(L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

Is it true that no language distinguishes /ɲ/ and /ŋʲ/, or even /nʲ/ and /ŋʲ/? If so, what's the implication for languages that eg. palatalise all consonants before /i/ and have a phonemic /ŋ/? Does it merge with /n/ before /i/? Does it depend on the language?

The reason I'm asking is that while [ɲ~n̠ʲ] and [ŋʲ~ŋ̟] are similar, the difference between them is technically no lesser than [c~t̠ʲ] and [kʲ~k̟] and there are tons of languages that keep /t/ and /k/ distinct before vowels that induce palatalisation or even have phonemic /tʲ/ and /kʲ/, even if their /t/ isn't a dental [t̪]. Is there something that makes nasals less likely to have such distinctions?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Vlürch wrote: 08 Aug 2020 17:52 Is it true that no language distinguishes /ɲ/ and /ŋʲ/, or even /nʲ/ and /ŋʲ/? If so, what's the implication for languages that eg. palatalise all consonants before /i/ and have a phonemic /ŋ/? Does it merge with /n/ before /i/? Does it depend on the language?

The reason I'm asking is that while [ɲ~n̠ʲ] and [ŋʲ~ŋ̟] are similar, the difference between them is technically no lesser than [c~t̠ʲ] and [kʲ~k̟] and there are tons of languages that keep /t/ and /k/ distinct before vowels that induce palatalisation or even have phonemic /tʲ/ and /kʲ/, even if their /t/ isn't a dental [t̪]. Is there something that makes nasals less likely to have such distinctions?
Well, Skolt and Kildin Saami distinguish /ɲ/ and /nʲ/. Which apparently isn't exactly what you're asking for, but it is analogous to /c/ vs. /tʲ/. AFAICT, for the distinction you're specifically asking about, the proper analogy with oral stops would be [c] vs. [kʲ]. So the question is: does any language distinguish those (and if so, how)?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

Vlürch wrote: 08 Aug 2020 17:52 Is it true that no language distinguishes /ɲ/ and /ŋʲ/, or even /nʲ/ and /ŋʲ/? If so, what's the implication for languages that eg. palatalise all consonants before /i/ and have a phonemic /ŋ/? Does it merge with /n/ before /i/? Does it depend on the language?

The reason I'm asking is that while [ɲ~n̠ʲ] and [ŋʲ~ŋ̟] are similar, the difference between them is technically no lesser than [c~t̠ʲ] and [kʲ~k̟] and there are tons of languages that keep /t/ and /k/ distinct before vowels that induce palatalisation or even have phonemic /tʲ/ and /kʲ/, even if their /t/ isn't a dental [t̪]. Is there something that makes nasals less likely to have such distinctions?
I think Irish has /ɲ ŋ nʲ n/ where the palatial nasal is the slender counterpart to the velar.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Xonen wrote: 08 Aug 2020 18:25Well, Skolt and Kildin Saami distinguish /ɲ/ and /nʲ/. Which apparently isn't exactly what you're asking for, but it is analogous to /c/ vs. /tʲ/.
That's pretty cool! I still know way too little about the Sami languages...
Xonen wrote: 08 Aug 2020 18:25AFAICT, for the distinction you're specifically asking about, the proper analogy with oral stops would be [c] vs. [kʲ]. So the question is: does any language distinguish those (and if so, how)?
Yeah, that'd be the oral equivalent to the allophones I'm thinking of in nasals for the conlang in question. Like, /ni/ and /ŋi/ as [ɲi~n̠ʲi] and [ŋʲi~ŋ̟i] with /ki/ as [kʲi~k̟i], although /ti/ might additionally go all the way to [t͡ɕi] even if [ci~t̠ʲi] is also possible in free variation. You know, similar to Japanese but having a phonemic /ŋ/.

