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Old 04-10-2004, 06:44 AM
Daver914 Daver914 is offline
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Good butter and good cheese, is Good English and Good Fries

To clarify, this is a thread about language, not food.

I've often heard the couplet "Good butter and good cheese, is Good English and Good Fries", used to show the close relationship between English and Frisian, the language of northwest Holland and some Danish islands that is supposed to be English's closest relative. I've also seen the first line written "Good bread and good cheese", "Good beer and good cheese", "Good milk and good cheese", and "Bread, butter, and green cheese".

For whatever reason, I decided today to look into the situation a little more. I had a hard time believing that nearly a thousand years after the Norman conquest, two languages separated by a rather inconvenient stretch of North Sea could still be so closely-related, while tongues like Dutch and German are no longer intelligible to us. A quick Google search turned up the following sample of Frisian:
It Frysk Ynternasjonaal Kontakt is in jongereinferiening mei it doel om de Fryske jongerein bewust te meitsjen fan syn eigen taal en kultuer. Dêrby steane foaral de ynternasjonale kontakten sintraal. If I concentrate, I can pick out the odd word here and there, but most it looks like a kind of mutant Dutch or something Scandinavian.

Therefore I ask my fellow dopers, some of whom will hopefully be better-acquainted with Frisian than I:
  • Was "good butter and good cheese" ever good English and good Fries(ian)?
  • Is it still? If not, how recently were English and Frisian mutually intelligible?

(I'll assume that the above couplet refers to pronunciation, not spelling)
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Old 04-10-2004, 07:32 AM
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McDonald's has the best Fries.
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Old 04-10-2004, 08:14 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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English-Frisian Online Dictionary.

The way I heard it, the words aren't spelled exactly the same nor are they pronounced exactly the same, but the pronounciations are close enough to be recognizable. But with such common words as these, that is more-or-less true of the West Germanic languages in general.

Eng. good = Frisian goed = Duch goed = German gut
Eng. and = Frisian en = Dutch en = German und
Eng. cheese = Frisian tsiis = Dutch kaas = German Käse
Eng. butter = Frisian bûter = Dutch boter = German Butter
Eng. bread = Frisian brea = Dutch brood = German Brot
Eng. milk = Frisian molke = Dutch melk = German Milch
Eng. green = Frisian grien = Dutch groen = German = grün
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Old 04-10-2004, 09:51 AM
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Another version:

bûter, brea, en griene tsiis, wa’t dat net sizze kin is gjin oprjochte Fries

Butter, bread, and green cheese, whover cannot say that is no upright Fries.



I think this more closely shows Frisian's relationship to English:

Grien es deat lunn - roa es de cant - witt es de sunn - deat senn the cloern van Hilligelunn."

In English it would change to:

"Green is the land - red is the cant - white is the sand - these are the colors of Heligoland."

And in German it would sound:

"Gruen ist das Land - rot ist die Kant -weiss ist der Sand - das sind die Farben von Helgoland."

accordning to: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb....Heligoland.htm
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Old 01-03-2016, 10:16 AM
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I am a Frisian myself, so I should be able to answer this;

There was a certain time in history where Frisian and English people spoke the same language, this was called ''Anglo-Frisian''. This language was spoken at the west- and north coast of the netherlands (at that time it was still Frisia).

