Category: Other Languages

Is Yiddish a Semitic or a Indo-European language?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

The answer has been given by Anthony Thompson’s answer and Chrys Jordan’s answer. I’m going to spell out a bit more the general principles at work. Fitting language history into a tree structure requires some simplifying assumptions. In particular, you have to be able to assume that a language has a single parent proto-language (otherwise […]

Why are there ancient, long extinct scripts (e.g. cuneiform) in Unicode?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

https://unicode-table.com/en/blocks/cuneiform/ I’m going to put in a less popular answer: Because they can. Yes, there is research ongoing on extinct scripts, and scholars should be able to exchange texts in those scripts. The thing is, scholars usually exchange Sumerian, Old Egyptian, Mayan etc texts not in the original scripts, but in transliteration. The scholars are […]

How is the Dené-Caucasian theory considered among serious linguists?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

I knew linguists that had worked with long-rangers (those who propose wide-ranging linguistic affiliations); I have in fact met the late Sergei Starostin, proofread contributions by John Bengtson, and read issues of Mother Tongue (journal). I even have a quote from Mother Tongue as one of my .sigs, though not approvingly: “Assuming, for whatever reasons, […]

Why do Europeans say, “Where there are Italians, there is dirt”?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-02 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Other Languages

Because there was a perception 50 years ago that Italians were dirtier than Northern Europeans. They may not be saying that now, but there is still stereotyping between parts of Europe, and the claims that this saying is impossible ring hollow to me. I don’t have a smoking gun of someone saying it; but I […]

What is the most British thing ever?

By: | Post date: 2017-08-01 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Other Languages

This is obscure. But Quora is a stamping ground for me to pass on anecdotes. This anecdote involves one of the doyens of Mediaeval and Modern Greek Studies in Fair Albion, Professor Geoff Horrocks. Author of the most authoritative English-language summary of the history of Greek there is: That’s the second edition cover. The first […]

Why doesn’t Judeo-Spanish use the letter Ñ?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-30 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

Clyde Thogmartin is right in his answer that traditionally Judeo-Spanish is written in Hebrew (with the quite icky trigraph <ניי> for [ɲ]). But more to the point, even when it is written in Latin script, people writing it usually make a point of not using Spanish orthography: they are putting distance between their language and […]

Is it possible to use the ancient Gothic alphabet to write in English?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_alphabet One might argue that the phonological inventory of Gothic is a spectacularly bad match for that of Modern English. But then again, so was the phonological inventory of Latin. I think you can, so long as you hold your nose and write vowels as a one to one match with Modern English; you’re not […]

What is a better way of representing the /ʔ/ and /ʕ/ sounds than apostrophes or other punctuation marks?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-25 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Other Languages, Writing Systems

I’m going to take a long time to say “none”. Glottal stop – Wikipedia The most common convention in Latin script is indeed to use apostrophe; and the disadvantage of the apostrophe is that it’s easy to miss, easy to conflate with a quotation mark, and it doesn’t look like a “real” letter. The same […]

Is there a phonological explanation of why the letter “s” dropped in many French words (resulting in adding the circumflex accent)?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-24 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

Between them, Christopher Ray Miller’s answer and Brian Collins’ answer have most of it covered. There’s one more way to look at it though. French dropped /s/ at the start of consonant clusters, at the start and in the middle of words. So /sp/ > /p/, /sn/ > /n/, /st/ > /t/ etc: hospital > […]

How did old linguists in a pre medical screening world manage to figure out phonologies so perfectly?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-23 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

Articulatory phonetics was indeed done before Palatography. And not just by the Ottomans: the Korean script Hangul originated in articulatory phonetics, and for that matter both the Sanskrit grammarians and the later Graeco-Roman grammarians had pretty much had it figured out. And they could just as my students in first year were able to learn […]

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