Eupedia Forums
Site NavigationEupedia Top > Eupedia Forum & Japan Forum
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Characteristics of "Jengrish" : OFFTOPIC about my/the

  1. #1
    Chukchi Salmon
    Join Date
    22-12-04
    Location
    Sunny South Korea
    Posts
    642


    Ethnic group
    Paleo-Asian
    Country: South Korea





    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    The favorite ones I always hear is the usage of "MY" in almost everything....
    Now this is interesting. I believe it was a German/French who said this (with some sarcasm for sure);

    "Americans (US Americans) are so capitalistic/materialistic that they love to use the personal possessive (genetive) pronoun 'my' before everything they can. So instead of the generic 'the head' which would be the more common occurrence in other European languages, they would say 'my head.' There are so many other examples which any speaker of a European language couldn't fail to notice."

    It felt odd when I heard that; the facts seemed to be genuine, but I couldn't quite agree that langauge could be explanined my either capitalism, marxism, or whatever -ism. But since 'my' became an issue here, it may help to see how frequent 'my' is used in countries where English is an official/native langauge. It may very well turn out that English is rather unique in its profuse use of 'my.'

    Foreigners learning the language may be just hyper-reflecting what they have observed in English.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

  2. #2
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    9,364


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    "Americans (US Americans) are so capitalistic/materialistic that they love to use the personal possessive (genetive) pronoun 'my' before everything they can. So instead of the generic 'the head' which would be the more common occurrence in other European languages, they would say 'my head.' There are so many other examples which any speaker of a European language couldn't fail to notice."
    No, no, this is completely unrelated. It is grammatically correct to say, for example, either "She touched me on the arm" or "She touched my arm". It's just a matter of (cultural) preference and nuance. I know that Italian people don't use much "my" and prefer "the", but this is because there isn't such a word as "my" in Italian; you have to say "il mio..." or "la mia...", which translates as "the mine...". So many Italians shorten it by only "the". If that's not what the guy you met meant, I don't see what it is, and I am a native speaker of French, who also speak Italian and German. But there is almost no difference of usage between English, French and German regarding "my".
    My book selection---Follow me on Facebook and Twitter --- My profile on Academia.edu and on ResearchGate ----Check Wa-pedia's Japan Guide
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  3. #3
    Chukchi Salmon
    Join Date
    22-12-04
    Location
    Sunny South Korea
    Posts
    642


    Ethnic group
    Paleo-Asian
    Country: South Korea



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    No, no, this is completely unrelated.
    I know the guy was only meaning to excercise some European humour. But if we dig deep, there are little things that do turn into reality. Name taboos have changed/replaced phonemes, syllables, and whole morphemes; but, yes, that's a different area.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It is grammatically correct to say, for example, either "She touched me on the arm" or "She touched my arm". It's just a matter of (cultural) preference and nuance. I know that Italian people don't use much "my" and prefer "the", but this is because there isn't such a word as "my" in Italian; you have to say "il mio..." or "la mia...", which translates as "the mine...". So many Italians shorten it by only "the". If that's not what the guy you met meant, I don't see what it is, and I am a native speaker of French, who also speak Italian and German. But there is almost no difference of usage between English, French and German regarding "my".
    What you say about syntactic grammar is true, but I was rather thinking of preference in usage. As for German or Italian, I wouldn't know how to make a comparison, but here's some unprocessed stats from google limiting to the French equivalent of the English word 'head.' We might be able to see the English skewdness towards 'my' in comparison to 'the.'
    -----------------------------------
    "my head": 7,740,000 matches
    "the head": 18,000,000 matches
    my/the = 0.43

    "ma tete": 52,600 matches
    "la tete": 432,000 matches
    ma/la = 0.12
    ----------------------------------
    "in my head": 2,100,000 matches
    "in the head": 1,870,000 matches
    (in my)/(in the) = 1.13

    "dans ma tete": 24,500 matches
    "dans la tete": 52,400 matches
    (dans ma)/(dans la) = 0.47

    As you can see, the relative frequencies of "my/the" in English is consistently higher by a factor of 2.2-3.6 when compared to those found in the French equivalents "ma/la".
    Last edited by lexico; 17-03-05 at 12:43.

