Language varieties spoken by emigrants/expats

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Youngfun, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Hi all!

    As you know I'm a Chinese grown up in Italy, and now that I live in China, I've found out some differences between the Chinese language spoken in China and the one spoken by our fellows in Italy.
    I'll give some examples.

    There are a lot of different Chinese words, for example the waiter is called 服务员 in China, but 跑堂 in Italy.
    We call the Italian-style bar (actually café) 酒吧, while in China 酒吧 means bar in the American meaning.
    We call a supermarket 公司, but that's called 超市 in China. In China 公司 means only "company, corporation".
    We refer to the import-export wholesale shops in Chinatown as 贸易, while in China it means generally "commerce, trade".
    Also, we refer to the Italian residence permit as 居留, which is the abbreviation of 居留许可证. But in China this abbreviation is not understood, because it simply means "residence".
    For us, a police station is a 警察局 (police office), in China it's called 公安局 (public security office).

    Then we also use a lot of Italian "loanwords", mainly:
    - bucreaucratic words such as comune (city hall), vigile (traffic policeman), bolla (delivery note), IVA (VAT);
    - words for new things such as camion (truck), scotch (scotch tape), bianchetto (correcting fluid), Diesel;
    - food names such as scampi (Norway lobsters), cozze (mussels), vongole (clams), rombo (turbot fish), prosciutto (ham), formaggio (cheese), carciofi (artichokes).
    These are words that we always say in Italian, pretty never say in Chinese.

    We also make some calques from Italian, for example in Italian the word insalata means both "salad" or "lettuce", so we call the lettuce 沙拉菜 (lit. "salad vegetable"), while in China this is not understood, lettuce is 生菜.
    In Italian the USB flash memory is called pennetta (lit. small pen) or chiavetta (lit. small key), so we may also call it 笔 (pen), although we also use the word used in China "U盘".
    Then the Internet key is called chiavetta (Internet) in Italian, we would call it 上网笔 (pen to surf the Internet) as a strange calque: we associate the chiavetta with its synonym pennetta.

    We also made a portmanteau word: we call the plastic bag /sakede/, formed by Italian sacchetto + de, "bag" in our Chinese dialect.

    When I was bored, I made a list in this thread in the Chinese forum (written in Chinese).

    Linguistic discussions

    I think these differences can be compared with British English vs American English.
    But linguists don't normally consider the language varieties spoken by the emigrants abroad, except when they are official language or spoken by the majority of the population.
    Maybe the only exceptions are the Talian (a Venetian dialect) and the Riograndenser Hunsrückisch (a German dialect) in Brazil, and the Fiji Hindi.
    One day I want to be able to say: I speak Italian Chinese, meaning the Italian variety of Chinese. :D

    Is there a linguistic term to call these "language varieties/dialects spoken by emigrants"? Maybe we could call them exolects? Do you like this new word I coined? :D

    I think that the "Italian Chinese" has many features in common with the American colony languages, such as American English, Latin American Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese.
    So I'd like to make some parallel comparisons.

    For example:
    - new words for new things:
    when my parents' generation arrived in Italy in the 80's from the Chinese countryside, they saw a lot of things that didn't exist back home back in time (which eventually also got introduced in China).
    For example they saw supermarkets, and looked like big companies, so they called them 公司 (company). They saw Italian cafés, and looked like bars, also because of the phonetic resemblance, so called them 酒吧 (bar). They had to deal daily with the residence permit, so they abbreviated the word 居留许可证 to 居留.
    Many new inventions have different words between en-UK and en-US, between pt-PT and pt-BR, and between es-ES and es-LatAm.

    - loanwords from the local language:
    again new things, that in the 80's didn't exist in Chinese countrysides, such as scotch tapes, correcting fluids, trucks, etc. which were called directly by the Italian name. At that time they haven't seen many cars, needless to say traffic policemen, so they just called them with the Italian word vigili. Same thing with exotic Italian foods, we call many of them with the Italian name.
    In the Americas: English, Spanish and Portuguese have also incorporated names form the local native American/indios languages. In Latin America also a lot of food names.

    - bureaucratic words:
    quite obvious, different countries, different political and bureaucratic systems. For us a police station was simply straightforward a 警察局, a police office, while in China they created the expression 公安局 "public security office".
    The difference is that apart police station, we took most bureaucratic words from Italian as they already exist, while in the Americas new words were created in the colonisers' languages.

