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Say It Right Series

fractured grammar tales

Posted by mark February 1, 2010 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: grammar

When I first started studying Chinese, I thought it was very exhotic and contained all sorts of language features that English doesn't.  I have since come to the view that both languages draw from the same set of techniques, just some techniques are a lot more used in one language than the other.

Take measure words, for example.  My first impression was that English doesn't have these, but then what is "school" in "a school of fish"?  Ok, but we don't have to think about the shape of something to find its measure word, right?  How about "a wad of dirt", or my favorite "a tangle of snakes"?

One feature that English has and Chinese uses sparingly is inflection; words change their sound according to grammatical context.  However, it seems to me the 们 for plurals, 上 and 地 for adverbs are examples of inflection.

English also has tones as in "right" in the second tone conveys extreme disbelief.

English even has pictograms, like the ones that often appear on bathroom doors.

My question is can anyone think of a language feature that is present in one language and is not used at all in the other?

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