew speaker in the world is probably posting on some internet message with their gripes about learning English :D

takao
Jun 29, 2005, 02:00 AM
i don't think languages are hard wired for everything: for example simply talking or getting a point across english seems to be much better and easier: i already start thinking in english in real live when asked something...

for other things like maths english feels kinda "wrong" inside my head.. i automatically switch over to german .. same when i have to write some complex essays etc. german with it's sometimes slapped-together words ("Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsgattin") and syntax sometimes really feels more "to the point"

xsedrinam
Jun 29, 2005, 02:08 AM
Phonetics, Philosophy, Psychiatry, font, Philanthropy, fist, Forensic, Psuedo....I don't think English could be honestly considered "ephishent" :D

El Castellano es, pues, puro en cuanto a la fonetica. (Spanish is pure, at least, as it relates to phonetics and pronunciation.) That would seem more effecient.

Are we using "effecient" to refer to spoken as well as written languages? I suppose I'd vote for Greek, but would think that globally Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Mandarin, Japanese and English would enable one to pretty much communicate anywhere, anytime.
X

Veldek
Jun 29, 2005, 02:09 AM
same when i have to write some complex essays etc. german with it's sometimes slapped-together words ("Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsgattin") and syntax sometimes really feels more "to the point"Even better: Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsmützenabzeichen :D

takao
Jun 29, 2005, 02:09 AM
And of course, a native Spanish or Hebrew speaker in the world is probably posting on some internet message with their gripes about learning English :D

lol yeah normally you easily learn which language is close to your own one as soon as got to learn them
i saw it with french end english

english: hard in the beginning but then no problems after 2 years
french: hard in the beginning and then it got worse

edit:

Even better: Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsmützenabzeichen
oh i got to remember that one ;)
i think just months ago i was sitting there thinking up a sentence for the political forum and searched like half a day if there was english translation for "Selbstbeweihräucherung".. i sat here swearing at one online dictionary after the other "&%!x@ ... it can't be ... there has to be word for that in english"

Applespider
Jun 29, 2005, 03:37 AM
Informal sign language? A look of fright accompanied by pointing in the opposite direction and starting to run would probably get a point across...

I think this is very tough to quantify unless you're an expert in more than one language. And I think it also depends on whether you're talking about the written or spoken word. There are aspects of Chinese and Icelandic that haven't changed in hundreds of years so their early written texts can still be read easily. Compare that to English where the Venerable Bede looks like gobbledegook until you figure out what the different symbols and pronunications are.

English has a larger vocabulary and more abstracts than other languages. That's partly because of how English developed since with just a couple of hundred years when with Celts, Angles, Saxons and Vikings were all kicking around in different parts of the country, we ended up with lots of words from the various languages that meant the same thing (hale and hearty). And words which evolved differently in the different regions (shatter and scatter come from the same root word)

There's currently renewed interest in etymology (at least of English) - with a couple of relevant books appearing on the '3 for 2' highlight table in bookstores.

Omen88
Jun 29, 2005, 03:54 AM
Even better: Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsmützenabzeichen :D

In German I have the feeling that every word sounds like an insult. Take the word butterfly for example.
In Dutch it is: Vlinder
In French: Papillon
In Italian: Farfalla
In German: Schmetterling

Although I like the language very much :)

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 04:06 AM
Well since you never specified verbal language in the initial bolded question ~Shard~, I would have to throw in a vote for some form of sign-language (not American sign of the handsigns=words type stuff) but almost like hyroplyphics or pictures to express meaning. I found being here in France and not knowing the language before arriving (save for 15hours with a co-worker who speaks it fluently) made me realize that not knowing a language is but one barrier, somewhat easily overcome with practice. Three months down the road I still don't "know" French but I know enough to express my feelings of hunger, cold, excitement, sleep, etc and not just by a singular word. I can call up a friend and ask them what they want to do this weekend, I can shout across the room to a colleague and ask if the coffee is done brewing, etc etc. During actual work I have found that by drawing pictures and speaking with your hands (while speaking moving your hands in gestures that mimik the motion of what you speak of) is very VERY helpful, this has worked with my French colleagues as well as some German visitors whom I had never met, we understood eachother well enough to do our jobs.

I think everyone will take their native language for granted simply because they will understand the ins and outs better because their verbal communication was formed on that language. For me, I am confident I will never learn another language as well as English, and I am only 21. I believe that even if I were to stay in France indefinitely and only speak French until I was 65 (44 years of French compared with 21 of English) I would still know the English language better than the French language because my verbal structure was formed upon an English base.

I think English is a bit simpler with conjugation and having a non-gendered structure, but I am sure there are other things that non-English speakers find extremely difficult to learn, I just don't know what they are.

takao
Jun 29, 2005, 04:11 AM
In German I have the feeling that every word sounds like an insult. Take the word butterfly for example.
In Dutch it is: Vlinder
In French: Papillon
In Italian: Farfalla
In German: Schmetterling

Although I like the language very much :)

i just looked it in wikipedia and guess what : "Schmetterling" comes from the old word "Schmetten" for the open cream of the milk (which were attracting them)..butterfly points into the same direction ;)

and a Dragonfly is called a "Libelle" ;)

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 04:21 AM
i just looked it in wikipedia and guess what : "Schmetterling" comes from the old word "Schmetten" for the open cream of the milk (which were attracting them)..butterfly points into the same direction ;)

and a Dragonfly is called a "Libelle" ;)

Well "Libelle" sounds pretty, I'll give you that much ;)
Schmetten still sounds a little angry, like the base form of a bad word where Schmetterling would be a person (ling) who fits the description of the word. Basically like saying "a**" and calling someone an "a**hole".

Interesting language, as are most, but it does sound a little on the coarse side to mine ears. I guess living in France where even the bad words sound like music (and they are o so proud of this fact) just makes the rest sound less beautiful, English included....although I never really thought of English as sounding particularly nice to the ears.

mad jew
Jun 29, 2005, 05:42 AM
Well Indonesian is supposed to be heaps easy to learn, it's very grammatically simple.

However, French takes the cake. They slur everything so badly, a sentence sounds like a single word. Maybe it's the effect of all that red wine and smelly cheese...

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 06:18 AM
Well Indonesian is supposed to be heaps easy to learn, it's very grammatically simple.

However, French takes the cake. They slur everything so badly, a sentence sounds like a single word. Maybe it's the effect of all that red wine and smelly cheese...

So the slurry speech and mass single-word-paragraphs make French efficient to you mad jew?? :confused:

I agree with what are you saying about the French language in a lot of fronts, however I don't think that makes it more efficient, but I could be wrong. Hell, when I am all uped on red wine and stinky cheese, I could swear I was a French native, everything everyone says seems to make sense. It really feels like the language is in the bottle, because I'm sure I don't actually know anymore of the language but when a group of us gets to drinking, it sure seems like they are easier to understand and I comprehend more :rolleyes: , if only other facets of life *cough women cough* were so easy :D

mad jew
Jun 29, 2005, 06:39 AM
So the slurry speech and mass single-word-paragraphs make French efficient to you mad jew?? :confused:


Anyone who can fit a whole story into a single sound is efficient in my books. ;)

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jun 29, 2005, 06:48 AM
I think the most efficient languages for communication (NOT the easiest to learn ;)) is those with the most built-in cases (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_grammatical_cases)**. Languages like English (and Norwegian) has just remains of cases left, but e.g. German has at least three clearly defined, I seem to remember from my German classes (not my best subject in School ;)).

Older languages, like Latin, Ancient Greek or Icelandic (which has been well preserved into modern age) tend to have more cases and are therefore more precise in use, eliminating (or really reducing) chances for misunderstanding and/or misinterpretations. Some modern languages like Russian and the Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian language family also has kept a great number of cases...

Case
noun
...
4 Grammar any of the inflected forms of a noun, adjective, or pronoun that express the semantic relation of the word to other words in the sentence : the accusative case.
• such a relation whether indicated by inflection or not : English normally expresses case by the use of prepositions.

Wrong, wrong wrong. English is a Germanic language with a vocabulary largely borrowed from a Latin-based language (that being French. This occured after Normandy invaded England in the 12th century. Note that even French is a mixture of Celtic dialects and Latin).Correct on the language... way off on the invasion... does the year 1066 mean anything to you...?

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 07:00 AM
Anyone who can fit a whole story into a single sound is efficient in my books. ;)

I guess you are right, I was sub-conciously thinking easier and efficient to learn, which story-long sentences are not. You have quite the point though, I'm going to run a test when I get home and try to stay inebriated for a straight week, slurrying all words and general life together and at the end, I'll sober up, right a review, take friend's comments (and concerns) and then let you all know if slurry really is viewed as efficient ;)

Okay, so I'm really not going to do anything after the "stay inebriated for a straight week" comment, the rest of that is just for good measure :p

MongoTheGeek
Jun 29, 2005, 07:28 AM
The question is what is meant by efficient...
One could say that Hawaiian is the most efficient since it uses only 12 letters to make all the necessary words.
Chinese could take the cake because each word only takes up the space of one letter.
Bantu perhaps because each sentence is one word and with 80 phonemes the words aren't that long.
English perhaps because with a vocabulary that has stolen from most of the major languages and subsumed many minor ones there are shadings of mean applied to words that would take paragraphs in other languages to express. "So this shyster said the me that the guy was a quack but I grok that he's just an sawbones."

My vote though goes for APL...

Mavimao
Jun 29, 2005, 07:41 AM
Well Indonesian is supposed to be heaps easy to learn, it's very grammatically simple.

However, French takes the cake. They slur everything so badly, a sentence sounds like a single word. Maybe it's the effect of all that red wine and smelly cheese...