  4. #4
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    9,364


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    As you can see, the relative frequencies of "my/the" in English is consistently higher by a factor of 2.2-3.6 when compared to those found in the French equivalents "ma/la".
    Don't forget that "the head" is a much more common expression than "my head" and can be used in expression where it is not refer to the physical head (eg. "the head of marketing", "the head teacher", etc.), where "my" cannot be used. The word "tete" in French is almost never used in another sense than the physical one. Then try searching "tête" instead of "tete", as Google is case sensitive.

    "ma tête" => 415,000 results
    "la tête" => 2,380,000 results

    The proportion is now much closer.

  5. #5
    Chukchi Salmon
    Join Date
    22-12-04
    Location
    Sunny South Korea
    Posts
    642


    Ethnic group
    Paleo-Asian
    Country: South Korea



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Don't forget that "the head" is a much more common expression than "my head" and can be used in expression where it is not refer to the physical head (eg. "the head of marketing", "the head teacher", etc.), where "my" cannot be used. The word "tete" in French is almost never used in another sense than the physical one.
    Part I: Stats

    Good point which I accept. Let me expound on it in detail in Part 2. I redid my google search; English figures by restricting to English language only; French "e circonflex" in French only, which gave me the following. (I got greater figures than yours, which is probably due to the web material growing.)
    -----------------------------------
    "my head": 7,353,000 matches
    "the head": 17,700,000 matches(1)
    my/the = 0.42

    "ma tête": 434,000 matches
    "la tête": 2,420,000 matches(2)
    ma/la = 0.18
    ----------------------------------
    "in my head": 2,030,000 matches
    "in the head": 1,820,000 matches
    (in my)/(in the) = 1.12

    "dans ma tête": 224,000 matches
    "dans la tête": 477,000 matches
    (dans ma)/(dans la) = 0.47
    ----------------------------------
    "on my head": 443,000 matches
    "on the head":1,500,000 matches
    (on my)/(on the) = 0.30

    "sur ma tête": 2,700 matches
    "sur la tête": 422,000 matches
    (sur ma)/(sur la) = 0.005

    Again, the relative frequencies of "my/the" in English is consistently higher than those in French by a factor of 2.3-60. I have not taken into consideration the higher ratio for 'my head/the head,' which I will demonstrate below.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Part II: Interpretation

    Given that I am not allowed to use spectific wild card words (such as arbitrary verbs, or synonyms of "head, ") in my search, this is how I interpret the serach result for "the head" and "la la tête." Let's say the extended uses of the word "head" were of a number x included in the underlined figure (1). The proportion 0.42 I am using was calcualated 7,353,000/17,700,000.

    Now if I take away those extended uses of "head," how many true heads are left ? 17,700,700 less x. I have no easy way of getting the number x; let's suppose x is 7,700,000 for the time being. Then the adjusted proportion would be 7,353,000/10,000,000 = 0.74 for English.

    If French does not have the extended use of "tête" within figure (2) that would mean the corresponding proportion for French would remain at 0.18 obtained by 434,000/2,420,000. The ratio between English and French would be 0.74:0.18 = 4.1:1 This means, English favors 'my' 4.1 times as much as French favors 'ma.'

    Conclusion

    Depending on the extended usage count x, the actual ratio figures will vary. But one thing for sure is that it will be greater than 2.3. This supports my thesis that English has unusually high occurrences of 'my' when compared to French 'ma.'
    Last edited by lexico; 18-03-05 at 02:35.

  6. #6
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
    Join Date
    08-07-04
    Age
    39
    Posts
    12


    Ethnic group
    Goblin
    Country: Australia



    I think you missed the point of what Mac was saying.

  7. #7
    Chukchi Salmon
    Join Date
    22-12-04
    Location
    Sunny South Korea
    Posts
    642


    Ethnic group
    Paleo-Asian
    Country: South Korea



    What is the point that i'm missing ?

    EDIT: Thanks. I understand what I missed !
    Last edited by lexico; 18-03-05 at 02:32.

  8. #8
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    9,364


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    This supports my thesis that English has unusually high occurrences of 'my' when compared to French 'ma.'
    Anyway, regardless of Google results, you should believe when I say there is no substantial difference of usage between my/the in French and English, as I am a native speaker of French.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 33
    Last Post: 13-12-13, 15:11
  2. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 22-02-05, 06:05
  3. "scoreless tie," "personally," and others
    By Glenn in forum Other Serious Discussion
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 29-09-04, 02:49

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •