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91
Historical Linguistics / Languages of the Americas
« Last post by Asu on November 03, 2017, 01:11:03 PM »
I have been baffled by the languages of the Americas.

The Americas were populated just about 15000 years ago, ostensibly by a few tribes of people originating in NE Asia, migrating across the then-exposed land of Beringia. Presumably the original tribes were closely related (see e.g. genetic studies). What I would like to understand is this:

Why are there so many language families in the Americas? And why is none of them related to any other languages of the world, especially to the languages of NE Asia? Did dozens of totally unrelated language families get generated de novo in a few thousand years? How would that be possible?

Thanks
92
Linguist's Lounge / Re: Help me with my new website!
« Last post by Daniel on November 03, 2017, 11:13:38 AM »
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What are you talking about? Most of the sound changes are one phoneme changing in all, or nearly all, contexts, right? I mean, the Grimm's law, the Great Vowel Shift, the High German Consonant Shift…
Nope. Most changes (by far!) are contextual. See any intro textbook.

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Would you advise me to use a different notation?
Again, see an intro textbook for the notation commonly used by 'actual linguists' (as you wrote).
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Help me with my new website!
« Last post by FlatAssembler on November 03, 2017, 11:00:08 AM »
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This is oversimplified, because you would need changes based on phonological contexts, not just one phoneme changing in all environments.
What are you talking about? Most of the sound changes are one phoneme changing in all, or nearly all, contexts, right? I mean, the Grimm's law, the Great Vowel Shift, the High German Consonant Shift…
Anyway, I did program it to sometimes add a phonological context to a sound change. "0[a]>e" means that 'a' changes to 'e' only in the beginning of a word. "[q]V>h" means that 'q' changes to 'h' only in front of a vowel. "N[m]V>0" means that 'm' disappears if it happens to be after a nasal and in front of a vowel (both of the requirements have to be fulfilled for a sound change to take place). "V[ u]C>w" means that 'u' changes to 'w' if it's both in front of a consonant and after a vowel. "x[z]0>r" means that, if a word happens to end in "-xz", the ending changes to "-xr".
Would you advise me to use a different notation?
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English / Re: 'As' introducing clause with no subject
« Last post by Daniel on November 03, 2017, 08:42:22 AM »
Interesting observations.

The conjunction 'than' is sometimes said to be a coordinating conjunction because it allows conjunction reduction, as in: "I sing more than dance". (And more common examples like "I am taller than you", but I picked the verb example to be parallel to your subjectless clauses.)

So you might consider "as" to also be a coordinating conjunction. Or at least think about the analysis as somehow similar with conjunction reduction.

Only a few conjunctions (whether coordinating or subordinating!) can do this, including and, or, but, and than. And now as.

Note that as and than are very similar, because both deal with comparisons (than marking difference, and as marking similarity).

On the other hand, something like "as follows...." is not really conjunction reduction because it isn't parallel to part of another clause. You could just say that 'as' takes a VP complement, but that doesn't seem to capture all of what's going on. Partly it is due to most of these uses being idiomatic, so that might explain most of it.

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is there another possible analysis (e.g. making "as" itself the subject of the clause, so that it functions as both a conjunction and a noun)?
I wouldn't think that would be a default analysis by anyone. (It sounds vaguely like the analysis for "I saw him eat" where him is both object and subject, but that is thought at least in some analyses to be due to movement and deleting the original position, a sort of raising analysis.)
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Help me with my new website!
« Last post by Daniel on November 03, 2017, 08:36:09 AM »
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Is there some table that provides more accurate data about those things than the intuition does?
I'm not aware of an easily accessed summary chart. You would find some examples in an intro textbook, but it wouldn't cover everything.
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Really? I programmed to it that h>s and s>h are equally likely. 'h' changes to 's' regularly in modern Croatian before 'i', and to 'sh' before 'e'.
There may be exceptions. But s/f>h occurs in Romance languages (fabular>hablar in Spanish, or even in modern Spanish dialects final -s is becoming -h [or lost entirely] such as "lo niño" instead of "los niños" in some Latin American, usually coastal or Caribbean, dialects). That's actually just my intuition then (along with what I think I've heard others say) so referring to some statistics would be a good idea. There are arguments about this, though, such as the idea of "weakening" in general. You can find some sources online of typical chains of weakening (or lenition) if you search for that. One common example is palatalization, and another is the (e.g.) t>d>ð>... chain, especially intervocalically.