To take the side of the French...they think ENGLISH people slur all their words together! Seriously! Ask a French person to impersonate what English sounds to them (kinda like how we go 'Ching chang chow' or whatever for Chinese) and they'll just spew out this garbled mess. It's really funny.

To me French speech is very sharp and precise.

Mavimao
Jun 29, 2005, 07:45 AM
Correct on the language... way off on the invasion... does the year 1066 mean anything to you...?

Oh you're right! And the crazy thing is...I was thinking in my head 11th century! I was really tired when I wrote that. My finger must have slipped.

Thanks for pointing that out! :o

On another hand, how are we defining "efficient"? It seems to have gone to "fitting as much information in as little a space as possible" efficient. I guess that works, too. But I would have no idea what to put!

notjustjay
Jun 29, 2005, 08:36 AM
Well Indonesian is supposed to be heaps easy to learn, it's very grammatically simple.

Yes. I tried learning it a number of years ago (I have many relatives living in Jakarta), though I gave up just because there was no way I was going to learn anything useful in a couple of weeks time.

A lot of it is based on context. Example:

Ada mobil. (Literally, "have car", i.e. I have a car.)
Ada mobil? (Do you/do they/does he/does she have a car?)

It's not always that simple and I'm sure they must have actual pronouns, but that's basically how it goes.

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 08:41 AM
Great replies and discussions so far everyone, thanks, you've made this thread a very interesting read! There is far too much for me to comment on right now, (I wish I had an efficient way to reply! ;)) but a few posters have made the comment regarding the definition of "efficient" - and I guess there is no real way to pinpoint that, nor did I have something specific in mind when I posed the initial question. As has been stated, it depends if you consider the alphabet being used, the number of words, the history/recency/adaptation of a language, etc. Regardless, as I said, excellent discussion, thanks for all of your input! Keep it coming!

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 08:44 AM
And just to throw it out there again, I'd be curious to hear any opinions on my second point:

And secondly, on a deeper level, consider this. We essential "think" in our own languages, for the most part. As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word, our brains are, in one aspect, "wired" to our native language(s). As a prepare a paragraph or a speech in my head, I'm thinking in my chosen language. The "voice" inside my head "speaks" my language. So, therefore, again, what is the most efficient language? Which language allows for the brain to think, process, etc. better on the whole?

I realize it's hard to define, just as we've been discussing so far, but I thought it was an interesting concept if nothing else. ;)

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 09:00 AM
And just to throw it out there again, I'd be curious to hear any opinions on my second point:
And secondly, on a deeper level, consider this. We essential "think" in our own languages, for the most part. As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word, our brains are, in one aspect, "wired" to our native language(s). As a prepare a paragraph or a speech in my head, I'm thinking in my chosen language. The "voice" inside my head "speaks" my language. So, therefore, again, what is the most efficient language? Which language allows for the brain to think, process, etc. better on the whole?
I realize it's hard to define, just as we've been discussing so far, but I thought it was an interesting concept if nothing else. ;)

The second point, although not directly addressed, has been answered I believe in the general discussion, at least I think I touched on a it a little bit with my obviously overstated comment regarding learning French vs. knowing English.

The brain is an adaptive thing, thus I believe that there is no one language that can make the human brain process 'packets' more or less efficiently. If you are right handed, using your right hand is efficient and in most cases your left is not only not effcient, but often (nearly always for me :p) counter-productive! Similarly, my brain functions in English. Even in France when I try to speak French, I first process what I want to say in English, then translate, then verbally state what my mind has been tackling for the last mental-hour. I would imagine it is similar for other people, but perhaps more responses will shed more light on the subject.

MongoTheGeek
Jun 29, 2005, 09:00 AM
And just to throw it out there again, I'd be curious to hear any opinions on my second point:

And secondly, on a deeper level, consider this. We essential "think" in our own languages, for the most part. As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word, our brains are, in one aspect, "wired" to our native language(s). As a prepare a paragraph or a speech in my head, I'm thinking in my chosen language. The "voice" inside my head "speaks" my language. So, therefore, again, what is the most efficient language? Which language allows for the brain to think, process, etc. better on the whole?

I realize it's hard to define, just as we've been discussing so far, but I thought it was an interesting concept if nothing else. ;)

Bob Heinlein had a great story about group of people developed a language that was extremely condensed in terms of space. They started thinking in it and using it for everything and ended up accelerating the though process by shortening the internal dialog.

I can't remember the name of the story or even the anthology it was in.

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 10:02 AM
The second point, although not directly addressed, has been answered I believe in the general discussion, at least I think I touched on a it a little bit with my obviously overstated comment regarding learning French vs. knowing English.

The brain is an adaptive thing, thus I believe that there is no one language that can make the human brain process 'packets' more or less efficiently. If you are right handed, using your right hand is efficient and in most cases your left is not only not effcient, but often (nearly always for me :p) counter-productive! Similarly, my brain functions in English. Even in France when I try to speak French, I first process what I want to say in English, then translate, then verbally state what my mind has been tackling for the last mental-hour. I would imagine it is similar for other people, but perhaps more responses will shed more light on the subject.

Good points - perhaps there is no one language that makes the brain process information more efficiently, as you say.

Bob Heinlein had a great story about group of people developed a language that was extremely condensed in terms of space. They started thinking in it and using it for everything and ended up accelerating the though process by shortening the internal dialog.

I can't remember the name of the story or even the anthology it was in.

That's quite interesting - I may have to do some hunting around for that... :cool:

miloblithe
Jun 29, 2005, 10:15 AM
No votes for Russian? Spelled like it sounds. Relatively few exceptions to grammar rules. No annoying ideas like every sentence has to have a verb, or a subject. Russians are comfortable with the idea of these things being implied. If you're talking about "mother" you probably mean your mother, so why specify. If you're saying bread [equals] good, of course you mean bread "is" good, but why say "is"? If you're tired you probably don't want to have to go to the trouble of saying "I am tired" when "tired" should be considered a perfectly good sentence.

stridey
Jun 29, 2005, 10:21 AM
In that case, hebrew. Its awesome. Vowels are underneath letters, and they don't have mulitple pronounciations. woo woo jews rock :) ! Plus it's musical and words are easy to remember. Yeah hebrew pretty much is amazing in every way. You even get to read it from right to left!

Hebrew is very efficient, but not really for the reasons you state. The reason Hebrew is so efficient is that it's entirely root based: every single in word in the language (except for a handful cognates and 4 or 5 exceptions) is based on a three-letter root. That root is then expanded into not only verb tenses, but nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. So the words to learn (and all its conjugations), to study, a teacher, a student, learned (the adjective), etc. all share the same root, and are different from eachother in very systematic ways (which are extendable to other words).

Additionally, many present-tense situations (the default when speaking) are inferred without the need of redundant words. For instance, in English I need to say "The boy is happy." In Hebrew the "is" is implied, so you just say "The boy happy." All present-tense situations are like this: the verb is/are is implied in the present tense. Efficient!

efoto
Jun 29, 2005, 10:23 AM
Good points - perhaps there is no one language that makes the brain process information more efficiently, as you say.

That's quite interesting - I may have to do some hunting around for that... :cool:

If telepathy is infact reality and not just sci-fi (sweet, not likely but only time will tell) then perhaps we will find the answer to your question in the near future as we discover more about the human body and incorporating technology into it. I wonder, if we could communicate through telepathy, would language matter or because we are reading the thoughts a such a basic state, are they even conjugated into a verbal language yet or can we read them right as the neurons fire, effectively making all thoughts the same 'language'? I vote read up on that....make it happen....then give me credit :D

andiwm2003
Jun 29, 2005, 11:05 AM
in every day communication english is great. it's quick, has easy grammar (the part that is used in every day language), nobody really cares about grammar details (again in every day communication).

it's greatest advantage is its ability to create new verbs. try to make the sentences "i ebayed my powerbook" or "i googled for 'gattaca'" more efficient!

unfortunately english is sloppy and unprecise, has sometimes complicated pronounciation. that shows very much in legal texts where all the efficiency of the language is gone and the grammar is as complicated as it gets just to achieve precision. latin or german are better in this field.

my 2 cents.

andi

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 11:30 AM
No votes for Russian? Spelled like it sounds. Relatively few exceptions to grammar rules. No annoying ideas like every sentence has to have a verb, or a subject. Russians are comfortable with the idea of these things being implied. If you're talking about "mother" you probably mean your mother, so why specify. If you're saying bread [equals] good, of course you mean bread "is" good, but why say "is"? If you're tired you probably don't want to have to go to the trouble of saying "I am tired" when "tired" should be considered a perfectly good sentence.
Sounds like Newspeak. :D

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 11:43 AM
If telepathy is infact reality and not just sci-fi (sweet, not likely but only time will tell) then perhaps we will find the answer to your question in the near future as we discover more about the human body and incorporating technology into it. I wonder, if we could communicate through telepathy, would language matter or because we are reading the thoughts a such a basic state, are they even conjugated into a verbal language yet or can we read them right as the neurons fire, effectively making all thoughts the same 'language'? I vote read up on that....make it happen....then give me credit :D

Oooh, telepathy. Well then, now you're getting into a whole other discussion. Hmm, am I going to have to create another thread based just on that lovely topic? ;) For now, let me just say that telepathic communication would indeed be very efficient, as a "complete package" could be sent to someone in an instant. For example, I want to send you "Antarctica" as a message. Do you receive just the text in your head? No, it's just a word. Do you receive just a picture of an ice field? No, because that could be anywhere - you instead receive the picture and a simple inherent knnowledge of what and where it is - instantly, complete, at the speed of thought. :cool:

I could comment further on this in great detail, but as I said, maybe that is best saved for another thread at another time... In the meantime if you're interested efoto, PM me and I could share some very interesting information with you. :cool:

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 11:44 AM
No votes for Russian? Spelled like it sounds. Relatively few exceptions to grammar rules. No annoying ideas like every sentence has to have a verb, or a subject. Russians are comfortable with the idea of these things being implied. If you're talking about "mother" you probably mean your mother, so why specify. If you're saying bread [equals] good, of course you mean bread "is" good, but why say "is"? If you're tired you probably don't want to have to go to the trouble of saying "I am tired" when "tired" should be considered a perfectly good sentence.

