what is the most long-winded language?

and conversely, what is the most succinct language?

ETA: 5 seconds!


a-lalla-lalla-rumba-kamanda-lindor-burúme = hill

Do you mean verbose constructions, length of words, number of syllables, space taken up by writing it? Or what?

I think we did this once before …

From some quick, non-scientific research, I found that Greenlandic was the most wordy, and Mazahua the most compact.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Inuit tamarmik inunngorput nammineersinnaassuseqarlutik assigiimmillu ataqqinassuseqarlutillu pisinnaatitaaffeqarlutik. Solaqassusermik tarnillu nalunngissusianik pilersugaapput, imminnullu iliorfigeqatigiittariaqaraluarput qatanngutigiittut peqatigiinnerup anersaavani.

Texe yo nte’e chjetrjoji, angezeji ximi xo’oji ñeje k’inchiji, nesta ra ngara na jo’o k’o dyaja e nte’e.
Here’s an error message from Google that offers some insight into the “wordiness” of more common languages.

thanks for the reply elmwood. i *was * thinking about Ents and was half expecting some arcane language or something. jjimm i don’t have any specifics in mind, except for thinking that the difference between the two extreme languages might pose a problem in dubbing a film for example, where it would quickly go out of sync.

curiously, a quick google on some Greenlandic and Mazahua clips gave me the impression that Mazahua is more long-winded, with a quick succession of words without seemingly stopping for breath. it’s probably just the speaker.

I can’t imagine trying to learn Greenlandic. To me, “iliorfigeqatigiittariaqaraluarput” looks like something that happened because the cat ran over the keyboard.

I cannot help with the question, but I will remark that the written lanuage is not a good way of looking at the question. Although French is longer on the printed page than English, it has more silect syllables (the sentence “qu’est-ce que c’est que ca” has fragments of eight words compressed into five syllables) and is also generally spoken faster. FWIW, I have heard that Hawaiin has few consonants which results in long words with lots of syllables.

Another point is that you cannot rely on translations (which invariably grow as there will generally be things in the source language that are harder to express in the target langauge, but would likely have been said in a slightly different way. So the question is hard to answer.

Of course, Entish is another matter entirely.

Or rather, a fragment of the the name for that particular hill, far too short to do justice to the real thing. Spending less than three days to say “hello” strikes an Ent as hasty.

On the serious question, the Google error message doesn’t prove anything, since it was originally in English. Translation will, in general, lengthen a passage, regardless of which languages you’re translating, or in what direction. And the amount by which it’s lengthened depends on its original length: Short passages are stretched proportionately more than long ones.

Legalese has to be a contender, surely?

Latin is awfully compact, it seems to me more so than its Romance descendants.

Sesuto might be a contender if the example below is any guide.

malito: something which a person lets fall and which his cousin can pick up and keep if the owner does not say ngaele.

I can’t recall the English equivalent for this most excellent and useful word.

I suspect that every language has certain things it can describe very succinctly and other things that it cannot. It all depends on what particular things are important to the speakers of that language and what things are not.

Good point.

Think of how many variations we have in English on the concept of “someone who steals”, ranging from “bandit” to “thief” to “politician”.

And political correctness: “Some people are of the opinion that male Caucasins lack the genetic ability to jump as high or higher than African-American males” or “White Men Can’t Jump”

“finders keepers!”

The Sanskrit Sutra-form of literature is known to be extremely concise. So concise, in fact, that it is almost impossible to understand without seeking support in the commentaries supplied with it. Nothing was stated twice, and intra-textual references - often in obscure, abbreviated forms - abound. Traditionally an entire sutra-text - like Patanjali’s sentences on Yoga or Panini’s grammar - was memorized by the students, and their guru would then explain the meaning of the sentences afterwards.
One of the reasons Sanskrit can be so concise (which it isn’t always - far from it) is that the grammar permits quite large changes to the meaning of words by use of inflection, prefixes, etc. The morphology thus permits a wide range of meaning to be conveyed in a single word. A lot of newer languages would add more words to attain the same effect.

I can’t remember which language it is - one of the native South American ones, I think - in which there is a word which means “the manner in which two men look at each other when both are hoping that the other will volunteer for something which both of them wish to be done but neither wants to do”.

The Danes have a word that means “charming,” but more than that. That’s all I know. I’m told that it’s a very pleasing thing to be. The word is hyggelig.
If any of you hyggelig Scandanavians want to elaborate, I would love to learn more about it.

In looking at the length of the languages, consider the fonts used. If I change the font or even the size of my font, does my language become more “more”?

I had dinner one night many years ago with a group of people from Greenland. Does this mean they weren’t as talkative as I thought?

The word actually appears in many different forms: The verbal form is “hygge”, the noun is also “hygge”, and “hyggelig” can be both an adjectival and an adverbial form.
The term “hygge”/“hyggelig” can be applied within a range of different meanings, like “charming”, “secure & comfortable”, “warm, cozy”, “enjoyable” - basically stuff/situations that make you feel good, safe, satisfied, comfortable, etc.

Ethymologically “hygge” is from

  • Old Norse: hyggja: “to think, mean; to feel satisfied”
  • Swedish: hygga sig" “to become more civilized”

Boy… this is difficult. The thing is, I guess, that you practically have to be born and raised here in Denmark to know the exact possibilities of applying this term. What it means to me? - I dunno. It’s a state of mind :slight_smile: . Try defining “zen” - it’s the same kind of refusal to be constrained in words that applies to “hygge”.

ETA: Well, now we know that Danish can be removed from the list of concise languages …

Underlining mine.

Not exactly, those are pretty standard “apology” sentences. It’s not like translating, say, the US Constitution. In my experience, Spanish is often wordier than English, but in the example it’s shorter - not because the original concept was in English (c’mon, we’re the “come back mañana” culture!) but because the translator was good. There are other standard apology Spanish sentences with equivalent meanings which could have been chosen by the translator, he picked versions which were “neutral” with respect to dialect and relatively short.