"English is a product of the Indo-European (often called PIE now, don't ask me what the "P" stands for, that was a change made while I wasn't looking) language family. Hungarian is one of the few in Europe that is *not*. (Basque and Finnish are the only other two that I know of, though I'm sure there are more, just spoken by veyr small numbers of people.) In PIE, the presence of an "r" following a vowel changes *everything*. Some languages show this effect more than others, the Germanics (of which English is a part) show it most of all. An "r" sound following a vowel changes the *vowel*. So, for that matter, does an "h" but that's much more subtle, subtle enough that if you *do* want the vowel to be independent from the "r", you stick an "h" between them."
He says that someone in the previous posts had said something to the effect of (he paraphrases): "Magyar (the family that Hungarian is the only surviving member of) being different from everything around it. Which is true, there are no other known surviving languages that came from the same root, so, like Basque and Finnish, it's a unique language with nothing truly in common with the languages around it."
Okay. *That* makes *sense*. Different roots.
He goes on to say: "Further, your choices of examples for vowels sounds often run afoul of this, as you keep saying things such as "like the 'a' in 'farm' or 'share'" leads to confusion because of two things, first, to most people there are *no* 'a' sounds in either of those and 2) the vowel sounds in the two words are *different*. "Farm" has a vowel of 'ar' (sounds like the name of the letter 'r') and "share" has a vowel of 'Ar' (sounds like the word "air"), in both cases the 'r' component is the most prominent . It is more helpful to talk about the 'a's of "apple", "father" and "day" (and probably others)."
To which I replied, "Gotcha. It's difficult to train myself to recognize where other people are hearing the vowel differently - to me, farm and father have the same vowel sound. This is the first time someone's suggested to me that *those* would be heard differently." (Seriously. That would never have occurred to me.)
caulay: "In this case, you were, for whatever reason, trained to regard a bunch of different vowel sounds as important differences. The problem here is that, for most people, these vowels have pretty much completed the downward march to 'Ar'. For most people, the words "Mary", "marry" and "merry" are complete homophones with *no* difference in sound or pronunciation. The same goes for the first syllable of "cherry" and "chair". And that's OK! This is *normal*. The sounds of spoken language changes
over time. In your case, your native dialect used, for whatever, archaic versions of those words. That's fine too. Under "natural" conditions, this is how new languages come to be."
Me: "It just seems so *depressing*, seeing all of these sounds disregarded, being told that they no longer matter. It's like the arts budget being cut in public schools. It's like the decline in reading. It's a *loss*."
feste_sylvain, who I'm sharing this with on Gchat: "Does it sadden you that we're losing entire languages as global communications drive us toward a common set of languages? Does it sadden you that you can't hear, discern, or say the African consonants "mb" or "gb"?"
feste_sylvain: "Okay. Then yes, I can understand that."
So yes. I mourn language loss. feste_sylvain says it's "hard to hear it as a loss when you never heard it in the first place." But I did hear it. And still do, sometimes. And it still perplexes me, how something like that can go away.
*wanders off to cuddle her archaic lonely language root*