Interesting, thanks for the insight - I have had no contact with Russian, so it's very inetresting to learn these aspects of the language. So is the removal of words, effectively creating sentence fragments, efficient or lazy? ;) :)

Lacero
Jun 29, 2005, 11:48 AM
Body language is the most efficient.

A warm smile or an evil eye carries forth a message quickly and with complete understanding. And it's universal, so that makes it the most efficient. What do I win?

Nemesis
Jun 29, 2005, 11:51 AM
No votes for Russian? Spelled like it sounds. Relatively few exceptions to grammar rules. No annoying ideas like every sentence has to have a verb, or a subject. Russians are comfortable with the idea of these things being implied. If you're talking about "mother" you probably mean your mother, so why specify. If you're saying bread [equals] good, of course you mean bread "is" good, but why say "is"? If you're tired you probably don't want to have to go to the trouble of saying "I am tired" when "tired" should be considered a perfectly good sentence.

Ditto to that! Althought somewhat different than Russian, I vote for Croatian. Croatian belongs to BaltoSlavic section of Indo-European language group, which started to develop somewhere 2000-1500 BC. Unlike some Slavic languages today, Croatian does not compromise its own Slavic words and historical heritage in favour of popular Roman or German expressions.

It is an extremely precise language, active in its nature, embraces subject of the sentence so is more fluent and direct than English for example, which is quite passive, loves the object and thus slow.

Croatian is also one of the hardest to learn because it has comprehensive grammar (that's why it's precise) but ... it's VERY easy to read!

Why? Because you read *exactly* as you write and you write *exactly* as you read. Quite unlike English. In other words, there are no spelling mistakes in communication, or need to spell something slowly (I reckon 20% of verbal communication in English is spent on spelling instructions) because when you hear it, no matter how complicated, you know immediately how that word was written -- the language is phonological.

Croatian has 30 letters in the alphabet and the alphabet begins with A. That A is pronounced shortly as an "A" in word "aqua", unlike English letter A, which actually sounds like Croatian E + I combined. :-)

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 11:51 AM
Interesting, thanks for the insight - I have had no contact with Russian, so it's very inetresting to learn these aspects of the language. So is the removal of words, effectively creating sentence fragments, efficient or lazy? ;) :)
It's efficient, duh! Hee. Like I said earlier... Newspeak anyone? <-- "1984"

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 11:53 AM
Body language is the most efficient.

A warm smile or an evil eye carries forth a message quickly and with complete understanding. And it's universal, so that makes it the most efficient. What do I win?
You'd think an evil eye is enough... tsk tsk. You win a: ;)

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 11:55 AM
People have been saying that binary is most efficient, but in fact base 3 is.
The only reason computers are base 2 is because it is easier to engineer.

http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14405?&print=yes

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 11:56 AM
It's efficient, duh! Hee. Like I said earlier... Newspeak anyone? <-- "1984"

I know the Orwell novel well and caught your initial reference. Well done. :)

hookahco
Jun 29, 2005, 12:05 PM
Hebrew is very efficient, but not really for the reasons you state. The reason Hebrew is so efficient is that it's entirely root based: every single in word in the language (except for a handful cognates and 4 or 5 exceptions) is based on a three-letter root. That root is then expanded into not only verb tenses, but nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. So the words to learn (and all its conjugations), to study, a teacher, a student, learned (the adjective), etc. all share the same root, and are different from eachother in very systematic ways (which are extendable to other words).

Additionally, many present-tense situations (the default when speaking) are inferred without the need of redundant words. For instance, in English I need to say "The boy is happy." In Hebrew the "is" is implied, so you just say "The boy happy." All present-tense situations are like this: the verb is/are is implied in the present tense. Efficient!

this is why i believe that Arabic is one of the most efficient languages. Semetic Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, and Arabic all share very similar language structure and some of the same words. Ancient hebrew was more like aramaic in the sense that all the roots were structured, but the version spoken now is just a mix of aramaic, arabic, and yiddish.

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 12:07 PM
As for language effecting how you think, I think it is pretty clear that it must. You think in words, and if you don't have a word for something that someone else does, you are at a clear disadvantage.

A very clever man I used to work with, a Chinese PhD, explained to me how when he went back to China for a holiday, he had difficulty explaining some of the newer software engineering concepts to his friends there, simply because they lacked the word for it.

I don't know how "strict" of a language Chinese is, but I know that in English we just take any words from other languages that we don't have. e.g. We just use the word "sushi" outright - we don't bother to convert it to e.g. "raw fish"

plinden
Jun 29, 2005, 12:12 PM
Even better: Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsmützenabzeichen :D

Shorter, but harder to say - Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentätur

Anyway, the most efficient language is, of course Newspeak.

Edit: how did this go from one page to three in the time it took me to write the above?

krimson
Jun 29, 2005, 12:13 PM
I don't know how "strict" of a language Chinese is, but I know that in English we just take any words from other languages that we don't have. e.g. We just use the word "sushi" outright - we don't bother to convert it to e.g. "raw fish"

normally, you'd say "sen yu pien" (lit. raw fish piece, more sashimi than sushi), but my parents say sushi as well, mostly for the younger generation, like me, my sister, cousins, etc. If they speak of it to others who didn't grow up in the US, they'll use the chinese way of saying it.

xsedrinam
Jun 29, 2005, 12:13 PM
As for language effecting how you think, I think it is pretty clear that it must. You think in words, and if you don't have a word for something that someone else does, you are at a clear disadvantage.

A very clever man I used to work with, a Chinese PhD, explained to me how when he went back to China for a holiday, he had difficulty explaining some of the newer software engineering concepts to his friends there, simply because they lacked the word for it.

I don't know how "strict" of a language Chinese is, but I know that in English we just take any words from other languages that we don't have. e.g. We just use the word "sushi" outright - we don't bother to convert it to e.g. "raw fish"

...and a quick immersion in Southern U.S. Culture will convert "sushi" from "raw fish" to....."bait" :D
X

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 12:15 PM
A very clever man I used to work with, a Chinese PhD, explained to me how when he went back to China for a holiday, he had difficulty explaining some of the newer software engineering concepts to his friends there, simply because they lacked the word for it.

I don't know how "strict" of a language Chinese is, but I know that in English we just take any words from other languages that we don't have. e.g. We just use the word "sushi" outright - we don't bother to convert it to e.g. "raw fish"
The same could be said for translating from Chinese to English: in a class we saw a video about "Chi" anyway, the man in the film said something in Chinese that was so moving but the English translation was dismal.

As for "borrowing" terms, Chinese definitely does that as well. For example; CD, there is a proper phrase for it but it would directly translate into 3 words that say "music card" so many people just say CD anyway. Let's not forget that many other countries require their students to learn English in school, so a lot of terms may not be as alien as one might assume.

devilot
Jun 29, 2005, 12:16 PM
normally, you'd say "sen yu pien" (lit. raw fish piece, more sashimi than sushi), but my parents say sushi as well, mostly for the younger generation, like me, my sister, cousins, etc. If they speak of it to others who didn't grow up in the US, they'll use the chinese way of saying it.
I definitely agree. Or when I wanna suck up to some 1st generation adults, it's all about using that proper Chinese. Wow, you spelled that really really well!

MongoTheGeek
Jun 29, 2005, 12:29 PM
People have been saying that binary is most efficient, but in fact base 3 is.
The only reason computers are base 2 is because it is easier to engineer.

http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14405?&print=yes

I hadn't thought about that in a while. I spent a week in college curled up with the Art of Computer Programming volume 2 trying to wrap my head around different base systems. Fractional bases, imaginary ones. Doing math in base pi.

The problem with ternary is that while yes it works well for computers(+5v,0,-5v), the magnetic storage (and optical) is on or off. There is no not magnetized.

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 12:42 PM
Well, it's a two way street. Here is a list of English words that possibly came from Chinese: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1523127

ketchup, anyone? :)

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 12:46 PM
I hadn't thought about that in a while. I spent a week in college curled up with the Art of Computer Programming volume 2 trying to wrap my head around different base systems. Fractional bases, imaginary ones. Doing math in base pi.

Yes, the only reason I thought of it when reading this thread was that one of my college lecturers showed us the proof that "e" is the optimal base.

stridey
Jun 29, 2005, 12:46 PM
ketchup, anyone? :)

Which, as a point of trivia, originally had most of the ingredients it has today. Except tomatoes. :p

krimson
Jun 29, 2005, 12:48 PM
im disputing the ketchup too... that's a main dialect of chinese. :D

krimson
Jun 29, 2005, 12:51 PM
I definitely agree. Or when I wanna suck up to some 1st generation adults, it's all about using that proper Chinese. Wow, you spelled that really really well!

thanks, i dont believe in the americanized system of pronounciation.. where they like to use X..

Xiang.. should be Shian...

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 01:14 PM
One could say that Hawaiian is the most efficient since it uses only 12 letters to make all the necessary words.

Yes, they are the winner. If the most efficient language has only 3 characters, then they are closest.

