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Pre or Post

I have begun speaking Japanese soon after I was born, hence Japanese is the so-called mother tongue.
An American teacher began teaching me English when I was around 10 years old.
I studied Indonesian very hard 10 years ago for my business and can use it about half of English.
As for Arabic, I have studied it in spurts since the beginning of this year, mastered its basic grammar and tried to increase its vocabularies now.
I can read and write Arabic letters, however it is not so easy to read Arabic without phonetic signs because Arabic has only 3 type of vowel orthography.

So, like CNN or BBC, I am now able to manipulate languages around the world anyhow. For instance, BBC broadcast simultaneously to the world being based on UK, USA and Singapore.

 

Around four years ago, when I stayed in Balochistan in Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan, for business for one year, I began studying Urdu. Urdu and Hindi are almost the same language which is not so different between Tokyo dialect and Osaka's in Japanese. The one spoken in Pakistan is called Urdu, and another spoken in India is called Hindi.

When I began studying Urdu, I was firstly surprised at finding that Urdu grammar was almost the same as Japanese one. In my feeling 90% is the same between them. The only big difference is that Urdu has male and female but Japanese doesn't. Urdu has a polite expression and a modest expression as Japanese has them.

Languages in the world are classified roughly into the Indo-European family of languages such as English, the Ural-Altaic family such as Japanese, the Semitic family such as Arabic, the Austro-Malaysian family such as Indonesian and the African family such as Swahili. Until having begun Urdu, I had never doubted that the families of languages were classified according to the individual grammars i.e. how to compose a sentence. My belief had fallen to pieces at a stroke.
Urdu is classified into the Indo-European family.

I do not know such linguistic details as how to classify the families of languages, however through my experience I think languages can be classified 'preposition language' and 'postposition language'. English, Arabic and Indonesian are the 'preposition language' but Japanese and Urdu (Hindi) are the 'postposition language'.

The 'preposition language' says "I - go - to - school" but the 'postposition language' says 'I - school - to - go". If the 'to' is placed before an object, it is a preposition, and if the 'to' is placed after an object, it is a postposition.

As far as speaking language like manipulating a game, the difference between the 'preposition language' and the 'postposition language' can be easily overcome because it is just a problem of practice against rules. But the feeling when speaking each language becomes very different.

In language there is also similar difference between placing an adjective before a noun and after a noun, however the difference between a preposition and a postposition largely changes dynamism produced by language such as an atmosphere or the flow of feeling. Japanese, English and Urdu are of the type of a pre-adjective while Indonesian, Arabic and French are of the type of a post-adjective.

I think that the difference between the 'preposition language' and the 'postposition language' put in the shadings on the style and detail of culture. I will refer to this again in the other occasion.

(29/8/2005)
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