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Historical Linguistics / Re: Romance languages not descended from Latin.
« Last post by Forbes on November 10, 2018, 12:46:50 PM »
It is necessary to distinguish between Vulgar Latin and Proto-Romance.

Where there is no context “Latin” is more often than not taken to mean Classical Latin, that is the written language in use very roughly from the beginning of the first century B.C. to the end of the third century A.D. It was preceded as a written form by Old Latin and followed by Late Latin which merges into or is considered the same as Medieval Latin. Running parallel to the written form is a spoken form which is called Vulgar Latin. This was related to but distinct from the written. Little is known about Vulgar Latin and what the degree of diglossia was at any given time. It has a long history and must have varied over time and place like any spoken language. We do though know that over time the gap between written Latin and Vulgar Latin widened until it reached the point where Latin (as say used by clerics) was only intelligible to the learned. For a period people still said they spoke Latin, though they distinguished between the spoken and written varieties.

The Romance languages probably have the best attested history of any group of languages, but there is a gap. Labelling points on a continuum is arbitrary, but when the point was reached that what people were speaking was not what from today’s perspective what would be considered Latin, it cannot be considered to be Vulgar Latin. Since we do not know what this speech was like we have to reconstruct it and the hypothetical language is called Proto-Romance.

Vulgar Latin was a real language with dialects and a history; Proto-Romance, which is reconstructed by working backwards from attested forms of Romance languages, is a hypothesis outside time and space and was spoken by nobody.


If it is asked whether Latin is the parent of all present day Romance languages, the general answer is that it is, subject to all the outside influences which vary from place to place. However, when it is remembered that Latin was just one Italic language spoken in Italy in antiquity, it is interesting to speculate whether and to what extent the languages of Italy classified as Romance have descended from or been influenced by non-Latin Italic languages. These languages are very poorly attested,  but it seems that some of them were closely related to Latin. Obviously as Rome expanded Latin came to dominate the non-Latin Italic languages. It can be imagined though that varieties formed which were some sort of amalgam of Latin and the local language from which present day languages of Italy are descended. In this respect we know that when people learn a language similar to their own they may not learn it properly because they feel they already half know and get by without learning it correctly. It is often said that the languages of Italy classed as Romance differ more from each other than standard Italian (a partly created language) does from, say, Spanish. This may be due to the languages being clustered round a centre of origin, but the possibility of non-Latin Italic languages being involved cannot be ruled out. Unless archaeologists come up with significant finds we shall never know.
Linguist's Lounge / hello all. i am serwesen
« Last post by Sooncep on November 09, 2018, 12:14:54 AM »
Hmm. Its me again. I am serwesen from Chinese.
Semantics and Pragmatics / Re: The meaning of "some"
« Last post by Daniel on November 04, 2018, 03:26:20 PM »
That's basically right.

At some point, if there are many chairs, you would say "there are a lot of chairs". But that's emphatic, and it's technically true that "some" just means "more than zero" [more than one, if used in the plural] and probably "not all" (but that's a scalar implicature not a strict requirement).
Semantics and Pragmatics / The meaning of "some"
« Last post by Natalia on November 04, 2018, 02:31:49 PM »
In English, "some" means "unspecified number/amount". So, it doesn't matter if there are five, ten, fifteen or twenty chairs in a room, I can still say "There are some chairs in the room"?
Semantics and Pragmatics / Grisot - Cohesion, Coherence and Temporal Reference
« Last post by Matt Longhorn on November 03, 2018, 12:06:44 PM »
Hi all, I ma just starting to work through Grisot's work on temporal reference as part of a wider desire to apply relevance theory to the ancient Greek perfect tense form. Just wondering if anyone has read this already / has any thoughts on it or knows of any reviews?
I'm confused by the distinction between a compound unity versus a absolute unity when one is used in a sentence.

Examples of an absolute unity are generally given as something like " He is one man."

Examples of compound unities are usually worded like " Weave each string together so that they become one string."

The problem is I'm not certain if what makes the word "one"a reference  to  a compound unity is the fact that the item is made of multiple things

or the fact that the sentence specifically references the fact they're made of many things.

I want to say that the sentence " I have one rope" has the word one refer to a absolute unity.

I also want to say that the sentence " Weave eat string together so that the become one string." Uses the word one to refer to a compound unity.

Is this correct or is any statement with the word one being used to denote the number of an item that is made up of more items considered a compound usage of one?

For example "I have one Legion".

Is this still compound just because a legion is made of many people?

Or is it absolute because the sentence does not specifically draw attention to the fact that the legion is made of many?
Most of what you said makes sense, but you would also want to look at why this particular instance uses "girl" instead of "woman", just as much as the comparisons you suggest. If it's a rare word, then there must be some reason for using it (e.g., Relevance).
First, I don't see how the original text could have literally said "virgin", when we have a reasonable amount of evidence that it said "עַלְמָה". Nor could the text have meant "virgin" because English is not The Universal Semantic Language, where meaning across languages is defined in terms of English words. The first question that should be asked is what the evidence is that עַלְמָה refers (ever, generally, or in this instance) to a female who has not had sex (however that be defined). At which point, one would investigate all of the attestations of the word (all 7) and determine whether it definitely has that meaning in any other context (IMO, no). We might find that the word is only assigned the translation "virgin" in one text occurrence. We would also look at the masculine word עֶלֶם, which conventionally translates to "boy", to see if it too evidences the added condition "has not had sex". One would also want to check whether there exists an unambiguous Hebrew term that means what we mean when we say "virgin" – בְּתוּלָה. Maybe it too is ambiguous, but if the author's intent was to specifically communicate "has not had sex", why wouldn't the author just say that? In a Scalian court of law, the evidence would be found to show that the text says "girl" and not "virgin".

You would also want to look for evidence that the corresponding term in later translations and texts (Greek, Latin) had that specific meaning, that is, determine from context what the meaning of παρθένος is, and the meaning of virgo, and check for consistency (is עַלְמָה always translated as παρθένος, or only in one verse?). As I understand, there are two Greek translations for עַלְמָה, παρθένος and νεανις: when and why are there different Greek translations?

In contemporary English, if you say "My brother is a virgin", that means i.e. literally entails that your brother has not had sex. If you say "My brother is dead", that only linguistically entails permanent death because death is not a reversible condition. Whereas, talking about your virgin brother does not linguistically entail that he is a permanent virgin. This is not a quirk of English, this is a fact about human language, that conclusions of the kind "is and will forever after remain" are not linguistically entailed, unless you actually include some expression to that effect – "Behold, a permanent virgin shall conceive...".

This is an example of underspecification. English, Hebrew, etc., do not have temporal information associated with nouns. There are languages that have nominal tense, so that something like "ex-president" and "president-elect" (or "ex-virgin" and "future-virgin") could be encoded grammatically, but that's not the case here. So yes you are correct. Otherwise it could also indicate that someone is permanently a virgin, such that Jesus's virgin birth would be nullified if Mary ever had sex after his birth too.

However, as you point out the sentence is ambiguous (actually, it's vague, underspecified, because it isn't strictly a set of particular alternatives, unless you assume a finite set of times at which to evaluate "the virgin"), and it may still be the case that the meaning of "virgin at the time of birth" was intended. This is a matter of interpretation and context, not inherent in the semantics. The literary and cultural context, as well as other verses, might clarify this. For one thing, given the attention this has gotten, wouldn't it be weird to mention she's a virgin before becoming not a virgin inherently by the information in the sentence?

Note also that the sentence could be interpreted as her becoming not a virgin while already pregnant with Jesus who was conceived immaculately.

In other words, this sentence is up to interpretation. The question is how the words were intended to be interpreted, not how they could possibly be interpreted.

I will say that generally the easiest interpretation is one of consistency, which also explains why nominal tense only rarely develops (contrastive use is rare, even though it would be useful in those cases). That is, assuming that "the virgin" applies throughout the moment of speech, the event described, and so forth, makes sense. A "permanent" reading, unless otherwise indicated, is a reasonable default. So personally I'd be more likely to focus on the ambiguity of "virgin" vs. "young woman", because those seem the most likely to be used in these circumstances. (It would make little sense and be of little relevance to say "the current virgin [who will later not be a virgin after conception] will give birth".)
I have seen people tear each other's throats out over the following sentence.

"Behold, he Virgin shall conceive and bear a son , and call him Immanuel".

The controversy for those who don't know is the Hebrew word Alma.

Supposedly it could mean young woman or it could mean virgin, but the reason everyone is so uptight about the translation is because it's supposed to be evidence for the Virgin birth of Jesus.

However it seems to me perfectly possible that the original text literally says "virgin" and for the sentence to still mean " the person who is a virgin now will have sex and give birth later".

It seems like if you were to argue that " the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son" must mean that the Virgin will be a virgin at the time that she gives birth that you would also have to say the following:

"The Virgin shall grow up and receive the Medal of honor" is true if and only if the subject of that sentence is a still virgin at the time of receiving the Medal of Honor.

That seems absurd to me.

Am I correct that " the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son" is grammatically consistent with both the interpretation that the Virgin will be a virgin at the time of the birth and the interpretation that the Virgin will no longer be a virgin at the time of the birth?

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