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jun 29, 2005, 01:21 PM
No votes for Russian? I mentioned Russian as on example of (modern) languages with many cases. And asserted that languages with many cases was those with least chance of misunderstanding/misinterpetations and therefore best for communication... ;)

AhmedFaisal
Jun 29, 2005, 01:29 PM
oh i got to remember that one ;)
i think just months ago i was sitting there thinking up a sentence for the political forum and searched like half a day if there was english translation for "Selbstbeweihräucherung".. i sat here swearing at one online dictionary after the other "&%!x@ ... it can't be ... there has to be word for that in english"

Also what is nice is the clear distinction between "Du/Sie" the lack of this in the English language bothers the heck out of me, especially at work. This whole addressing eachother by first name creates a very uncomfortable atmosphere of closeness that I definitely don't want to have at work.
As for German, yes, it used to be a beautiful language until some idiots in the government had the idea to "reform" our grammar and spelling. Now, even if it didn't create such impossible perversions as three identical consonants after each other, since when does a language have to be adapted so the Yahoos from abroad can learn it easier? WTF is that about?!?! If people come to a country they should learn the language as it is, and if they can't, well tough *****!
Cheers,

Ahmed

AhmedFaisal
Jun 29, 2005, 01:33 PM
oh i got to remember that one ;)
i think just months ago i was sitting there thinking up a sentence for the political forum and searched like half a day if there was english translation for "Selbstbeweihräucherung".. i sat here swearing at one online dictionary after the other "&%!x@ ... it can't be ... there has to be word for that in english"

I think the best translation would be "patting your own shoulder" of course, "Selbstbeweihraeucherung" is much more in your face and to the point. Its one thing I love about german, its not so much a language of sweet-talking like English.
Cheers,

Ahmed

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jun 29, 2005, 01:39 PM
Yes, they are the winner. If the most efficient language has only 3 characters, then they are closest.Well, then we're back to binary, which only has two... :p ;)

broken_keyboard
Jun 29, 2005, 01:44 PM
Well, then we're back to binary, which only has two... :p ;)

Well... they have the most efficient natural language I should say.

Lacero
Jun 29, 2005, 01:46 PM
People have been saying that binary is most efficient, but in fact base 3 is.
The only reason computers are base 2 is because it is easier to engineer.

http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14405?&print=yesTransistors can be only in 2 states, on or off. Am I wrong?

Qubits anyone? :D

mymemory
Jun 29, 2005, 02:40 PM
When it comes to write, is my native language but every time I write an email to my mother she reply checking my words because C, S and Z has the same sound and if I write VEZ mean "time or then" Cada vez (each time) but if I write VES mean look!.

English is good even does not make sense most of the time. By reading Shakespeare you can tell how simple you can express deep things with easy words. But is more fun to speak in Spanish I think beacause we simil everything, we describe everything, it is just one big slang. In place of saying "give me the cash" we say "get off that dunky". And snob people are call different in each country, in Mexico they call it "fresones" (strawberies), Venezuela Sifrinos (no clue what that actually is) but there is one general word for all spanish speaking that is "ingreido" even no one use it.

I think that the best language is seduction, as long you can take a girl to bed easy in any country you are fine :rolleyes:

xsedrinam
Jun 29, 2005, 02:44 PM
When it comes to write, is my native language but every time I write an email to my mother she reply checking my words because C, S and Z has the same sound and if I write VEZ mean "time or then" Cada vez (each time) but if I write VES mean look!.

English is good even does not make sense most of the time. By reading Shakespeare you can tell how simple you can express deep things with easy words. But is more fun to speak in Spanish I think beacause we simil everything, we describe everything, it is just one big slang. In place of saying "give me the cash" we say "get off that dunky". And snob people are call different in each country, in Mexico they call it "fresones" (strawberies), Venezuela Sifrinos (no clue what that actually is) but there is one general word for all spanish speaking that is "ingreido" even no one use it.

I think that the best language is seduction, as long you can take a girl to bed easy in any country you are fine :rolleyes:


¡Eh, Ave María, pues!

redeye be
Jun 29, 2005, 03:15 PM
...Similarly, my brain functions in English. Even in France when I try to speak French, I first process what I want to say in English, then translate, then verbally state what my mind has been tackling for the last mental-hour. I would imagine it is similar for other people, but perhaps more responses will shed more light on the subject.

Having lived in Belgium all of my life -and still doing so- i can say this is not the case for me. My native language is Dutch. When i was a little boy i always admired my mother for speaking French so fluently (both French and Dutch are the two most important of the official languages in blgm*). And i too though she 'though Dutch'. I remember asking her, i couldn't explain, she didn't get it. 'When i speak French i speak French'.
Now that i'm more proficient in my use of French i can say i 'think French' when speaking it. No need to translate, not even in-brain - most of the time. Same goes for English. Once you have developed a feeling for a language it gets easier.
Sometimes it's even more easy to come up with the word that's on the tip of your tongue in another language.

Esperanto must be the most efficient language (except for the fact that nobody speaks/understands it, there goes efficiency)
French is for poetry.
English is for the internet and movies.
Dutch is for talking to my family.

BTW dragonfly is translated as libelle in Dutch as well.

*German is the third official language spoken by a minority living close to the German border. I only speak 'Jean-Marie Pfaff' German. His German tv interviews from his Bayern Munchen days are historic here in blgm. :D

MongoTheGeek
Jun 29, 2005, 03:44 PM
Also what is nice is the clear distinction between "Du/Sie" the lack of this in the English language bothers the heck out of me, especially at work. This whole addressing eachother by first name creates a very uncomfortable atmosphere of closeness that I definitely don't want to have at work.

We lost it in the 1600s. Ironically it was just before England imported German kings...

The du is you and Sie was thee. The thee's and thou's have gone by the wayside.

As for German, yes, it used to be a beautiful language until some idiots in the government had the idea to "reform" our grammar and spelling. Now, even if it didn't create such impossible perversions as three identical consonants after each other, since when does a language have to be adapted so the Yahoos from abroad can learn it easier? WTF is that about?!?! If people come to a country they should learn the language as it is, and if they can't, well tough *****!

:) I was always amused by Grossstadt with the triple S but realizing that the first double ss is an ß cleared things up a bit. Once my wife was trying to get me to translate some german and was doing her best to say it phonetically and hit the ß and it took me a while to ask "Does it look like a beta?"

takao
Jun 29, 2005, 03:48 PM
redeye the libelle thing is hardly surprising.. i always love to read through the dutch manuals for VCRs etc. just for the fun of "let's see how many words i understand this time"..really funny because dutch sometimes isl iek a strange combination out of english words here, german there and some where i have no idea where they are coming from

edit: for the german new grammar orthography "rules" (more of a "joke") i simply ignore most of them .. i still write way to often ß when ss should be used or "ph" when f wuld be correct.... actually little historic fact: Duden regretet later that he wrote the first big german dictionary because it took a lot of "living end evolving" out of the german language

personally i even started to use ph in words with F (like Telefon -> Telephon) out of protest ;) ... those little differences add up to a personal style as long as it doesn't look ugly
like the new word for mayonnaise..a ****** umlaut in a french word ? what's next ? Garage written as "Garasche" ? or the brand new Safari Internet "Brauser" ?

mac-er
Jun 29, 2005, 03:56 PM
Supposedly, the most efficient language is Lojban (http://www.lojban.com/)

rainman::|:|
Jun 29, 2005, 04:06 PM
Where are you guys getting that binary is "more efficient"? On any level? If your brain is only capable of recognizing two characters, sure, but our brains are just a tad more powerful than the vacuum tubes Binary was developed for. In reality, binary is very inefficient, but it's the only way to get a transistor-based machine to understand anything.

redeye be
Jun 29, 2005, 04:12 PM
redeye the libelle thing is hardly surprising.. i always love to read through the dutch manuals for VCRs etc. just for the fun of "let's see how many words i understand this time"..really funny because dutch sometimes isl iek a strange combination out of english words here, german there and some where i have no idea where they are coming from
That's how Jean-Marie Pfaff got away with his interviews. Never seen any of them(?), they're great.
He just speaks dutch with a heavy german accent and a few german words to actually make it sound like he's speaking german proficiently. You really should check it out, although it's probably more fun if you speak dutch.
It beats reading a manual though ;) :D.

Our great great-great-great-...-great-grandparents spoke the same language. Nothing babylonical about it. ;)

skunk
Jun 29, 2005, 04:49 PM
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Mandarin....

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 04:52 PM
Supposedly, the most efficient language is Lojban (http://www.lojban.com/)

Weird, I've never heard of that. I'll have to peruse that site some more for fun and see what it's all about... I'm learning a fair bit thanks to this disscussion, I'm glad I started it - thanks for all the comments everyone! :)

skunk
Jun 29, 2005, 05:15 PM
Several noted linguists have suggested Aymara.
The language has attracted interest because it is based on a three value logic system, and thus supposedly has better expressiveness than many other languages based on binary logic.
It is cited by the author Umberto Eco in The Search for the Perfect Language as a language of immense flexibility, capable of accommodating many neologisms. Ludovico Bertonio published Arte de la lengua aymara in 1603. He remarked that the language was particularly useful for expressing abstract concepts. In 1860 Emeterio Villamil de Rada suggested it was "the language of Adam" (la lengua de Adán). Guzmán de Rojas has suggested that it be used as an intermediary language for computerised translation.From Wikipedia.

Lacero
Jun 29, 2005, 05:17 PM
Aramaic, the native language of Jesus. Hey, if he used it, we should too.

skunk
Jun 29, 2005, 05:30 PM
Aramaic, the native language of Jesus. Hey, if he used it, we should too.I think you're confusing the medium with the message.

xsedrinam
Jun 29, 2005, 05:51 PM
I think you're confusing the medium with the message.