Part 2: rather than looking at more random words, you should provide some part that shows systematic examples of the same change. Rather than matching, do repetition. No idea how that fits into a game, though. But a common test item in classes is finding the phonological environment where a change occurs (it isn't just 'always'), such as between vowels, or before a nasal, or whatever.

Part 3: this is oversimplified, because you would need changes based on phonological contexts, not just one phoneme changing in all environments.
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English / 'As' introducing clause with no subject
« Last post by Audiendus on November 03, 2017, 08:15:50 AM »
How would you grammatically analyse clauses such as those shown in bold below?

Her reply was as follows.
He was buried at sea, as was customarily done.
As often happens, there was a last-minute change of plan.

These clauses have no explicit subject; a subject has to be understood, e.g:

Her reply was as the text follows.
He was buried at sea, as it [burial at sea] was customarily done.
As it [a last-minute change of plan] often happens, there was a last-minute change of plan.

Does this seem reasonable, or is there another possible analysis (e.g. making "as" itself the subject of the clause, so that it functions as both a conjunction and a noun)?
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Help me with my new website!
« Last post by FlatAssembler on November 02, 2017, 09:16:04 PM »
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For example, it is more common for S or F to become H than the other way around.
Really? I programmed to it that h>s and s>h are equally likely. 'h' changes to 's' regularly in modern Croatian before 'i', and to 'sh' before 'e'. I know that 's' turned to 'h' regularly in Ancient Greek and Armenian. I also programmed it that h>f is more likely than f>h is. 'h' changes to 'f' regularly in the Shtokavian dialect of Croatian before 'u'. Also, it apparently changed that way in Proto-Germanic. "Four" should start with "wh" according to the Grimm's law.
Is there some table that provides more accurate data about those things than the intuition does?

Also, what do you think about the part 2 and part 3 of the game?
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Computational Linguistics / Descent and Accent of the Alphabet
« Last post by davidelkins on November 01, 2017, 04:49:49 PM »
Consider the following:
zyxwvutsruqponmlkjihgfedcbaabcdefghijklmnopqurstuvwxyz

This might be described as a mirror of the alphabet, where first the one descends from 'z' to 'a' and then from 'a' to 'z' in a single string. DE
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Help me with my new website!
« Last post by Daniel on November 01, 2017, 04:35:06 PM »
It zooms in (close, but showing a little more than the game) automatically, but still zooms in (fully) or out (to that same original close view) when double tapping. I don't think that can be disabled on iphones.

As for the etymology/sound change game, it really depends on what you'd use it for. Nothing can ever replace real data, of course. Professors often make up some exercises for tests (either to make it an original problem no one has seen before, or to simplify things from messy real-world data), but even then it's usually modeled on real data.

In terms of picking the most likely candidate just from a list, sure, what you have works. So it could be a good first day exercise. But the things it does not include (which would be hard to add) include:
1. Producing realistic sound changes based on common patterns. For example, it is more common for S or F to become H than the other way around. There is frequently a directionality to changes that can be seen over and over again in various languages. But then there can be exceptions or alternatives sometimes. So figuring out sound changes is more about looking at the whole picture than just what an individual sound could change to. But part of figuring that out is thinking about probabilities as well as possibilities.
2. Importantly, sound changes must be figured out as general patterns in a language. You just can't do it for single words. As a first day example for students to guess what sound change might make sense, this could be fine. But it's not realistic because they'd never just be looking at a single word-- and they shouldn't be. That's a bad way to identify sound changes, because you can't tell real correlations apart from coincidence. You need a large data set with repeating patterns. Then you know what the changes are (and can apply them to individual words).
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Linguist's Lounge / Re: Politics
« Last post by ForumExplorer on November 01, 2017, 12:37:47 PM »
I consider myself a libertarian. I think that the function of the government should be limited to protecting the freedom of an individual and being the last resort to people. If somebody is starving because of unemployment, I think that government should give him some money. Otherwise not. The government has expanded so much in trying to help the poor that it has hurt the poor the most. I think that the government should intervene if somebody tries to kill someone, but not if somebody is doing drugs, since he is hurting noone but himself.

What do you guys think about the policies such as the minimum wage? I think that it does more harm than good and that there are better alternatives, such as the guaranteed minimal income.
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