Tidbits from beyond IE

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Post by pne »

eodrakken wrote:
Aidan wrote:So, it turns out in Turkish double plurals aren't allowed. Saying "the two books are on the table" is incorrect because it marks the plurality three times: with "two", "-s", and "are". (Sorry, I don't know the actual words at the moment, I just remember the concept.)

That's interesting. I know of languages that make double plural-marking unneccessary (Kebreni, Klingon, natlangs too I'm sure), but this is the first I've heard of one where it's actually illegal.

In Hungarian, the singular is used after a numeral (h?rom k?nyv, three book, IIRC), but I don't know about the verb. I imagine it's still plural.
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Post by Ran »

In Chinese, the plural is obligatory for pronouns, optional/conditional for animate nouns, and never used for inanimate nouns.

And I don't think it is ever used with numerals or adjectives of quantity.
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Post by Neek »

Nahuatl does the same thing. Plurality exists only with animate nouns. There is also a collective group, refering to masses of ants, insects, and other things. Sadly, I have no examples with me. Inanimate nouns and collectives can't be plural, for some reason:
a:kalli : boat, boats
However, in some dialects, a plural did exist:
*a:kaltin : boats

In others, a reduplication plus the plural ending was needed:
pilli : pipiltin : children (of nobles), princes (and princesses).
Considering the langauge lacks gender distinction (though si:wa- prefixed to a makes it feminine, that's only if the distinction is necessary).

[note] I'm using a simple, phonetic orthography. a:kalli would be normally written acalli, and si:wa normally written cihua-.

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Post by Ran »

There is a sort of collective construction in Chinese, but it is only used with a small number of nouns.

Most would take adjectives like "some", "many" etc.
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Re: Kebreni and Chinese

Post by GreenBowTie »

butsuri wrote:
zompist wrote:keda ziunte mygu the ox in the house
keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house


I'm not sure I understand the distinction - I don't understand any semantic difference in the English versions, at least.


Let's say you have the sentence "Kick the ox in the house". Ignoring the possibility of "in" being directional rather than static ("into" rather than "within"), this sentence still has at least two possible meanings. "in the house" can refer to the ox or the kicking. That is, the sentence could mean "Kick the ox while in the house" or "Kick the ox that is in the house", which are two separate concepts. Granted, I have no idea whether this is the distinction being made in whatever language that was an example for, but it works for English.

Either way, I think it's a bad idea to kick an ox.

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Re: Kebreni and Chinese

Post by butsuri »

GreenBowTie wrote:
butsuri wrote:
zompist wrote:keda ziunte mygu the ox in the house
keda ziunte te mygu the ox that's in the house


I'm not sure I understand the distinction - I don't understand any semantic difference in the English versions, at least.


Let's say you have the sentence "Kick the ox in the house". Ignoring the possibility of "in" being directional rather than static ("into" rather than "within"), this sentence still has at least two possible meanings. "in the house" can refer to the ox or the kicking. That is, the sentence could mean "Kick the ox while in the house" or "Kick the ox that is in the house", which are two separate concepts. Granted, I have no idea whether this is the distinction being made in whatever language that was an example for, but it works for English.

Either way, I think it's a bad idea to kick an ox.


It's Kebreni. I think both examples given are unambiguosly single noun phrases, though, so that's not the distinction. I need to get around to looking at Kebreni again, and translate those questions I wanted to ask.

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Post by Aidan »

eodrakken wrote:Je crois que la voyelle dans "de" est normalement moins distinct. C'est possible que j'ai tort. Mon fran?ais n'a jamais eu parfait, mais il est utile.


C'est vrai, mais je pense que les voyelles sont plus pres de la m?me quands ils sont dit normalement.

Mon fran?ais, c'est moins que utile. J'ai un compr?hension pas mal (je crois :wink:) de la prononciation et de la grammaire, mais je n'ai jamias de n?cessit? d'utiliser, et le vocabulaire est toujours vol?.

Maybe I'll go back and study/use it more, except there are so many languages that offer a lot more in terms of wierdness. (oh, and my intuition says there shouldn't be elision between que and utile?)

eodrakken wrote:Bien s?r. Je seulement croyais que tu omettais le fait plus int?rressant.

I wasn't saying you were wrong. Not a crumb. ;)


Yeah, that's the problem with written communication, so much is lost and it's easy to get misunderstandings. I didn't mean to sound as defensive as I probably did, either. Not a step :P.

