What is the Most Efficient Language?

Discussion in 'Community' started by ~Shard~, Jun 28, 2005.

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  1. macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #1
    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:
     
  2. macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #2
    Binary is the most efficient language. Now if humans can be trained to think and talk in 64-bit binary.... :p
     
  3. macrumors P6

    ~Shard~

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    #3
    Thanks Lacero - any thoughts on the rest of my essay, in terms of human languages? ;)
     
  4. macrumors 68020

    rockthecasbah

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    #4
    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!
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Mavimao

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    #5
    Esperanto.

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

    Doctor Q

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    #6
    Huffman encoding makes it even more space efficient (in most cases). In fact, even run-length encoding can make it more space efficient.
     
  7. Ugg
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    Ugg

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    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Mavimao

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    #8
    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
     
  9. Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #9
    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. ;)
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Mavimao

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    #10

    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
     
  11. macrumors 6502

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    #11
    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.
     
  12. macrumors regular

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    #12
    Vowels in Hebrew are just for beginners.

    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
     
  13. Moderator emeritus

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    #13
    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.
     
  14. Moderator emeritus

    devilot

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    #14
    :confused: So how was I wrong? Germanic language borrowed from a Latin-based language.

    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.
     
  15. macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #15
    ANSI C?
     
  16. macrumors G5

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    #16
    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
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #17
    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"
     
  18. macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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    #18
    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
     
  19. macrumors 68000

    Veldek

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    #19
    Even better: Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänsmützenabzeichen :D
     
  20. macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #20
    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:
    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"
     
  21. macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #21
    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.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Omen88

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    #22
    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 :)
     
  23. macrumors 68030

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    #23
    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.
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #24
    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" ;)
     
  25. macrumors 68030

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    #25
    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.
     
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