I wonder what a song with "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani" in it would sound like? You're not saying Jesus was a "medium" though? :D
X

JeffTL
Jun 29, 2005, 07:23 PM
Latin gets my vote.

Why? The six cases. With that much inflection, you can get a lot across.

Ugg
Jun 29, 2005, 07:38 PM
Latin gets my vote.

Why? The six cases. With that much inflection, you can get a lot across.

Finnish has 14 and only one word, on, for he, she, it. Finland's record of gender neutrality in the work place is remarkable, I've often wondered if it is a reflection of its language.

Xtremehkr
Jun 29, 2005, 08:09 PM
Any language can be used effectively as long as it is used in such a way as to be direct and unambiguous. The speaker has only to frame the message in such a way as the listener is left with no doubt as to what the speaker means.

Pick any language you like as long as the message is clearly stated by the speaker, in terms that leaves the audience without any doubt as to what the speaker means.

All languages leave openings for misinterpretation, in a lot of ways, it comes down to how well the speaker wishes to be understood. In which case, you would frame the language containing the message to the audience, no matter what they may speak or understand. You could even use images, if the messenger thought it were appropriate, and did it in such as way as to where the audience was left with no doubt.

As to which is the most effective? well, which language is the most spoken? Frame the message correctly and it can be presented in any language. I don't think that there is a perfect language, yet. Every language (to date) can be used in a way that is misleading through simple methods like not including certain facts.

It seems like it depends more upon the messengers' intent, than the language itself.

Edit: okay, maybe not so impartial. But by the end of that thought, I feel it depends on the intent of the messenger, no matter what language they use. Which while not entirely answering the question adds what may be the most important element, the integrity of the messenger. All languages can be used effectively, or not. Using the most language effectively is going to reach the most amount of people. And that may a variety of things spoken and unspoken, communication is not limited to simply what is spoken, humans still rely upon body language and other factors as well. Intonation etc.

krimson
Jun 29, 2005, 08:33 PM
The most efficient language is the one that everyone in your specific group understands the most. It wouldn't be efficient for a spanish speaking person trying to convey an idea to a japanese person.

ne minna? :)

~Shard~
Jun 29, 2005, 11:35 PM
<snip>



Very good points. Perhaps it isn't just whether a language is efficient or not, but how well the user of that language has mastered it and can utilize it to the fullest extent in order to properly convey his true message. Being able to organize one's thoughts and adequately deliver a message is a skill and art in itself, regardless of the language being used.

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 02:39 AM
The same could be said for translating from Chinese to English: in a class we saw a video about "Chi" anyway, the man in the film said something in Chinese that was so moving but the English translation was dismal.

As for "borrowing" terms, Chinese definitely does that as well. For example; CD, there is a proper phrase for it but it would directly translate into 3 words that say "music card" so many people just say CD anyway. Let's not forget that many other countries require their students to learn English in school, so a lot of terms may not be as alien as one might assume.

Very true on many other countries teaching students to speak English as a second or third language, the inherent problem is that of all schools teaching all second/third languages: if you don't practice it becomes worthless and you remember nothing. I took Spanish for two years (the shortest required amount) and never used it for anything outside of class, the next year it was probably 60% gone, now five years later all I can say is "Where is the ____" with a vocabulary of maybe 40 words to fill the end.

Being in France I see this a lot too. Everyone here is required to take English as a third language (Alsacian region, French is first and then German, since the area is heavily mixed). I have found that the ones who have been required to practice for one reason or another are much better at speaking with me than others who have actually had more years in school learning the language, they have just never used it. I spoke with someone last night who has taken English for over 8 years but had trouble with even very simple phrases and words. I spoke with her younger sister, who has had only two (perhaps three) years and she was much better with it because she knows two people in the US and speaks/writes English commonly.

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 02:55 AM
Having lived in Belgium all of my life -and still doing so- i can say this is not the case for me. My native language is Dutch. When i was a little boy i always admired my mother for speaking French so fluently (both French and Dutch are the two most important of the official languages in blgm*). And i too though she 'though Dutch'. I remember asking her, i couldn't explain, she didn't get it. 'When i speak French i speak French'.
Now that i'm more proficient in my use of French i can say i 'think French' when speaking it. No need to translate, not even in-brain - most of the time. Same goes for English. Once you have developed a feeling for a language it gets easier.
Sometimes it's even more easy to come up with the word that's on the tip of your tongue in another language.

Esperanto must be the most efficient language (except for the fact that nobody speaks/understands it, there goes efficiency)
French is for poetry.
English is for the internet and movies.
Dutch is for talking to my family.

BTW dragonfly is translated as libelle in Dutch as well.

*German is the third official language spoken by a minority living close to the German border. I only speak 'Jean-Marie Pfaff' German. His German tv interviews from his Bayern Munchen days are historic here in blgm. :D

I guess with enough time like that, but I was referring to a more hard-set language and if you started French at an impressionable age, I think it would have been much easier to learn than if you were 20 or 30 years old. I remember Spanish in HS being quite easy to learn, all just a function of my applied effort really but it was not inherently difficult to learn the rules. Vocabulary in any language is simply memorization, that is easy with time and practice. I took Spanish when I was 13/14 years old, trying to learn French at the age of 21 is proving much harder than learning Spanish was, and I am in the country speaking the language I am trying to learn....so it surrounds me all the time! I do see your point though, and I have said prior that the brain is very adaptive and powerful so given enough effort, time, and practice I wouldn't be at all surprised if you can actually become multi-lingual as well as have your brain process in both languages.

So if that happens, does your brain actually process in both languages and prioritize a primary output method based on your location (ie you know where you are and therefore you default to that thinking and language subconciously) or do you process on in one language at a time? I see people at work yaking away in French all day, then they get a phonecall and instantly switch to English because it is a supplier or American-colleague, quite amazing really.

I think that the best language is seduction, as long you can take a girl to bed easy in any country you are fine :rolleyes:

Just because you can take her to bed easy doesn't make you efficient, although I do tend to agree that proficiency in this type of "language" does make you alright, even if you cannot express your feelings verbally ;)

redeye be
Jun 30, 2005, 03:24 AM
So if that happens, does your brain actually process in both languages and prioritize a primary output method based on your location (ie you know where you are and therefore you default to that thinking and language subconciously) or do you process on in one language at a time? I see people at work yaking away in French all day, then they get a phonecall and instantly switch to English because it is a supplier or American-colleague, quite amazing really.
More situation than location based, i'd say. Your brain just goes 'Woops X-language' and there you are talking X-language.

The thoughts themselfs, general ideas, probably don't have a speakable language so they are just being expressed in a spoken language. Any language you know. ( :confused: )

Sometimes on TV people are interviewed in one language and they respond in another. I can't do that. Or it's a great effort at least. If i know the language, i'll respond in that same language.
If someone would switch languages in a conversation, i wouldn't probably even notice at first and just switch with them. It has happened to me.

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 03:47 AM
More situation than location based, i'd say. Your brain just goes 'Woops X-language' and there you are talking X-language.

The thoughts themselfs, general ideas, probably don't have a speakable language so they are just being expressed in a spoken language. Any language you know. ( :confused: )

Sometimes on TV people are interviewed in one language and they respond in another. I can't do that. Or it's a great effort at least. If i know the language, i'll respond in that same language.
If someone would switch languages in a conversation, i wouldn't probably even notice at first and just switch with them. It has happened to me.

Very interesting, I didn't know it that after a level of proficiency switching back and forth was so easy. I find bi-lingual and multi-lingual people to be quite amazing, I love listen to someone speak to me, then the next word swap over and yell in another language at someone, then come instantly back to our conversation, all without skipping a beat or thought, utterly amazing.

It actually happened last night when we were drinking after a friend's audition, we were speaking on her back porch and her dog ran off after another dog and she went off on the mut in French, cursing at him and telling him to get back immediately!, then politly came right back to our conversation in English and continued the sentence she left off in, quite amazing. I wish I was so talented linguistically.

redeye be
Jun 30, 2005, 04:54 AM
... I wish I was so talented linguistically.
I think it's more a necessity than a talent. Most people in western orientated countries speak english. Therefor it is not that important to know any other language. Chinese is on the rise though, better start learning ;).

As for here in blgm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Demographics.2C_language_and_literacy), you can get around with knowing only dutch in Flanders (the dutch speaking part). I live in Brussels, where without french you're stuck because the majority here doesn't speak dutch. Necessity and use, more than talent.
And the sooner you start learning a different language, the better.

sacear
Jun 30, 2005, 05:02 AM
I thought I would pose an interesting question for some fun debate. That being:

What is the most efficient language in the world?

You can look at this on a few different levels, but let me start out with a couple thoughts for now, let some discussion ensue, and we elaborate further from there.

First of all, in interpersonal communication, which language allows for people to get their message across the most efficiently? Which language is the most concise, less confusing, etc.? Or is this truly subjective as opposed to objective? Different languages of the world are structured quite different, even with different alphabets and the like, so surely there must be some advantages and disadvantages?

And secondly, on a deeper level, consider this. We essential "think" in our own languages, for the most part. As we compile thoughts, and begin to translate them into written or spoken word, our brains are, in one aspect, "wired" to our native language(s). As a prepare a paragraph or a speech in my head, I'm thinking in my chosen language. The "voice" inside my head "speaks" my language. So, therefore, again, what is the most efficient language? Which language allows for the brain to think, process, etc. better on the whole?

I realize this is somewhat abstract, and perhaps, as I said above, more subjective than objective, as nothing could ever really be proven I suppose, but I thought it would be an interesting concept for discussion. I look forward to reading your thoughts. :cool:Arabic.