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Post by eodrakken »

Aidan wrote:Mon fran?ais, c'est moins que utile.
[coup]
(oh, and my intuition says there shouldn't be elision between que and utile?)


Je suis pas sûr. Je ne croyais pas que tu avais tort quand je le lis d'abord. Peut-être M. Legros peut repondre à ce question...

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Post by Ran »

Je pense que c'est "moins d'utile", mais moi non plus, je ne suis pas sûr.
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Post by Aidan »

I wrote:It's really interesting that modern French is now tending to drop the "ne", which was originally the important part of the negative construction.

Reminds me of the evolution of the 2nd person plural pronoun in English. Eep, but right now I really need to go, I'll get back to my thoughts on that.


Oh, yeah I was going to get back to that.

I find it facinating that in English there used to be the sing/plur distinction in the 2nd person pronoun: thou/you. But then the singular was lost; this is where we officially stand now, but really many (if not most) dialects have solved the problem. And here's the part I find interesting, they've overwhelmingly done so by keeping "you" as the singular (originally the plural), and adding a new plural: "you guys", "yous" "y'all", etc.

So "you" shifted from being the just the plural to being both, to being just the singular.

I've heard also that some people around Atlanta, Georgia go so far as to use "y'all" for the singular and "all y'all" for the plural.

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Post by hwhatting »

Aidan wrote:I find it facinating that in English there used to be the sing/plur distinction in the 2nd person pronoun: thou/you. But then the singular was lost; this is where we officially stand now, but really many (if not most) dialects have solved the problem. And here's the part I find interesting, they've overwhelmingly done so by keeping "you" as the singular (originally the plural), and adding a new plural: "you guys", "yous" "y'all", etc.

So "you" shifted from being the just the plural to being both, to being just the singular.


The same has happened in Dutch, where "jij", originally being the pronoun for 2nd person plural, has become the pronoun for 1P singular, and a new pronoun for the 2P plural has been developed,"jullie".
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Post by eodrakken »

Aidan wrote:So "you" shifted from being the just the plural to being both, to being just the singular.


And although the original singular ("thou") was once informal, now it's thought of as formal due to its age.

I was once working on a story where sometimes characters were speaking an alien language with informal/singular and formal/plural second person pronouns, and in my translation scheme I wanted to use "thou" and "you" with their original meanings, to retain that subtlety. Unfortunately, as my beta-readers pointed out, this would have the opposite effect on almost everyone who read the story. But I felt really strange using "you" as the informal and "thou" as the formal instead.

hwhatting wrote:The same has happened in Dutch, where "jij", originally being the pronoun for 2nd person plural, has become the pronoun for 1P singular, and a new pronoun for the 2P plural has been developed,"jullie".


What does "jullie" literally mean?

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Post by Guest »

Aidan wrote:I've heard also that some people around Atlanta, Georgia go so far as to use "y'all" for the singular and "all y'all" for the plural.


This is something people outside the South tend to get confused about. I've never heard a native Southerner use it that way; "all a y'all" is simply the emphatic form. ("You mean all a y'all are coming?!")

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Post by Penelope »

Argh. That last Guest post was me, forgetting to log in.

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Post by Legros »

eodrakken wrote:
Aidan wrote:Mon fran?ais, c'est moins que utile.
[coup]
(oh, and my intuition says there shouldn't be elision between que and utile?)


Je suis pas s?r. Je ne croyais pas que tu avais tort quand je le lis d'abord. Peut-?tre M. Legros peut repondre ? ce question...


"Mon fran?ais c'est moins utile" ou "Mon fran?ais c'est moins (?l?gant ? correct ? Il faut un adjectif ici) qu'utile."
"Mon fran?ais c'est moins qu'utile" est grammaticalement correct, mais le sens n'est pas tr?s clair. "Moins que bon" c'est "mauvais", "moins qu'utile" c'est donc "inutile".

There's always an elision between que and a word beginning with a vowel.

Except for onze), as in "Je pense que onze litres de vin c'est assez pour la semaine."

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Post by eodrakken »

Legros wrote:"Mon fran?ais c'est moins utile" ou "Mon fran?ais c'est moins (?l?gant ? correct ? Il faut un adjectif ici) qu'utile."
"Mon fran?ais c'est moins qu'utile" est grammaticalement correct, mais le sens n'est pas tr?s clair. "Moins que bon" c'est "mauvais", "moins qu'utile" c'est donc "inutile".


