Natural languages, communication, etc

Archive for December, 2009

Mongolia — query on script, history of written language

Could someone tell me what is the form of the written language in Mongolia?
Has it changed significantly over the course of the region since it came
into usage?

                                — Marek

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Re: Tones in PIE

I would object to two points made in Leo Connolly’s posting.  The statement    
was made that Proto-Slavic pitch was preserved as "a four pitch system in      
Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian."  In the first place, neither SC nor Sln.        
have four pitches.  At most, there are two pitches in SC, which can be        
combined with long or short vowel quantity, creating four possibilities.      
Secondly, standard SC’s two pitches do not reflect ANY Protoslavic pitch!      
The rising is simply a retraction of non-initial stress, while the falling    
represents stress on an initial syllable.  Only some Chakavian and            
Kajkavian dialects directly reflect Protoslavic pitch distinctions as          
pitch.  And this is only the distinction of Neo-Acute vs. Circumflex, as      
in sud (‘court’, rising) vs. sud (‘vessel’, falling).  This applies to        
standard (conservative) Slovene, which also has only two pitches, but          
can reflect the above pitch distinction of Protoslavic.                        

Ronald Feldstein                                                              

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A sad story in one very short act (Dumb French Question)


I decided to try to get a jump on my upcomming reading French class
by doing a little studying on my own.  I got a French/English dictionary,
a teach yourself work book with tapes, and a picture dictionary.
A few hundred vocabulary words later I was feeling pretty cocky and
decided to try something recreational and "easy" –> Reading a children’s
book written in French.

Well, I waltz down to the library and get "Le Bon Lion" and open it to the
first sentence:

    "Il y    avait une fois un lion qui ‘etait tr`es heureux."
     it there   ?     once   a  lion that  ?    very  happy

Now I figure that chances are this baby says something like:

    "Once upon a time there was a very happy lion."

Unfortunately when I try to find "avait" and "`etait" in my dictionary
I can’t.  First I says "wait a second, Gonzo, them there French verbs
got that there conjugation stuff."  So’s I looks and sees "-it" could
be 2nd or 3rd conjugation 3rd person ending making the infinitive
form, near as I can reckon ‘em: avair, avaer, ‘etair, ‘etaer.
My dictionary (Cassel’s) doesn’t seem to have any of these forms.

Wait!, I say, what about them there irregular verbs.  But, alas, my poor eyes
find no avait’s or ‘etait in the lists.  Sigh, heavy sigh.

HELP! Is this some kind of conspiracy for preventing bozo’s from learning
French on their own or what?

Nathan Miles

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HELP: Finnish word

I have been trying desperately to find a translation for a word which
I believe to be Finnish – the word is ‘salasivat’ and nothing remotely
like it appears in the Finnish-English dictionary in our library.
If any Finnish-speakers out there could furnish me with a quick
translation by e-mail, I’d be VERY grateful!

- David –

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Programatic analysis of text, pointers to references please?

    Posted to sci.lang on 1/18/93

Hello… I’m looking for references (journal titles, specific papers, etc.)
about programatic analysis of text. I have written a program that does
some simple analysis of texts without knowing anything specific about
the words in the text except that most adverbs (in English) end in ‘ly’,
and that ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ are articles, etc. It also counts sentence
clauses superficially by counting commas and semi-colons, averages number
of words in sentences, etc. My goal is to be able to run texts through the
program and produce output that is imported into a spreadsheet for
comparison to data from other texts, etc.

I have a working program and it does produce results that *might* be
interesting but…

1) I don’t know how much of a difference between two texts is "significant",
2) I would like to include more sophisticated tests, but I can’t think
of how to do this without first classifying all the words in the text.

One approach to classification might be to use an on-line list of words
commonly used in English already classified (i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives,
etc.). If someone knows of such a dictionary and where I could get it,
that would be very helpful also.

Commercial programs like RightWriter (which I have) contain various word
and "rules" dictionaries, but these are encoded so I can not read them
and use their rules for my purposes which are somewhat different from
those of RightWriter… Some un-encoded versions of these dictionaries
would be nice as I could use them to build my own algorithms….

Thank you for your time…
~r .signature

matthew rapaport     Philosopher/Programmer At Large      KD6KVH
           m…     70371…

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English Phonetics Courses?

Please post here any American English Phonetics, or English Phonetics courses y
ou know of that are offered in the summer of ’93 anywhere in the U.S. or Canada
.  Thank you for your assistance, this is incredibly important to me!!
                                         - – - – - – John Haberstroh
                                                     Center for E.S.L.
                                                     Penn State Univ.

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looking for databases of aphasic speech

I would like to locate databases of aphasic speech, preferably English or
one of the romance languages. Does anyone know if there are databases
accessible via anonymous ftp or some other means? I will post a summary of

Thanks in advance. Regards,

Steve Hoskins
Linguistics Department
University of Delaware

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A sad story … Thanks!

