language

Not my cup of tea

Posted by Marion de Groot on November 30, 2011
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A quote from my Bulgarian language course book:

“Although traditionally in Bulgaria you only drank tea (without milk) when you were unwell, you can find all kinds of tea, including tea made from a variety of different herbs. Remember, though, that if you do want a traditional ‘cuppa’, you will probably be presented with a cup or, more likely, a glass of hot water, some sugar and a tea bag. You will be expected to brew up yourself at the table. And if you want milk, you will have to ask for it!”*

Needless to say, the course book is written by a British guy. Brewing your own tea at the table! Ridiculous! And having to ask for milk! Has the author never been anywhere else but the UK and Bulgaria? Or is he taking into account that the audience is not well-traveled? Either way, he is consistent. Another quote:

“Bulgarian has almost the equivalents of the English words for [the] subject pronouns, but there are two small differences. First, the Bulgarian аз, I is written with a small letter and, second, Bulgarian has two different words for you: ти for the singular, familiar form and вие for the plural.”*

Again, nothing new to me here. English is the only language I know (and I know a few) that writes I with a capital, and that doesn’t make a difference between singular and plural in pronouns. It’s hard to imagine that the Bulgarian language would be the first encounter of a native English speaker with the outside world.

I find it very funny to see how the background of the speaker so strongly reflects in the texts. I always prefer to buy English books for studying languages and culture, because these are often cheaper and easier to find than Dutch ones, and the language is not a problem for me. However, all too often the perspective of the author (American or British) is clearly influencing the story, which makes me long for a Dutch version.

If only it was for a proper explanation on the conjugation of verbs…

*Quotes from Teach Yourself Bulgarian, by Michael Holman and Mira Kovatcheva, 2009

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Anthropological Linguistics

Posted by Marion de Groot on September 30, 2008
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This is the first comprehensive textbook in anthropological linguistics to be published for very many years. It provides a remarkably complete and authoritative review of research questions which span the disciplines of linguinitics and anthropology, yet presents a coherent, unified, biologically based view of this cross-disciplinary field. Anthropological linguistics is concerned with the place of language in its social and cultural context, with understanding the role of language in forging and sustaining cultural practices and social structures. While anthropological concept of culture, its subject matter ranges cry widely: from cognitive or psychologically oriented topics such as linguistic, relativity or universals of color terminology, to sociocultural issues such as language and gender, politeness, socialization, language contact, and linguistic engineering.All these topics and many more are addressed here, supported by examples and illustrations from an array of languages, especially those of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Students will find in this book a careful evaluation of current issues and research questions, giving them a basic, yet well rounded understanding of their importance in a wider field; and they will find in each chapter suggestions for further readings, allowing them to pursue topics of particular interest to them.

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