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https://www.duolingo.com/dogdogdoggg

Question for non-native english speakers:

This is a question for people who speak English but are not native speakers: How did you learn contractions and were they are hard? Do other languages have something like contractions? Thanks!

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1 year ago

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
Heike333145Plus
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My native language is German, and I started learning English a few centuries ;-) ago. At that time, contractions weren't very usual in written English. And I think even today you can do without them. I can say: I'm an honest person. Or I can say: I am an honest person.

Or am I mistaken, old-fashioned??

In my opinion, prepositions and phrasal verbs are much more difficult to learn; I'm still struggling with them ...

Ah, not to forget your second question: Yes, in German we have contractions, too, but they are only used in colloquial speech.

For example:

Ich habe es mir überlegt. (I've thought about it) == Ich hab's mir überlegt.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cswrawr
cswrawr
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It's not old-fashioned, I was taught (as a native speaker) to never use contractions in formal writing. The rise of the internet has just made informal writing so very widespread.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
Heike333145Plus
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Thank you! I'm glad to see that I'm not old-fashioned.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaxBabel
MaxBabel
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Aren't words like ins, vom, zur also considered contractions?

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
Heike333145Plus
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Yes, they originally are contractions, but they have been established for such a long time that normally it would sound awkward if you used the un-contracted form. "Ich gehe vom Parkplatz ins Haus" is normal. "Ich gehe von dem Parkplatz in das Haus" sounds stilted, in my opinion. You may use it for dramatic effect, but normally you would use the shortened form.

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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In general in some countries or groups using abbreviations is a very popular habit.

I believe in general that abbreviations (of which contractions could be considered a special case) open more questions (like many people might ask what does that or that abbreviation mean? Then they might have to do an extra search for the answer and maybe even not find out what it means at all) than that they solve (e.g. by having to write less characters if you use an abbreviation).

So in general avoiding (almost always) abbreviations, where applicable.

For example for English I have in my The Semware Editor text editor written a program which removes (by global search and replace) any English contractions, if I paste any English text in it (so for example "I'm" becomes "I am" afterwards).

Search further in Google for 'contractions in language' where you replace the word language with the language of your interest.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchFireBird

I'm a native English speaker, so I can't tell you if it was hard to learn contractions because I already knew them, but there are contractions in French. Not near as many as English though.

For example: "C'est"(ce+est)=it is.

"Du"(de+le)=of the.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fire-ergens
Fire-ergens
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Native Dutch speaker here. Funny thing, I didn't really know the technical term 'contractions' until I saw this discussion! I am not sure how I learned them. I probably picked them up by reading books or watching movies. It just... kinda happened.

Dutch does have contractions, but they're more of a spoken, than a written thing. Some examples:

  • haar: d'r (her), mijn: m'n (my, mine), zijn: z'n ('his' in this case.) dat is: da's (that is) het: 't (the, it) een: 'n (a, an)

In everyday speech people from certain region tend to partially merge the pronoun and the verb. It's very informal and you shouldn't do it in formal situations. (Hebbie koffie? (heb je/jij koffie?): Do you have coffee) Ku'j? (kan je) Can you?)

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Morena.Maria

I am assuming you're from the Netherlands? Good to know that the contractions: d'r, z'n, etc. are actually also used there and not only in Suriname. We Surinamese sometimes tend to make up our own version of Dutch, i think. I do tend to use these contractions a lot during chat conversation, but not in a formal written manner.

As for the English contractions: I've been reading English books/literature before it was part of the school curriculum. In school i learned of course not to use contrcations when writing a formal letter or paper. Also English spoken tv-programs were/are shown a lot here in my country, especially during my childhood. So the contractions came naturally.

And i think the regional contractions are more "slurring", because we do that to. Not the same ones as in the Netherlands (or maybe some of them we picked up from vacationing family members or the interns), but i think it is slurring. I'm saying that because i know my own reason for using informal contractions like that (either during a chat convo or just between friends) and it's just because it's more convenient to use less words :)

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eva33964

Oh! I hade no idea that the official language of Suriname is Dutch! This is quite embarrassing as I distinctly recall having studied the countries of northern South America back in middle school, and even made a drawing of the Surinamese flag!