I guess a couple of people decided to take the boat to Britannia and because of that, the language became seperated -> English and Frisian. Today, the Frisian language is only spoken in the province of Friesland (Fryslân) and Frisian varieties are spoken in some parts of South-West Denmark and in the city of Leer (Ost-Friesland, Germany).
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:53 AM
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Thanks for answering, but you might notice that this discussion was held almost 12 years ago. None of the participants are still around.
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Old 01-03-2016, 12:10 PM
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Thanks for answering, but you might notice that this discussion was held almost 12 years ago. None of the participants are still around.
Yeah, but the languages have completed diverged since the thread was first started, so the answer is no longer the same!
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:53 PM
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Hey, a late bump that adds relevant information is always welcome, and I'd say input from a native speaker of the language in question counts as relevant.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:36 PM
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Oh ghee, I'm glad the butter situation was clarified.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:45 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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The claim has never been (by people who actually know about languages) that English and Frisian are mutually intelligible. The claim is that Frisian is the language that is closest to English. The people who spoke the earliest version of what we can call English left the continent of Europe for the British Islands about 450 A.D. (and some came a couple of centuries later). Even if there had been no other influences on either language, you generally expect two groups that speak the same language at one point to have diverged enough just by the ordinary evolution of language that they won't be mutually intelligible more than 1500 years later. And there have been many influences on English (and on Frisian too, but I won't talk of them). Beside the Norman Conquest, there were Norse invaders in Great Britain before that. What you expect after 1500 years of separation is that the languages won't be mutually intelligible, but a speaker of one will recognize many of the words of the other, especially if they can train themselves to know the sound shifts of the two languages. And that's exactly what you see.
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Old 01-03-2016, 06:30 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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John McWhorter has a article on English in a recent issue of The Week magazine:
Quote:
There is no other language, for example, that is close enough to English that we can get about half of what people are saying without training and the rest with only modest effort. German and Dutch are like that, as are Spanish and Portuguese, or Thai and Lao. The closest an Anglophone can get is with the obscure Northern European language called Frisian. If you know that tsiis is cheese and Frysk is Frisian, then it isn't hard to figure out what this means: Brea, bûter, en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk. But that sentence is a cooked one, and overall, we tend to find Frisian more like German, which it is.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:24 PM
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Of course, defining "the language most closely related to English" is inherently tricky, because if you get too close, it's debatable whether it's still a different language. Scots Braids, for instance, is significantly closer than Frisian, but it might or might not just be an extreme dialect and accent.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
John McWhorter has a article on English in a recent issue of The Week magazine:
Quote:
There is no other language, for example, that is close enough to English that we can get about half of what people are saying without training and the rest with only modest effort.…
I think there are probably several things in that article that people would argue with. Some might be merely quibbles, but the part quoted above, in particular, is true only if you don't consider Scots to be a separate language to English. I realise that there's still debate about the matter, but the official position of the UK government is that it is, and that ought to count for something.
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Old 01-03-2016, 08:11 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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I think there are probably several things in that article that people would argue with. Some might be merely quibbles, but the part quoted above, in particular, is true only if you don't consider Scots to be a separate language to English. I realise that there's still debate about the matter, but the official position of the UK government is that it is, and that ought to count for something.
Really? Why? It's almost certainly a political position. If the consensus of linguists and other academic experts happened to agree, then I would pay attention. But that's not what you're saying.
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Old 01-04-2016, 01:21 AM
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Thanks for answering, but you might notice that this discussion was held almost 12 years ago. None of the participants are still around.
Glad to hear it.
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Old 01-04-2016, 03:08 AM
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Really? Why? It's almost certainly a political position. If the consensus of linguists and other academic experts happened to agree, then I would pay attention. But that's not what you're saying.
Because the consensus among linguists and other academic experts is that there's no clear dividing line between dialect and separate language, and that the distinction is principally a political one.
  #17  
Old 01-04-2016, 03:44 AM
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If the consensus of linguists and other academic experts happened to agree, then I would pay attention.
Would you consider Ethnologue (a group effort by linguists and other experts) to count for attention-paying purposes?
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:32 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Here is the Ethnologue entry with the tree for English:

https://www.ethnologue.com/subgroups/english-0

Here is the Glottolog (a similar sort of classification of the world's languages) entry with the tree for English:

http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/macr1271
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:40 AM
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Glad to hear it.
Quiet, you.
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Old 01-04-2016, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The claim has never been (by people who actually know about languages) that English and Frisian are mutually intelligible. The claim is that Frisian is the language that is closest to English.
...
What you expect after 1500 years of separation is that the languages won't be mutually intelligible, but a speaker of one will recognize many of the words of the other, especially if they can train themselves to know the sound shifts of the two languages. And that's exactly what you see.
This is how I understood it, and the cheese ditty is composed of words from the overlap in the languages.

Adding a useless datapoint, I met someone who lives in Friesland and asked about this subject. She wasn't born there, doesn't speak Frisian, never heard anyone who does, and had no idea what I was talking about.
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by WotNot View Post
I think there are probably several things in that article that people would argue with. Some might be merely quibbles, but the part quoted above, in particular, is true only if you don't consider Scots to be a separate language to English. I realise that there's still debate about the matter, but the official position of the UK government is that it is, and that ought to count for something.
Yes, in that article McWhorter expresses his views as if they were the consensus view of linguists. I'm not sure I can completely blame him, though, as it wold be cumbersome to note each case where some debate is still to be had. However, a note at the bottom that not all linguists share the same views would have been nice.

Last edited by John Mace; 01-04-2016 at 11:17 AM.
  #22  
Old 01-04-2016, 11:25 AM
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Quiet, you.
No need to let reality get in the way of you chastising new posters.
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Old 01-04-2016, 01:47 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Originally Posted by WotNot View Post
Because the consensus among linguists and other academic experts is that there's no clear dividing line between dialect and separate language, and that the distinction is principally a political one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Would you consider Ethnologue (a group effort by linguists and other experts) to count for attention-paying purposes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Here is the Ethnologue entry with the tree for English:

https://www.ethnologue.com/subgroups/english-0

Here is the Glottolog (a similar sort of classification of the world's languages) entry with the tree for English:

http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/macr1271
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Yes, in that article McWhorter expresses his views as if they were the consensus view of linguists. I'm not sure I can completely blame him, though, as it wold be cumbersome to note each case where some debate is still to be had. However, a note at the bottom that not all linguists share the same views would have been nice.
I'm not going to bother defending the article. It's a data point on Frisian. It's not a data point on Scots except negatively. It was taken from another site so McWhorter may have been more nuanced there. Or not. I don't know.
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:51 PM
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No need to let reality get in the way of you chastising new posters.
Ah, good. Drunky Smurf is irritated with me. I must be doing something right.

