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Sociolinguistics / Re: Code-mixing and borrowing
« Last post by Daniel on October 21, 2017, 06:06:37 AM »
The terminology is not necessarily used consistently. In fact, it says that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-mixing

There are several different concepts:

1. Code-switching is an active process in bilinguals, using two languages in a single sentence/conversation, but not necessarily 'changing' either language. Importantly, both speakers must be bilingual (or at least have some basic knowledge) for this to make sense. Importantly, code-switching is typically not conventionalized in a speech community. It's "made up" as they speak. (That isn't to say it's unstructured: for example, some phrasal boundaries are likely to be places where the language switches, and there is a lot of research about that sort of thing.)

2. A mixed language is one where two varieties have thoroughly mixed to the point of having a sort of conventional hybrid. An example is Quechua+Spanish 'Media Lengua', or (Guarani+Spanish) Jopara in Paraguay. These are similar to pidgins and creoles in some sense but have a mixing rather than acquisition origin. Conventionalized code-switching could lead to a mixed language.

I think "code-mixing" can refer to either of the above.

3. Borrowing is a lexical process (well, usually lexical, rarely something like phonemes, but also sometimes syntactic constructions or morphology), where one language "borrows" a word (etc.) from another language and incorporates it. An extreme case of borrowing might end up looking like a mixed language, so the difference may be in the extent. But there is fairly clearly a difference in most cases. Of course some people have called English a "creole" because of all of the borrowed French/Danish/etc. words, so I suppose that is exactly their argument (but not the most popular interpretation in that case). As for code-switching vs. borrowing, the distinction is that borrowing is a conventionalization process, while code-switching is just a using-in-the-moment process. You could say, I guess, that borrowing is conventionalized code-switching, although that would be misleading in terms of extent (since code-switching rarely results in borrowing, and fewer words are borrowed than are used in code-switching).
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Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: Apocope, meaning change and lexeme
« Last post by vox on October 21, 2017, 05:07:59 AM »
Thank you Daniel.
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Sociolinguistics / Code-mixing and borrowing
« Last post by vox on October 21, 2017, 05:04:05 AM »
I’m trying to understand the difference between code-mixing and borrowing.
1) Can we say that code-mixing is a general term encompassing any kind of mixing due to language contact, so not only pidgin or creole but borrowing too ?
2) Can we consider that unassimilated borrowings only belong to code-mixing ?
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Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: Apocope, meaning change and lexeme
« Last post by Daniel on October 19, 2017, 03:41:41 PM »
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truncation cannot be what that creates this narrowing since there’s a preexisting split between the full meaning and the narrowed one.
Right. Basically, truncation just reveals an existing split. (Whether that is within the same lexeme, or across two, or whatever, I don't know, and the technical details would depend on your theory. This is very interesting evidence to consider though!!)

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In other words, truncation doesn’t involve a new meaning just like a suffixation does (for example).
Not in these cases. There are a few instances of so-called "subtractive morphology" in languages, where for example removing the final consonant from a noun might create the plural form. So truncation can be productive with a consistent meaning, but that's not the case here, and in fact that is very, very rare cross-linguistically. (I'm not sure that more than a handful of uncontroversial examples have been identified, since what I've seen in textbooks/handbooks/overviews is just a few of the same examples cited over and over again. Maybe it's not quite so rare, but it's certainly unusual, and not known in Europe I don't think.)

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That leads to consider truncation as an operation of subset selection
Well, it depends on whether that set was properly formed in the first place. It does result in a subset of the meanings, but I just phrased it that way for explanatory purposes. Instead, my hypothesis would be that there are two things in parallel and that truncation simply highlights that they are distinct. Imagine two identical twins who you cannot easily tell apart. But then one gets a very short haircut, and suddenly you can see that they were clearly distinct individuals the whole time even though it was hard to see that.

An alternative possibility would be that truncation actually changes the meaning (by narrowing it), but I find that less likely. I imagine the narrowing has already occurred at least through frequency in usage, and that the truncation instead highlights that, rather than creating it.

You might argue that the act of truncation is what triggers the split, sort of mixing the two ideas. There was a split ready to be triggered (because speakers are aware of distinct uses/senses), but it wasn't really "split" yet, not until something (truncation) came along to trigger it.

I'm not entirely sure how to determine which theory is correct. But the reason I'm leaning toward the "already split" interpretation is that theories often underestimate the amount of memorization we have done as speakers. Syntactic chunking ("How are you?" is not productively generated each time from a tree structure), or frequency statistics are examples of things that fall outside of generative theories but are part of our 'competence' (knowledge) of the language. Even if we COULD still say it's a single lexeme from a minimal theoretical account, I don't know that we SHOULD, because we already have memorized a lot (including different senses of the 'same lexeme' in this case). So why not just let that be the explanation? Theoreticians don't seem to like relying on performance to explain competence, but it's actually non-minimal to not refer to givens like memory-- they come for free, rather than positing something else additional to explain the data in a theory!

