24 December 2009

Happy Christmas to all my readers - regardless of language & gestures!

I was just going to wish you all a Happy Christmas, until I saw that Marion Chapsal had made a comment on the previous post about the use of gestures and the number of syllables per-sentence in different languages - in which she rightly pointed out that there are the same number of syllables in the French and English versions of 'Happy Christmas'.

So I thought I'd check out how many syllables/beats are needed to get the same message across in a sample of Nordic-Germanic languages on the one hand and Latin-based languages on the other.

Given what I was suggesting in the previous post, the survey got off to a bad start with the discovery that the German version of Happy Christmas has 5 syllables.

But, as you'll see from the score card below, the brevity of Swedish, with only 2 syllables, came to the rescue and brought the Nordic-Germanic average down to 3.75 - comfortably fewer than the average of 4.5 syllables in Latin languages.

As for whether or not Latin speakers have to accompany such cheeriness with distinctive gestures must await further empirical research.

Meanwhile, a very happy Christmas to you all, whatever your native tongue - and regardless of how many syllables you need to say it!

LANGUAGE


English

Danish

Swedish

German


French

Portuguese

Italian

Spanish


WORDS

Happy Christmas

Glaedelig Jul

God Jul

Frohe Weihnachte

Average:

Joyeux Nöel

Feliz Natal

Buon Natale

Feliz Navidad

Average:


Syllables

4

4

2

5

3.75

4

4

5

5

4.5

5 comments:

Damien Mulley said...

Nollaig Shona would be the Gaelige for it.

Nollaig Shona dhuit Max!

Max Atkinson said...

Don't know how to say 'thanks' in Gaelige, but (1) thanks anyway (2) how many syllables when you say it aloud and (3) little story about the first time I ever went to Dublin.

I hadn't realised that road signs, street names, etc. were in two languages and, in the taxi from the airport, naively mentioned this to the driver and asked him "Do a lot of people speak Irish, then?"

"Oh no," he said "most of us are still finding it difficult enough trying to speak English!"

Damien Mulley said...

Thanks = Go raibh maith agat
or GRMA as they say on Twitter!
Which kind of means you deserve some good
or Go raibh mile maith agat (a thousand thank yous)

Nollaig Shona
Phonetically: Null-lig ho-na
so 4!

Bless the taxi drivers. Too many around these days, a few 100 too many they say as anyone can get a plate now and cheaply. The average night in Dublin City Centre sees streets lined and sometimes double lined with taxis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k7L9PBsSxA

None of us look back to the old days of standing in the rain at 1am waiting for an hour or two for a taxi though!

Anonymous said...

Nadolig Hapus - Happy Christmas in Welsh
(5 syllables - Na do lig hap iss)

Sandhya Blogger said...

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