OK, then, yes. It's true. I find it SUPER annoying when people pop up and present facts that interfere with my nefarious patrolling of the boards in my Junior Mod-mobile. You can tell by how nasty and insulting my original condescending post was to the poor innocent newbie just how little I care for the feelings of others. FOILED AGAIN!! CURSES!
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Old 01-05-2016, 07:36 PM
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while tongues like Dutch and German are no longer intelligible to us.
Holland , as in Spanish scandanavia ?

Germany, as in the home base of the latin and romance speaking Holy Roman Empire ? Italians, or Romans (from the roman alliance of city states) who didn't like Italy moved ... up north ?

Which countries had more eastern (Slav .. Hun .. etc) settlers ? With eastern language ?


Just go and look up the languages of the HRE and southern Scandanavia before Old Nordsk spread through...

Frisian and Nordsk are more insular, safer from immigrants (and overarching politcal changes, such as HRE) mixing in other languages.

Last edited by Isilder; 01-05-2016 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:21 PM
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Lallans, or Lowland Scots, isn't regarded by linguists as a separate language. It diverged from Northumbrian English after the 14th century but it's still a dialect of English.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:11 AM
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Lallans, or Lowland Scots, isn't regarded by linguists as a separate language.
So the people who produce Ethnologue and Glottolog are No True Linguists, then?

Last edited by MrDibble; 01-06-2016 at 04:15 AM.
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Old 01-06-2016, 09:12 AM
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The question is where on the Indo-European tree to say that anything after that division is one language. Some linguists say that the division between English and Scots is between languages, while some say that it's between dialects. Glottolog divides things more finely. This means you have to decide if the various creole Englishes are dialects or separate languages.
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:55 AM
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So the people who produce Ethnologue and Glottolog are No True Linguists, then?
It's not really clear what the tree in Glottolog is supposed to indicate. I find it particularly odd that they link Scots more closely to Old English (Beowulf), which is essentially unintelligible to speakers of modern English, than to Middle or Modern English. I also find it bizarre that they include separate branches for Guinea Coast and Pacific Creole English while not listing Jamaican or other Caribbean Creoles. And they have a separate branch for New Zealand English, but not Australian or South African. It doesn't seem to me that the site is an authoritative reference on language classification.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:25 PM
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Here's a trilingual sign in Northern Ireland, in English, Irish and Ulster Scots (which is a dialect of Scots). Now tell me Scots is not a language!
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:37 PM
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The main reasons for not considering it a separate language are political and practical: as a set of dialects of the UK under strong pressure from standard English, it's impossible to disentangle Scots from English. They're not separate enough in usage to count them as separate speech communities. Therefore, the same language.

I occasionally assign university students something by Robert Burns. They can neither read nor understand it without heavy glossing. While I can see a good argument for considering Scots a dialect of English, it fails the mutual intelligibility test with American English. There's a time factor in there, of course; Burns isn't contemporary. Still, I think it's unarguable that had Scotland remained separate from England, Scots would be a separate language. As it is, due to constant re-mixing with Standard English, it's just a widely divergent dialect.
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Old 01-07-2016, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The question is where on the Indo-European tree to say that anything after that division is one language. Some linguists say that the division between English and Scots is between languages, while some say that it's between dialects. Glottolog divides things more finely. This means you have to decide if the various creole Englishes are dialects or separate languages.
Scots isn't a Creole, though. Whatever you decide for it, has no impact on your choices for them.
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Old 01-07-2016, 04:14 AM
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I didn't say that Scots was a creole. I didn't say that the answer to whether Scots was a dialect or a separate language was necessarily connected to the question of whether the various creole Englishes are dialects or separate languages. I just said that they are both hard questions. In fact, they are harder questions than I thought. I now see that the question of whether something is a dialect or a language isn't solved by seeing how close it is on the language tree.

I'm going to have to rethink the question of how to distinguish dialects and languages using tree structures for language history like the ones in Ethnologue and Glottolog. This is clearly a more complicated problem than I thought. In the meantime, please don't assume that you can figure out from what I wrote exactly what I really meant. This is one of the most irritating elements of the SDMB for me. I will say something (that might not be as accurate or fully sourced as it should have been) and someone jumps in and implies that I'm an idiot, a liar, or evil for saying that. Look, I'm trying, and I admit that sometimes I don't get the facts straight.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
I didn't say that Scots was a creole.
I didn't say you did
Quote:
I didn't say that the answer to whether Scots was a dialect or a separate language was necessarily connected to the question of whether the various creole Englishes are dialects or separate languages.
Nah. You just jumped from one concept to the other in the space of two sentences and linked them via the Glottolog tree. It was so silly of me to think you thought the issues were connected.
Quote:
I just said that they are both hard questions.
I agree they are
Quote:
In the meantime, please don't assume that you can figure out from what I wrote exactly what I really meant.
Quote:
This is one of the most irritating elements of the SDMB for me. I will say something (that might not be as accurate or fully sourced as it should have been) and someone jumps in and implies that I'm an idiot, a liar, or evil for saying that.
Don't be a martyr - nobody's called you any of those things. All I said was that the issue of whether English Creoles qualify as languages or dialects is a separate issue from whether this parallel language without significant creolization but its own evolution is a dialect or a language.
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