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Day: August 23, 2016
Why is the French “U” different from the other Latin languages?
Mildred Pope, From Latin to Modern French, 1934. A very good book. Early on in the history of French, every instance of /u/ changed to /y/; and very soon after, every instance of closed /o/ changed to /u/, as a pull-chain (of the kind that happens a lot with vowels). It’s not as early on […]
Why are most old foreign words still used, despite its semantic void can already be considered filled/supplied by its own words?
Remember: language always has a social context. Always. Why do languages borrow words and phrases? Sometimes: consciously, to fill in a gap in the language, by bilinguals who care about the target language. That takes work. Rather more often: as a transferral of prestige and connotations from the source language, by bilinguals who want to […]
When reading Koine Greek, do I need to pronounce the accents? And if I do, how do I pronounce them?
Do you want practicality, or do you want historical accuracy? Historical accuracy first. I’ve check Philomena Probert’s Ancient Greek Accentuation, and Vox Graeca. We know that the switch to stress accent must have happened by Gregory of Nazianzus (4th century): his poetry uses stress and not pitch accent as a base. We suspect that the […]
What languages are spoken in Vanuatu?
Ethnologue lists 113 languages for Vanuatu, two extinct: Vanuatu Vanuatu has the highest language density of any country on the planet: one language per 2,000 people. When last I checked, Vanuatu was also the last frontier for a large number of undocumented or underdocumented languages. Ethnologue is compiled by SIL International, which coordinates missionary linguists. […]
What language do people in Cyprus speak?
Eutychius Kaimakkamis’ is the most complete answer; I’ll only add: The status of Standard Greek vs Cypriot Greek is a diglossia, and it’s a much more clear-cut instance of diglossia than what was going on in Greece in the 20th century. Cypriot Turkish (Cypriot Turkish, Kıbrıslıca) has some clear typological affinities with Cypriot Greek. For […]
What does Roman Jakobson mean about poetry: “the projection of the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection to the axis of combination”?
I understood the words and the phrases, but I had to be edified by some online links, and I’ve got an advantage in that I know why Jakobson said it the way he did. Roman Jakobson Metaphor Project Jacobson – Metaphor and Metonomy Exec summary: there is one takeaway message for poets: FORM MATTERS The […]
What are the negative and positive politeness strategies?
Politeness theory I’m sure I’ve answered this here already. Positive politeness strategies are culturally approved ways of interacting with other people, that involve doing good things for them. They concentrate on eliminating distance between people. Negative politeness strategies are culturally approved ways of interacting with other people, that involve not doing bad things to them. […]
How do you say welcome to a greek wedding?
Greek is all about the formulaic expressions. If you’re the guest in a Greek wedding, you must say: Να ζήσετε “may you live [long]” to the bride and groom. Να σας ζήσουν “may they live [long] for you” to the bride and groom’s families. Πάντα άξιος “[may you] always [be] worthy” to the best man. […]
Did the Doric Invasions really happen? Which regions became mostly Dorian and what were they before the conquest?
There are four major groups of ancient Greek dialects: Ionic, of which Attic is a subbranch North-Western, of which Doric and Achaean are subbranches Aeolic Arcado-Cypriot I’ve ranked them in impressionistic order of archaicness. The easiest explanation for the spread of the North-Western group is as a wave of settlement, that you might as well […]
Are there axioms in linguistics? If yes, which are they?
Linguists don’t like the word axioms. as you can tell from the other answers: they imply a degree of mathematical rigour that just isn’t compatible with someone as messy as human language. But there are foundational assumptions to disciplines in linguistics, which are pretty much axioms. And they would be more overtly acknowledged, were linguists […]