Subscribe to Blog via Email
Day: July 5, 2017
Why does the unmarked “or” usually imply the exclusive meaning in natural languages?
Tamara Vardo’s answer is most of the answer. I think there’s a psychological component as well, though this is getting into speculation. It’s convenient for implicature to have xor on a scale before and, and to require the less natural notion of inclusive or to be expressed as a combination of the two, rather than […]
Why do we not use morpheme analyzers for English language?
Do you mean, why is something as ludicrously unlinguistic as Snowball the state of the art of stemming in English? And why do we stem words, instead of doing detailed analysis of affixes, when we parse words in Natural Language Processing of English? Because English lets us get away with it. There’s not a lot […]
What is the difference between η and ᾱ in classical Greek (first declension FEM nouns)?
Dialectal. To clarify, the question is about the nominative singular ending of first declension feminine nouns. Some of those nouns end in a short -ă, and they’re accented accordingly on the antepenult: thálassa “sea”. The remainder end in either a long -ā or a long -ē. The difference in Classical Greek is a matter of […]
What is the Greek word for “one’s lot in life?”
I vaguely recall a story which hangs on the following premise: there’s a Greek word which can either mean lot or some type of food (omelette?). This one continues to have me stumped. Both the Homeric moros and the Classical moira “fate” are derived from the word for “share”, just as “lot” in English is. […]
Is there an aorist in English grammar?
I’d argue there is. Aorist means “indefinite”, and was intended to mean “indefinite (unmarked) as to aspect”, which the Greek Aorist tense was, contrasting with both the Imperfect and the Perfect tense. Tense naming conventions, however, are dependent on different grammatical traditions. Latin did not refer to aorists, and neither did Germanic grammars or Romance […]
If languages are best learned from immersion, how is it possible to revitalize dead languages?
Through immersion. Please read Daniel Ross’ answer and Jens Stengaard Larsen’s answer, which address the bulk of this. The language you’re reviving is likely not going to be identical to the original language, as Jens points out; and that’s ok. I have a friend involved in language revival; she’s helping indigenous Australians reclaim their languages, […]