An/Année, Jour/Journée, etc
I found it a little confusing to understand when to use the masculine or feminine forms of these time words, but this article helped clear things up quite a bit: http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/an-annee-jour-journee-matin-matinee-soir-soiree.htm
But when Duolingo comes out with "Des années, des jours, des heures, combien ?", how do you interpret that? Would you say "années" gets the emphasis on duration, since it's the longest of the list, making "jours" simply a division of "années" (as opposed to "journées") ? Or should I just not worry about this one sentence?
So, there's annee, journee, matinee, and soiree, but no moisee nor semainee?
If you take a look at the use of the various words, PERHAPS you'll find the difference is in the emotion associated with the expression, as well as the way it trips from the tongue. "Une bonne année" for me carries more warmth than "un bon an" [which sounds and feels weird, now that I've been practising French for a while] Duolingo's example might be used in the context of a bewildered person trying to understand the passage of time, as opposed to merely counting the years, days and hours.
im getting sick of people saying it sounds weird and 'feel's' feelings are subjective.
The brain's responses to syntactic and semantic anomalies (the P600 and N400 waves) are well-documented, and are the same in language learners as in native speakers (Mobley et. al.). Correctness in language is "subjective" in that people feel it, but it is not arbitrary. These "feelings" are how language works as a biological function, which is after all what it is.
Linguistics provides a way to analyze a language in a manner that is not only internally consistent, but also not sensational. French has inherited a LOT of linguistic study due to Ferdinand de Saussure and other great linguists. When someone says there is no explanation for a linguistic phenomenon in French (especially masculine and feminine forms), they are clearly ignorant of the depth to which the language has been studied.
There is nothing more frustrating than asking a native speaker a question about his/her language that they clearly have never even thought about before precisely because they are guided by their feeling, not by any rigorous examination of the language. It's well-known among linguists that native speakers are notoriously difficult to get information out of. In fact, modern linguistics strongly prefer to organize and analyze data by its use rather than by native speakers' judgement precisely because the latter is so confusing and inaccurate.
er. i am a linguist; specifically i am a neurolinguist. i don't ask native speakers about their languages. i attach electrodes to their heads and watch what their brains do while they are doing language.
language is a biological process, not an information science. the data-analyzing approach is fascinating, and it may teach us a lot about how to model language. but it does not tell us how humans do language processing, and nothing short of examining people can do that.
i do not suggest that introspection is the way to go. the parts of the brain that process language are not available to conscious inquiry, no more than the parts of the brain that regulate how we walk, breathe, or monitor hormone levels in the bloodstream. but "data collection" won't do it either; the output of the system is not the workings of the system. current physiological linguistics is however an exciting science. for the beginnings of the field i direct you to the work of marta kutas and colleagues; for the present i can recommend no one more than my former advisor, lee osterhout.
I'm a linguist, too...applied with a background in comparative linguistics! I disagree that you can distill language learning to merely a biological process. It's a social interaction as well. The creation of linguistic descriptions of a language as it pertains to new language learning is largely the domain of cognitive, structural, and socio-linguistic approaches; biological capabilities are taken as a given. However, just because one has the capability to learn a language does not mean that they do. If you want to teach/learn a new language more than biology is required.
I am fascinated by psycho and neuro-linguistics, I'm digging into the names you recommended now. However, I haven't seen this particular specialty contribute anything on the subject of language pedagogy or in creating a teachable/learnable model of particular languages. If you know of any, I'd be grateful if you could send more references my way! Thanks!
Great, thanks! It's an interesting finding. The "feeling" of fluency is definitely what every instructor aims for in their students, but it's really the last thing that happens. You need to build to that. I wonder if teachers that don't explain a language well to their students are less effective or more. It's considerably less, in my experience, but it could be very interesting research.
sorry to reply here -- i can't find a reply button for your latest post :/ anyway, at this point i don't think anyone is using the biology to design pedagogy. however, please do read mobley et. al. for a description of the brain activity in first-year college-french language learners. the takehome message is that the biology is functionally the same for natively-acquired and late-learned languages, and that the brain's responses are actually better than the students' overt judgments -- in other words, the "feeling" is more accurate than the "knowing if you are right".
there´s a similar distinction in Italian and Portuguese: dia x jornada, noite x noitada
This is a thorough article, but like "panki" below, it leaves me wanting. The author calls the masculine words "division words" and the feminine ones "duration words". However, that neat explanation breaks down quickly. Larousse defines "an" as a period of 12 months (not tied to a calendar year) and "année" as a division of the calendar, e.g. 2012. I.e., it is just the opposite of the simple explanation offered as "le jour" being a division word and "la journée" being a duration word . As to "soir = fin du jour" vs. "soirée = fin de la journée", it remains unclear other than just becoming accustomed to the feel of how these words are used. Can someone offer any better clarification than the linked article?
If the syntax is smooth, I do tend to remember the vocabulary better. " Une bonne annee (pardon the accent: It is not possible on my machine.)" sounds, to me, better than "un bon an," etc., Therefore I remember the expression better.