You should know that Dutch and Swedish (Danish, Norwegian) are rather alike so you'll probably find it relatively easy to learn those languages, should you want to.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Morena.Maria

I have a Swedish colleague (who was also my roommate). She learned Dutch in 6 months, but i have difficulties with the Swedish pronounciation. I feel more familiar with Portuguese, because we have a lot of Brazilians living here. So there are also programs and newspapers in Portuguese. It makes learning the language easier (through my work we also have more contacts with Brazil). We do not get a lot of visitors from Sweden. So when my colleague went to sign the visitors book at our tourist center they were very excited, as she was the very first Swedish visitor to have signed.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fire-ergens
Fire-ergens
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Yup, Nederlands geboren en getogen. Leuk om eens een keertje wat te horen over het Surinaamse Nederlands, ik heb het namelijk nog nooit echt voorbij zien komen op Duolingo.

Wat, als ik het vragen mag, zijn volgen jou de verschillen (naast het accent) tussen het Nederlands in Suriname en het Nederlands in Nederland en/of België ? Zijn er bepaalde woorden die echt 'typisch Surinaams' zijn?

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Morena.Maria

Surinaams Nederlands is doorspekt met leenwoorden uit het Engels. In de dagelijkse omgang ga je zelden een Surinamer tegenkomen, die puur Nederlands spreekt. Je zal merken dat ze van de hak op de tak springen. Als het geen Engelse woorden zijn, dan word de lingua franca (het Sranangtongo) erbij gehaald. Er zijn ook typisch Surinaamse woorden, die nogal eens verwarrend zijn voor de Nederlanders/Belgen. Voor prik bijvoorbeeld zeggen wij 'soft' en limonade is 'stroop' (waarschijnlijk van siroop). Een wegwerp luier word dan weer een 'pamper' genoemd, terwijl dat eigenlijk 't merk is :) . Ik heb een Belgische onderdirecteur, die al 10 jaren hier woont en toch niet al die typisch Surinaamse woorden kent. Aan de andere kant was het wel even raden toen ze zei dat er drank was in de 'frigo' en dat ze dus bedoelde de koelkast en 'fluostift' is bij ons meer beked als 'highlighter'.

Eerlijk gezegd is door het gebruik van zovele leenwoorden en talen (naast Sranangtongo en Engels spreken veel mensen ook nog hun eigen taal -Sarnami, Javaans, de inheemse talen, etc.) het Nederlands van veel Surinamers niet zo geweldig. Ik ben opgevoed met Nederlands als hoofdtaal in het huishouden en mijn moeder heeft veel lezen van jongsaf aan gestimuleerd. Vandaar ik best wel voor de doorsnee Surinamer soms vreemde Nederlandse woorden gebruik. Een vaak door mij gebezigde term, die altijd weer voor de nodige hilariteit zorgt tijdens vergaderingen, is toch wel 'mierenneuker'. Maar ik kan echt niet op andere woorden komen om mijn misnoegen te uiten als ik vind dat er weer eens uit den treure gezeurd word over pietluttige zaken.

En ik weet niet of het ook zo bij de Nederlanders, maar Surinamers gebruiken het woord 'ding/dinges' voor alles. Dit is eigenlijk gewoon luiheid, maar het valt niet op omdat het voor ons als iets normaal word beschouwd. Tot je in het bijzijn van een groep buitenlanders (in deze Guyanezen) bent en die zich afvragen waarom ze continue 'ding ding ding' horen.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dogdogdoggg

Since you said it's more regional, would you compare it to more informal contractions like the southern "y'all" contraction? Or the southern "sluring" of words and not pronouncing certain letters?

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fire-ergens
Fire-ergens
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Well, The Netherlands, Dutch and regional languages within and beyond the borders is a fairly complicated and somehat unclear subject. You see, Dutch isn't the only language spoken in the Netherlands. You've also got Frisian, (Low) Saxon, Limburgish and depending on wether you consider it an actual language or not: Zeelandic. The linguistic situation of the Netherlands is quite differnt from that of the US. I do believe that there are many different accents in the US, but generally people still speak the same language. In the Netherlands, while most people speak Dutch in everyday life, people living within the areas where those regional languages I mentioned earlier are spoken, speak not only Dutch, but also the regional language. Now, this sounds quite logical of course, but it gets more complicated.