Before I posted the question I checked the the Wikipedia article on Komi-Zyrian, which I could've sworn said it had /t k/ [c kʲ] in contexts where they're palatalised, but it doesn't and I'd take that to mean /k/ is never palatalised but in this video to my ears it sounds like it is before /i/ and /e/, but then I also hear /t/ as [tʲ~t̪ʲ] before /i/ and /e/ and the supposed /c/ as [tʲ~t̪ʲ] as well, so I have no idea. [>_<] It doesn't have a phonemic velar nasal anyway, so it's not like it'd be 100% confirmation of the naturalism of [ɲi ŋʲi] even if it had [ci kʲi], but eh.
sangi39 wrote: 08 Aug 2020 18:28I think Irish has /ɲ ŋ nʲ n/ where the palatial nasal is the slender counterpart to the velar.
Interesting, I didn't know it had full-blown palatal and velar nasals too! So, I don't think it'd be unreasonable to have what I want even if no actual natural language has the exact same thing?

But if no natural language does that, there'd still be the question of why...
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

sangi39 wrote: 08 Aug 2020 18:28
Vlürch wrote: 08 Aug 2020 17:52 Is it true that no language distinguishes /ɲ/ and /ŋʲ/, or even /nʲ/ and /ŋʲ/? If so, what's the implication for languages that eg. palatalise all consonants before /i/ and have a phonemic /ŋ/? Does it merge with /n/ before /i/? Does it depend on the language?

The reason I'm asking is that while [ɲ~n̠ʲ] and [ŋʲ~ŋ̟] are similar, the difference between them is technically no lesser than [c~t̠ʲ] and [kʲ~k̟] and there are tons of languages that keep /t/ and /k/ distinct before vowels that induce palatalisation or even have phonemic /tʲ/ and /kʲ/, even if their /t/ isn't a dental [t̪]. Is there something that makes nasals less likely to have such distinctions?
I think Irish has /ɲ ŋ nʲ n/ where the palatial nasal is the slender counterpart to the velar.
The palatal also crops up as a realisation of another phone in some dialects.

AIUI, some dialects actually have /nˠ n̪ˠ ŋ nʲ n̠ʲ ɲ/ - that is, with velarised dental, velarised alveolar, palatalised alveolar, palatalised alveolo-palatal, palatal, and velar nasals (which is closer to the inherited situation, with fortis and lenis /n/ and then the velars arising allophonically and through eclipsis; different dialects have merged some of these phonemes in different ways).

And FWIW vluerch, not only does Irish have a velar nasal, it even has it (unlike the rest of Europe) in syllable-initial position. What's more, these nasals appear in (to English-speakers) bizarre initial clusters, including with each other: wikipedia offers ngléasfá /ˈɲlʲeːsˠaː/ and even ngníomhófá /ˈɲnʲiːwoːhaː/

Anyway, phonemically these Irish does match what you ask for: /nʲ/ vs /ŋʲ/. It's just that /ŋʲ/ is [ɲ], and usually called /ɲ/; in terms both of diachronics AND of synchronic systems, it's fair, if not logically simpler, to call it /ŋʲ/ - I think people don't because it's just easier to use one symbol than two. And indeed, I'm sure someone has called it that...

However, regarding whether you should discard your source that tells you that those phonemes are never distinguished: well, we don't know what your source was, so it's hard to say!
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44not only does Irish have a velar nasal, it even has it (unlike the rest of Europe) in syllable-initial position.
Doesn't Welsh have it in initial position, too? Also, if Nenetsia counts as being in Europe, then the Nenets languages are also languages in Europe that have it in initial position.

