Which language is the most lengthy one in writing?

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by SuperXW, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Hi!
    How do you think of the length of different languages?
    Which language do you know is the most lengthy one in writing? :D Or the shortest one you know?
    Are you satisfy with your mother language in its length?

    I often see long Russian words consist of 6-8 letters, which I find quite lengthy.
    English seems ok. Many common words have only 4 letters. :)
    Of course, I haven't count the changes, grammatical elements and styles in the real sentences yet. Please enlighten me.

    ******************
    Chinese:

    Chinese is extremely space-saving. You'll find a Chinese book much thinner than its English counterpart. The stroke characters compact all different concepts into blocks, no space between words, and the tonal system give multiple possibilities to each "one" pronunciation. It's the "shortest" written form as far as I know. (Although it's often "taller" than letter-based languages.)

    e.g. "Actually, Chinese is extremely space-saving." vs. "其实,中文极省空间。"
    (When editing, a Chinese character usually occupy double bytes, but still shorter. )

    *Sometimes you see longer Chinese text on multilingual manuals. Those are not literal translations. Many elements were added to make the saying more polite.

    The ancient Chinese style is even shorter, because they were made to mark down the most important contents. The writings were invented before paper and pens. It would be too hard to write many things with brushes and keep them on bones, bamboos or silks for a long time.
    The ancient style don't use punctuation, often omit subjects and objects as long as they've been mentioned before. Not even a modern Chinese can fully understand it. It has much more pictographs than modern Chinese, because they tried to assign each pictograph to represent a particular matter.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  2. learnerr Senior Member

    Russian
    This really depends not just on word length, but rather:
    1) in general: on vocabulary and grammar. Not only syntax/morphology is different in different languages, allowing for different kinds of word use, but also the word stock itself is very different; in fact, its variation is infinite, since human understanding of the world is so many times more granular than any language is.
    2) in special: on topics, style, etc. Some topics happen to be easier or shorter to discuss in one language than in another. For example, often technical words, expressions and sentences in Russian look extremely long, boring, and awful, while in English they are much shorter and look nicer (in my observation).

    Now, two examples (Russian):
    1. Собака укусила малыша.
    1. The dog has bitten a little boy.
    (English does not seem to have a word like "малыш", but uses more "grammatical words", which Russian sometimes just does not have, sometimes merely avoids to use).

    2_. Chinese is extremely space-saving.
    2а. Китайские иероглифы занимают очень мало места.
    2б. Китайский язык чрезвычайно экономичен в плане использования пространства.
    2в. Китайские фразы обычно очень короткие.

    Russian, unlike both Chinese and English, does not shine in abstractly-objective topics, because it prefers to use words in concrete and subject-influenced senses, and also because concrete and subject-influenced readings are often the default ones. So, you can't literally translate "space-saving", "avoids-space" into Russian and be well understood. The first translation of mine does not even convey the sense completely: it attributes space-saving only to the use of the script (lit. "Chinese characters occupy very little place"). The second is more exact: it asserts that, literally, "the Chinese language [as a whole] is extremely economical in terms of space usage" (the words "as a whole" are not present in the Russian sentence), but it feels not very good (what "space"? why?). The third is fine, but it is concrete rather than abstract, and it fails to say whether the written or the spoken Chinese is meant (literally, it says "Chinese phrases are usually very short"). The latter can be fixed by adding "на письме" ("in writing"), but this would imply they are long in spoken use...
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  3. More od Solzi

    More od Solzi Senior Member

    Norway
    Macedonian
    Most Latin-written languages are legible at small font sizes (Verdana 6 ), not so with Chinese and Japanese, many Hanzi/Kanji can be difficult to read even when the font size15 is used!
    is the smallest you can type it before it melts into a dark square.
    I'd say German and Tamil are the lengthiest, because of their agglutinating nature.

    Japanese is longer than Chinese because it has rich grammar, Chinese grammar is poor in comparison.
    Japanese sounds poetic because it's a language of adjectives.

    Two Norwegians languages are different: Nynorsk prefers exact verbal and adjectival phrasing à la basic English (''it's very important...''), Bokmål prefers noun paraphrases like Danish and German (''it is of great importance...'').
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  4. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    I see! You are absolutely right. :)
    To compare the length, I think we need to try to translate everything as close to the original structure as possible, while keeping it legible and natural.
    But if two languages are too different, we'll be forced to change many things, even add or subtract elements.
     
  5. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    I think Arabic can be considered one of the shortest written forms for many reasons and those are the most important ones:

    - Arabic script is extremely space-saving: words are composed only of a series of consonants and long-vowel letters, short vowels are omitted, letters of the same word are connected (except 6 letters).
    - "Verb to be" is omitted in present tense.
    - Personal pronouns: subjective pronouns are usually omitted, objective and possessive pronouns are one or two letters attached to the end of the word.
    - Some prepositions and conjunctions are also one letter attached to the beginning of the word.


    Examples:

    Chinese is extremely space-saving (English)
    الصينية موفرة جدا للمساحة (Arabic)
    asseiniyyatu muwafferatun jeddan lilmesaahati (Transliteration)
    alsinia mwfrt jda llmsaht (Short vowels omitted)

    The dog has beaten a little boy
    قد عض الكلب طفلا
    qad 3adda alkalbu teflan
    qd 3d alklb tfla

    He wrote it with his hand
    كتبه بيده
    katabahu biyadihi
    ktbh bidh

    What do you want from me?
    ماذا تريد مني؟
    maatha tureidu minni?
    matha trid mni?

    I used to play football in the morning
    اعتدت على لعب الكرة في الصباح
    i3tadtu 3ala la3ebi alkorati fi assabaahi
    i3tdt 3la l3b alkrt fi alsbah
     
  6. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Yes. I think Chinese is space-saving in general, but it will melt if too small.
    But, usually we can still guess the meaning through those simpler characters in a sentence...
    欝 is not a modern character. Even I don't recognize it.
    Besides, Mao Zedong has simplified most complicated forms, to make Chinese easier to read.
    e.g. "Actually, Chinese is extremely space-saving."
    Traditional Chinese: "其實,中文極省空間。"
    Simplified Chinese: "其实,中文极省空间。"
    This also brought up the argument whether traditional forms should be deliberately abandoned or not. Other autonomic Chinese regions like Hong Kong and Taiwan keep the traditional characters, thinking simplified form is a disgrace.

    In general, I think Chinese is "culturally rich" but rather "impractical" (hard to learn and use).
    "Saving space" could be one of the few practical advantages I can find...
    In order to save this place, of course, you can't just "spell" whatever you "say", but learn to draw 3000 different characters...
     
  7. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Wow! Looks really concentrated! :D

    Let me try to compare:
    Chinese is extremely space-saving (English)
    الصينية موفرة جدا للمساحة (Arabic)
    asseiniyyatu muwafferatun jeddan lilmesaahati (Transliteration)
    alsinia mwfrt jda llmsaht (Short vowels omitted)
    中文极省空间。 (Chinese: Simplified characters)

    The dog has beaten a little boy

    قد عض الكلب طفلا
    qad 3adda alkalbu teflan
    qd 3d alklb tfla
    那狗咬了个小男孩。

    He wrote it with his hand
    كتبه بيده
    katabahu biyadihi
    ktbh bidh
    他用他的手写下来。

    What do you want from me?
    ماذا تريد مني؟
    maatha tureidu minni?
    matha trid mni?
    你想对我干什么?

    I used to play football in the morning
    اعتدت على لعب الكرة في الصباح
    i3tadtu 3ala la3ebi alkorati fi assabaahi
    i3tdt 3la l3b alkrt fi alsbah
    我以前在早上踢球。
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  8. ahmedcowon Senior Member

  9. More od Solzi

    More od Solzi Senior Member

    Norway
    Macedonian
  10. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Oh. Japanese and the one in your link, are different characters. ;)
    I can clearly see they are different even with this small font, because I recognize 鬱 in Chinese, means "depression" too, but I didn't know .
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013

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