So what is so complicated about this? Well, out of all of those regional languages, only Frisian is taught at schools. All of the other regional languages are not formally taught. This has led to a vastly decreased amount of people actually properly speaking it, as people aren't taught how to. Why? Well, at some point in history, the theory emerged that speaking a regional language at home would severely hinder childrens' Dutch-speaking skills and this of course, was bad as a good command of the Dutch language was (and still is) the key to a good future. Regional languages came to be seen as 'primitive farmer language' and were heavily stigmatised. As a result of this, parents stopped speaking to their kids in their native regional language and began speaking heavily accented (and sometimes plain wrong) Dutch to their children. This led to children basically speaking a blend of Dutch and whatever regional language their parents spoke. Does this make sense? I hope so, because I'm not done yet.

I think I'm getting a bit lost at the moment. So perhaps I should simply skip ahead. Well, basically: In the Netherlands you can find several languages native to the region: Dutch, Frisian, Low, Saxon and Limburgish. Dutch is spoken by all, Frisian only in Friesland/Fryslân, Low Saxon (all varieties) in Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel and parts of Gelderland (and a former island called Urk which is located in Flevoland and 1 or 2 muncipalities in Friesland/Fryslân, but that's not important.) and Limburgish in Limburg. Dutch and Frisian have full recognition meaning that they are viewed as seperate full languages and not just dialects and are taught at schools. Low Saxon and Limburgish don't have this honor. To this day, they are still seen as dialects of Dutch by many, meaning that they are not taught at schools.

What does this have to do with 'slurring'? Well, the whole 'dropping' (or swallowing) of (mostly) vowels is most often seen in the Eastern parts. When you hear people doing this it can be a sign that a regional language is involved. So in a way, people born and raised in the Netherlands can have 'non-native' accents which raises the question: is it a dialectal difference, a form of Dutch-[regional language] pidgin, code-switching, or a non-native accent? It is very, very complicated.

Really, I can't give a solid answer, the linguistic situation in the Netherlands is not in any way comparable to the one in the US. I hope I did not confuse you too much, as I believe I may have strayed from the original question quite a bit. Feel free to ask questions if you are confused about something I wrote, I'll try to answer them to the best of my abilities.

1
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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So is it so that there is 'lower Saxon' (which sounds like a German dialect) spoken in the Netherlands??

As far as I know the dialects in the Netherlands are divided according to provinces:

  • Noord Holland (dialect: Noord Hollands)
  • Zuid Hollands (dialect: Zuid Hollands)
  • Zeeland (dialect: Zeeuws)
  • Utrecht (dialect: Utrechts)
  • Gelderland (dialect: Gelders)
  • Drente (dialect: Drents)
  • Overijsels (dialect: Overijsels)
  • Limburg (dialect: Limburgs)
  • Brabant (dialect: Brabants)
  • Groningen (dialect: Gronings)
  • Friesland (dialect or language: Fries)

With the exception of Fries, it is hard to believe that any of this are basically German dialects (so e.g. maybe even better understood by native Germans than the native Dutch people), as that is what 'lower Saxon' might suggest.

Or is Dutch itself maybe (historically) also seen as special case of a Saxon dialect?

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fire-ergens
Fire-ergens
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Nope, Low Saxon is not a German dialect. Here's a very nice tree featuring about every single variant of every single variety of every Germanic language.:

There is no such thing as a 'Gelders dialect' as Gelderland has more than one. When talking about Overijssel it's the same. The main varieties there are Twents (Tweants) and Sallands (Sallaands) But well, this map should explain it pretty well:

With the exception of Fries, it is hard to believe that any of this are basically German dialects (so e.g. maybe even better understood by native Germans than the native Dutch people), as that is what 'lower Saxon' might suggest.