Wikipedia actually claims that Nenets has a phonemic contrast between /n nʲ ŋ ŋʲ/, but AFAICT there aren't any words with <ӈ/ң> before a vowel that induces palatalisation or followed by a soft sign at least on Glosbe or this Nenets dictionary, so I'm a bit sceptical about that. If I had found a single word like that, I would've taken that as "nice, ANADEW [B)] " over Nenets and wouldn't have even needed to post the question, but... well, now I can go "nice, ANADEW [B)] " over Irish, and it's good that I posted the question because otherwise I wouldn't have learned this interesting stuff about Irish.
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44What's more, these nasals appear in (to English-speakers) bizarre initial clusters, including with each other: wikipedia offers ngléasfá /ˈɲlʲeːsˠaː/ and even ngníomhófá /ˈɲnʲiːwoːhaː/
Ooh, that's really cool. [:O] I had no idea Irish had that kind of consonant clusters. Honestly the orthography makes me a bit scared to even try to learn it, but I've heard it's pretty regular once you get used to it so I guess I should give it a proper go sooner or later?
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44Anyway, phonemically these Irish does match what you ask for: /nʲ/ vs /ŋʲ/. It's just that /ŋʲ/ is [ɲ], and usually called /ɲ/; in terms both of diachronics AND of synchronic systems, it's fair, if not logically simpler, to call it /ŋʲ/ - I think people don't because it's just easier to use one symbol than two. And indeed, I'm sure someone has called it that...
Nice, so it's at least naturalistic enough in the sense that there's a language with a very similar thing, and not just merely allophonically but phonemically. Thanks! [:D]
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44However, regarding whether you should discard your source that tells you that those phonemes are never distinguished: well, we don't know what your source was, so it's hard to say!
It was just the reply to this post on StackExchange that I came across when googling "ɲ ŋʲ contrast". It mentions Irish, too, but not the specifics of how it works and didn't refer to /ŋʲ/. There's a reply to that reply saying that according to "classical assumptions" a contrast between palatals and palatalised velars couldn't exist, but referring to apparently a theory regarding a sound shift in Hungarian as a counter-example but then IIUC also saying the theory has been debunked or something (but it's confusingly worded, or maybe I'm just struggling with it)... so I thought it probably can't exist, but wanted to ask here in case someone knew counterexamples. Good to know that Irish counts, even if the actual realisation isn't exactly the same.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Vlürch wrote: 08 Aug 2020 23:05Wikipedia actually claims that Nenets has a phonemic contrast between /n nʲ ŋ ŋʲ/, but AFAICT there aren't any words with <ӈ/ң> before a vowel that induces palatalisation or followed by a soft sign at least on Glosbe or this Nenets dictionary, so I'm a bit sceptical about that.
Incidentally, something I failed to mention in my previous post is that Skolt Saami (and probably Kildin, but I don't know as much about it) also has /ŋ/, and there might be a morphophonological argument for treating the palatal consonants phonemically as palatalized velars (although it's rather complicated), so /ɲ/ could be analyzed as /ŋʲ/. So we'd have the set /n nʲ ŋ ŋʲ/ there.

/ŋ/ doesn't occur word-initially, though, and I don't think /nʲ/ does, either. By contrast, /ɲ/ does (which in turn might be an argument against analyzing it as /ŋʲ/... but again, it's complicated).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Vlürch wrote: 08 Aug 2020 23:05
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44not only does Irish have a velar nasal, it even has it (unlike the rest of Europe) in syllable-initial position.
Doesn't Welsh have it in initial position, too? Also, if Nenetsia counts as being in Europe, then the Nenets languages are also languages in Europe that have it in initial position.
Oh, ok.
(should have thought of Welsh (and presumably Gaelic, Manx, Breton?), but didn't know about Nenets)
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44What's more, these nasals appear in (to English-speakers) bizarre initial clusters, including with each other: wikipedia offers ngléasfá /ˈɲlʲeːsˠaː/ and even ngníomhófá /ˈɲnʲiːwoːhaː/
Ooh, that's really cool. [:O] I had no idea Irish had that kind of consonant clusters. Honestly the orthography makes me a bit scared to even try to learn it, but I've heard it's pretty regular once you get used to it so I guess I should give it a proper go sooner or later?
It's an interesting language, because it's sort of 50% very like English, and 50% totally unlike SAE languages.

