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Phonetics and Phonology / Re: IPA k vs kk
« Last post by panini on July 09, 2018, 09:23:48 AM »
There is an article, "The Structural Phonology of Alabaman, a Muskogean Language", published in 1968 in the International Journal of American Linguistics, which "touches on" the topic, but I would say that the question hasn't actually been touched, there has simply been hand waving. You should, however, be aware that linguists have a bad habit of making stuff up. You might want to look at Montler's Alabaman dictionary at, which gives the form [okihatka] as "ocean". You should note that aspiration is not phonemic in the language, so the transcription you've been given is an "interpretation" of something else.

My reading of Rand's article indicates that the [kkʰ] transcription may be the phonetic property of being "fortis, slightly aspirated" in onset position. He actually exemplifies k-allophony with the word [okki:tatka:] "sea", without the aspiration or the syllable boundary. In other words, somebody else modified Rand's data, assuming some rules. This then raises the question of how Montler's data conflicts with Rand's. You could in fact ask Montler -- it may be disagreements in how to interpret the same phonetic output, or there could be real language differences, though Rand and Montler partially used the same informant.

It is not clear what the "question" requires of you / tells you. In my opinion, it is unreasonable and professionally outrageous to give a transcription like "[okkʰi:tʰatkʰa:]" and require a person to supply syllable boundaries. It is well known that "syllable boundaries" are not phonetic transcriptional primitives, they are a phonological device invoked to simplify certain phonological rules. That means that unless you have some reason to posit a syllable bounday, for some phonological purpose, you should not provide any syllable boundaries. Such a request is analogous to asking "What is the underlying form of [akʰatta]", when you have no basis for saying anything about underlying forms.

Since this is such an outrageous requirement, I don't actually believe that that is what you're being told to do, so maybe re-read the instructions, and provide a bit more information on the data and instructions.

Phonetics and Phonology / Re: IPA k vs kk
« Last post by Daniel on July 09, 2018, 12:01:24 AM »

Languages do syllabification differently, so the only way to answer this correctly is to know the specific syllabification rules/patterns for this language.

There are some reasonable ways to guess (consonant clusters tend to split, for example) but that's just a guess.

Typically geminates (doubled consonants) are found as syllable boundaries, as you intuit. It's hard to imagine a language with phonetically geminate onsets or codas in a single syllable. (I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility, because languages do some almost unimaginable things.) If they were to appear in those positions phonemically, they'd probably simplify phonetically. But at the same time, sometimes geminates aren't actually pronounced like two copies of the sound anyway (for example, a glottal stop followed by the second consonant), so it's hard to guess about the assumptions of the question.

The best advice I can give you is to answer the questions on any kind of exam based on the instructions and assumed knowledge for that exam. General answers may be 'wrong' in that context, and theories vary (as do notations!).
Phonetics and Phonology / IPA k vs kk
« Last post by daniel.c.gallagher on July 08, 2018, 10:43:22 PM »
Hi there!

I'm new to linguistforum. As a prospective linguistics phd, I thought it'd be good to get set up somewhere I can get help when needed (coming from an engineering background, said help will probably be primarily basic stuff).

I'm practicing an entrance exam for a linguistics department and the question requires separating syllable boundaries (with a period) in the IPA transcriptions of words from the language Alabaman. I think I understand syllable boundaries generally speaking pretty well, but one word is throwing me off.

[okkʰi:tʰatkʰa:] ('sea')

First, I'm wondering what is the difference between the above and a hypothetical word [okʰi:tʰatkʰa:] (in other words, what's the difference between [kkʰ] and [kʰ])?

Second, I'm thinking the syllable boundaries would be: [ok.kʰi:.tʰat.kʰa:]. What do you think?

I appreciate your help!!
Linguist's Lounge / Open degrees
« Last post by Matt Longhorn on July 07, 2018, 12:17:20 PM »
I have been doing some thinking about trying to get some qualifications at last. For health and laziness reasons I never got beyond basic education, but have developed a love of self study since.
I was wondering whether anyone knows of any good open degrees in linguistics available for people in the UK? I would probably want to self study material they would cover for a year or so first as I continue to have period and mentally crippling health episodes. Finally getting a degree would be great though, and may as well be in something i am coming to love
I am looking on the internet for myself but though advise from people who know what they are talking about would help me decide
Computational Linguistics / Re: Why is typing Vietnamese difficult?
« Last post by Daniel on July 04, 2018, 02:31:03 PM »
That's true, actually especially from the perspective of the native speakers who (in theory) might not know how to type in English, because it's two steps. It's not much harder for a learner, but requires speakers also know the Latin alphabet (not much of a practical problem these days but still).
Computational Linguistics / Re: Why is typing Vietnamese difficult?
« Last post by panini on July 04, 2018, 08:13:14 AM »
I guess my metric of simplicity is based on how much extra you have to learn how to do or learn, in order to type. The baseline is simply, "if you want to type 'r', hit the key with an 'r' on it. 'R' is a little bit more complicated. Of course if you have a keyboard that actually has a physical 'ø' key or one for 'ش', that reduces the complexity of the task. That's my basis for concluding that Telex makes Vietnamese simpler than those other languages. Though I suppose properties of the language would count against Vietnamese, viz. the impossibility of writing any word without having to add zalgo. For Arabic, I'm counting the إِعْجَام, تَشْكِيل  and حَرَكَات to be fair (otherwise, we could just write "Toi yeu tieng nuoc toi tu khi moi ra doi").

When you do the cost-accounting, I would say that typing "gkek" to get 하다 is mildly bizarre, and imposes a significant learning burden (okay, buying a Hangul keyboard can reduce that), but that still puts Hangul at a disadvantage compared to Telex.
Computational Linguistics / Re: Why is typing Vietnamese difficult?
« Last post by Daniel on July 03, 2018, 10:10:11 PM »
I agree about Vietnamese. (Though for some people it seems adding accent marks in Spanish, etc., seems like a lot of work.)

But I don't know if I agree with this:
Compared to Arabic, Hindi, Hangul or Chinese, Vietnamese is simple.
Chinese is complicated because there are several possible input methods (mostly either the traditional stroke-based system, or the more recent phonetic-based system), and Japanese similarly because there are multiple possible characters for the same pronunciation so it can be a little complicated.

But for Arabic, Hindi and Korean Hangul, they're just different symbols for pronunciation and aside from the computer knowing how to represent those symbols (and in each case changing the shape in certain ways to connect the letters together), typing them is quite easy once you remap your keyboard. It's basically the same as typing in Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, just different symbols than Latin. Learning the languages can of course be difficult, and the scripts too, but typing in particular is a pretty easy skill you can pick up in a couple weeks during your first language class, if you want, once you're familiar with the script. In fact, if you map your keyboard phonetically (but maybe not in the standard way for the language) you can actually "sound it out" on the keyboard and have the text appear onscreen. Or use an onscreen keyboard preview to memorize the arrangement that way.

Anyway, not an especially important point to make here, but I just thought I'd follow up because, once you remap your keyboard (different operating systems have various options, but they do all have options, usually by default if you know where to look), actually typing is really not hard at all.

Of course for any language using special characters sometimes it is hard to type when you don't have a your computer (or phone, etc.) set up properly, so accent marks get skipped, and sometimes languages are transliterated to Latin from other scripts. Typical of 9-button phones used for texting, although smartphones are making that less important now.
Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: Tensless languages
« Last post by Matt Longhorn on June 29, 2018, 02:39:37 AM »
There is some debate in those studying Ancient Greek as to whether the different "tense forms" actually encoded tense or whether just aspect. The debate centers on the indicative form with almost all agreeing that aspect is the most prominent factor across the different moods, with absolute tense not being present outside the indicative.
The debate seems to be highly charged and those who argue for a tenseless indicative being in the overall minority. Unfortunately the meaning of aspect also differs depending on who you read in these studies, and certainly the aspectual value of the perfect tense form. Some argue, along with Comrie I believe that aspect is related to the internal temporal make up of an activity as portrayed by a speaker / author.

Anyway, just a random set of comments from the stuff I have been reading... about 2,300 years back though so not sure how relevant now!
Historical Linguistics / Re: Why have Sino-Tibetan languages controversy?
« Last post by panini on June 27, 2018, 09:02:03 AM »
I don't understand your question, but will take a stab at guessing what you mean. In general, historical reconstructions are controversial because they impute the existence of a language which has not been directly observed, and ascribe numerous properties to the language. For many people, hypothesizing rather than merely observing and describing is a controversial practice. So there is a common practice of objecting to any reconstruction, saying "But that is just a hypothesis, we don't really know". I'm entirely unsympathetic to that position per se, but I am sympathetic to the position that some methodologies are thin ice.

As for the origin of Sino-Tibetan, there is no known origin, though obviously if ST is legitimate proto-language (and I have no reason to doubt it), it had some historical precursors stretching back for many millenia. It's just that we have no idea what the antecedent states looked like, and no good idea what existing languages, if any, ST might be related to. There are various random connections drawn between Chinese and other language groups, for example "Sino-Austronesian", or attempts to sweep up all of the loose ends like Etruscan, Burushaski, Sumerian, Basque and put them in a bucket with Na-Dene and Sino-Tibetan. The broad strokes of the subsequent development of ST is somewhat known, where the primary split is between Sino- and Tibeto-Burman, but all concrete sub-classifications are in fact controversial, as is often the case for reconstructions with such a great time depth. Ultimately, the problem lies in the fact that historical linguistics aims to create branching trees where X irrevocably divides into Y plus Z, but in reality, X (usually) differentiates into Y and Z but there are still social connections between Y and Z, and then further branching takes place but again Y1 is in contact with Z2 so they can share linguistic innovations that aren't shared with Y2 and Z1. In other words, the problem arises because tree-type reconstruction implies complete separation, when in fact the language (and people) may still remain in close contact. There's no graphic metaphor that presents language relatedness as a continuous function.
Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: "Be going to" for intentions or plans
« Last post by Daniel on June 26, 2018, 01:36:16 PM »
But how to explain to my students the difference between "intention" and "plan"?
Is it important to distinguish them? They're related ideas, and the description "about our intentions or plans" seems to encompass both, rather than suggesting we must distinguish the two.

Literally, "plans" are actual, well, plans-- like a list of steps or specific known ways of doing something. "Intentions" are (potentially) more vague than that, just a desire and intent to do something, possibly without a specific plan.

Personally, I'd say that If we intend to do something, we are only considering doing it, we have a certain plan in mind, but if we plan to do something, we may have taken some steps to make it happen.
Not exactly. No specific steps need to be taken for a plan, except making a plan. And "intend to do" just means that you expect and desire to do something, so it can include all cases of "plan to do" something as well, I think.


Personally I like thinking about "be going to" as a prospective aspect, not a future tense. It's the inverse of the perfective aspect ("have Xed") which refers to actions that have ended before/at the present moment. "Be going to" refers to actions that are going to begin starting at/after the present moment. It also makes sense as aspect rather than tense because it can be used in other tenses: "I was going to do it, but then I forgot." Or even in the future "I will be going to..." (sort of a future of the future, rare because that context is rare).

In that sense, you can think of "be going to" as referring to the path (in time) you are going on, as you approach the future. This fits with plans/intentions. It's not guaranteed that it will happen, but you are at least currently headed toward that result-- an intention, and possibly a specific/intentional plan.
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