Jesus
Jun 30, 2005, 06:10 AM
We think in our native language. lets think about this like different architerture types, and different OSes with each architecrture, so italian and spainish are in the same architecture (i.e. Latin). So, when we start to speak, say, french, our brains are emulating a french brain, so it is less efficient and we spend a longer time thinking about how to say what we wnat to. When we become fluent in another lanugage, we become 'dual-bootable' so we can run in both english and french natively.

Jesus

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 06:46 AM
We think in our native language. lets think about this like different architerture types, and different OSes with each architecrture, so italian and spainish are in the same architecture (i.e. Latin). So, when we start to speak, say, french, our brains are emulating a french brain, so it is less efficient and we spend a longer time thinking about how to say what we wnat to. When we become fluent in another lanugage, we become 'dual-bootable' so we can run in both english and french natively.

Jesus

So basically we were PPC chip powered, now we are switching over to x86 architecture, allowing us the same use of OSX we had on our PPC knowledge, but now we have the added features (read vocabulary and structure) of the x86 and all of its software (read languages). So we are getting screwed yet again by Jobs, am I reading that right? :p (jk)

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 06:52 AM
I think it's more a necessity than a talent. Most people in western orientated countries speak english. Therefor it is not that important to know any other language. Chinese is on the rise though, better start learning ;).

As for here in blgm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Demographics.2C_language_and_literacy), you can get around with knowing only dutch in Flanders (the dutch speaking part). I live in Brussels, where without french you're stuck because the majority here doesn't speak dutch. Necessity and use, more than talent.
And the sooner you start learning a different language, the better.

I agree with what you are saying, and I too have heard that Chinese is on a rapid rise (funny because I am reading a book where the Chinese are trying to take over the world :p) and learning Chinese would probably be a great idea for the future of business.

I think the problems with being American and speaking English are:

We are rarely forced into learning a new language, and even then it is rarely applied so we often forget our highschool learnings.
We fall back on the security that because we are American and our country is the best :rolleyes: that everyone will adapt to us, why should be learn something new when they can? (stupid philosophy, but I think it is true)
American culture is so busy that it seems impossible to fit in the learning of a language (arbuably one of the hardest subjects to learn) because of the time and practice required to become proficient, and without a will to be proficient, what is the point?


Personally, I have loved being in France and experiencing this culture. Although I respect the American culture and its offerings, I have really taken a liking to this alternate way of life in France. It has really opened my eyes and inspired me to make a goal of traveling and experiencing new cultures to see what else the world has to offer. The problem with that is it would be nearly impossible for me to learn all the languages of the countries I would like to visit, I must choose one, perhaps two if I get good, and practice them very well to become proficient. I love France, and I love the language and would like to pursue learning it however having 24 university credits on top of a personal schedule makes taking on a language a difficult task :(

pianojoe
Jun 30, 2005, 07:16 AM
One of the most important features of language is redundancy and un-effectiveness. I wonder if it is prudent to seek effeciency in a language. Communication is much more than words. I also doubt that we all think (or dream) in our native language. Did you ever have a feeling you couldn't describe because you didn't find the words? Yet the feeling was there. Can you explain why music does to you what it does to you?

The golden way to broaden your mind is to learn several languages fluently. They say "When two people say the same, it isn't the same." and "interpreter—liar".

It's enlightening to suddenly begin to understand why Shakespeare doesn't work in German, or why West African languages can't be translated—well, yes, the words, but not the meaning. And, maybe, we should all learn some Arabic, Latin, and Greek. The lands round the Mediterrenean Sea are the cradle of our culture after all.

devilot
Jun 30, 2005, 08:21 AM
Communication is much more than words. I also doubt that we all think (or dream) in our native language. Did you ever have a feeling you couldn't describe because you didn't find the words? Yet the feeling was there. Can you explain why music does to you what it does to you?

The golden way to broaden your mind is to learn several languages fluently. They say "When two people say the same, it isn't the same." and "interpreter—liar".

The lands round the Mediterrenean Sea are the cradle of our culture after all.
I agree that music is a universal language, but it is a language and as such, is up for interpretation just like a spoken/written language. I also agree that it is very very beneficial to know more than one language coming from personal experience.

As for learning Greek, Arabic, and Latin as the cradle of our culture? Maybe of a lot of the Western-based cultures, but what about the Chinese? Last time I checked the little bit of Latin I know doesn't correspond w/ the Mandarin I know. :p

efoto
Jun 30, 2005, 11:23 AM
I agree that music is a universal language, but it is a language and as such, is up for interpretation just like a spoken/written language.<snip>

This may sound counter-intuitive at first, but after thinking it over I still think it is what I want to say :p

I think that music is a great language, however quite basic. It is very deep in nature but the access it has to human emotion and influence is very shallow.

Music can move you to feel happy or angry, smile like tomorrows perfect or cry your eyes out, etc etc, however where I think music falls short is that it only influences emotions, not higher brain functions and actual two-way communication where the listener gives active feedback to the song and it in turn adapts. Music is pre-written and although it can have great effect on the moment and make the perfect moment even better, it still fails to be instantly adaptive and intuitive conversation. Not to mention, it takes a lot of people and tools to make it happen well, not just two people and their naturally available toolset.

Uma888
Jun 30, 2005, 01:21 PM
Anyone mentioned Arabic? or even japenese?

~Shard~
Jun 30, 2005, 02:57 PM
Anyone mentioned Arabic? or even japenese?

Arabic was mentioned by sacear, but with no further explanation on why, so feel free to elaborate if you like. I don't believe Japanese (not japenese ;)) has been mentioned yet...

MongoTheGeek
Jun 30, 2005, 03:14 PM
Arabic was mentioned by sacear, but with no further explanation on why, so feel free to elaborate if you like. I don't believe Japanese (not japenese ;)) has been mentioned yet...

Both languages have the right to left thing against them. Only really useful if you are a south paw.

dstorey
Jun 30, 2005, 03:42 PM
I hate to be a grammar nazi, as I'm not so hot at English myself, but I've noticed two people write 'spelled' in this thread. Is that correct American English? Over here we would say spelt. Spelled just looks so wrong. For example, we would say "I spelt it like that.', not 'I spelled it like that.'

krimson
Jun 30, 2005, 03:47 PM
spelled is acceptable.

Lacero
Jun 30, 2005, 03:51 PM
English is a wacky language.

I felt pain, instead of I feelled pain.

I spilled milk, instead of I spelt milk.

nm. I'm talking gibberish.

~Shard~
Jun 30, 2005, 03:56 PM
I hate to be a grammar nazi, as I'm not so hot at English myself, but I've noticed two people write 'spelled' in this thread. Is that correct American English? Over here we would say spelt. Spelled just looks so wrong. For example, we would say "I spelt it like that.', not 'I spelled it like that.'

Actually "spelled" is perfectly acceptable. This is similar to what I saw in another thread, when there was a small debate over "spirt" versus "spurt", even though both are acceptable.

dstorey
Jun 30, 2005, 04:12 PM
English is a wacky language.

I felt pain, instead of I feelled pain.

I spilled milk, instead of I spelt milk.

nm. I'm talking gibberish.

I'd say "I spilt milk"

Talking of efficient languages, I love nordic languages like Norwegian, as there are no verb conjugation such as jeg er, du er, han er for i am, you are, he is. Makes learning verbs much easier. The strong verbs are much more pure too, and often have a pattern to how they change in different tenses just as the weak verbs do. English strong verbs on the other hand have evolved so many times that they are a complete mess and totally irregular for the most part. For example... I go, I went... Went wason't even originally part of the verb 'to go' but from old english 'wense'. With the size of our lexin and the number of exceptions, no wonder english is so hard for people to learn. I wonder if there is any language that combines nordic languages lack of conjunction with English's lack of gender for inanimate objects (except for ships... another English exception)

devilot
Jun 30, 2005, 04:15 PM
I'd say "I spilt milk"
I believe "spilt" and "spilled" are both proper past participles. To be used correctly as such, "I had spilt the milk," or also, "I had spilled the milk." To think that people used to call me, Grammatica, goddess of grammar.

MongoTheGeek
Jun 30, 2005, 04:25 PM
I believe "spilt" and "spilled" are both proper past participles. To be used correctly as such, "I had spilt the milk," or also, "I had spilled the milk." To think that people used to call me, Grammatica, goddess of grammar.

The propriety of usage depends primarily on how you spell colour.

;)

jaykk
Jun 30, 2005, 05:09 PM
I am surprised that one of the oldest language is not mentioned. Here is an interesting article link -> Sanskrit as an Object Oriented Language (http://www.libervis.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=58)

Here is another research paper NASA on Sanskrit (http://www.gosai.com/science/sanskrit-nasa.html)

~Shard~
Jun 30, 2005, 05:37 PM
I am surprised that one of the oldest language is not mentioned. Here is an interesting article link -> Sanskrit as an Object Oriented Language (http://www.libervis.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=58)

Here is another research paper NASA on Sanskrit (http://www.gosai.com/science/sanskrit-nasa.html)

These look like interesting articles, I'll deifnitely have a read. Thanks for the links! :)

guifa
Jun 30, 2005, 06:30 PM
When it comes to write, is my native language but every time I write an email to my mother she reply checking my words because C, S and Z has the same sound and if I write VEZ mean "time or then" Cada vez (each time) but if I write VES mean look!.

Um, maybe someone needs to teach you basic Spanish pronunciation rules.

If it sounds like English /sh/, you write S. If it sounds like English /th/, you write Z. If you follow the Z with either an E or an I, you exchange it for a C because a Z can't be followed by those letters. So, /besh/ is ves and /beth/ is vez

S and Z do not have the same sound, unless you're speaking non-standard Spanish.