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I tend to think that the initial form and the truncated one represent two different lexemes. I have the impression it’s your opinion too.
Not quite. I would say that first there are two "twin" lexemes (or a "complex lexeme" if you prefer). Then one of those becomes optionally truncated, leaving the other behind. Again, refer to the haircut metaphor above.

I'll give a concrete example:
Stage 0: Referee refers to anyone who makes decisions, references, etc. "One who refers."
Stage 1: Referee has several meanings. Speakers know that, and can probably list the meanings without much thought.
Stage 2: Referee in the sense of "sports official" is a particularly common usage/meaning, and for many individuals this is the main meaning with the others considered secondary.
Stage 3: "Ref" enters as a truncated form of the sense in Stage 2.

Now I would say that around Stage 2 (not Stage 3!) the lexeme has split (either internally or externally-- that's a question that must be embedded within a theory).

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The issue remains how to describe the semantic relation between the two lexemes.
That's an issue however we analyze this data. Clearly there are similar (but distinct) lexemes at some point. And that's a theoretical question that can have very different answers. I don't have one in particular to suggest here. Whether "lexemes" are even proper constructs on a cognitive level is a good question-- are they really distinct nodes in a network or some sort, or are they just related information dispersed on that network? etc.

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I think the hypothesis of synonymy is defendable if we consider that a full semantic equivalence is not necessary. A partial equivalence is sufficient for two lexemes to be synonymous. I admit that leads to other issues.
Many other issues. In fact, I don't know that then "synonymy" would have any value as a theoretical concept, since you're just saying "some lexemes are similar", but not that they are actually somehow tied together.

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What's the definition of vagueness that you use ? Because to me a lexeme is vague when its extension can’t be discrete by nature, like the extension of young. I may be wrong, semantic ambiguity is not really my specialism.
There is a distinction between two concepts:
Vagueness/specificity: how narrowly defined something is, and how easily it can apply to different usage.
Ambiguity: when there are multiple but distinct senses for words, which could be listed.

Those two terms are often used interchangeably, but they should not be confused. They are also not related to other non-technical senses of the same words (such as "vague" meaning "intangible").

So a word is vague when it can refer to many different things. Lots of things can be "good" for example, because there is a wide range of usage for "good"-- a "good person", a "good book", a "good idea", and so forth. Note that we cannot very easily identify clearly different meanings, and they all seem to be on a continuum (or various continuums).

On the other hand, a word is ambiguous when it can refer to distinct different things, and when those different things can be listed out, with relatively clear boundaries. For example, that's how I would interpret your original examples of French manifestation. They are still related ideas, but they are distinct-- it is possible to identify which one.

One test for vagueness vs. ambiguity is whether you can ask "Which one?"-- if so, it's ambiguous. If not, it's vague.
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Historical Linguistics / Re: A question about Proto-Indo-European phonology
« Last post by Daniel on October 19, 2017, 03:17:24 PM »
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Daniel, you've said I can ask honest questions in the Historical Linguistics subforum
Well, yes, but as a new thread, rather than in another one that is about a technical topic.
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So, can you explain to a layman what this thread is about?
OK, but briefly so it doesn't drag things too off topic. Again, for other or general questions please do start a new thread.

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And why do you think that rhetoric "How come nobody noticed that?" applies here?
I assume someone did notice it, but that it isn't a detail that is easy to find online, as I have said.
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FlatAssembler is not asserting a conspiracy.
Correct. Just that this detail has been overlooked. But I still find that unlikely given the extensive, detail-oriented research for the past two centuries and that the particular etymology in question is well known. I don't personally know the answer (and I'd rather suggest spending some time in the library to look it up than guessing myself, because the solution is not apparent from the limited data available here or that I can infer at the moment).
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If somebody claims rockets can't exist because of XYZ, then that rhetoric is appropriate, but I don't see how is this analogous to that.
I don't follow your comparison either.


So what is this thread about?

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the accepted ancestor to English, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Russian, and so forth. (Look it up on Wikipedia.) In short, there was some shared parent language. The details about it are up for debate, but some such language existed.
2. PIE has been reconstructed by comparing the modern languages. All languages have sound systems, of course, and FlatAssembler is asking whether the reconstruction of the PIE sound system is compatible with some of the sound changes required to derive the daughter languages from it. Specifically about the voiceless stop series [p t k] and whether there might also be an aspirated series [pʰ tʰ kʰ]. Since PIE is the results of about two centuries of tinkering of linguists, there are some competing theories, but most of the possibilities (especially within the range of the most popular proposals) have been explored. You can look up some proposals for PIE sound inventories, such as here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_phonology#Stop_series
Specifically this section is relevant:
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Former reconstructions involved series of four stops: voiceless unaspirated and aspirated, and voiced unaspirated and aspirated: *t, *tʰ, *d, *dʰ. The voiceless aspirated stops, however, came to be reinterpreted as sequences of stop and laryngeal and so the standard reconstruction now includes series of only three, with the traditional phonetic descriptions of voiceless, voiced and voiced aspirated.
So FlatAssembler's idea is not too crazy or anything-- in fact it was a standard assumption in earlier research on PIE. But an apparently better hypothesis was selected instead. Obviously this is some of the research to read about. It will not be 'light reading' in any sense. And it's going to be filled with technical details, and sometimes conflicting accounts. That's why I would be very surprised if this issue hasn't yet been dealt with. But I cannot at this time provide a direct link to a simple explanation on Wikipedia. It's a good question, but one I would assume has been solved.
One problem with Wikipedia, of course, is that while it gives a good overview of the ideas, it doesn't clearly cite all of the sources, including, for example, why the summary there indicates that there are reasons for rejecting FlatAssembler's alternative theory (as in the earlier proposals), but without actually explaining what those reasons are. The next step? Figuring that out.
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Historical Linguistics / Re: A question about Proto-Indo-European phonology
« Last post by ForumExplorer on October 19, 2017, 11:35:52 AM »
Daniel, you've said I can ask honest questions in the Historical Linguistics subforum. So, can you explain to a layman what this thread is about? And why do you think that rhetoric "How come nobody noticed that?" applies here? FlatAssembler is not asserting a conspiracy. If somebody claims rockets can't exist because of XYZ, then that rhetoric is appropriate, but I don't see how is this analogous to that.
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Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: Apocope, meaning change and lexeme
« Last post by vox on October 19, 2017, 09:00:02 AM »
The more we talk the more I think that truncation is a morpho-phonological operation associated with a semantic one consisting in narrowing the meaning. If I follow your hypothesis about the lexeme split (which I agree with) it would be to say : truncation cannot be what that creates this narrowing since there’s a preexisting split between the full meaning and the narrowed one. In other words, truncation doesn’t involve a new meaning just like a suffixation does (for example). That leads to consider truncation as an operation of subset selection, as you say :
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I think the answer is that truncation seems to be able to select a subset of polysemous meanings and split a lexeme in that way.
I tend to think that the initial form and the truncated one represent two different lexemes. I have the impression it’s your opinion too. The issue remains how to describe the semantic relation between the two lexemes. I think the hypothesis of synonymy is defendable if we consider that a full semantic equivalence is not necessary. A partial equivalence is sufficient for two lexemes to be synonymous. I admit that leads to other issues.

What's the definition of vagueness that you use ? Because to me a lexeme is vague when its extension can’t be discrete by nature, like the extension of young. I may be wrong, semantic ambiguity is not really my specialism.
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Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: Apocope, meaning change and lexeme
« Last post by Daniel on October 18, 2017, 03:43:30 PM »
Reasonable points. Let's start here though:
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What about considering that truncation is a morpho-phonological operation to create synonymous lexemes ? It seems more plausible to me.
That doesn't work! A synonymous lexeme would have the same meaning(s), rather than narrowing them. And that's the problem I pointed out with the argument to begin with.

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So to me manifestation is polysemous.
Yes, that may be reasonable. A polysemous word is one that has multiple related meanings. So maybe we could instead say that truncation is a process that potentially splits polysemous meanings and focuses on just one (or several).

Some technical difference between homonymy and polysemy should be introduced. Maybe the comparison here really should be between polysemy and vagueness. That is, as you suggest with the zeugma test, we should be able to relate vague meanings. "The coordination of the project and the club both went smoothly." Those are slightly different senses of "coordination" but we can consider them vague (and roughly "the same"). But that doesn't work so well with: "The coordination of the project and of my yoga teacher are both great." -- that is a zeugma, and although the meanings are related they seem to be polysemous rather than vague. As for homonymy, we could take something even less transparently related, such as "The coordination of the project and of the sentences was acceptable." -- while that is still arguably homonymy because at some point those derived from the same etymology, it seems reasonable to think that linguistic 'coordination' (and, or, etc.) is lexically distinct from the 'organization' sense of 'coordination'.

So it makes sense that truncation would affect only one homophonous lexeme, and that it would also more or less apply to a whole, even broad, vague meaning. But the tricky case is polysemy.

In summary, I think the answer is that truncation seems to be able to select a subset of polysemous meanings and split a lexeme in that way. I would argue that potentially the lexeme is already split in some sense-- again, we would need a technical sense of "polysemy".

Dictionaries often have three classifications (at least implicitly) by having different entries for homonymy (check1, check2, etc.), different sections/paragraphs (a./1., b./2.) for polysemy, and different listed meanings for vague meanings (just listed in the same paragraph, sometimes numbered for clarity, 1....., 2....., 3....., etc.).

The arguments above seem to suggest that polysemous words are actually distinct lexemes, perhaps somehow 'related' ('networked'?) in the lexicon. They do have related meanings etymologically but their usage is distinct, and we start to develop, for example, lexical usage statistics for each sense independently.

So I think I may have misleadingly focused on homonymy in my first answer when I should have focused on polysemy! I think that's a much better answer.
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Politics
« Last post by Daniel on October 18, 2017, 03:30:10 PM »
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I would say that I do not at all think the question is on-topic for a linguistics forum, but since I can't actually find any policy statement about being on-topic for this sub-forum, I will answer, and Daniel can decide if this needs to be terminated.
I agree. Off topic discussions are appropriate here, but if any topic becomes a problem it will be closed. Politics is interesting, but "let's talk about politics on the internet" rarely leads to anything but arguments, but we'll see...

--

On the topic of anarchy, I'll just add also that while I agree with the practical problems with many governments, it is also impractical to have anarchy because at some point someone will take power, and the farther from an organized form of government that is, the worse it will tend to be.

--

As for "have" in proto-languages, I agree with panini. The word "pizza" can't be reconstructed either, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy eating it. Regardless, that's a misleading description of those proto-languages. Although there wasn't necessarily a word meaning "have", I do know (roughly) how to say "have" in those proto-languages: combine an existential verb with a preposition/case, just as it was done in Latin (and still is in Arabic, Russian, etc.): mihi liber est "there is a book to me" (Latin), nilikuwa na kitabu "I was with a book" (Swahili), etc. That pattern (something like it anyway) is very common around the world, so you might consider a verb for "have" to be the unusual strategy. It's not exactly an action, certainly not very active. On the other hand, similar verbs like "hold" or "own" probably can be reconstructed in many cases.
And would you really want to go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle? I'm not sure what you are arguing!
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Politics
« Last post by panini on October 18, 2017, 10:54:49 AM »
I would say that I do not at all think the question is on-topic for a linguistics forum, but since I can't actually find any policy statement about being on-topic for this sub-forum, I will answer, and Daniel can decide if this needs to be terminated.

My first observation is that you're not distinguishing (as you should) between the purpose of government and the actual facts of particular governments. The purpose of government is to protect individuals from the initiation of force against them. The fact is that governments don't limit themselves to just that. On one end of the scale, there are oppressive regimes such as North Korea or Zimbabwe which plainly do other things. On the other end, there are governments like that of the US, Canada, Norway, Japan and so on which basically intend, or intended, to perform the proper function of government. However, for the most part politicians and society at large now view the function of government to be "get me what I want". The meaning of the term "rights" has changed massively in the past 75 or so years.

To the extent that that is true, indeed the government is not trying to protect the rights of individuals. However, they will still say that they are trying to protect us, it's just that "us" could be society at large, all members, many members, some members... and it's undetermined what they are trying to protect against (rain? violence? immorality?).

You raise a specific point about not coming after a psychopath until it is too late. That is a result of a basic fact of human fallibility: nobody has an infinitely correct theory of when to use force to protect rights. One response to a psychopath is that he is inherently dangerous and should, if discovered, be taken and imprisoned or rehabilitated by force (that's the old way of doing things) – the idea is that certain conditions pose an intrinsic threat, and the threatener has to be dealt with. But at least until the psycho does something other than have a particular mental condition, he hasn't violated anybody's right, so he should be left alone (that's the new way of dealing with mental illness). One of the reasons why this problem doesn't have a clear resolution is that theories of rights and law are predicated on the premise that people can freely chose their actions by using reason: however, there are mental conditions where that is not true. IMO, faulting government because it hasn't magically solved this philosophical puzzle is unreasonable.

The anarchists are completely wrong, because declaring that "there should be no government" ignores the purpose of government, and encourages arbitrary vigilante action. If I think that so-and-so is a danger to me, who is to say that I don't have the right to gun that guy down? And his buddies equally have the right to gun me down in retribution. What government brings to the table is a set of fixed rules, that say objectively when you can gun down a person, and when you have to leave it to the police to do so (hint: if the guy is actually trying to cut off your head, you have the right to defend yourself).

Now to respond to the linguistic observation, there also was no PIE / Proto-AA / Proto-Uralic word for "computer" or "airplane". And yet, such things exist, and are furthermore good things. So I don't see that there is a connection between what words exist in various proto-languages and how governments should be structured.








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