CJK languages – Chinese, Japanese, Korean

CJK is the abbreviation of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages. These three languages are geographically close. But do they have something else in common?
Chinese is a Sino-Tibetan language. Japanese belongs to a Japonic language family. And Korean is a language isolate. Japanese might be related to Korean, but it’s not sure.
Hanzi, kanji, hanja
Chinese Character: hanzi, kanji, hanja

One thing is common, though. They all use chinese characters: hanzi (Chinese) or kanji (Japanese) or hanja (Korean). In Korean chinese characters are used less frequently.

Japanese Verb Conjugation

Japanese verb conjugation is quite simple, because most verbs are regular.

The regular verbs are divided in Ichidan and Godan verbs.

Ichidan verbs end in -eru and -iru. The Godan verbs end in a consonant or vowel and -u.

There are two irregular verbs:

  • suru ‘to do’, and
  • kuru ‘to come’.

Suru is one of the most used verbs in Japanese, because it is used to form compound verbs, such as benkyousuru (勉強する)’to study’ and dansusuru (ダンスする)’to dance’. From the latter example you can see that suru is used to make new verbs from loan words, too.

While the verb conjugation itself is easy, the use of the verbs is not. But that’s another story.

Japanese Verb Conjugator

The last speaker of a language

What is common to these persons: Tevfic Esenç, Red Thundercloud, Laura Somersal, Ned Maddrell and Dolly Pentreath?

They are the last speakers of a language. When these persons passed away, also a language ceased to exists in our world.

  • Tevfic Esenç was the last speaker of Ubykh.
  • Red Thundercloud was the last speaker of Catawba Sioux
  • Laura Somersal was the last speaker of Wappo
  • Ned Maddrell was the last speaker of Manx
  • Dolly Pentreath was the last speaker of Cornish

 

Swedish villages in Estonia

Google Maps is one of my favorite tools that I use when surfing in the Internet.

Today I zoomed to islands outside the Estonian coast, and guess what? I found an island with the following names of villages: Borrby, Rälby, Diby, Norrby, Söderby, Hosby, Sviby, Bussby, Förby, and Saxby. All these names are typical Swedish names.

Vormsi, Estonia's fourth largest island (Swedish: Ormsö)
Vormsi, Estonia's fourth largest island (Swedish: Ormsö)

Looking back in the history, there’s a good reason for the Swedish place names; during most of its history, the island has been inhabited by Estonian Swedes (“rannarootslased” in Estonian or “coastal Swedes” in English), whose population reached 3,000 before World War II. During the war, nearly all of Vormsi’s population, along with other Swedes living in Estonia, were evacuated, or fled, to Sweden. The island’s current population is approximately 240 inhabitants.

Links:

 

Sami people

There is the tendency in Finland to tell that Finland is for the Finns and they should therefore all talk Finnish. And they moreover tell that Swedes were conquerors (when they arrived 1000 years ago the “Finnish” shores) and implanted Swedish, and the Russians tried that (200 years ago), too.

With that background, I couldn’t but laugh for myself as I encountered a map like this in a book about the root of the Europeans.

Sami people in Northern Europe AD 0.
Sami people AD 0.

On the map areas 1 and 2 represent the Sami people around AD 0. Area 3 is area that the Sami inhabited during XIV and XV centuries.

And the area 2 is the area where the Finnish (first tribes, nowadays government) have pushed the Sami away. So with this background, the ongoing linguistic and cultural aggression towards the Sami, Swedish speaking Finns and other linguistic minorities can be seen as a continuum for what has gone on for more than 2 millenniums.

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Gothic Language

A bishop called Wulfila (Ulfilas) is the man that translated the Bible to the Gothic language. Although the Gothic tribes were assimilated to other peoples and the language is no more spoken, the work of Wulfila is still very important.

The Gothic bible is the far most important written source of an East-Germanic language that got extinct more than a 1000 years ago.

More info:

 

Machine-translation made easy

For those that like machine-translation, the past years have been really exciting. Thanks to the Google’s machine translation API, there was an increasing number of fancy machine-translation gadgets that brought machine-translation to the user’s desktop in a very comfortable way.

Unfortunately Google no more offers theire machine-translation service for free for programmers. So  we can say goodbye to all the nice and free machine-translation gadgets that we used.

As of today I don’t know any free machine-translation gadget that I could install on my desktop.

Perhaps I should revive the WinXLator project. WinXLator was a machine-translation gadget that was very simple to use. This gadget was based on Apertium machine-translation technology. The biggest benefit of WinXLator over Google translator was that it didn’t require Internet connection to work; all the files needed were installed on the PC.

WinXLator — the free machine-translation app — was released 1½ years ago but withdrawn later. WinXLator couldn’t compete with the Google-based machine-translation gadgets. The bottle-neck was the limited number of supported language-pairs.

But perhaps we should give WinXLator a second try. And also give users a free machine-translation gadget?

More info: