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   Re: Foreign Names

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  • From: Philip Nye <philipnye@freenet.co.uk>
  • To: "XML Developers' list" <xml-dev@XML.ORG>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 09:26:00 +0100

"Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> >> ...  In Korea, for example,
> >> English is everywhere and most Koreans can recognize the words even if
> >> they can't pronounce them.
> >
> >I find the same with Korean words.
> What?  I can pronounce Korean words but can't understand (99.9% of) them.
Perhaps I missed the meaning of Don's phrase (it was in American). I was
making a distinction between recognition and understanding.

I have found through a number of experiences that when I need to do so,
I can usefully recognise words in other scripts, memorise them and make
associations between similar words or words in groupings. I cannot
pronounce them, and cannot understand them as words.

Perhaps a Korean confronted with an "English" XML vocabulary would
understand more - but I suspect that a diet of Mickey Mouse and
MacDonalds is not any particular preparation for "understanding" simple
words like "contract", "ISBN" "B2B" or "entity" let alone the more
highly jargonistic words specific to narrow fields which crop up. The
meanings of words or phrases such as "hedge automata" or "architectural
forms" bear little relationship to natural language anyway (hedge means
completely different things to a gardener, a computer scientist or a
futures trader) and might as well be in other scripts or languages - you
learn the concept and learn to recognise the pattern of glyphs and
associate it with the concept.

The only reason a Korean _might_ understand the English more readily
than vice versa it that they are forced to get more practice. The
question seems to boil down to whether this situation should be
reinforced or not.

> Hangul is great that way.  I spent a long time in a Wendy's once sorting
> out a menu item to come up with 'wen-di hom-bur-ger'.

In Japanese of course they even have a special script used (largely) for
foreign words so you can easily recognise which ones are likely to read
something like that!

Philip Nye

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