The orthography isn't scary. You can get a general sense of the sound very quickly; the rules do have a handful of complications (of the 'this digraph is thi phoneme except before such-and-such' kind), but not that serious. It is indeed mostly very regular; the downside is that on the occasions when it's not regular, it can be very irregular indeed (to the point of 'this dialect is basically using a totally different word but spelling it the same'). But if you're not actually trying to appeal native in conversations with native speakers, I wouldn't worry about it.

And it looks really cool.

[and yeah, it doesn't have a lot of clusters, but it does sometimes have clusters that are surprising to English speakers. I really like the way it has /dl/ as an onset...]
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44Anyway, phonemically these Irish does match what you ask for: /nʲ/ vs /ŋʲ/. It's just that /ŋʲ/ is [ɲ], and usually called /ɲ/; in terms both of diachronics AND of synchronic systems, it's fair, if not logically simpler, to call it /ŋʲ/ - I think people don't because it's just easier to use one symbol than two. And indeed, I'm sure someone has called it that...
Nice, so it's at least naturalistic enough in the sense that there's a language with a very similar thing, and not just merely allophonically but phonemically. Thanks! [:D]
Yes, although of course the caveat here should be that phonemically you can call anything anything, and as a result you can never really say that anything is impossible.
Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2020 20:44However, regarding whether you should discard your source that tells you that those phonemes are never distinguished: well, we don't know what your source was, so it's hard to say!
It was just the reply to this post on StackExchange that I came across when googling "ɲ ŋʲ contrast". It mentions Irish, too, but not the specifics of how it works and didn't refer to /ŋʲ/. There's a reply to that reply saying that according to "classical assumptions" a contrast between palatals and palatalised velars couldn't exist, but referring to apparently a theory regarding a sound shift in Hungarian as a counter-example but then IIUC also saying the theory has been debunked or something (but it's confusingly worded, or maybe I'm just struggling with it)... so I thought it probably can't exist, but wanted to ask here in case someone knew counterexamples. Good to know that Irish counts, even if the actual realisation isn't exactly the same.
That person actually proposes a much broader law: that palatalisation can never contrast with a palatal, regardless of POA.

But that person is talking about linguistics. There can be all sorts of immutable laws in linguistics, since linguists seem to be happy to prioritise linguistic rules over naive interpretations of languages. A linguist can just ignore a language that has a counterexample, or redefine it - a naive surface analysis of Irish might say that it contrasts a palatal with a palatalised alveolar, and in some dialects also with an alveolo-palatal, but the linguist can just say it doesn't. The palatal is "underlyingly" a velar. Likewise, the alveolo-palatal is probably "underlyingly" /q/, and the palatalised alveolar is underlyingly a pharyngealised bilabial. That way, the "law" isn't broken.

[their argument seems to be that 'phonemes' are just bundles of 'features'. And 'features' have to be named with a single, monosyllabic common English word. Therefore, palatal and palatalised can't be distinguished, because the 'features' of the two things are the same. And I don't know, maybe that's true in linguistics. It's just important to remember that linguistics rarely has any bearing on what actually happens in languages...]
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

Xonen wrote: 09 Aug 2020 03:12By contrast, /ɲ/ does (which in turn might be an argument against analyzing it as /ŋʲ/... but again, it's complicated).
Has it been reconstructed what sound it was earlier, if it wasn't Proto-Uralic /*ń/? Or is that where it came from and Proto-Uralic /*ń/ might have been a palatalised velar?🤔
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15should have thought of Welsh
To be honest I only knew about Welsh having initial /ŋ/ because of some conlanging video I watched on Youtube that mentioned how Tolkien drew inspiration from Welsh, which had some examples of Welsh and there was intial /ŋ/.
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15(and presumably Gaelic, Manx, Breton?)
Apparently Gaelic and Manx do, but at least I couldn't find anything about Breton having it initially (but there doesn't seem to be much detailed stuff about Breton phonology online in English, or maybe I just suck at finding it).
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15didn't know about Nenets
Some other Uralic languages do, too, but AFAIK most of them don't have it word-initially even if they do have it syllable-initially intervocalically. In Finnish it's not a retention from Proto-Uralic but a result of consonant gradation (and in some loanwords), and it's always geminate.
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15The orthography isn't scary. You can get a general sense of the sound very quickly; the rules do have a handful of complications (of the 'this digraph is thi phoneme except before such-and-such' kind), but not that serious.
I guess if it's less irregular than English, it should be possible to learn haha.
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15And it looks really cool.
Yeah, imho its aesthetic is the "flowiest" of all languages that use the Latin alphabet.
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15There can be all sorts of immutable laws in linguistics, since linguists seem to be happy to prioritise linguistic rules over naive interpretations of languages. A linguist can just ignore a language that has a counterexample, or redefine it
Mmh...
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15It's just important to remember that linguistics rarely has any bearing on what actually happens in languages...
That's something I've thought about sometimes, like, if the reality is that languages are best thought about only by themselves and in comparison to related languages rather than in linguistic terms. I mean, not only with phonology but also with grammar and vocabulary. Obviously it's helpful to know the names of grammatical features, etc. when learning and it can be useful to know about historical sound shifts and whatnot, but at least with Japanese I've noticed several times that a lot of grammatical features and words have so many uses that it's better to just go with how they're actually used rather than what they seemingly correspond to in other languages.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

What do you guys think is the origin of the Latin Fifth Declension? I just read an interesting paper on it.

Do you think it has any parallels outside of Italic? Was it present in Proto-Italic?

I guess this isn't a "quick question", but just interested to hear any thoughts on it.
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KaiTheHomoSapien wrote: 10 Aug 2020 20:53What do you guys think is the origin of the Latin Fifth Declension? I just read an interesting paper on it.

Do you think it has any parallels outside of Italic? Was it present in Proto-Italic?

I guess this isn't a "quick question", but just interested to hear any thoughts on it.
It might be one of those things that many of us have not read a lot about, or even read up-to-date thought about. What did you read? What jumped at you as interesting?

I haven't read anything about its origin myself, but as a Latin learner I notice that it has very few members. There is only one derivational suffix, -(it)iēs, which derives abstract nouns of quality from adjectives or verbs (macer 'meager, thin; poor' > maciēs 'meagerness; poverty', pernecō 'kill successfully, typically by poison/fire/drowning/hunger as opposed to melee weapons' > perniciēs 'disaster, ruin').

It is almost exclusively composed of feminine words, except for diēs 'day', which is optionally masculine in Classical Latin (and merīdiēs 'noon; South'), more often so in the plural. I sometimes wonder whether the god Juppiter may have influenced its use as a masculine noun, but apparently Diēs is attested as a goddess in the literature too, naturally with feminine gender...

Morphologically it looks like the child of the 1st (-ā-) declension and the 3rd (-i-) declension. It has a genitive singular that doesn't end in -s (-eī/-(i)ēī, the Old Latin 1st decl. gen. sg. ended in -āī after all) and a genitive plural ending in -V:r- (-ērum) like the 1st declension, but its nominative sg. and pl. end in -s with a dat./abl. pl. that ends in -bus (-ēs, -ēs, -ēbus, like 3rd decl. -is/ēs, -ēs and ibus).
Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15That person actually proposes a much broader law: that palatalisation can never contrast with a palatal, regardless of POA.

But that person is talking about linguistics. There can be all sorts of immutable laws in linguistics, since linguists seem to be happy to prioritise linguistic rules over naive interpretations of languages. A linguist can just ignore a language that has a counterexample, or redefine it - a naive surface analysis of Irish might say that it contrasts a palatal with a palatalised alveolar, and in some dialects also with an alveolo-palatal, but the linguist can just say it doesn't. The palatal is "underlyingly" a velar. Likewise, the alveolo-palatal is probably "underlyingly" /q/, and the palatalised alveolar is underlyingly a pharyngealised bilabial. That way, the "law" isn't broken.

[their argument seems to be that 'phonemes' are just bundles of 'features'. And 'features' have to be named with a single, monosyllabic common English word. Therefore, palatal and palatalised can't be distinguished, because the 'features' of the two things are the same. And I don't know, maybe that's true in linguistics. It's just important to remember that linguistics rarely has any bearing on what actually happens in languages...]
It's sad to hear that observed, sad because it's likely true IMO.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Ser wrote: 11 Aug 2020 00:27 It might be one of those things that many of us have not read a lot about, or even read up-to-date thought about. What did you read? What jumped at you as interesting?

I haven't read anything about its origin myself, but as a Latin learner I notice that it has very few members. There is only one derivational suffix, -(it)iēs, which derives abstract nouns of quality from adjectives or verbs (macer 'meager, thin; poor' > maciēs 'meagerness; poverty', pernecō 'kill successfully, typically by poison/fire/drowning/hunger as opposed to melee weapons' > perniciēs 'disaster, ruin').

It is almost exclusively composed of feminine words, except for diēs 'day', which is optionally masculine in Classical Latin (and merīdiēs 'noon; South'), more often so in the plural. I sometimes wonder whether the god Juppiter may have influenced its use as a masculine noun, but apparently Diēs is attested as a goddess in the literature too, naturally with feminine gender...

Morphologically it looks like the child of the 1st (-ā-) declension and the 3rd (-i-) declension. It has a genitive singular that doesn't end in -s (-eī/-(i)ēī, the Old Latin 1st decl. gen. sg. ended in -āī after all) and a genitive plural ending in -V:r- (-ērum) like the 1st declension, but its nominative sg. and pl. end in -s with a dat./abl. pl. that ends in -bus (-ēs, -ēs, -ēbus, like 3rd decl. -is/ēs, -ēs and ibus).
As someone who'll be starting his 9th year of Latin learning (since 7th grade) this fall, I've noticed these things as well. As I began to study more Indo-European languages, particularly ancient ones, I noticed the parallels between the first four Latin declensions and noun declensions in other languages like Greek and Sanskrit. But the fifth declension is the odd man out.

Sihler says "The 'fifth declension' is a historical accident--a collection of nouns of heterogeneous ancestry which converged (in a none too orderly fashion) on a type. This explains the difficulty of finding analogues in other languages..."

The paper I read was this: https://www.academia.edu/35497930/The_o ... inflection

It's very technical and somewhat difficult to understand for someone who's only had two years of linguistics education. But it just got me thinking that I'd ask about it since I like the unanswered mysteries in ancient IE languages. :)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

Sorry for another question so soon, and I'm not sure if this a quick one (although I'd hope so), but...

What does Tibetan jokul/Jokul mean and how is it spelled in the Tibetan script? (Assuming it's Tibetan since most results are about Tibet and adjacent areas historically within the Tibetan sphere of influence.)

For context, I came across a mountain on Google Earth labelled Mukong Jokul next to a village called Mukong (木孔) near the Burmese border, and when I googled it found stuff about 木孔雪山 ("Mukong Snow Mountain") and thought "oh, it's just the Tibetan word for snow-capped mountain?" but when I googled just "jokul Tibet", there's this site that does seem to imply it's a geographical feature (but without specifying what kind of geographical feature, although snow-capped mountain still seems likely since there isn't a separate mention of mountains), and so on (eg. how this blog post seems really explicit in it referring to a single snow-capped mountain since it refers to Mount Kailash), and the image results are snow-capped mountains.

On the other hand, this blog post calls a Biluo Jokul (googling it, 碧罗雪山 in Chinese) a branch of the Himalayas but skimming through it, it seems like it could refer to the entire region? So, my impression would be that it could simply be a nifty word for snow-capped mountains collectively and their vicinity, or something like that...

...but then there's also this article saying some Tibetans "worship jokul" without specifying at all what it is and this book that refers to "a white Jokul God without flesh and blood", so I'm confused.

I know in some religions/mythologies/folklores geographical features can be named after or even conflated with deities and whatnot, including in Tibetan culture AFAIK, so it's not like I'd be surprised by that, but like... what is the word's primary meaning and etymology? Is it a generic term for all geographical features of its kind (snow-capped mountains either individually or collectively?), or only specific onces, or...?

Again, sorry for probably asking too many questions. I don't know if anyone here even knows Tibetan, but I don't know where else to ask.

EDIT: I reposted this question on Unilang yesterday, and got an answer! Apparently it's not Tibetan, it's English, originally from Icelandic. [:$]
Last edited by Vlürch on 26 Sep 2020 16:28, edited 1 time in total.
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KaiTheHomoSapien
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Sorry, posted this in the wrong thread:

I had another Latin question: why is the plural of "genus" "genera" instead of "genora" like corpus/corpora? Why does every form of this noun have an "e" in the final syllable of the stem except the nom/acc/voc singular?

Did the acrostatic ablaut just get preserved in this word but not in "corpus"?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

I don't know, but it's not just genus. A more famous example is opus (pl. opera). But on the other hand tempus (pl. tempora).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Salmoneus wrote: 12 Aug 2020 01:04 I don't know, but it's not just genus. A more famous example is opus (pl. opera). But on the other hand tempus (pl. tempora).
Wiktionary says there's an adverb "temperī" ("at the right time"), which indicates that "tempus" may have originally declined like "genus" and changed on analogy with "corpus", etc.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote: 11 Aug 2020 23:53 Sorry, posted this in the wrong thread:

I had another Latin question: why is the plural of "genus" "genera" instead of "genora" like corpus/corpora? Why does every form of this noun have an "e" in the final syllable of the stem except the nom/acc/voc singular?

Did the acrostatic ablaut just get preserved in this word but not in "corpus"?
I don't know the details, but there seem to be several sound changes going on in these consonant stems.

The older Latin forms are genos / genosis, opos / oposis, corpos / corposis. Rhotacism affects the -s-, turning it to -r-, and apparently the -r- affects the quality of the vowel, causing a kind of assimilation of the o.

Same thing seems to be happening in other Latin consonant declensions: origonis > originis, capotis > capitis, itinoris > itineris.

See the full(er) story here.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Yeah, /i/ and /u/ seem to be the default "reduced vowels" in Latin, with "i" being even more reduced since a "u" can sometimes reduce to it (I think that poster is wrong about caput, though. It was never *capot, the /u/ just reduced to /i/ in the oblique). This explains a number of different vowel mismatches in Latin declension.

But I'm not convinced the "-oris" ending is older, I think the "-eris" ending is older since it reflects PIE ablaut and nouns like tempus and corpus lost the ablaut distinction. But I can't exactly prove it. (And why would they lose it, but genus and opus kept it?)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Does anybody know about compounding in Proto-Germanic?

Specifically, how did verb-noun compounds work: what form of the verb was used?

English can use its zero infinitive form. And German apparently uses a zero-form too - I have examples here for parken > Parkverbot, and fressen > Fressgier.

But I doubt PGmc did that, because it didn't have many (any?) final consonants. But the infinitive would have been a chore to use - the infinitive ending isn't zero, it's three syllables long.

Did Germanic use an abstract noun? One of its various -iz forms could have eroded off... but that would have left umlaut in the German, no?

So what form was used? Or were there no verbal compounds at all?


EDIT: ok, sorry, answered my own question - Germanic just didn't have any verb-noun compounds. They only emerged after loss of final /a/ left verb roots looking like, and often identical to, nouns, so that some N-N compounds were reanalysed as V-N compounds, becoming a pattern for further compounding in the daughter languages.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen »

Salmoneus wrote: 09 Aug 2020 17:15But that person is talking about linguistics. There can be all sorts of immutable laws in linguistics, since linguists seem to be happy to prioritise linguistic rules over naive interpretations of languages. A linguist can just ignore a language that has a counterexample, or redefine it - a naive surface analysis of Irish might say that it contrasts a palatal with a palatalised alveolar, and in some dialects also with an alveolo-palatal, but the linguist can just say it doesn't. The palatal is "underlyingly" a velar. Likewise, the alveolo-palatal is probably "underlyingly" /q/, and the palatalised alveolar is underlyingly a pharyngealised bilabial. That way, the "law" isn't broken.

[their argument seems to be that 'phonemes' are just bundles of 'features'. And 'features' have to be named with a single, monosyllabic common English word. Therefore, palatal and palatalised can't be distinguished, because the 'features' of the two things are the same. And I don't know, maybe that's true in linguistics. It's just important to remember that linguistics rarely has any bearing on what actually happens in languages...]
It should be noted that this only applies to a specific subschool of linguistics, namely Bad. Granted, even professionals can't always seem to tell the difference.

There does seem to be a certain subset of researchers who are more interested in a kind of meta level of studying new and exciting ways to analyze things than in actually studying the things themselves. And yeah, "underlying" phonemes can be used to justify some rather... wacky analyses. Then again, phonemes are always underlying in the sense that the actual movement of the articulators and the form of the sound waves produced are rarely identical between different instances of one – not even in the speech of one speaker in (what would seem like) the same phonetic environment, and certainly not between different speakers or environments. It's a question of knowing where to draw the line.


Vlürch wrote: 10 Aug 2020 20:16
Xonen wrote: 09 Aug 2020 03:12By contrast, /ɲ/ does (which in turn might be an argument against analyzing it as /ŋʲ/... but again, it's complicated).
Has it been reconstructed what sound it was earlier, if it wasn't Proto-Uralic /*ń/? Or is that where it came from and Proto-Uralic /*ń/ might have been a palatalised velar?🤔
It at least often (not sure about always) comes from Proto-Uralic /*ń/, yes; eg. njuõll 'arrow' < *ńïli.

However, I'm talking about phonemic analysis, not phonetic reality: it may make sense to analyze a phoneme as a palatalized velar in a language which has phonemic palatalization even if it's "actually" a palatal. And again, what's actually going on in terms of articulatory phonetics or acoustics is going to differ even between speakers of the same language (and indeed, even between different utterances of the same speaker, and the same word), so I'm not sure if it's possible to meaningfully distinguish an "actual" palatal from a palatalized velar anyway. (Now, maybe there's a language where a distinction exists that it would make sense to analyze in such a way; I don't know if it's possible, but I suppose it could be. But that would still have no effect on which analysis makes most sense for languages which don't have that contrast.)

In the case of Skolt Saami, it's complicated, as I mentioned. But basically, palatalized consonants alternate morphophonemically with non-palatalized ones: pueʹtted /puetʲ:ed/ 'to come', PRS.3SG puätt /puat:/. Palatals alternate in exactly the same way with velars: vueʹlǧǧed /vuelʲɟ:ed/ 'to leave', PRS.3SG vuälgg /vualg:/. Therefore, it might make some sense to analyze palatals as palatalized velars. However, /ŋ/ is rare, and I can't think of a word where it would alternate with /ɲ/ like this, so I don't know. I might return to this if I manage to dig up something.

In any case, none of this really proves anything about the exact phonetic nature of Proto-Uralic /*ń/; we'd need a complete analysis of all of its modern reflexes to even speculate.
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