Frisian, German, Dutch and Low Saxon take different positions on the Germanic language tree. None of the varieties of Low Saxon are German dialects as Low Saxon itself is a name referring to a specific group of varieties spoken in the Netherlands of a bigger 'Saxon language'. The name for the varieties spoken in Germany is Low German. I understand that the term 'Low Saxon' can be confusing as there are parts of Germany called 'Niedersaksen' for example. Like I said, dialects and linguistic varieties are a fairly complicated subject and as my previous post was getting a bit too long, I forgot to mention that Low Saxon is not confined to the Netherlands but is rather part of a dialect continuum stretching from the Netherlands to somewhere close to the Danish border. I can imagine that in Germany, the varieties of what I will simply refer to as 'Saxon' (referring to both the varieties spoken in Germany and those in the Netherlands) which are known by the name of Plattdüütsch (or Low German which can add to the confusion) are seen as German dialects, just as the varieties of Nedersaksies are often seen as Dutch dialects. Generally the intelligibility between all of those varieties depends on what you're used to. I don't believe that Germans are better at understanding the Dutch varieties of Saxon than Dutch people, however, it wouldn't be too suprising if they were better at understanding Saxon in general than at understanding Dutch.

"Or is Dutch itself maybe (historically) also seen as special case of a Saxon dialect?"

No, while the standard Dutch language was certainly influenced by the Old Saxon language in some degree, most of the standard language originates from the Brabantic and later Hollandic 'ways of speaking'. However, Old Saxon and Old Dutch were pretty close even though Old Dutch kept some features that Old Saxon ditched (that may have included gendered pronouns in some cases. )

Some interesting stuff from Wikipedia (source and other interesting stuff below):

"Old Saxon (or Old Low German) probably evolved primarily from Ingvaeonic dialects in the West Germanic branch of Proto-Germanic in the 5th century. However, Old Saxon, even if it is considered as an Ingvaeonic language, is not a pure Ingvaeonic dialect as Old Frisian and Old English are, the two latter sharing some other Ingvaeonic characteristics, like the great vowel shift that took place in both Old English and Old Frisian. This, plus the large number of different forms that the language took, often showing different West-Germanic features, led some philologists to mistakenly think that Old Dutch and Old Saxon were variations of the same language, and that Old Saxon was indeed an Istvaeonic language.

In the Middle Ages, a dialect continuum existed between Old Dutch and Old Saxon; this was only recently interrupted by the simultaneous dissemination of standard languages within each nation and the dissolution of folk dialects. Despite sharing some features, a number of disparities separate Old Saxon, Old English, and Old Dutch; one such difference is the Old Dutch utilization of -a as its plural a-stem noun ending, while Old Saxon and Old English employ -as or -os. However, it seems that some Middle Dutch took the Old Saxon a-stem ending from some Middle Low German dialects, as modern Dutch still shows the plural ending -s added to certain words."

I hope this all sounds clear.

1
Reply11 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/knudvaneeden
knudvaneeden
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One keeps learning new things. Thanks. 1 Lingot for that.

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1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dogdogdoggg

You kept it pretty clear actually, I totally understood what you meant. (I would not have explained that so well haha). That does sound like a very complex situation though, thank you for explaining so thoroughly.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer
scarcerer
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Unlike Heike, I started learning English in this century so I think contractions had already become more mainstream. I can't really remember when exactly I learnt them but it wouldn't surprise me if we were taught the more neutral ones (so no y'all ain't) at school during the first or second year of English. So as far as I remember, no, not hard at all.

Finnish (my native language) does have some contractions. I think almost all of them involve the negation verb ei which you combine with conjunctions or certain adverbs. For example:

  • mutta en -> mutten (but I don't)
  • miksi et -> mikset (why don't you)
  • ehkä ei -> ehkei (maybe not)
  • jotta emme -> jottemme (so that we don't)
  • vaikka ette -> vaikkette (even if you all don't)
  • yhtä aikaa -> yhtaikaa/yht'aikaa (at the same time)
0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eva33964

In my language Swedish there are some contractions although one is usually not aware of this as a native speaker. For example "vad gör du?" (what are you doing?" could be pronounced "a'jo'ry" (or "a'jö'ru") but there are other examples as well for instance "ljus" or "stjärna" (light, star) where the first consonants are simply dropped from speech for comfort - except in certain dialects such as I believe in the Finnish Swedish which has kept the original pronunciation.

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Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
Heike333145Plus
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Now I remember when I first learned contractions (this was during my initial stages of English): In question tags.

I think in these cases using the full wording would be very awkward: He has done well, hasn't he? (has not he?? / has he not??)

But what was difficult for me at that time was not the contraction, but the choice of the correct verb and negation. In German, we only have one form: "... nicht wahr?" (and local/colloquial variations of that), whatever the preceding sentence may be.

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Reply1 year ago