Je pense qu'Aidan veut dire, "My French is less than useful/serviceable," pas "My French is less useful (than yours)." En mots simples: Je dis "Mon français est utile", et il répond, "Et le mien, c'est pas utile." C'est vrai, Aidan?

Legros wrote:There's always an elision between que and a word beginning with a vowel.

Except for onze), as in "Je pense que onze litres de vin c'est assez pour la semaine."


Heh. Seulement onze? ;)

Je savais qu'il y avait un exception avec que, mais je ne peuvais pas me souvenir qu'est-ce que c'était. Merci pour l'aide.

(Phew... je crois que "mon français utile" maintenant démontre son vrai utilité! Dites-moi s'il est trop difficile me comprendre.)

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Post by hwhatting »

eodrakken wrote:
hwhatting wrote:The same has happened in Dutch, where "jij", originally being the pronoun for 2nd person plural, has become the pronoun for 1P singular, and a new pronoun for the 2P plural has been developed,"jullie".


What does "jullie" literally mean?

Honestly, I don't know, and I don't have an etymological dictionary or historical grammar of Dutch where I could check. My guess (going out on 1,5 limbs) would be that it comes from something like "jij lui" ("you people") - but don't rely on this!
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Post by Aidan »

Legros wrote:
Aidan wrote:Mon fran?ais, c'est moins que utile.
[coup]
(oh, and my intuition says there shouldn't be elision between que and utile?)


There's always an elision between que and a word beginning with a vowel.


Yeah, but why I thought there might not be in that case is it doesn't matter if it's written starting with a vowel or not, it matters how it's said. E.g. "l'homme", "l'h?tel". And I, at least, pronounce "utile" as /jutil/, that is, not starting with a vowel. You could still be correct, but that's why I thought there might not be elision.

eodrakken wrote:Je pense qu'Aidan veut dire, "My French is less than useful/serviceable," pas "My French is less useful (than yours)." En mots simples: Je dis "Mon fran?ais est utile", et il r?pond, "Et le mien, c'est pas utile." C'est vrai, Aidan?


Oui, exactement.

Penelope wrote:
Aidan wrote:I've heard also that some people around Atlanta, Georgia go so far as to use "y'all" for the singular and "all y'all" for the plural.


This is something people outside the South tend to get confused about. I've never heard a native Southerner use it that way; "all a y'all" is simply the emphatic form. ("You mean all a y'all are coming?!")


My information isn't based on a non-Southerners observations, but someone from Georgia, who claimed that some people (not neccesarily very many) in Atlanta used "y'all" as the singular and "all y'all" as the plural. Of course, they could be wrong still, but they could be right.

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Post by eodrakken »

Aidan wrote:Yeah, but why I thought there might not be in that case is it doesn't matter if it's written starting with a vowel or not, it matters how it's said. E.g. "l'homme", "l'h?tel". And I, at least, pronounce "utile" as /jutil/, that is, not starting with a vowel.


I think "utile" is correctly pronounced starting with a rounded front vowel, not an approximant. I've made that mistake myself, surely because its English cognate "utilitarian" is pronounced starting with a velar approximant. Sometimes I accidentally say "Il est yutile (iléjytil)". But I never find myself saying "Il n'est pas yutile" for some reason; the s-liaison overrides it (ilnépazytil). I sometimes mess up liaison with /t/, but almost never with /s/, though I don't know why.

[Edited to add accents to my rough phonetic transcriptions.]
Last edited by eodrakken on Mon Nov 25, 2002 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Aidan »

Aidan wrote:And I, at least, pronounce "utile" as /jutil/, that is, not starting with a vowel.


eodrakken wrote:I think "utile" is correctly pronounced starting with a rounded front vowel, not an approximant. I've made that mistake myself, surely because its English cognate "utilitarian" is pronounced starting with a velar approximant. Sometimes I accidentally say "Il est yutile (ilejytil)". But I never find myself saying "Il n'est pas yutile" for some reason; the s-liaison overrides it (ilnepazytil). I sometimes mess up liaison with /t/, but almost never with /s/, though I don't know why.