Thank you to the many people people who sent helpful suggestions.

My main problem turned out to be, as it so often is, failure to
read the instructions.  The dictionary clearly states at the
beginning of the section on iregular verbs that the imperfect form
is not listed becuase it is, in general, regular!

– Nathan Miles

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Here it is, just as I promised. It’s earlier than I would like
to have presented it but it’s there for people to read.

NOTE: It will be sent to a journal and if you intend to use
anything from it, I ask you to give proper references to it.
It’s the only ethical thing to do. Since it’s not finished,
please respect my request, to hold off until further results
are available.


                by H.M Hubey

        Binary oppositions of Jakobson, Binary Relations, Groups
        Isomorphisms, Partial Ordering, Lattices
        All applied to structure of Consonant sets and vowels,
        Ordinal vowels, relation to cardinal vowels, Ladefoged Modification. etc

        More on Isomorphism, Rings, Lattices, Hilbert Curves,
        Linear Ordering, Private Vowel Spaces, Bloch and Trager
        Spaces, Chomsky & Halle Spaces, Hamming Distance, Complements,
        Pure Vowels, Compound Vowels,Dipthongs, Trubetzkoy quantal vowels,
        Articulatory dimensions and operations and relation to the
        semigroup and lattice structures.

        Discrete Universal Spaces, Algorithm for generation of numbers
        for higher-dimensional universal discrete spaces
        Examples:  Finnish vowels, Hungarian vowels, Discrete Space for
        English vowels and dipthongs, Intro to Vector Spaces & formants

        Vector Spaces, Basis, Dimension, Orthogonality. A vector space
        vowels, Trubetzkoy quantal vowels as basis orthonormal vectors
        Time-Domain And ArticulatorySpace-Domain Compositions of dipthongs,
        glides, compound vowels. English dipthong examples. Semivowels.

        Time-domain signals, Frequency-domain descriptions, compound
        vowels, glides, dipthongs, Power Spectrum, Noise, Source
        and Filter model. Formant functions and approximations.

        This is where I am. I’m working on:
        Peterson& Barney, and Clark&Yallop results. Relation of
        formant-spaces to orthonormal spaces of previous sections.
        Scaling, Shearing, Rotation and Reflection Operators.
        First-Order Formant Function approximations.
        (Maybe Neural Networks, Graph-theoretic clustering)

These Sections will follow:

        Quasi-consonants, vector spaces for vowels, semivowels,
        and consonants.  Dimensional Analysis and Buckingham
        Pi Theorem. Relations to the two-tube model of speech,
        Relation to the articulatory operations.
        (Probably examples as below:
         from English, Serbo-Croation, Korean and Turkish;
        Syllabifier Finite Automaton, Mid-level metrics forlanguage
        characteristics, such as consonant clusters, use of dipthongs,
        etc. Context-Free Language for Describing Phoneme Level
        Structure of Languages)

(I’ll probably be able to finish up to Section VI)


(These two sections VII and VIII  are going to take a long time. Sometime
during the semester, I’ll make a terse version available.)

And finally these two last sections will be made available as an
outline of sorts. They will be very short since they’ll just
express general ideas. They’ll depend on Sections VII and VIII, and
I can’t give them away until they’re ready.)


Anyone who wants a copy will be sent one. All you have to do is
send me email with your name and address:

Please include your name and address exactly as you would
put it on an envelope. I’m going to print it the way it is
and use it as an address label.

PS. I’ll be grateful to anyone who can make suggestions, ask for
clarification, give me references to works along similar lines so
that I don’t have to re-invent any wheels. I’d also like to
give proper credit to people who’ve done things. But I can’t promise
I’ll incorporate every change and I can’t promise I’ll answer every
question in detail since my time is limited.

Now, I have to go back to work.


   hu…         hu…
   hu…               …!rutgers!pilot!hubey    

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Re: Works using WHO,WHEN,HOW…

>>[David] Pautler Says:
>>BTW, your choice of ‘slots’ seems pretty arbitrary to me — maintaining
>>a distinction between WHO’s and WHAT’s at this level seems unimportant
>>compared to the loss of information due to collapsing all actors, recipients,
>>patients, etc. to WHO’s and all causes, intentions, etc. to WHY’s.
> Paolo Leva says:
>The power of this taxonomy (to be developed, of course) is in its intuitive
>power. There is no problem explaining somebody how to recognize a WHO, a WHAT
>and so on. The biggest problem is to convince people trying to approach the
>language from a perspective (apparently) so down to earth.

But what analytical or generative power does your taxonomy provide over
other solutions?  Do you really want to treat the subjects of 1 and 2 as
more alike than those of 2 and 3?

1) What is John holding?
2) What is the reason for Mary’s crying?
3) Why is Mary crying?

>Think about it a little,

What did you think of the work referred to you a few months ago?


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