Saturday, June 28, 2008


Oh, this is a total zombie blog allright. So sorry.

The new job does involve some travel, but for various reasons I haven't been hitting the lessons quite as hard during the travels as I thought I might be going into it: As most I'm doing 1 unit of Rosetta per flight, and 1 pimsleur per city. I can totally improve on that, I know.

Today I was talking with a cousin about Chinese and Japanese and I came up with a key distinction between languages: "Interruptible" versus "Uninterruptible". Languages where key verbs are at the END of the sentence are Uninterruptible.

In japanese, not only is the verb at the end, but whether it's positive or negative is at the END of the Verb. For instance: "As for me, very much cats I... [like not at all] [like] [eat] [desire]." So if you stop a Japanese person mid-sentence, you will never know if they do or don't like the cats, or indeed WHAT verb they'd attach to cats (Eat? Pet? Exercise?).

Similarly, in many of the tenses of German (past, conditional, and future) the action verb is at the end: "I will next year a fine film [make] [see] [purchase] [eat]". Stop them mid sentence and you'll never know.

Now, with these short sentences, you wonder "why would I interrupt?" Consider that all manner of modifiers and sub-clauses will also be loaded into these sentences before the verb: "I will [next year in May together with several friends with whom I had gone to school] a film make."

In contrast, in French, English, Chinese, and other Interruptibles, you can say "I'm going to make a movie [next year with som...]" and brother I'm going to cut you off right there. Because I know you're not going to make that movie. You're always saying you're going to, and it's just never going to happen.

I know it's a strange distinction, but it just might lead to greater understanding between the peoples of this Earth.

In English,