    - archaisms:
    for example 跑堂 was a word used in China in old times, now it's not used, not even understood anymore, but in Italy we still use it.
    American English, American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese also retain many archaisms disappeared in the European varieties. (Although European varieties may also retain some archaisms disappeared in the New Word.)
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Hi Youngfun,

    I've found a few idiomatic words that appear in the language of emigrant Greeks living in the US, and are not used at all by Greeks of Greece:

    «Μπλόκος» ['blokos] (masc.) for the city block. The Greeks of Greece use «τετράγωνο» [te'traɣono] (neut.) lit. "square", for the same concept.
    «Λέκι» ['leci] (neut.) for lake, we use instead «λίμνη» ['limni] (fem.)
    «Βακέσιο» [va'cesi.o] (neut.) for vacation, instead of «διακοπές» [ði.a.ko'pes] (fem. pl.)
    «Γκρίλα» ['grila] (fem.) for grill, instead of «σχάρα» ['sxara] (fem.)
    «Κάρο» ['karo] (neut.) for car, instead of «αυτοκίνητο» [afto'cinito] (neut.) or the colloquialism, «αμάξι» [a'maksi] (neut.)
    «Κοντράκι» [kon'traci] (neut.) for contract («συμβόλαιο» [sim'vole.o] (neut.))
    «Μούφλα» ['mufla] (fem.) for the muffler («εξάτμιση» [e'ksatmisi] (fem.))
    «Μπαγκανότα» [baga'nota] (fem.) for the bank-note («χαρτονόμισμα» [xarto'nomizma] (neut.))
    «Μπόσης» ['bosis] (masc.) the boss («αφεντικό» [afendi'ko] (neut.))
    «Ντάϊνα» ['] (fem.) for the diner («εστιατόριο» [esti.a.'tori.o] (neut.))
    «Ραδιέρα» [raði'era] (fem.) for the car radiator («ψυγείο» [psi'ʝi.o] (neut.))
    «Τρόκι» ['troci] (neut.) for the truck («φορτηγό» [forti'ɣo] (neut.))
    «Φλόρι» ['flori] (neut.) for the floor, instead of «πάτωμα» ['patoma] (neut.)
    «Φρίζα» ['friza] (fem.) for the freezer, instead of «κατάψυξη» [ka'tapsiksi] (fem)
    «Χοτέλι» [xo'teli] (neut.) for the hotel («ξενοδοχείο» [ksenoðo'çi.o] (neut.))

    (and many more)
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Western Armenian is spoken mainly by people outside the modern country of Armenia, and I think it has some features that are more archaic than Eastern.

    For example, in modern Eastern Armenian, a common way of forming the present tense is to add the locative suffix ում (-um-) to the verb stem followed by a form of the verb "to be":

    մոռանալ (morranal) "to forget"
    ում եմ (morranum em) "I forget"
    մոռանում ես (morranum es) "you forget"
    մոռանում է (morranum e) "s/he forgets"

    In Western Armenian, conjugational endings are still used for the present tense:

    մոռնամ (morrnam) "I forget"
    մոռնաս (morrnas) "you forget"
    մոռնա (morrna) "s/he forgets"

    There are also vocabulary differences between the two: e.g.,

    Eastern րոպե (robe), Western վալրկեան (vayrgyan)

    E. ոնց որ (vonts vor), W. որպէս (vorbes), պէս (bes)
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  4. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Thanks apmoy and Gavril!

    Your examples are more similar to my OP, because they also talk about immigration in another continent. Many of the words you listed seem derived from English, especially some new inventions or things about American reality. The difference, is that you guys have fully greekised the American word, to adapt better to the Greek phonology and grammar.

    We Chinese in Italy usualy took words as they are from Italian, with only slight phonetic change: we don't pronounce geminate letters, we say L instead of R, leave out some coda consonant, or add some vowel etc.
    So we say [kamjo] for camion /'kamjon/, [sɨkotʃi] for scotch /skɔtʃ(ə)/, [loŋbo] for rombo /'rombo/, [kotsɨ] for cozze /'kɔts.tse/ etc.
    And we don't usually follow the Italian correct singular/plural distinction.

    Your info are interesting. I'm not very into the grammar of exotic language, so I can't talk about these things in detail, sorry.
    And what about the vocabulary differences? Can you say if the words in Western Armenian are more archaic, or are influenced by neighbouring languages?

    This reminded of the Dunggan language, spoke by the Chinese Hui people in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Historically it's a Chinese language, and even today it's intelligible with the Shaanxi Mandarin in China. But they use Cyrillic in writing. Besides of having a lot of loanword from Russian, Arabic and Persian, they also retained a lot of ancient words from the Chinese Qing Dynasty, or from the local Northwest dialects of Mandarin, such as:
    "government" = ямын (ya-min) = Chinese 衙门 (Imperial court);
    "president" = word cognate with Chinese 皇帝 (Emperor);
    "police" = word cognate with Chinese 衙役 (Imperial guards).
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    The Eastern word for "minute" (րոպե / robe) seems more likely to be a recent loan than the Western word, given that robe starts with r-, as very few other Armenian words do. On the other hand, ոնց որ (vonts vor) seems to be made up of very basic pronominal elements (and therefore probably isn't loaned) -- I'm not sure why vonts vor would have caught on more in Eastern Arm. than in Western.

    Unfortunately, my knowledge of Armenian is too limited to say much more right now (otherwise, my list of vocabulary differences would probably have been much longer).
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  6. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member


    There must be a general study of this phenomenon, but I am insufficiently specialist to be able to supply an appropriate bibliographical reference - and perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I can supply one.

    But from what I do know, there seems to be a general - and not hugely surprising - tendency for émigrés or colonists to preserve some features of their language more conservatively than the indigenous. US English, for instance, preserves the participle "gotten", long since abandoned by BrE, and keeps the pronounced intervocalic 'r' in "iron" and similar words; the Spanish verb-system remains closer to the Latin from which it descends than either Italian or French; and in a fascinating conversation I had a few years ago with a Dutch fellow-customer in a pub, and the Afrikaaner barman, it emerged that Afrikaans and modern Dutch were mutually comprehensible, but the Dutchman said that it was "like going back three centuries".
  7. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Thanks Scholiast.

    I would say that Romanian has the verb system much closer to Latin. The verb "to be" conjugated at the present tense in Romanian is pretty much the same as the Latin!
    Romanian being an isolated Romance language surrounded by the Slavic ones, on one hand is more conservative retaining many Latin grammatical features, on the other hand it had acquired many Slavic loanwords.

    Actually, the Chinese spoken in Italy doesn't go as far as Afrikaans, neither as far as BE vs AE: there are only some vocabulary differences.
    Because the Chinese immigration in Italy is quite recent, the first people went there after the WWI, but only in the 80s there was a mass immigration.
    Although some 2nd generation Chinese born in Italy also show some grammar influence from Italian, e.g. they may say 一双裤子 (a pair of trousers) instead of the standard Chinese 一条裤子 ("one" trouser). Phonetically, we speak Chinese slower, and somewhat less fluently than people in China.
    Also, our variety is not officially recognized, so the local Chinese newspapers in Italy mostly uses the standard Chinese vocabulary, and tries to translate many Italian words into Chinese, even when in real life we always use the Italian word. Except the words "跑堂" (waiter) and "居留" (resident permit) which are widely used in newspapers.
  8. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once more

    You are quite right, and I could have mentioned that phenomenon too, and several others, but did not want to be too lengthy.

    And in Romania there is (still) a small German-speaking community, in the region of Siebenbürgen, which preserves an older style of German than would be recognised in Berlin or Munich - which may well apply too to the ethnic Germans in Kalinningrad.

    How interesting, though, to learn from this thread that this pattern is replicated in the language of expatriate, or diaspora, Chinese as well. I have another note to offer from the Graeco-Roman world. The (written) accentuation of classical Greek was invented not in Greece, but in Alexandria in Egypt - to help "preserve" what was already the "classical" literary pronunciation from the intrusion of mispronunciations by the millions for whom Greek had become everyone's second language, the koiné of the New Testament - rather as English "purists" such as myself try to resist "Internet" English!:)
  9. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Intervocalic <r> is not lost in BrE. On the contrary, it is sometimes resurrected as in squirrel which is /ˈskwɝ(.ə)l/ in rhotic and /ˈskwɪɹ.əl/ in non-rhotic dialects. In iron, a metathesis occurred: /aɪɹən/ > /aɪəɹn/ > /aɪɚn/. The further development to /aɪən/ in BrE is then the ordinary loss of rhoticized vowels (/ɝ/>/ɜː/ and /ɚ/>/ə/).
  10. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    berndf is of course (as usual) right, and not least as regards Scots English, where it [I mean the intervocalic, indeed trilled, 'r'] has never been lost. I was only using this as a general illustration: Americans are more inclined to pronounce the r in words like "more", "bear", "beware" than is BBC RP.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  11. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    There are many different words immigrants add to their original language after the have lived in other countries for a while, even more so second, or third generation Americans in their ancestors language. There are even some jokes about their language -- the Chicago Polish especially (mostly second, third generation -- lower class). I don't know that many words they use, but some words sound really funny to more standard language users. The language of quite recent immigrants is also influenced by the English vocabulary, when speaking about people in the United States. It also depends on the individual, of course, whether they adopt new words into their original language or not. The new words are mostly related to their trade -- especially such trades as construction -- most tools and activities are called by English words with Polish endings, in the case of Polish. It might be different with Russian-speaking people, because not that many of them work in construction, so there are some English words that got into their Russian, but I think fewer than in the case of Polish, and a different type of words -- some things related more to the internet, for sure, and some others, related to daily activities, such as: shopping, jogging, and some others. As for Lithuanian people, I don't know -- there aren't that many of them in New York, and the consulate people speak perfect, literary language, without too many new additions. In Chicago, the people working in construction, may also be adding some English words to their vocabulary, in a similar way the Poles do, but to a lesser extent. (due to language purification tendencies).
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  12. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    When I hear the ABCs (American Born Chinese) -but also Canadian Chinese, Australian Chinese, British Chinese, etc.- speaking Chinese it's even worse, they use nearly 10% of English words. :D
  13. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once again to youngfun and all others

    It works the other way too: where for example would modern English be without "pyjamas", "intelligentsia", "char", "ketchup", "tsunami" or "typhoon"?

    Had Shakespeare had these words at his disposal, he would surely have used them.
  14. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    If you compare any language “A” with its attested or reconstructed ancestor “B” you will inevitably find plenty of examples both of innovative and of conservative features. But to say that “colonial” language varieties (if we may call them thus) are in principle more conservative than those in the mother country is clearly a delusion. If you compare modern British and North American varieties of English with (let us say) English texts of the 17th century you will indeed find a few instances where the American varieties have retained certain archaic features lost in Britain, but the overwhelming impression will be that American English is much further removed from the common ancestor than British English.

    As for the Romance languages: To say that Spanish or Romanian is on the whole more conservative than (say) Italian is a statement that would be very hard to prove. Doubtless, each of these languages retains certain archaic features lost in other Romance languages, but all of them also have a large number of morphological innovations (to say nothing of loanwords). But I think a strong case could be made for the claim that Italian (or rather: the dialects of Central Italy) is the most conservative of the Romance languages.
  15. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Really? In what respect? Can you give examples? The only one that comes to my mind is the verb to table where the difference in meaning is due to a changes in AE. Usually mad = angry, upset has been cited (and deplored) as a typical Americanism though the meaning is attested as of the early 14th century (meaning 2).
  16. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    I was actually thinking more of morphology/syntax. Things like “I got to do it” vs. “I have got to do it”, or “Where you at?” vs. “Where are you?”
  17. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Of course I didn't mean that all the colonial languages are more conservative in all aspects always, but surely have some archaisms.
    It's also a fallacy that in movies and videogames set in ancient times they speak with British accent. Actually American pronunciation is more similar to the XVIII century's pronunciation.

    A similar phenomenon could the "arrested development", when loanwords in foreign languages remain the same, while in the source language they change. There are a lot of these examples of French loanwords in English, e.g. default from the Medieval French default > modern French défaut.

    I'm glad that Scholiast mentioned ketchup and typhoon.
    We (Chinese in Italy) use the word ketchup. In China both the ketchup and the Italian tomato sauce (for pasta) are called 番茄酱 (tomato sauce). In Italy we need to distinguish clearly the ketchup from the Italian tomato sauce, so we use the English/Italian word ketchup.
    There are several theories that ketchup comes from Chinese. So this could be considered a reborrowing.

    Typhoon is a reborrowing in Chinese. It's a wind that comes in the Southern China, it's called 大风 (big wind), pronounced daai6 fung1 in Cantonese and tai5 fung2 in Hakka. The European sailors coming in contact with the Southern Chinese coast learnt this word from the local population and this word entered English as typhoon. This word entenred Mandarin in the form 台风 (Traditional script: 颱風) pronounced tai2 feng1, IPA: /tʰai fəŋ/.

    Other "reborrowing" are the Cantonese rice, the mantou, and the kung fu.
    The fried rice is called 扬州炒饭 (Yangzhou fried rice - Yangzhou is a city very far from Canton) in China, but in Europe is usually called Cantonese rice (e.g. Italian riso alla cantonese). In Europe it's called 广东炒饭 (Cantonese fried rice) in Chinese too. (not used in China)
    In Italy the mantou is called pane cinese (Chinese bread), in Chinese restaurants it's translated as 中国面包 (Chinese bread) in Chinese too. (not used in China)
    In Chinese "kung fu" (功夫) means "effort and time to do something laborious", while the martial art is called 武术 wu shu. When in Hong Kong they made the kung fu films, they called them 功夫片 (films made with a lot of effort), then in the West "kung fu" started to mean "the Chinese martial art". Now even in Chinese 功夫 can also mean "martial art" and became synonym with 武术.
  18. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This is (skid row) slang vs. standard language within American English and has little to do with American vs. British English.
  19. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    "have got" / "haven't (got)" / "have you (got)" are not in use in America English anymore, which instead prefers "have" / "don't have" / "do you have". Can this be considered an innovation?
    Though in spoken language it's very usual "I got".
  20. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I think that discussing the common feature of the language of “expats” is a hopeless exercise because of the continuous change in the language habits of the individuals. A person that arrives in a new country and begins to use the language of the new country in everyday communication will inevitably begin to use gradually more and more of the local language in his own mother tongue. After, let’s say, 15 years in the new country the number of the “foreign” words in the native tongue of the immigrant will vary between 0,1 and 50%. It’s all individual. The children of the immigrant born in the new country will speak a language learned from the parents (or not), but they will not usually to be considered as native speakers of the parental language. In the second and especially third generation the immigrant groups will typically develop a sociolect of the local language, which may remain stable over time in a city, region or a country.
    Only exceptionally the immigrants with very strong internal bonds will develop a new, (relatively) stable native language being a fusion of their own imported language and the local language. The only ethnic group that comes to my mind here are the Gypsies. There are certainly more of them. In the history we have a lot more of the opposite development: immigrants develop their own language derived from the local sociolect mentioned before. The best examples here are Yiddish and Ladino.
  21. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    More greetings, and two further observations, though fdb and berndf have far better knowledge of Comparative Philology than I, so I tread on eggshells here,

    First, against the general proposition I suggested in#8, we must not forget Rhaeto-Romanish, spoken - as far as I am aware - only in the Engadin in Switzerland.

    Secondly, berndf is wholly right about the "skid row" phenomenon. This is most emphatically not a different syntax, it is simply compressed or dialectical. American usage will of course differ in places from BrE, but in writing very little.

    berndf could equally well have cited here the patois of Brixton in Saarff Lahndan.
  22. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Hi Ben.
    I agree with you. But the Chinese communities have traditionally strong internal bonds.
    I can assure you that the example I gave in the post #1 and in #17 are used by the majority of Chinese in Italy. Some words are also used by the Chinese in other European countries.
    And... I am a second generation, Chinese is still my native language, and I basically speak the same Chinese as my parents' generation, the same Chinese dialects, with the same "particular" words I listed. The fact that there are many Chinatowns and newspapers written in Chinese helps for "stabilizing the language" (although newspapers use more "standard" Chinese).
    And you're right, I also know a lot of 2nd generations that don't speak Chinese. In the future I predit that more and more descendants of Chinese will speak Italian, and standard Mandarin, but some words such as those listed in #1 are so "settled" in our community that I think the next genrations will continue to use... and probably the Italian loanwords will increase.

    Your Yiddish and Ladino are good example.
    In #1 I've already mentioned the Brazilian Venetian, the Brazilian Low German and the Fiji Hindi.

    In our era of globalization language varieties tend to become more uniform merging into the standard or the more widespread form.
  23. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    You mean "I have to go" instead of "I've got to go"? Both sentences are standard in both varieties.
  24. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    No, I mean "I got a book" used in the possessive meaning, instead of "I have (got) a book".
  25. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    This is about morphological innovation. It is not a question of register. I am saying that this sort of innovation takes place in the spoken language in North America and may or may not spread to the written language. But that is how languages change.
  26. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    As Scholiast pointed out, you find the same thing in Britain. Comparing standard BE with American slang is distorting the comparison.
  27. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    I think the OP is very similar to what I can observe in the Russian community in the US. I will re-post my earlier post in another thread:
    EDIT: similarly to Greeks, Russians sometimes use "Russian-ized" versions of English words, for example, турка /turka/ for turkey, instead of the proper Russian word индейка /indeyka/. I think the reason for that is in Russia turkey is not a very common food, while in the US it is a staple.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
  28. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    It can be interesting to compare tool terminology within immigrant communities. For example, in parts of the US, there are many immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries who work in construction. My sense (from having lived in California) is that Spanish-speaking construction workers generally keep the Spanish terms for the tools and other equipment they use (at least the basic ones such as drills, saws, bolts, clamps, and so on). On the other hand, Spanish-speaking immigrants who don't do much construction work (along with people who grew up in bilingual households in the US) generally seemed to use the English equivalents of these words.

    I'd have to do more research (which others have perhaps already done?) to find out whether this is the general pattern for tool-words within Spanish- and other non-English-speaking immigrant communities.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  29. Ihsiin

    Ihsiin Senior Member

    I once heard a London-Iraqi say:
    آني باچر "أوف" - يعني ما عندي شغل
    aani baachir "off" - ya3ni, ma 3indi shughul
    I am tomorrow "off" - that is, I don't have work.
    I found it quite amusing.

    In general, there is quite a bit of mixing of English and Arabic in the London-Iraqi community, both with Arabic and English as the "base" language, depending on generation.
    I can't think of any standard phrases, though.
  30. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Hi rusita. Thanks for contributing.
    So there is no brown sugar in Russia? Are you aware if brown sugar has been introduced recently in Russia as an imported good? If yes, it would be interesting to know how people in Russia call it.

    About the other posts, I have the impression that most of you are talking about "code-switching" - which is something that happens too and very often among the second generations.
    But what I was talking about, is not only using words of the local language to call many things; but also words in the immigrant's language that are different from the ones used in the home country.

    Using exclusively a foreign word for somethings is different to code switching.
    The examples I gave in the #1 such as vigile (traffic policeman), camion (truck), etc. are words that we never say in Chinese.
    Same things about cozze (mussels), vongole (clams), etc. if somebody says them in Chinese, most people would not understand them.
    Rusita's example are closer to his. :thumbsup:

    Code switching is different: for example when speaking Chinese sometimes I use the Chinese word 电影院, sometimes I say cinema (Italian word the same as British English).
    Sometimes I refer to the lawyer as 律师 (Chinese), sometimes as avvocato (Italian).

    Ihsiin's example are more similar to "code switching" especially when he says:
    When I'm speaking to my brother or my cousins, I could say:
    - Ah* 小王,现在 natale 快要到了,我们去买 regalo 吧,现在有 saldi。过几天我们就要 ferie 了,想不想去雪山 sciare?(Chinese "base" with many Italian words)
    Translation: Hey Xiaowang, now it's almost Christmas, let's go buy some presents, now there are the seasonal discounts. After some day we'll have holidays, do you want to go to snow mountain to ski?

    *Ah: Roman dialect "vocative" word. In Rome people like to add "ah" before names when calling people. We also add it before Chinese names.

    Or we could also say:
    - Ieri che era 过年 siamo andati al 中国餐馆 a mangiare 山粉饺, poi siamo andati a casa di 小李, ci stava anche un amico suo 番人. Poi ci siamo messi a 搓麻将 e abbiamo visto il 春节联欢会 su 中央四台. (Italian "base" with many Chinese words)
    Translation: Yesterday it was the Chinese New Year, we went to the Chinese restaurant to eat some sweet potato dumplings, then we went to Xiaoli's place, there was also an Italian friend of his. Then we played mah-jong and we watched the Chinese New Year Gala TV show on CCTV-4 channel (on the satellite).
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  31. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Hi, Gavril. I know some construction Polish-English vocabulary from various court herrings related to construction accidents. They use: skiefro -- for scaffold, skrua for screw, lewel for level (w is pronounced almost like v in Polish), belt for belt, harness for harness, engel for angle, sitrak for sheetrock, bima for beam, superwaizer for supervisor, and many other words -- almost all tools and construction products -- mostly nouns though, I think. The verbs mostly stay in Polish.
  32. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    What about verbs specifically associated with the tools (e.g., "to drill", "to nail", "to clamp")? Did you hear the Polish versions of these verbs used?
  33. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    Maybe also: drylował, wbijał neila, Some are being replaced too, but not all of them. Some other phrases: wyciągnł skruza ganem or skruganem. Zagrałtował - he applied the grout to the tiles.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  34. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Liliana, were you talking about court hearings?
    So in the US they register the court hearing made in foreign languages? Or did you hear them talk with the translator?
  35. LilianaB Banned