In any case, I put my vote in for Korean. The existence of the topic marker makes it far more effective for communication. Once you identify something as the topic with a special particle, it because the subject for the rest of the conversation until another noun comes along marked as the topic. To temporarily use another subject, you can use a subject market, which only sets the subject for that sentence. Generally though in conversation once things are said, unless there's a reason to change something, things are repeated. It's heavily contextual, yes, but very efficient (and, as previously mentioned, because it uses a synthetic alphabet developed by scholars in the 12th [or was it 13th? I always forget] century, its writing system actually makes sense.)

sacear
Jun 30, 2005, 06:39 PM
Both languages have the right to left thing against them. Only really useful if you are a south paw.Oh, I disagree with that completely. I am predominantly right-handed (so predominantly "left-brained?). Arabic is the most logical and efficient language I have studied so far. The whole construction and history of the language is very efficient, logical, and precise. Unlike "Western" languages that seem to change over time adding bits and pieces of other languages and slang words into the language proper. So then the result is something like Old English, Middle English, and Modern English, none very similar to another and almost unrecognizable from another. Those are nearly three different languages. Arabic is the same now as 400 years ago and more. Which makes understanding old Arabic documents very easy. Arabic has more letters in its alphabet and more words in its vocabulary. Also those letters and words are used with much more precision and efficiency than English.

From what I have read in the above posts, Arabic has similar elements of Sanskrit (very logical, efficient, and modular like a programming language) and Korean (ancient manufactured and controlled alphabet and grammar rules maintained for hundreds of years).

efoto
Jul 1, 2005, 02:47 AM
If we begin to discuss writing language (since we have predominately been on the topic of speech) I think things will get a little more difficult. Many people learn a new language, or their own, first by hearing and repeating, not writing. In school they stress both however in common practice you learn by repetition and hearing.

An American co-worker here in France (who has been here over 4 years now) said that the first 3 months he knew nothing (he also took Spanish in Highschool), then around 6 months he understood roughly 60% of what was said, more if they spoke a little slower for him. Around the end of the first year is when he said he began to speak and actually form sentences.
Now after 4 years, I spoke with him yesterday and he said that he can speak very well (as many French colleagues have verified, he speaks "very good French" they tell me, even though it sounds strange when I hear him speak it) however he said that even now he still writes ALL of his emails and correspondance in English. He admitted to learning to speak French by hearing, not fully learning the language. He wants to take some classes at a local college this summer for writing and reading to better understand the language.

I was not here long enough to really test this, at the 3 month marker I am understanding perhaps 50% when the conversations are semi-tailored on my behalf (ie spoken at a slightly slower rate) however I cannot write French worth a lick (have to use Google's Language Tools and triple-translate what I want to write).

Ideas or experience on this?

5300cs
Jul 1, 2005, 08:40 AM
I think Japanese is pretty efficient. In the process of studying it and living over here, I've had the opportunity to see English from the Japanese perspective.

In Japanese there are maybe 3 words that mean "to see", but in English? See, look, regard, glance, watch, view, stare, gander, gawk, etc, etc. They don't all mean the exact same thing, but they are very close. People constantly ask me why we say "watch TV" but the very people that watch TV are called "TV viewers". Why do we watch a movie? Why not look at a movie? All kinds of questions like that I get every week.

The subject can also be dropped from sentences and they'll still make sense. For example, in English you could ask "Do you want to go to the store?" and a possible answer: "Sure, I'll/let's go." In everyday Japanese it would be like this: Q: "Store go?" A: "Go." Bang! That's it.

If that's what you mean by efficient, then Japanese could be high on that list.

Communicating in Japan can be a loooong drawn out process though, for example there can be long pauses where no one says anything, or the sucking of air through the teeth can mean something is difficult. Also, "That's a little difficult" or "We'll think about it" can really means "No way. Forget it." In that scenario, Japanese can be inefficient time-wise.

mad jew
Jul 1, 2005, 08:44 AM
Communicating in Japan can be a loooong drawn out process though, for example there can be long pauses where no one says anything, or the sucking of air through the teeth can mean something is difficult. Also, "That's a little difficult" or "We'll think about it" can really means "No way. Forget it." In that scenario, Japanese can be inefficient time-wise.


Dunno if it's just me but I've also noticed that Japanese people tend to agree/say yes/nod when they don't know what you're saying or they don't know the answer. This is pretty confusing/humorous some of the time too.

efoto
Jul 1, 2005, 08:48 AM
Dunno if it's just me but I've also noticed that Japanese people tend to agree/say yes/nod when they don't know what you're saying or they don't know the answer. This is pretty confusing/humorous some of the time too.

It isn't just the Japanese, it is anyone caught in another culture trying to understand and not luck dumb. Problem being, always agreeing when you don't understand makes you look even worse, I know, I've done it recently :p

Sometimes I stop at the grocery store to ask a question to a stranger about some article of food or whatever, they rattle something off while I'm nodding the entire time, then ask me at the end if I understand. I want to say "hell no, just the last part asking 'do you understand'" but instead I just say "oui" and leave because it isn't worth my time, I won't get it even if they repeat it over and over :p I would take a guess that often it is the same mentality for many visitors.

superninjagoat
Jul 1, 2005, 10:23 AM
And just to throw it out there again, I'd be curious to hear any opinions on my second point:

I realize it's hard to define, just as we've been discussing so far, but I thought it was an interesting concept if nothing else. ;)

I think the concept of thinking in a language is flawed at its most basic level. Language is communication, giving you a window into what's going in in my head and vice-versa. It's based on our individual skill and mastery of our verbal and non-verbal language sets.

We do, in some sense, think in languages; and when a person stops to think and pays attention to his thoughts, he tends to hear the "voice in his head." This is a very inefficient form of thought. But there is a deeper, faster level at which we think where we access memories, feeling, concepts and experiences; assign them simple "words;" and juxtapose these ideas to come to decisions and evaluate what we think about a given subject. This is called token thought, and it's quite efficient. For example, "the lady that I've know for years who has taken care of me when I was sick and who people have told me — although I don't remember it myself — wiped my tail when I was a baby; the woman who disciplined me when I was bad that time, and who I disagreed with over my curfew … (insert every feeling for, memory of and knowledge about my mother — a lifetime of experiences)" can be summed up by the token "mother."

Note that the token "mother" can then be juxtaposed with the tokens "parent" and "love" and leave me with a very different set of thoughts that when juxtaposed with the tokens "abuse" or "dead." We can also choose to use only a subset of a token, such as "mother as related to food" or "mother as related to father."

There are things a person can think of that have no corresponding words. Those words may be present in other languages or they may not. But we can still communicate those thoughts thought language conventions such as simile and metaphor, onomatopoeia and the like. A skilled communicator can do that in fewer words. Some ideas are not as important to the total idea. There, brevity is key. Other ideas require specificity.

Effective communication requires both (or multiple) parties to come away with a similar notion of what the communication was about. Typically, that requires some back and forth, sharing verbiage to ensure that the same tokens are being evaluated in similar fashion. The problem comes when trying to introduce new information to another participant (such as what I am attempting to do here). There, the communicator must help the recipient form a new token so that it can be evaluated. Then, the participant must accept or reject the token based on his own experience.

But I seem to be getting tangential to your original question: "Are some languages better mediums for thought?" My answer is no. But I do think some languages may be better at communicating those thoughts. I'd say that any language spoken by thousands to millions of people over several generations will meet a certain litmus test for efficiency of communication, so the empirical difference between them may be negligible at best and minor at worst. Still, a skilled communicator in the worst language can get across a complex idea far better than a poor communicator who speaks the most efficient language.

- MrNinjaGoat

(p.s. I haven't posted in a while. Got a lot going on at work and a baby on the way. Still lurking, however.)

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jul 1, 2005, 10:52 AM
The language you speak (or think) is definitively forming the way you see the world around you, more so than visa versa. Studies with speakers of the Piraha language (http://mura-piraha-language.wikiverse.org/), which has no distinction between different numbers, they only use one, two and many (and they use the same word for one and two, but with different tone), have shown that they start having problems with numbers as low as three or four. They struggled to replicate lines drawn for them when the number of lines exceeded two.

http://webserver.forskning.no/portal/Bilder/1094040996.15/1094040996.15_content.bmp

Another test was made where they presented the people with an image of a given number of fishes, then put a candy(!) in a jar with an image of that many fishes and had another empty jar with an image with either one more or one less fish on it. The study showed that the Piraha didn't do much better than pure guessing on those tests either...

These studies are seen as a sort of evidence for the linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf's theories which basically says language forms the thought/mind. An idea that really goes back to Augustin (354—430).

superninjagoat
Jul 1, 2005, 11:08 AM
The language you speak (or think) is definitively forming the way you see the world around you, more so than visa versa.



I agree that language helps shape thought, but I don't believe it defines it. I would say the Piraha don't have the frame of reference, the "token" to deal with basic counting. Take time and explain the concepts to them, and I believe the Piraha would find words in their language to express it or borrow words from the explainer. They must have the capacity for the thought.

Understand that I am not familiar with this study, so this is extrapolation, but I believe a proper analogy to the Piraha people/counting example would be to ask me to explain how to hem a dress (or to actually hem it mysellf). I don't know how to do that. I understand that it involves a needle, thread and possibly a sewing machine, but I could not tell you what the fold of the hem is called or what types of stitches to use, etc.

I understand the difference in that English likely has words for all these things. But my lack of knowledge of the words used in sewing is similar to their lack of words for specific numbers higher that two.

