Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2009 00:37 UTC
Features, Office In the comments on our editorial about language purism and the Psystar case, it became quite clear that language is a subject almost everyone has an opinion on - not odd if you consider that language is at the very centre of what makes us "human". Since this appears to be a popular subject, let's talk about the influence computing has had on two very minor aspects of the Dutch language.
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javivi72
Member since:
2009-10-27

As a native Spanish speaker, I can tell that Thorn is right indeed. Even though some words can help you learn you are about to state a question or an exclamation (as elmimmo stated above), most of the time the only way to know it is through intonation. Without opening marks, when you get to the closing one it is way too late.

As a side note, I am pasting a rather amusing but totally true statement found in the "Spanish language" article in Wikipedia:
"An amusing example of the significance of intonation in Spanish is the phrase ¿Cómo, como como? ¡Como como, como! (What do you mean, how do I eat? I eat the way I eat!)." I assure you each and every one of those "como" are pronounced the same, but intonated differently.

Reply Parent Score: 1

siride Member since:
2006-01-02

English frequently uses intonation alone to mark questions. Yet we get by without an opening question mark. You certainly don't need an opening exclamation point because neither language has special syntax for that (it is, in fact, entirely based on intonation and doesn't change the meaning of the sentence).

Reply Parent Score: 2

javivi72 Member since:
2009-10-27

I will not talk about English intonation because it is still a mistery to me.

However, Spanish intonation for both questions and exclamations requires that you rise your pitch at the very beginning and ending of the sentence (well, more or less, but you get the general idea). As we usually do not change neither the words nor their order when using those constructions, you do need a clue while reading; that is what the opening mark is for. Even more so as we tend to use very long sentences, with the closing mark possibly out of immediate sight.

I do not wish imply that they are needed in every language out there, but in Spanish they certainly are.

Reply Parent Score: 1