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  5. "Englanti - niin kaunis mutta…

"Englanti - niin kaunis mutta vaikea kieli."

Translation:English – such a beautiful but difficult language.

June 24, 2020



I kind of like verbs in my sentences, but that's just me.


The translation software seems to be sorted out at this point, so here's a question I've often wondered: is English considered a beautiful language? It's my native language, and as a professional writer I know how to make it do all sorts of useful tricks, so I'm rather fond of it for its utility, but how do non-native speakers view it? Personally, I think Arabic and Finnish are the most aesthetically pleasing of the languages I've brushed up against, but for all I know English is beautiful as well and I'm too familiar with it to see past its more prosaic good points.


Not really. But British sounds better than American.


Depends on whether it's BriTish or Bri'ish, don' it, squiah? An which Muhrkun you talkin' about? ... Regardless, 'British' does sound better than what they're calling the Colonies these days.


I think all languages are beautiful, but it's of course difficult to say if English is more or less beautiful than other languages. It's everywhere, so even if it's not your first language, your ear gets used to it. Besides, there isn't really just one English. Personally, I do like speaking English and hearing it. It's very versatile, and I like the way the words are built and look like, and how it's completely different from how they are supposed to be pronounced.


My personal answer as a Pole: English is nice and rather pleasant in use, but calling it beautiful would be a stretch. Especially in British accents... r-dropping is weird and many vowels sound rather unnatural (I suspect many Slavic people may feel the same way).


I'm majoring in English, but I still wouldn't pick English as one of my favourite languages. Perhaps it's true that familiarity breeds contempt. One of my biggest pet peeves about it is the absolutely ludicrous writing system, like diphthongs and long vowels frequently corresponding to one letter, or several letters frequently corresponding to just one sound. Look up "What If English Were Phonetically Consistent?" on Youtube and you'll see what I mean. The other big thing that makes English lose points in my eyes is the small amount of inflection. It's probably because I'm Finnish, but I'm quite partial to grammatical cases and frequent use of various bound morphemes reducing ambiguity and increasing syntactic flexibility. I wish English would structurally be more like the way it was during the Anglo-Saxon period, but on the other hand, the lexicon of modern English is significantly larger and more diverse.

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English itself in my opinion is quite beautiful, it’s the language of Shakespeare after all. I like the sometimes crazy spelling since it reflects the interesting history of the language. And because it’s so crazy, the effects of any spelling reform would probably be even more chaotic. Though I think British people in general are rather proud of their excentricities and probably wouldn’t dream of any such reform.

What I don’t like about English is that - because of it’s lack of inflections or other logical restraints -constructions like ”green apple pie” are possible and very common, whereas in a logical and more grammatically structured language, the adjective ”green” qualifies the main part of the compound ”apple pie”, making it a green pie instead of a pie made with green apples. That is, people happily create ”pseudo compounds” without thinking of the consequences and leave the reader or translator to their own devices to figure out the actual meaning. This is relatively easy with ”green apple pie” - although on St. Patrick’s Day, things might ge a bit more complitcated -, but there are many constructions that leave the uninitiated scratching their heads in frustration.

They make compounds by simply lining up any amount of nouns - the more, the merrier -, throwing in adjectives right in the middle of the ”word” as they please and thus construct chimeras that even the authors cannot properly explain when asked for a precise meaning. Tech writers are particularly prone to this affliction. Since this approach is so foreign to my German brain, I cannot come up with an example, but as a translator, I encounter them way too often.

English speakers often make fun of long (usually invented) German compounds, but in general, German compounds make sense and are much more restricted, and instead of the bandworm compounds that many writers create in abundance in English, German uses prepositional phrases instead that clearly reflect semantic boundaries and define the relation of these individual semantic units to each other.

Another pet peeve of mine is the reluctance of people writing in English to use punctuation marks - particularly commas - to make things as easy as possible for the reader and to avoid ambiguities. Uncountable times, I had to read a sentence 2 or 3 times just to sort out all the possible different interpretations and find the most likely one - a process that could be completely eliminated by using 1 or 2 strategically placed commas.

In many ways, Finnish and German are rather similar. Since you are also learning German, what is your experience with German in this regard?


I also find that Finnish and German are quite similar when it comes to punctuation. Another thing that Finnish and German have in common is the extensive use of compounds. Many of the "untranslatable" German words can actually be translated into Finnish with a nearly or entirely literal translation in the form of a compound. As examples, "Schadenfreude" translates to "vahingonilo", "Fremdscham" translates to "myötähäpeä", and "Fernweh" translates to "kaukokaipuu". It's not particularly surprising when you consider the special relationship that Finland has had with Germany over the centuries. Though two things I prefer about English punctuation are the Oxford comma and the less restricted usage of semicolons.


So the use of compounds in Finnish is a German influence, not Swedish?


As far as I know, it could be from either, both or neither.


I've worked with it for 20 years as an interpreter and haven't fallen in love so far. It's part Ikea, part curiosity cabinet. It allows one to be beautifully simple, but mastering a different style requires relearning most of the vocabulary which just keeps piling up. Perhaps it would appeal to me more if Americans went further in their streamlining of things. I think my favourite feature is the do that comes up in negative sentenses and questions.


Compared to Finnish - I think not!


Is it really OK to omit a verb in Finnish?


No, not really. This isn't a complete sentence, as sentences always need to have a verb. This is more like a slogan of some sort.

However, if there's a verb in the previous clause of a complex sentence, and you are going to use that same verb again, you can also leave it out.

Koira on ruskea ja kissa (on) valkoinen.


A creepy thing for a starter. As for me, I am russian and in the Russian language not having a verb is totally 1000% legit. But when I see something similar to this in other languages - i don't feel like it is acceptable.


Surely ‘ English - so beautiful but a difficult language’ should be correct too?


If you use 'so', I believe 'a' would need to immediately precede the noun. Thus "English - so beautiful but difficult a language".


Not necessarily - both "English - so beautiful but a difficult language" and "English - so beautiful but difficult a language" could be acceptable, at least to my English ear, but the latter is more poetic and (IMHO) less likely to be used in everyday conversation.

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