The German peculiarity of putting the verb at the beginning of the “yes – no” question is found only in 1.4 percent of languages
In addition to differences in the native language, Haspelmath also asserts that some characteristics make learning difficult for everyone: for example, several consonants in a row, as in the German word “autumn” or in Russian “borschtsch”. Open syllables (ending in a vowel) like the Japanese word “ko” are easier to pronounce than closed syllables like “Kind,” the German translation. The linguist says that not using grammar rules is also an advantage. » We distinguish in German three forms: masculine, feminine, neuter. However, we also learn more easily a language that knows only one gender, such as English.
Another thing that complicates German grammar is the wrong verb. It comes second in the main sentence, at the end of the subordinate clause, before interrogative phrases, and gets more confusing when it has two parts or an auxiliary verb is genitive. “There is no other place like this,” Haspelmath says. People who speak English or Dutch as their mother tongue are at least familiar with similar constructions, which makes it easier for them to learn German.
American linguists have a language based on such oddities Ranking of the strangest languages created. They first identified 21 linguistic features that are independent of each other, such as the position of verbs and the number of vowels. For 239 languages, all 21 languages are documented. So the language with the rarest characteristics was “Chalcatongo Mixtec”, a Mexican dialect. One of its characteristics: Phrases begin with verbs instead of the usual subject. So it is indistinguishable between a yes-no question and a statement – and the assertion is also the same.
The peculiarity of placing the verb at the beginning of the questions yes – no (“Come?”) is present only in 1.4 percent of languages, including German. It came in at number 10, making it the strangest Indo-European language. In general, the Germanic languages turned out to be quite peculiar. For example, they use pronouns such as “I” and “you”, which most languages dispense with. The English language (33rd) is distinguished above all by its unpredictable pronunciation.
“Mother tongue sets boundaries”(Job Ships, linguist)
Michael Siso, professor of language classification at the University of Marburg, also has one scarcity index calculated. To do this, he immediately turned to 142 features of WALS and found a rarity, especially among the languages of northwestern Europe: English, German, Dutch, Frisian, and French. However, he notes that the available data were mainly collected from people with an Indo-European linguistic background. A different perspective can change the results.
Cysouw also combined Linguistic features of WALS with US Foreign Service Institute statistics. He asserts: “The more difficult it is to learn a foreign language the more it differs from your mother tongue.” With English as your native language, Indo-European languages with Latin script and similar grammatical structures are the easiest, particularly the language’s Germanic siblings, Norwegian and Swedish. Japanese and Korean in the rear, behind the Chinese and Arabic.
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