Natural languages, communication, etc

Archive for June, 2012

i wish i can do…

What do yo mkae of ‘I wish I can do…’ repeated
in the citation as follows?

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Re: All languages are equally fit

Ruud Harmsen wrote:
> My impression so far is that even if many Japanese Kanji and many
> Chinese Hanzi are logographic and not ideographic, at least the sun
> character in the Japanese sentence LSD gave is indeed ideographic.

But that’s because LSD is either intentionally lying, or, more likely,
just not too bright. As I’ve had to explain him some days ago, if you
change to a synonym morpheme, you change the character. That’s the
opposite of ideographic.

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What language is this: [tun"AfAs'Ese]

As I was walking through Paddington railway station today, a man came
up to me and asked a question sounding like [tun"AfAs'Ese]. I vaguely
mumbled that I didn’t understand. He said ['EsINgr"e] and turned away.

[A] = unrounded low front vocoid.
[E] = unrounded mid-low front vocoid.
[I] = unrounded mid-mid-high central-front vocoid.
[N] = voiced nasal velar stop.
["] = following symbol is fully accented vowel
['] = following symbol is lightly accented vowel

I took the second utterance to be "You’re English", so presumably the
first utterance was to ask whether I spoke his langauge. The man was
very black, on the short side, and lean in a way that made me think of
the Nile valley. He had a full moustache but no beard.

The obvious guess is that he was a North African who had mistaken me
for an Arab (easy to do with my looks). But to my admittedly feeble
knowledge of Arabic, his utterances were unrecogniseable. I would have
expected _Anti Arabi:?_ or _Tukallam el-Arabiyya?_ in Arabic.

Does anyone have an idea what language he was speaking?

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ETYMO es "por ende"

Anybody know the etymology of the Spanish expression "por ende"?
Is there an equivalent in other Romance languages?

Ruud Harmsen,

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Newborns cry in their native tongue!…
<<The researcher compared recordings of the cries of 30 French and 30
German babies between 2 and 5 days old. French babies tended to
produce cries with a rising melody contour, while Germans more often
cried falling cries. These patterns are typical for French and German
language respectively.>>

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New Yorker article on a dialect coach

Abstract; full article requires subscription.

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When was Hebrew supplanted by Aramaic, and when was Aramaic replaced by Arabic?

When was Hebrew supplanted by Aramaic, and when was Aramaic replaced
by Arabic?  I realize that Jesus spoke Aramaic, and moreover, this
language was the spoken language of the bulk of modern day Iran.
During the time of Ashoka, his north western pillar was written in
Aramaic, and this pillar was located in modern day Afghanistan.  He
wrote this pillar in Aramaic because the people of Iran spoke Aramaic.

However, even Jesus’ Aramaic language was supplanted in modern-day
Israel by Arabic.  I’m sure that this was attributed to the rise and
spread of Islam, but according to Wiki, Aramaic was NOT spoken in the
Holy Lands around 100 AD.

Please help me here.

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When was Chuvash introduced to the Chuvashia, and what language did it displace?

Chuvash is a very distinctive Turkic language, and it’s related to the
languages of Turkey, Uzbekistan, and even Mongolia.  After all, the
Mongolian and Turkic languages are in the Altaic family of languages.
However, the Chuvash are very European looking and white with light
colored eyes.  They don’t resemble the Turkish of Istanbul or the
Mongolian featured Kazakhs/Uzbeks.  When was Chuvash introduced to the
Chuvashia, and what language did it displace?

Since Chuvashia is located north of the Caspian Sea and Western
Kazakhstan, i would think that they spoke a Slavic language.

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A history of French?

Any recommendations for a history of the French language?

I just finished reading Walther von Wartburg, _Evolution et structure
de la langue fran aise_ (12th ed., 1993) and, well, that was an
annoying waste of time.  The book is fairly light on actual
descriptions of old stages of the language or the changes over time.
Instead the author tries to connect the development of the language
to the political and social developments in the corresponding periods
of French history.  Which might be interesting in its own right if
it didn’t feel like so much unsubstantiated conjecture.  The later
chapters on Modern French deal more with the French literature of
the period than with the language itself.  When Wartburg does discuss
the language proper, he isn’t above assigning value and occasionally
veering into outright language chauvinism.  The final chapter is
especially preposterous in its ex nihilo claims about the clarity,
intellectualism, etc., and general superiority of French over all
other languages.  Bizarre claims don’t help–such as contrasting
the emergence of contemporary literary French as the product of an
entire social class on the one hand with the emergence of literary
English as single-handedly due to Shakespeare on the other hand.

A while after glossing over the phonetic changes from Vulgar Latin
to Old French on all of two pages, Wartburg decides that the
ubiquitous vowel alterations in the morphology of Old French (e.g.
laver/leve) show that the language was lacking in intellectual
abstraction.  But near the end of the book, when he uncomfortably
discusses the dual French/Latin morphology in contemporary French
(e.g. teindre/extinction, douter/indubitable, m r/maturit ), he
decides that this actually *confirms* the abstraction and intellectualism
of the language.  Aren’t unfalsifiable arguments just wonderful?

In short, this book is the usual drivel I have come to expect from
the humanities, desperately lacking in scientific rigor.  I guess
some allowances have to be made for its age.  The publishing history
isn’t entirely clear, but the undated preface to the third edition
mentions that all leftover older copies had perished in a fire in
1943.  How much of the material goes back to the original and how
much was added or revised in later editions isn’t made explicit.

Now that I got this rant off my chest, back to the original question:
Can somebody recommend a book on the history of French that actually
covers the development of the language in a factual manner?
(It would be nice if the author didn’t expect the reader to be
fluent in Latin, but that may be asking too much.)

Christian "naddy" Weisgerber                          na…

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