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Old 06-29-2011, 03:33 PM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
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Living in Portugal, I have noticed that Portuguese allows to end a variety of diminutive suffixes to all kinds of words, not just to nouns, but also to adjectives, adverbs and even verb forms, specifically the gerund. The diminutive is really omnipresent and gives people the opportunity to express their moods and feelings such as fondness in an elegant way.

In my mother tongue German there are just two such endings, but they are only applied to nouns. Plus, they often make it look like baby talk when used by adults.

In English I have not really noticed any such diminutive endings that one can randomly add to words if one feels like it.

Example 'hand':
Portuguese: mão -> mãozinha
German: Hand -> Händchen
English: hand -> ?!?
Maybe 'little hand', but that is not quite the same, plus one can add the 'little' to the diminutive forms in Portuguese (mãozinha pequeninha, whereby pequeninha is itself the diminutive form of the adjective pequena = small) or German (kleines Händchen) as well, making it even smaller or cuter.

I was wondering if diminutives have an effect on the way people think and the tone of conversations, and thus maybe on society as a whole?
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:17 AM
 
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Language is an EXTREMELY powerful factor in shaping thought processes. Study neuro-linguistic programming and you can get examples of how frighteningly important it can be, and how people who are unsophisticated can easily be led and even hypnotized by those who know the techniques.

Diminutives in English are typically entrenched in the feminine and can border on derogatory. "Sweetie, would you bring me a piece of pie?" "Well bless your little heart!" I understand what you mean with the "hand" example, "petite hand" gets closer but is still not integrated into the word. Americans may be more familiar with Liebchen (as used in the movie "Casablanca") than Händchen.

Cultural idiomatic construction, and sub-group usage of a limited palette can and do influence thought. The French have to figure out if an object is masculin or feminin and speak accordingly. If there is a dispute, they have an Academie to make a ruling. The culture reflects that. The military generally limits the vocabulary (and underlying thought) to establish control and structure. Count the number of verbs and modifiers in the speech of a military man and compare that to the speech of a college professor. Engineers can be even more fascinating. The extreme and repeated use of a complex but limited range of mental expressions can leave some engineers totally humorless. Take them out of that environment for a few years and they become more relaxed and open to humor.

Brain modification from language can have other effects. If you have ever seen old Chinese women play Mahjong, they rip through the tiles so fast you cannot even see the matches before they are gone. They take crosslinked symbols that confuse English speakers, and easily parse them as unique. Their brains have become differently wired through the use of their language and the character set of that language.
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Old 06-30-2011, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Whatie?

Among English-speakers, the Australians have carried this to a high art. I think it reflects the Aussies general disdain for taking things seriously when they don't deserve to be, so yes, in that sense, there is a correlation between language and general attitudes.
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:09 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
25,947 posts, read 24,854,081 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
Language is an EXTREMELY powerful factor in shaping thought processes. Study neuro-linguistic programming and you can get examples of how frighteningly important it can be, and how people who are unsophisticated can easily be led and even hypnotized by those who know the techniques.

Diminutives in English are typically entrenched in the feminine and can border on derogatory. "Sweetie, would you bring me a piece of pie?" "Well bless your little heart!" I understand what you mean with the "hand" example, "petite hand" gets closer but is still not integrated into the word. Americans may be more familiar with Liebchen (as used in the movie "Casablanca") than Händchen.

Cultural idiomatic construction, and sub-group usage of a limited palette can and do influence thought. The French have to figure out if an object is masculin or feminin and speak accordingly. If there is a dispute, they have an Academie to make a ruling. The culture reflects that. The military generally limits the vocabulary (and underlying thought) to establish control and structure. Count the number of verbs and modifiers in the speech of a military man and compare that to the speech of a college professor. Engineers can be even more fascinating. The extreme and repeated use of a complex but limited range of mental expressions can leave some engineers totally humorless. Take them out of that environment for a few years and they become more relaxed and open to humor.

Brain modification from language can have other effects. If you have ever seen old Chinese women play Mahjong, they rip through the tiles so fast you cannot even see the matches before they are gone. They take crosslinked symbols that confuse English speakers, and easily parse them as unique. Their brains have become differently wired through the use of their language and the character set of that language.
Interesting you mention the Chinese. If I remember correctly they said in a documentary a few years ago that because of the language the Chinese brain is a bit different from the Western brain

PS: Found something on that:
http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001427.html
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Old 07-01-2011, 11:24 AM
 
23,691 posts, read 70,869,486 times
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Yeah, that link is entirely consistent with what I have observed. FWIW, when I REALLY learned the BASIC programming language and how to use it almost as a way of speech, I absolutely found that my mental processing of events around me was different than prior to knowing the language. There is an amazing elegance of thought in linear (as opposed to object oriented) programming. I found myself going back, editing and trimming, just to get to the minimal smooth commands needed to get the job done. Seeing that precise functionality is rewarding.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:24 AM
 
Location: West Coast of Europe
25,947 posts, read 24,854,081 times
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Regarding the brain-language link, I just read about the ASPM gene. There are two different version of it, and they seem to be related to languages:

"...statistical analysis has shown that the older forms of the gene are found more heavily in populations that speak tonal languages like Chinese or many Sub-Saharan African languages."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASPM_(gene)
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