Hmm, I didn't really think it through before I made that statement, (or maybe my pronunciation has changed in the past few days :wink: ?) I do definitely pronounce it with the front vowel not the back vowel as I wrote. And the glide is really, really short. And interestingly, once you bring up other consonants that might elide, I do elide both /s/ and /t/, but I can't bring myself to elide /k/ from que, and have it sound right. Hmm.

Whoops, I seem to have de-railed this topic, the last 14 posts have been about IE, either French, or second person plurals, which I brought up both. But they were originally in some kind of context of beyond IE! I think . . .

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Post by Jaaaaaa »

eodrakken wrote:its English cognate "utilitarian" is pronounced starting with a velar approximant.


huh?

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Post by eodrakken »

Jaaaaaa wrote:
eodrakken wrote:its English cognate "utilitarian" is pronounced starting with a velar approximant.


huh?


We're talking about the French word utile, which means "useful". Cognates are two words in two different languages that come from the same root. French utile and English "utilitarian" come from the same root (in this instance a Latin word), and they have similar meanings. ("Utilitarian" also means "useful" or "useable", but it has a somewhat different implication than utile.) Sometimes cognates have developed very different meanings over time, or have come to sound quite different, but they're still cognates if they're known to come from the same root word.

I was mentioning a pronunciation difference between utile and "utilitarian", namely that "utilitarian" starts with what we'd usually call in English a "Y-sound", the sound at the beginning of "year" or "use". Technically that sound is called a velar approximant.

I hope that covers anything you were wondering about; your question was a little vague! ;)

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Post by So Haleza Grise »

eodrakken wrote:
I was mentioning a pronunciation difference between utile and "utilitarian", namely that "utilitarian" starts with what we'd usually call in English a "Y-sound", the sound at the beginning of "year" or "use". Technically that sound is called a velar approximant.

I hope that covers anything you were wondering about; your question was a little vague! ;)


Yeah, I don't have any hard evidence on me (dammit, where are phonetics notes when you need them?) :Attempts a couple of "y-sounds" while taking careful note of his tongue position: I'm pretty sure that's a palatal approximant. Maybe not as palatal as in some other languages, but it's definitely too far forward to be velar. Also note that lip position is closer to /i/ rather than /u/ when you say it.

Is this by any chance what the "huh" was in reference to? ;)

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Post by So Haleza Grise »

In an effort to have more non-IE tidbits . . .

Australian languages generally have something like double-case agreement in some constructions - there's a technical term for it, but i can't find the entry in my linguistics dictionary where I first saw it. Basically the principal is this:

in the sentence "I gave a spear to my father", in the noun phrase "my father", both elements will be in the dative (my+DAT father+DAT), but also, both elements of the phrase will be in the genitive (so it's me+GEN+DAT father+GEN+DAT). Agreement thus works both ways.

I'll have to check to see if i'm 100% correct on this.

Also note the mixed ergative system used among most languages. Probably a lot of people already know that Australian languages tend to be mixed ergative, with ordinary nouns making an ergative-absolutive distinction, but certain types of pronoun, for example the first and second persons, instead make a nominative-accusative distinction. At least one language I heard of actually had a three way agent-patient-experiencer distiction in its first person pronoun.

Pronouns also routinely have singular, plural and dual forms, with "we" having both inclusive and exclusive forms. This makes for rather a lot of pronouns sometimes.

Also notable are the elaborate methods of avoidance discourse when talking about a taboo subject (for example, one's mother-in-law - i'm not kidding.) Unfortunately, I can't give a lot of detail on this mainly because I skipped the relevant lectures . . . But yeah, I guess it's just interesting the extent that cultural taboos are reflected in the language, which has certain structures (varying from language to language) to allow discussion of them. Another one is the dead - it is very important not to make direct reference to someone who has recently died.

--well, I hope this was of some interest.

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Post by eodrakken »

So Haleza Grise wrote:I'm pretty sure that's a palatal approximant. Maybe not as palatal as in some other languages, but it's definitely too far forward to be velar.


You could be right. I've seen it grouped with the velars in English phonology charts. It's with the alveolar-palatals in the chart on zompist.com. I'm really starting not to trust Engligh phonologies. They never make a retroflex column for the /r/; who knows what other oversimplifications they're perpetuating?

So Haleza Grise wrote:Is this by any chance what the "huh" was in reference to? ;)


That did occur to me! "Whoa, did I make a blindingly obvious error?" I guess we'll have to ask Jaaaaaa about that.

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