Jump to content
Linguaholic

English....a backward language


Recommended Posts

Being someone privileged to speak a number of languages, i have come to find that English is actually the other way round. An example is....there is a red car. If this was said in another language it would be car first and then the color hence me saying English does things backwards.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So is it more common in other languages for the sentences to be structured the other way around? That's really interesting! I'm currently learning Japanese and in Japanese you would say "red car" just like in English. There are other ways in which Japanese sentences are structured differently from English though; for example, where in English you would say "I'm going over there," in Japanese you would say "I'm over there going". Of course, being a native English speaker, I'm more likely to think of other languages as being backwards and English as being "forwards". :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

Being someone privileged to speak a number of languages, i have come to find that English is actually the other way round. An example is....there is a red car. If this was said in another language it would be car first and then the color hence me saying English does things backwards.

Not really. Even in Hindi we use the adjective first and the noun later, so its not like it is something exclusive to English.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Being someone privileged to speak a number of languages, i have come to find that English is actually the other way round. An example is....there is a red car. If this was said in another language it would be car first and then the color hence me saying English does things backwards.

Different languages have different syntactic structures, there is no doubt about this. However, as other people have already mentioned, a noun phrase like "the red car" where the order of the elements are "article+attributive adjective+noun" is a very common structure used in many different languages. In German, for instance, one would also say "Das rote Auto" or in Chinese you would say ”一辆红色的车“, so two more languages that are following the above-mentioned structure within a noun phrase.

车 means car, so the noun is placed after the adjective as well. Same for literary Chinese, where you would say 白虎, meaning the white tiger.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

So is it more common in other languages for the sentences to be structured the other way around? That's really interesting! I'm currently learning Japanese and in Japanese you would say "red car" just like in English. There are other ways in which Japanese sentences are structured differently from English though; for example, where in English you would say "I'm going over there," in Japanese you would say "I'm over there going". Of course, being a native English speaker, I'm more likely to think of other languages as being backwards and English as being "forwards". :D

This is one thing I'm having a really hard time with! When learning other languages, I just can't get the sentence structures down. :(

Link to post
Share on other sites

In most of the languages that I know, the adjective would be placed before the noun as it is done in English.

When learning basic French as a small girl, I was told that in French the adjective goes after the noun. That would be: la voiture rouge.

However, when you want to put a different stress and meaning on your words when placed in a sentence, it could well become: la rouge voiture.

When I do this, it comes kind of naturally to me. However, I would like to know the rule for this one day.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot agree to the statement that English sentences are structured the other way round. I have been studying Spanish and French and with those languages the adjective does not proceed the noun. This does not mean that English is the language that is backward. As the first person that responded to the thread mentioned, it wouldn't make full sense placing the sentence the other way round.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a native English speaker and I have always thought English was a bit of a backwards language. How many other languages have rules that almost always have exceptions? For example, our spelling rule, I before E except after C except for neighbour, weight, ancient, species, weird, leisure, being, neither, counterfeit, stein, caffeine, height, etc..

I think English is a hard language to learn as a second language because it has so many nuances. It's not a straightforward language; therefore, I find it a bit backwards.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well,

First of all, I do not think that English is a backward language, in the sense that there is no such thing as a backward language. A language is a means of communication. How can that possibly be stupid?

In my view, the initial post focussed on English syntax. It may seem reverse in comparison to other languages, but, then and again, I guess most languages will seem like reverse in comparison to other languages. Each language has got its own peculiarities.

I believe that is what we are here for: to learn about all peculiarities in any language that we might be learning about.

Therefore, there is no such thing as a backward language!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Very well said @littlebelgianwriter. Languages are different so there different ways to say things. There is not one correct way to determine how a language is used so claiming a language is backwards is inappropriate. Just like one destination with different routes, they all lead to one place, it's just the way they reach there is different. There is no backward or forward.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There isn't much difference. There are times words can be transposed in a sentence to emphasize something's attribute [if that attribute] is more important than the thing or person under scrutiny at that moment.

IMO the wording, be it backward or forward, is of no significance as long as you communicate.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I speak Chinese and Filipino and in both languages I think the adjective comes first. I imagine it could be done the other way around if you really wanted to, but you can do that in English as well. I think I know what you're talking about, though, whenever I read subtitles in Japanese and could understand a few of the words, I can tell that the English subtitles is structured in the opposite direction of how to say the same sentence in Japanese.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

I only have experience with English and a few Romance languages, but I can say that English is different from Spanish, French, and Italian in terms of syntax. I heard somewhere that German is more similar to English in sentence structure. That makes sense because both are Germanic languages.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have actually experienced languages that works differently with their wording as well. For Indonesian language, a car is called "kereta" and the color red is called "merah". Some languages place their adjective in front of the noun , like "a red car" for english, and "红色的车" for chinese. But a "red car" being translated into Indonesian would be "kereta merah", in which the adjective is place after the noun.

"A beautiful car" in English.

"美丽的车" in Chinese.

"kereta yang cantik" in Indonesian.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

As others have said before, I don't consider English to be a "backward" language. Perhaps in comparison to other specific languages, but in general it's fairly natural for the adjective to come before the noun. Chinese has a similar structure in regards to the placement of grammatical pieces.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You have your point. If red car is translated into my language, Malay, then it would not makes sense at all. We would say car first then red after  :grin: that is why if a Malay speaker tries to translate from English to Malay without knowing the differences of their structures then the translations would go mad :wacky: But I don't think it goes the same for some languages though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

Filipino here, I say that the adjective can possibly be put before and after the noun.

"Red Car" translates directly to pulang sasakyan. Alternatively, you can also say sasakyang pula, which could be translated to something like a "car which is red".

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 years later...

Personally I don’t believe it has anything to do with what order the words in a sentence are combined together to form one but rather what you are looking at when speaking that sentence such rather than just red car or car red which would indicate an almost tunnel vision way to speak as opposed to saying there is a red car in which case the writer of such a sentence would be looking at a much more specific picture and be able to articulate better what he or she wanted to say. Note: this is English. English may be one of a kind but it’s the one of a kind that stands out from the rest of the crowd by a long shot you have no idea.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...
The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...