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Picture of Kalleh
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I posted the link to an article in the Tribune about Greenlandic here. Similar to Inuit, it has many words that end in q, though some end in k. Here are some examples:

ukallusaq - rabbit
uppik - snowy owl
nanoq - polar bear
saarulligaaraq - small cod fish
savaaraq - lamb
tuluusaq - cookie
qarasaasiaq - computer (literally "artificial brain")
assarnaannguarpoq - a slight east wind
kapitak - waterproof jacket
mattak - raw beluga meat

Does anyone know how the pronunciation of the k and q differ, if at all? As I typed these I realized, too, how many letters are doubled in that language. I wonder if there is a reason for that.
 
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The "k" is the same as English "k". It's a velar stop - made with the back of the tongue touching the velum (soft palate). Greenlandic and other Eskimo languages also have "q", which is a uvular stop - the back of the tongue touches the uvula. "k" and "q" are two distinct sounds in the language.
 
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The "k" is the same as English "k". It's a velar stop - made with the back of the tongue touching the velum (soft palate). Greenlandic and other Eskimo languages also have "q", which is a uvular stop - the back of the tongue touches the uvula. "k" and "q" are two distinct sounds in the language.

Hebrew and Arabic also have two distinct voiceless stops, velar and uvular.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Oh, okay. Thanks!

It seems to me that Greenlandic is somewhat similar to German in that it's polysynthetic. Examples given in the article were amaasiaarput, meaning "They walk in a row" or taamaaqatiglipput meaning, "They are considered equals."

So many doubled letters!
 
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Greenlandic is much more polysynthetic than German. Is German considered a polysynthetic language?

I think the double letters represent long consonants and vowels. Some English words have long consonants, for instance pen knife has a long /n/, and thirteen, fourteen, eighteen have a long /t/.
 
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It seems to me that Greenlandic is somewhat similar to German in that it's polysynthetic.

I don't think so. At best, German, like many other Indo-European languages, is inflectional (link).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Okay. Then I don't understand polysynthetic. In the article it seemed to perfectly describe German ("Beyond its 10 cases, eight moods and four person forms, Greenlandic is polysynthetic, meaning words are often made up of roots, affixes and suffixes. This quirk makes words terribly long.") All I could think of was words like "Aufsichtsratsmitgliederversammlung," meaning, "meeting of members of the supervisory board."

I did find this site. Perhaps the word "polysynthetic" is wrong, but isn't the concept similar?
 
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Greenlandic puts nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, together to make words. A word in Greenlandic translates into a sentence in English or German. Sure Greenlandic is similar to German (and English too) in that it adds affixes to bases, but Greenlandic does it on a much larger scale. AIUI, what differentiates polysynthetic languages like Greenlandic from inflectional languages like German and English is the morpheme-to-word ratio. Greenlandic has a much much higher ratio.

German has some long compound words, but English does too. The difference between Aufsichtsratsmitgliederversammlung and supervisory board member meeting is that the German word is written with no spaces and the English word has spaces.
 
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That makes sense...with one tiny question. Isn't it the space between the words that differentiates between one big word and six (or whatever) smaller words?
 
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Isn't it the space between the words that differentiates between one big word and six (or whatever) smaller words?

It's just a spelling convention. Note the confusion in the Anglophone world between space, no-space, and hyphen in compound words. German could easily have gone the English route and put spaces in between the words in their compounds. The phrase, the Queen of England functions like the compound bookkeeper. For example, both are nouns, taking 's in their possessive forms. A big difference in polysynthetic languages is that the constituent morphemes of a word are bound morphemes, i.e., they cannot stand on their own, like queen, book, and keeper. The -er in keeper is a bound morpheme. The typological linguistic terms analytical, inflectional, agglutinative, and polysynthetic cover broad swathes of the language spectrum. They were coined by Wilhelm von Humboldt in the early 19th century and are not used by all linguists these days because they can be imprecise and confusing. That doesn't stop others (linguists and laypeople alike) from using them though.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Noitssimplyamatterofconventionsoforthography.
Smile
We have discussed "what is a word" so many times and I thought we had agreed that the question has no meaningful answer.
 
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Noitssimplyamatterofconventionsoforthography

Sigh. It's not that long ago that written English pretty looked like that, minus the capital letters. The late Larry Trask wrote a pretty good paper on a definition of the word word (link).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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If you define "word" as something being separated by spaces in writing, then you have the problem of languages that don't use spaces in their writing, like Thai and Japanese - and of course languages that don't have writing.

fwiw, this is my favourite definition of "word" at the moment:

quote:
A word is a string of sounds upon which clusters of phonological rules operate and at the end of which they stop operating, which string contains one or more morphemes but can be less than a full sentence.

That is, a word is a level of a language at which phonological rules in the language apply that is, in principle, greater in length than one morpheme but shorter in length than an entire sentence.

Corrollary: if there is no such identifiable level in a given language of application of phonological rules, that language does not have words.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmježd:
Noitssimplyamatterofconventionsoforthography

Sigh. It's not that long ago that written English pretty looked like that, minus the capital letters.


I know. That's why I did it.
 
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quote:
We have discussed "what is a word" so many times and I thought we had agreed that the question has no meaningful answer.
Yes. When I read z's answer to my question, I realized that, and I won't get into it yet again. However, I do have an answer to Noitssimplyamatterofconventionsoforthography

I don't think we've agreed, though perhaps we've agreed to disagree (which I always consider a bit of a cop out).
 
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