    US New York
    In the US all litigants use the language they are most comfortable with, during any type of court proceedings. There is always a court interpreter, if required. The court orders them in advance. This is required by law. You can answer in even the most rare languages -- the whole hearing is recorded by court reporters in English only -- the interpreter's speech, the attorneys and the judge speaking in English.
  36. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    I just looked it up and it is now on Wikipedia. It is a direct translation from English, коричневый сахар /koritchnevyi sakhar/. Soulds weird to me, but probably people who use that word will get used to it. My suspicion that people in Russia will use the Russian term and people in the US will use the English one.

    Same goes for "pound" (unit of mass): people in Russia use the Russian term фунт /funt/ (on the rare occasions it is used, because in Russia metric system is used) and the Russians who live in the US would say паунд /paund/ as pronounced in English.

    Another example I hear all the time (although I myself try to avoid it) is using траффик /traffik/ for traffic jam, whereas there is a perfectly good Russian word пробка /probka/ meaning the same. Again, people In Russia would use the latter, people in the US would use the former.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  37. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Are people aware that this is essentially the same word, just borrowed through different channels (German vs. English pronunciation)?
  38. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Honestly, I don't think an average speaker even asks himself this question.
  39. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    So, it is not "strikingly obvious", right?
  40. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    If you ask me, I'd say it is obvious that these words are realted, even without knowing the specific fact that "funt" came into Russian from German, but I have interest in languages. I think most people simply would never give it a thought.
  41. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    You've just reminded that "pizza" is pronounced /'pitsa/ by the Chinese in Italy, which comes from the Italian pronunciation /'pitstsa/; while in China it's usually /pʰisa/.
    City names are also different:
    - Florence is /f(e)ilents/ for us (from the Italian Firenze), while in China it's Foluolunsa, from the Latin Florentia or English Florence.
    - Neaples is /nabuli/ or /nap(w)oli/ for us (from the Italian Napoli), while in China it's Nabulesi, from the English Naples.

    It would be nice if courts also recorded the litigant's speech in the original language, at least for future proofreading, in case of interpreter's mistake, or just concepts not accurately translatable.
    This is what happened to Hong Kong when it was a British colony. A policeman insulted by a person in Cantonese reported him writing the Cantonese word. At the court, the British judge asked everybody what that Cantonese word means, someone said: "bugger"; someone said: "it means that her wife sleeped with me"... after that the judge started to laugh.

    In Medieval Italy, Latin was the only official written language, but the first documents written in "Italian" were the placiti - transcriptions of countrymen's depositions in the local vulgar, around year 800-900.

    Talking about recent facts, Michele Misseri -a peasant in the South of Italy accused of having killed his niece and become famous in the media- always complains that his declarations are mistranslated from his native dialect into Italian.

    I would also like if the immigrants' full name were also recorded in the registry office in their original language too, at least to disambiguate names that are written differently in the original language, but the same in the romanization.
    But maybe my ideal bureaucracy is too multilingual.
  42. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    That might be, but how about "gotten"? That is not slang. It is a form now lost in BE
  43. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Also boughten.
  44. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I woul say -cum grano salis- that British English is more conservative in spelling. American English is generally more conservative in vocabulary and in the pronunciation.
    For the grammar, American English retains some features considered archaic in Britain such as "gotten" and the subjunctive.
    But I would say that overall [Standard] British English grammar is more conservative than [Standard] American English, because it retains forms such as "have got"; "to have" used alone in negative and interrogative questions without the auxiliary to do; shall, ought to, whom, whilst, as well, etc.

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