Subscribe to Blog via Email
Month: December 2015
Cutting to the chase: The default answer is that English words are spelled differently because they used to be pronounced differently, just before English spelling was fixed in aspic with the invention of printing (inconveniently timed to partway through the Great English Vowel Shift). In Late Middle English, there was [ðeːɹ], which is not a […]
Greece Greeks about Greek Cypriots: * They talk funny.* They drive on the wrong side of the road.* They forget to mention them a lot of the time. (I’ve done that myself in a Quora answer.) See America–Canada, Australia–N.Z., etc. Greek Cypriots about Greece Greeks: * They talk like penpushers. (Because they speak standard Greek. […]
What are dialectical, grammar or morphological, differences between modern Northern Greek and Southern Greek?
This graphic from Varieties of Modern Greek has been used around here before: The main difference is phonological. It’s one difference, but it’s a doozy (purple line): unstressed /e, o/ are raised to /i, u/, and unstressed /i, u/ are deleted. That makes Northern Greek sound at best silly to Southern Greeks (though their attempts […]
How do you feel when a foreigner speaks in your local accent/dialect? Are you offended when a foreigner imitates your local accent?
Intellectually, I want to love it. Regrettably, being human, I freak out. Not much, just slightly, Uncanny valley-style. Ross Daly for example is an Irishman who has lived in Crete for four decades, and a practitioner of Cretan folk music (among others). Having gone to the Cretan highlands to learn Cretan music, he speaks Greek […]
Depends, as with many of these things. Yes, there is the reaction you mention. You will occasionally get Greeks (and non-Greeks) reminding you that the Roman Empire kept going for 1000 years after 476, thank you very much—though the relation of Greeks to Byzantium is more complicated than that. There is the haunting feeling that […]
Squamish language uses <7> conventionally to substitute for IPA <ʔ>, and I can imagine other languages doing so if their Romanisation was influenced by linguists. Squamish doesn’t use <!>, which turns up in Khoisan languages for clicks (Exclamation mark). Not convinced there’s a language that uses both, but who knows… For the same reason of […]
In practice: none. κοιτάω and κοιτάζω both mean “to look”, and are just morphological variants—of a kind quite common in Middle Greek, as new present tenses were being reconstructed from aorists. (Both -αζω and -αω verbs could have -ασ- aorists; so working backwards, you could end up with either present tense.) There’s a slight register […]
What does it feel like to speak an almost extinct language? Does one feel a responsibility to carry it on to future generations? Does one try to practice it and not forget it?
I’ll quote what someone else in that position said (originally posted about on my blog: .sig quoting Marcel Cohen, corrected; see also Language Regained). Marcel Cohen was a Jewish author writing in French. His first language was Judaeo-Spanish (aka Djudio, Ladino), which he barely remembered as an adult. As a one-off, he wrote a memoir […]