-s.n.goat

Mitthrawnuruodo
Jul 1, 2005, 11:49 AM
I agree that language helps shape thought, but I don't believe it defines it. I would say the Piraha don't have the frame of reference, the "token" to deal with basic counting. Take time and explain the concepts to them, and I believe the Piraha would find words in their language to express it or borrow words from the explainer. They must have the capacity for the thought.Aah, but that would in a way be to teach them another language, wouldn't it...? ;)

superninjagoat
Jul 1, 2005, 12:51 PM
Aah, but that would in a way be to teach them another language, wouldn't it...? ;)

Sure, but only in the same way that coining a phrase in English is learning a new language. Vocabulary is separate from syntax.

Syntax and structure are the rules by which language and thought are linked. If their syntax limited putting a proper noun with a verb denoting movement, for example, that would be a severe limitation that would require learning syntax from another language.

Supa_Fly
Jul 1, 2005, 02:06 PM
Now I grew up all my life speaking English. I just found out that I learned to speak French + patwa (broken Caribbean English if you can call it a language - I dont I think I spelt it wrong anyway), long before English. Strange though that without much home practice and lack of vision/help in how it could've benefited me, after grade 9 I was done with it and very poor at it.

My thoughts are to those of you whos native language is something else. I was fortunate enough to live in a very diverse neighborhood - Hebrews, Russian-Jews, East Indians, Chinese, Italians, etc - and found that so many of my childhood friends actually thought very differently from each other. Yet somewhat similar in concept. Does this occur to you, even though you speak English fluently?

Lastly, what about Deja-Vu? Many times I've had what I thought was Deja-Vu, and within the 1st 3seconds I told several people around me to stop - even those that I had no idea the conversation - and I could tell them with 100% accurately what the next sentence they were going to say, or even what would occur; very scary. Once I few of my friends left a club and while walking down the street to our parked car a family of skunks were crossing cautiously. We naturally froze, trying to wait them out - as 2 babies went up on their front paws in fire mode. They went down and the skunk family proceeded to cross and for a strange thought, I knew that a red celica gt-s would be speeding around the corner behind us and I pass 3 of my friends to my left (i was on the right side of the road, traffic behind us was travelling one-way towards our left) and grabbed my buddy Namic outta the way. If I even hesitated for 1.5 seconds he'd be in the hospital. The car nearly took his leg off, mashed the side of an SUV, and took off. I got a happy thanks and a punch in the face from another friend, John, who was to the right of Namic for not even trying to help him. Mind you we were all mad drunk save for our friend Susan who was designated driver, and neither of us even heard the car.

Again scary. Whats your guys take on Deja-Vu as a brief method of communication, and better yet how other native spoken languages form your thought patterns??

MongoTheGeek
Jul 1, 2005, 02:29 PM
My thoughts are to those of you whos native language is something else. I was fortunate enough to live in a very diverse neighborhood - Hebrews, Russian-Jews, East Indians, Chinese, Italians, etc - and found that so many of my childhood friends actually thought very differently from each other. Yet somewhat similar in concept. Does this occur to you, even though you speak English fluently?

I am not sure how much of them thinking differently is language and how much of it is culture and if it is possible to make a distinction.

I too grew up in a mixed area. Where I live now is very white bread and to tell you the truth. Seeing all of these white people is a little scary, even though, yes, I'm one of them.

I know there are times where I've been thinking in other languages. Problem is I don't understand what I'm thinking at the time since I didn't know the language.

Again scary. Whats your guys take on Deja-Vu as a brief method of communication, and better yet how other native spoken languages form your thought patterns??

I have experienced Deja Vu before. Usually though the separation is on the order of months. I get the clip of the future with a bit of context, look for it over the next few days, remember it every once in a while and then see it around the time I'd forgotten about it.

sacear
Jul 6, 2005, 12:39 PM
If we begin to discuss writing language (since we have predominately been on the topic of speech) I think things will get a little more difficult. Many people learn a new language, or their own, first by hearing and repeating, not writing. In school they stress both however in common practice you learn by repetition and hearing.All my comments about Arabic refer to speaking the language; I was not even thinking about writing.

sacear
Jul 6, 2005, 12:48 PM
I think Japanese is pretty efficient. In the process of studying it and living over here, I've had the opportunity to see English from the Japanese perspective.

In Japanese there are maybe 3 words that mean "to see", but in English? See, look, regard, glance, watch, view, stare, gander, gawk, etc, etc. They don't all mean the exact same thing, but they are very close. People constantly ask me why we say "watch TV" but the very people that watch TV are called "TV viewers". Why do we watch a movie? Why not look at a movie? All kinds of questions like that I get every week.

The subject can also be dropped from sentences and they'll still make sense. For example, in English you could ask "Do you want to go to the store?" and a possible answer: "Sure, I'll/let's go." In everyday Japanese it would be like this: Q: "Store go?" A: "Go." Bang! That's it.

If that's what you mean by efficient, then Japanese could be high on that list.Yes, the same with Arabic.

What I meant by efficient is specific. Specific words mean specific things and work in specific ways in the language to convey meaning. There are not tons of synonyms and homonyms as there are in English.

jayscheuerle
Jul 6, 2005, 01:14 PM
It seems to me that whenever an instruction book or guide is printed in a variety of Roman lettered languages, the English section appears to take far fewer words to get the point across. Seems more efficient to me.

Does anyone know if this is simply a poor translation job, or is it the case?

snkTab
Jul 6, 2005, 01:55 PM
I would say Japanese is an easy language, but not really efficient. There are a lot of reuse of primitives, they are particles that denote grammer, and then they are different saying depending on who you are talking to.

The fact that Japanese like to talk around a subject rather than be blunt about it doesn't help either. Still, I think Japanese is a great langauge.

RedTomato
Jul 6, 2005, 07:24 PM
No votes for sign languages?

I don't mean just gesturing when you can't remember the word. I mean the fully evolved language as used by Deaf people from Deaf families, some of which stretch back for hundreds of years.

As someone who's been learning BSL (British Sign Language) for several years, I find it just totally amazing..

Indexing subjects by location in space, timelines along parts of the body, talking about different subjects at the same time using right and left hands simultanously, and at times, the head to indicate a third simultanous subject.... signs have their own verb-noun-plural agreements which can be distributed in space, irregular forms, idioms and regional accents..

What's even more fun is going to an international Deaf conference, like the Deaf arts festival I was at last weekend in Reims (near Paris, France). About 2000 deafs were there, from across the world, chatting away in International sign, a kind of lingua franca / communication system in the global Deaf community.

Now International Sign, I call it one of the most efficient languages possible. Tho I cheat, as there are no native International signers, so it's more of a creole (?) than a language. Anyway if you can include Esperanto, then I include international. And there's lots more conferences and global meetups being conducted in International Sign than in Esperanto

International can be picked up in a few days by a Deaf signer but is notoriously difficult for hearing people to learn. First, a national Sign Language has to be learned to a high level so that you absorb the deeper grammical structures and the conveyance of meaning through visual structuring (instead of the linear structures of spoken/written languages).

Then you go to as many international Deaf gatherings as possible and start learning how to communicate with non-english speaking Deaf peoples, learning their own national signs etc.

[ASL (Americian Sign Language) is far more English influenced than most sign languages when compared to the spoken language of their country of origin]

Hearing people not born to a Deaf family have enough trouble learning a single sign language; it's been likened to an English native learning fluent Chinese, let alone start learning various other sign languages, but most well travelled Deaf people have a working knowledge of International, plus two or three other sign languages...

anyways it's late so i'll shut up...

xoxo Tomato

~Shard~
Jul 6, 2005, 07:44 PM
<snip>


Thanks for the post, lots of good insight there. I wasn't aware of all the details and variations you commented on with regards to sign language. :cool:

Leareth
Jul 6, 2005, 08:21 PM
Do words shape worlds or does the world shape our words?
Efficiency in language depends on what you need to get across,
a flip of the middle finger in most of the world quickly and efficiently shows your displeasure but does not convey the reasons for it, for that there must be words, they can be simple or descriptive which is more efficient?
fast answer or full explanation and understanding?
I am fluent in five languages and I can honestly say english is the least efficient and hardest to learn of all of them ( for speaking anyway , damn cyrillic alphabet) ...

OOk and oog may be efficient in getting the point across but do not allow for intelectual thought...there is a really great episode of South park where the aliens had one word for all nouns , it think the word was something like marklark... :p

Z6128
Jul 6, 2005, 09:31 PM
i'm not quite sure what the most efficient language would be but i can say that i am fascinated by languages. in fact i'll be a junior in high school come september and have spanish, french, and german (a bit extreme, i know). french is by far the easiest language for me, and that included reading and writing it). to me, english is a boring language with too many exceptions. i love the way french sentences flow so smoothly. i'm planning on taking the trip to germany next year that the german club at my school goes on every year. anybody ever been to germany or france. whatd you think of it? i'd love to go to both places and maybe live in france (a bit off topic, but you can always pm if you don't want to tie up the thread). anyway, just thought i'd add my thoughts in.

~Shard~
Jul 6, 2005, 11:15 PM
i'm not quite sure what the most efficient language would be but i can say that i am fascinated by languages. in fact i'll be a junior in high school come september and have spanish, french, and german (a bit extreme, i know). french is by far the easiest language for me, and that included reading and writing it). to me, english is a boring language with too many exceptions. i love the way french sentences flow so smoothly. i'm planning on taking the trip to germany next year that the german club at my school goes on every year. anybody ever been to germany or france. whatd you think of it? i'd love to go to both places and maybe live in france (a bit off topic, but you can always pm if you don't want to tie up the thread). anyway, just thought i'd add my thoughts in.

I've backpacked through France and Germany (as well as a ton of other Eurpoean countries!) and found the languages quite easy to pick up, actually - I enjoyed them, and enjoyed speaking the little bit that I obtained while I was there. :cool: