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

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

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Omzinesý wrote:
29 May 2020 11:51
So *waćV is PU reconstruction for a shamelike thing?
What is the PU form for 'stomach'?

My understanding of Uralistics is very fragmented.
Honestly, I think the only people who have anything more than a fragmented understanding of (historical) Uralistics are those who study it as a full-time job. And even then I'm not quite sure. Heck, even the same person seems to be holding two contradicting views at once; in the article I linked to in my previous post, Luobbal Sámmol Sámmol Ánte doubts the status of /ć/ as an independent phoneme, yet in his draft for an etymological dictionary, he nonetheless uses it (apparently in place of /ś/) in his reconstructions. And both the article and this dictionary draft appear to be from this year, so it doesn't seem like he's had a lot of time to change his mind – although I guess the etymological dictionary is a pretty long-term process, so maybe he just hasn't updated the reconstruction in the current draft. (He does mention /ć/ as a plausible alternative reconstruction for /ś/ in the article as well, so I suppose it could be that he simply doesn't consider the distinction important enough to warrant rewriting the draft. Still strikes me as a bit odd, considering that /ś/ seems to be the more generally accepted reconstruction, but what do I know.)

Anyway, the Álgu database, referencing the Uralisches etymologisches Wörterbuch from 1988, gives *ćowja as a possible (but uncertain) Proto-Uralic word for 'stomach' (which again has that */ć/, but this time, it could just be that the reconstruction is over 30 years old, and as noted above, even one researcher within a single year can apparently produce several different reconstructions). Notably, Ánte's draft dictionary doesn't seem to include this word, but it only includes words beginning with consonants until /ć/ at this point, and I'm not sure if his /ć/ is the same as UEW's /ć/, so go figure.

Álgu also gives a Mansi cognate for Finnish vatsa, but no reconstruction. FWIW, Wiktionary does have the expected geminate for Proto-Finnic, but nothing further back than that.

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

Post by Vlürch »

Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
And as for historical wrongdoing by others - sure, the word 'shame' is found now and then, but actually no, I don't think it's talked about much. I think both sides of the debate are more likely to use concepts like guilt, regret and debt, rather than shame. Indeed, the idea of feeling shame over the actions of other people is strange to me - I can easily be embarassed by a parent's actions, for example, but I don't think I could be ashamed of them. I agree, of course, that shame for the actions of others is a prototypical element of the shame concept... but that just means, I think, that my instinctive shame concept is, like most people's, rather limited and largely in the process of merging with guilt.
It's strange, yeah, but how can you control your feelings like that?
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
Oh, well, if you have italics on your side, I can't see how I can rebut that!
C'mon, you know I use italics without any implications of smugness or anything. [>_<] Just in my experience I'm not the only Finn who feels ashamed of our country's past, and I assumed everyone who acknowledges that there's some fucked shit in Finland's history would feel like it's a burden on them personally even if the feeling isn't one of collective guilt per se; that's why I thought it's shame, but maybe it's not. Maybe I'm also wrong and only a minority feel anything because of it, in that case I'm even more ashamed of being Finnish than I already am. Ultimately it'd be best if the entire concept of shame ceased to exist, but I can't be optimistic about that because I can't shake it myself with things like personal issues and politics even though I can mostly shake it with things considered shameful for religious reasons.
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
Well, "the wider concept" there is just "feeling bad", so you've gone from one end of the specificity scale to the other!
I never meant to imply specificity, at least not in the past, since in any case reconstructions are reconstructions and semantic shifts can happen even within short periods of time. The reconstructed *waćV is given as meaning "shame", but no one could ever know if that was specifically what it referred to or the only thing it referred to, etc. It's also possible there was at some point a word that didn't originally mean exactly "shame" that would more likely have evolved to mean that.
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
So your real question is "what are the sound-changes from Proto-Uralic to Finnish?", then?
Kind of, but it's not as simple as sound changes individually... and it's not only about this particular etymon, I'd be just as interested in knowing if there was some other word that would've likely filled that concept through semantic shifts.
Xonen wrote:
29 May 2020 01:47
Well, I'm not ashamed, and the whole notion strikes me as rather weird. Why should I be ashamed for the actions of a some of the people who lived in this country long before I was even born? It's not like I chose to be born into it or anything. So, this form of shame certainly strikes me as culturally or even ideologically specific.
Obviously we shouldn't be ashamed, but how is it possible to accept without feeling at least some kind of bad feeling that our country has done some fucked up shit? Even if it's not 100% necessarily shame, since it might be I've completely misunderstood the specific concept my whole life and the word for it isn't shame (anymore?), I mean, there's some kind of bad feeling... [:S]
Xonen wrote:
29 May 2020 01:47
That is, Proto-Uralic might very well have had a word, or several words, that you could broadly translate as "shame", "guilt", "regret", "embarrassment", "dishonour" etc. – but almost certainly not a different exactly corresponding word for each of these.
Yeah, I didn't even mean to imply that there necessarily were separate words for all of those feelings or anything. Originally I was just trying to ask about what a hypothetical native Uralic word in Finnish that would have a meaning that could be "shame" would be, but like every time I post a question here, it ends up turning into an argument about something related to the concept but not the linguistic part of it... it's my fault for asking weird questions and wording them unclearly (including in this case having just woken up after sleeping only a couple of hours), of course, so I can't really complain. [:x]
Xonen wrote:
29 May 2020 01:47
That is, I doubt any previously existing words were simply replaced in one go; I find it more likely that the loanword initially entered the language as a (near-)synonym, and then, as the language and surrounding culture changed over the following centuries, it happened to gain more ground while earlier words lost it. After all, there weren't that many historical linguists in the iron age with an ideological fixation on finding out which words went back to Proto-Uralic and preserving them.
Mmh, good point.
Xonen wrote:
29 May 2020 01:47
As for Proto-Uralic *waćV... I don't have my books at my current residence, but apparently, the very existence of the phoneme /ć/ is highly uncertain. Unless it's an alternate reconstruction for /ś/? In any case, Finnish /ts/ usually corresponds to earlier */čč/; single affricates and sibilants yield either /t/, /s/ or /h/. So as far as I can tell, the expected form should be something like **"vata", **"vasa", **"vasi" or whatever.
Huh... well, it's used in the reconstructions on Starostin's site as a distinct phoneme, admittedly those are older reconstructions so maybe they're not as close to reality as is understood now. All I did was compare the other modern Uralic words descended from similar Proto-Uralic words and it seemed like in Finnish /ts/ corresponded the most commonly, but if those reconstructions have been debunked... hmm, thanks. I guess it's impossible to know exactly how this particular etymon would have turned out in Finnish even hypothetically? Was there maybe some other word that could have likely semantically shifted to mean "shame" with time?

(And like I said, I'm not asking for any real reason, it's just curiosity about hypothetical words and this was the one I decided to post about because it came up in a conversation I was having with someone. I know everyone thinks it's because of nationalism, but it's not. I'll admit in theory I'd prefer if new loanwords that enter Finnish weren't Germanic, but realistically we'll only get more and more English loanwords and that's fine even if sometimes it can be a little annoying. It's only beneficial in the long term. I do still have to make amends for the period in my life when I was into nationalism, but losing interest in Uralic languages can't be a requirement for that... [:S] )

I won't even ask about other words in other languages at least for now because it'd only lead to prolonging the argument since I'd inevitably make a mistake in how I word the questions. I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now for having posted that question in the first place if it's not shame, but it's probably not shame if it no longer even exists in the west.

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Vlürch wrote:
30 May 2020 18:59
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
And as for historical wrongdoing by others - sure, the word 'shame' is found now and then, but actually no, I don't think it's talked about much. I think both sides of the debate are more likely to use concepts like guilt, regret and debt, rather than shame. Indeed, the idea of feeling shame over the actions of other people is strange to me - I can easily be embarassed by a parent's actions, for example, but I don't think I could be ashamed of them. I agree, of course, that shame for the actions of others is a prototypical element of the shame concept... but that just means, I think, that my instinctive shame concept is, like most people's, rather limited and largely in the process of merging with guilt.
It's strange, yeah, but how can you control your feelings like that?
Could you please cut it out with the 'everyone but me is a heartless monster' business, please?

First, we're talking whether a feeling should be called 'shame' or not. That's nothing to do with the strength of the feeling or the moral worth of the person feeling it.

[to be clear: yes, this is a case where traditional shame can be felt; the fact that it's a case where I feel uneasy using my colloquial 'shame' for something that is traditionally a paradigm case of shame only further suggests that my colloquial or instinctive sense of 'shame' is no longer really coherently distinguished from other negative feelings]

Second, don't assume that everyone is you. I don't feel particularly ashamed OR guilty about the misdeeds of the British Empire - that doesn't mean I DO feel shame and then retrospectively 'control' that feeling.

I could just as easily ask you: "how are you able to fabricate this emotion?" or "how are you able to pretend to feel shame over this?" or just "how can you make yourself feel this shame?", as though you really felt nothing. One is as invalid (and insulting) as the other.

On the substantive point, though: I don't feel shame over the actions of other British people because I'm not a nationalist. I do not particularly identify with my 'nation', so the fact that some evildoer is said to have been of the same 'nation' as me does not much bother me. Not only did they live centuries ago in most cases (so we are not even products of the same millieu), but they weren't related to me, and very few of them came from any place I know or have any association with. My ancestors had almost as little say in the running of the Empire as anyone in the colonies. So why on earth should my feeling depend on what they did, just because some racist or fascist would like to insist that we're all part of the same great national socialist spirit or whatever likewise bollocks?

I don't feel shame about what "Britain" has done because I don't base my identity on obedience to The Nation.

I do, however, recognise that as someone living in Britain today I have benefitted from the economic and cultural strength of the nation, and that some significant (though incalculable) part of that strength is the result of dishonourable actions in the past. To the extent that I benefit from those actions, I do think I am in some sort of debt. I do think, for example, that Britain's colonial past has created a special obligation toward the people of its former colonies, both in geopolitical concern and in immigration allowances.

But I don't feel any particular guilt or shame or mark indelible of sin regarding this.
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
Oh, well, if you have italics on your side, I can't see how I can rebut that!
C'mon, you know I use italics without any implications of smugness or anything.
C'mon, you know that "it just is!" is not a good argument, regardless of typographical flourishes.
[>_<] Just in my experience I'm not the only Finn who feels ashamed of our country's past, and I assumed everyone who acknowledges that there's some fucked shit in Finland's history would feel like it's a burden on them personally even if the feeling isn't one of collective guilt per se; that's why I thought it's shame, but maybe it's not. Maybe I'm also wrong and only a minority feel anything because of it, in that case I'm even more ashamed of being Finnish than I already am. Ultimately it'd be best if the entire concept of shame ceased to exist, but I can't be optimistic about that because I can't shake it myself with things like personal issues and politics even though I can mostly shake it with things considered shameful for religious reasons.
I don't understand your position. You simultaneously say it would be better if Finns did not feel shame over their past, and that you'd be ashamed of them not feeling shame over their past. If it's a good thing, why are you ashamed of it?
I never meant to imply specificity
OK. For future reference, then, it's maybe misleading to pick a particular word, if you're asking a general, non-specific question - particularly if you pick an unusual and specific word. If I ask "what's the Finnish word for turnip?" and you answer, and then I say "oh, but I meant any sort of foodstuff, not turnips specifically", then you're likely to feel a bit mislead!
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
So your real question is "what are the sound-changes from Proto-Uralic to Finnish?", then?
Kind of, but it's not as simple as sound changes individually...
Sound changes collectively are just a collection of individual sound changes. If you know the sound changes, you know how it would have regularly developed (and there's no point asking what irregular developments would have happened - if we knew, they wouldn't be irregular).
and it's not only about this particular etymon, I'd be just as interested in knowing if there was some other word that would've likely filled that concept through semantic shifts.
Certainly, but there's almost no limit to those!

Here's an example: maybe the word for 'shame' could come from "seeing in"?
[Latin in-video > invidia, "envy", and envy is very close to shame. Or how about "flourishing"? Latin invireo > viridus, "green", and English "green" > "envious", and from there to "ashamed"...]




Xonen wrote:
29 May 2020 01:47
Well, I'm not ashamed, and the whole notion strikes me as rather weird. Why should I be ashamed for the actions of a some of the people who lived in this country long before I was even born? It's not like I chose to be born into it or anything. So, this form of shame certainly strikes me as culturally or even ideologically specific.
Obviously we shouldn't be ashamed, but how is it possible to accept without feeling at least some kind of bad feeling that our country has done some fucked up shit? Even if it's not 100% necessarily shame, since it might be I've completely misunderstood the specific concept my whole life and the word for it isn't shame (anymore?), I mean, there's some kind of bad feeling... [:S] [/quote]

Again, this seems just to come down to nationalism, no? Germany has done some 'fucked up shit' too. So has Japan. Do you feel shame about what the Japanese did in WWII? If not, why not? You were no more or less involved in that than you were in what the Finns of that time did.
every time I post a question here, it ends up turning into an argument about something related to the concept but not the linguistic part of it
I'm sorry I wasn't able to answer the linguistic question. I've no idea what the sound-changes from Proto-Uralic to Finnish were. But I don't think that should prohibit me from having an interesting question about the - frankly more important and more interesting - questions you raised tangentially.
Huh... well, it's used in the reconstructions on Starostin's site as a distinct phoneme, admittedly those are older reconstructions so maybe they're not as close to reality as is understood now.
Isn't Starostin a famous lunatic hack? I mean, he reconstructed Uralic to make it fit into Ural-Altaic, and constructed Ural-Altaic so that it would fit into Nostratic, and Nostratic so that it would fit into Borean - so how much can his reconstructions of Uralic be trusted as a fair representation of the limited facts themselves?
Maybe that can be, I don't know. But I'd be uneasy relying on him as my source.
I do still have to make amends for the period in my life when I was into nationalism, but losing interest in Uralic languages can't be a requirement for that... [:S] )

I won't even ask about other words in other languages at least for now because it'd only lead to prolonging the argument since I'd inevitably make a mistake in how I word the questions. I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now for having posted that question in the first place if it's not shame, but it's probably not shame if it no longer even exists in the west.
And now you're doing the Eddying thing - trying to guilt-trip people into not disagreeing with you by pretending that we're bullying you so horribly you can't resist and of course you completely agree with us but don't we see how much we're hurting you. Oh but masters, am I really so guilty that I must be forced to give up my native language in this way!?

Nobody's making you give up your language, nobody's making you give up interest in Uralic languages, nobody's telling you to make amends for any period in your life, this is all just a fantasy of persecution.

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

Post by Dormouse559 »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 20:51
Vlürch wrote:
30 May 2020 18:59
It's strange, yeah, but how can you control your feelings like that?
Could you please cut it out with the 'everyone but me is a heartless monster' business, please?
Salmoneus wrote:
[>_<] Just in my experience I'm not the only Finn who feels ashamed of our country's past, and I assumed everyone who acknowledges that there's some fucked shit in Finland's history would feel like it's a burden on them personally even if the feeling isn't one of collective guilt per se; that's why I thought it's shame, but maybe it's not. Maybe I'm also wrong and only a minority feel anything because of it, in that case I'm even more ashamed of being Finnish than I already am. Ultimately it'd be best if the entire concept of shame ceased to exist, but I can't be optimistic about that because I can't shake it myself with things like personal issues and politics even though I can mostly shake it with things considered shameful for religious reasons.
I don't understand your position. You simultaneously say it would be better if Finns did not feel shame over their past, and that you'd be ashamed of them not feeling shame over their past. If it's a good thing, why are you ashamed of it?
Salmoneus wrote:
I won't even ask about other words in other languages at least for now because it'd only lead to prolonging the argument since I'd inevitably make a mistake in how I word the questions. I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now for having posted that question in the first place if it's not shame, but it's probably not shame if it no longer even exists in the west.
And now you're doing the Eddying thing - trying to guilt-trip people into not disagreeing with you by pretending that we're bullying you so horribly you can't resist and of course you completely agree with us but don't we see how much we're hurting you. Oh but masters, am I really so guilty that I must be forced to give up my native language in this way!?

Time to move on from these lines of conversation (and any similar ones; there's a lot to go through). A reminder that this thread is for quick questions on linguistics and natlangs, so please keep the focus on those topics.

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Post by Xonen »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 May 2020 20:51
Vlürch wrote:
30 May 2020 18:59
It's strange, yeah, but how can you control your feelings like that?
Could you please cut it out with the 'everyone but me is a heartless monster' business, please?
I kind of doubt that was the intended interpretation. Again, benefit of the doubt, and all that.

Most people probably experience some unwelcome feelings about various kinds of stuff, and how one's supposed to learn to deal with them is a perfectly legitimate question, as such. And honestly, I don't know. If one has so deeply internalized nationalistic ideas of belonging to a "country" and being responsible for "its" actions (regardless of any personal connections to the people who were actually taking those actions), then I suppose feeling shame or something akin to it is perfectly natural, and I'm not going to advise anyone on how to control that.

The main problem here, I think, is the assumption that this kind of shame is somehow universal enough to be relevant to a discussion of Proto-Uralic, whose speakers didn't even live in countries... But then, it's not exactly surprising that someone growing up in Finland might internalize quite a bit of nationalistic thinking, so I can sort of see where that might be coming from.

I never meant to imply specificity
OK. For future reference, then, it's maybe misleading to pick a particular word, if you're asking a general, non-specific question - particularly if you pick an unusual and specific word. If I ask "what's the Finnish word for turnip?" and you answer, and then I say "oh, but I meant any sort of foodstuff, not turnips specifically", then you're likely to feel a bit mislead!
To be fair, we're not talking about Finnish, but Proto-Uralic; some vagueness concerning the semantics of a reconstructed word might be expected, especially when talking about abstract concepts. Also, I'm beginning to realize that the English word shame is more specific in meaning than Finnish häpeä. The latter doesn't really strike me as a highly specific concept, and, depending on context, it can also correspond to English words such as dishonor and embarrassment as well.

So perhaps there's a bit of a language barrier issue here. Then again, shame over the past actions of one's country is an extremely specific concept, so maybe not. [¬.¬] In any case, the main objection is still valid: even if we can sort of assume that speakers of Proto-Uralic experienced somewhat similar feelings to us, the way they divided the semantic fields between the words for them probably wouldn't map neatly onto ours (indeed, they don't seem map onto each other even between two modern-day Western languages such as Finnish and English). So the idea that there must have been a word for a concept familiar to us is questionable, to say the least. And since cultural concepts and the nuances surrounding them change over the millennia, so does the vocabulary for them, so it's even less certain that we could ever reconstruct the relevant Proto-Uralic word(s).

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Post by eldin raigmore »

Can someone help me (re) find a/the natlang with the following maximal syllable structure?
One-syllable words: (C)(C)V(C)(C)
Word-initial syllables: (C)(C)V(C)
Word-final syllables: (C)V(C)(C)
Word-internal syllables: (C)V(C)

.....

I remember reading of one somewhere, but I’ve forgotten which one it is. (Maybe there’re more than one?)
I thought it was Polish; but boy, is it ever NOT!

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Post by All4Ɇn »

eldin raigmore wrote:
07 Jun 2020 02:01
I thought it was Polish; but boy, is it ever NOT!
I could be wrong here, but it totally seems to fit in line with the general pattern in Hungarian, which would geographically explain why you thought it was Polish [:D]

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Post by eldin raigmore »

All4Ɇn wrote:
08 Jun 2020 02:55
I could be wrong here, but it totally seems to fit in line with the general pattern in Hungarian, which would geographically explain why you thought it was Polish [:D]
Thank you!
I’ll look into it. I hope you are right!
Even if you’re just sort of close-ish, you might put me on the right track!
Edit: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35134811.pdf says Hungarian does have some word-initial three-consonant clusters.
It also says it has very few word-internal three-consonant clusters, but they are “very special”, and they all span syllable-boundaries.
I may be reading it wrong; but if not, it seems to me to be saying that word-final consonant clusters aren’t longer than two consonants.
So it looks like Hungarian is, indeed, close to what I was asking for!

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Post by All4Ɇn »

eldin raigmore wrote:
08 Jun 2020 05:17
It also says it has very few word-internal three-consonant clusters, but they are “very special”, and they all span syllable-boundaries.
The only exceptions that fit under this that I can think of right now are the name István (which is a borrowing anyhow) and some verbal and nominal endings. What's interesting is some endings insert vowels to keep the pattern while others don't, so for instance: festhet (can paint) does irregularly have 3 internal consonants but festeni (to paint) adds an extra -e- in order to avoid having the 3 consonants next to each other. Virtually all of the examples I saw in the pdf seemed to be loanwords that haven't undergone much nativization. The more I read about this, the more István comes out as a particularly peculiar word. Not only is it far more nativized than the other borrowed terms, it was originally Istefán which fits perfectly in line with Hungarian phonology but for whatever reason is now István!

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Post by Xonen »

eldin raigmore wrote:
08 Jun 2020 05:17
Edit: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35134811.pdf says Hungarian does have some word-initial three-consonant clusters.
I'm quite sure most European languages have those by now... Kind of inevitable when people are highly literate, orthographies are mostly phonemic and new scientific and technological concepts keep getting names derived from Latin and Greek (and pop culture is mostly in English); it's not like "szklerózis" is a particularly typical word under Hungarian phonotactics, but most speakers these days will nonetheless be able to pronounce it exactly as written. Then again, if we exclude recent(-ish) loanwords, Hungarian doesn't really have word-initial clusters at all, AFAIU.

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Post by All4Ɇn »

Xonen wrote:
08 Jun 2020 18:01
Then again, if we exclude recent(-ish) loanwords, Hungarian doesn't really have word-initial clusters at all, AFAIU.
This does in fact seem to be the case too. It's particularly noticeable in the word Görög (Greek). The number of common loanwords with CC initials is however still much higher than those with CCC anywhere in the word.

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Post by eldin raigmore »

Xonen wrote:
08 Jun 2020 18:01
eldin raigmore wrote:
08 Jun 2020 05:17
Edit: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35134811.pdf says Hungarian does have some word-initial three-consonant clusters.
I'm quite sure most European languages have those by now... Kind of inevitable when people are highly literate, orthographies are mostly phonemic and new scientific and technological concepts keep getting names derived from Latin and Greek (and pop culture is mostly in English); it's not like "szklerózis" is a particularly typical word under Hungarian phonotactics, but most speakers these days will nonetheless be able to pronounce it exactly as written. Then again, if we exclude recent(-ish) loanwords, Hungarian doesn't really have word-initial clusters at all, AFAIU.
The paper was concentrating on native (i.e. non-borrowed) non-compound words.

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Post by Xonen »

All4Ɇn wrote:
08 Jun 2020 20:11
Xonen wrote:
08 Jun 2020 18:01
Then again, if we exclude recent(-ish) loanwords, Hungarian doesn't really have word-initial clusters at all, AFAIU.
This does in fact seem to be the case too. It's particularly noticeable in the word Görög (Greek).
There's also words like iskola 'school' - or indeed the aforementioned István – which've kept the cluster but made it non-initial by inserting a prothetic vowel in front.


eldin raigmore wrote:
08 Jun 2020 21:27
Xonen wrote:
08 Jun 2020 18:01
eldin raigmore wrote:
08 Jun 2020 05:17
Edit: https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/35134811.pdf says Hungarian does have some word-initial three-consonant clusters.
I'm quite sure most European languages have those by now... Kind of inevitable when people are highly literate, orthographies are mostly phonemic and new scientific and technological concepts keep getting names derived from Latin and Greek (and pop culture is mostly in English); it's not like "szklerózis" is a particularly typical word under Hungarian phonotactics, but most speakers these days will nonetheless be able to pronounce it exactly as written. Then again, if we exclude recent(-ish) loanwords, Hungarian doesn't really have word-initial clusters at all, AFAIU.
The paper was concentrating on native (i.e. non-borrowed) non-compound words.
Um, which paper? At least the one you're linking to here explicitly says this (page 42):
All the words which begin with consonant clusters are loan words

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

Post by Parlox »

So I've been working on a little conlang alongside my big one, named Celos. It mandatorily marks nouns for person. My question is, do any natlangs do this? When I searched up "person marking on nouns" the closest I got was a WALS chapter on person-marking adpositions.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Person marking on nouns is definitely a thing. The famous example is Sumerian.

But I don't know whether obligatory person marking on nouns is a thing. How obligatory are you talking? If it's just "1st and 2nd are obligatorily marked when the deixis is overt [i.e. not when 3rd peson periphrastic address is being used]", I could go with that... but if there's no zero marking for 3rd person, that seems like a LOT (95% of nouns being obligatorily marked with the same non-zero suffix?).

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

Post by Parlox »

Salmoneus wrote:
09 Jun 2020 01:48
Person marking on nouns is definitely a thing. The famous example is Sumerian.

But I don't know whether obligatory person marking on nouns is a thing. How obligatory are you talking? If it's just "1st and 2nd are obligatorily marked when the deixis is overt [i.e. not when 3rd peson periphrastic address is being used]", I could go with that... but if there's no zero marking for 3rd person, that seems like a LOT (95% of nouns being obligatorily marked with the same non-zero suffix?).
In Celos nouns always mark for the 1st and 2nd person, while the 3rd person is assumed. It isn't obligatory per say, but if a speaker were to say "The man is me, I killed him" without a person marker it'd literally be "The man killed him". Of course this could be fixed simply with pronouns, but whats the point when you can indicate the person of a noun with one simple marker.

Basically, it's not mandatory but generally expected and not doing it can lead to confusion among speakers.
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  • :con: Yaponese, an isolated language in Japan.
  • :con: Mothaukan, crazy tonal language.

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Important edit: huh. Apparently... now... Sumerian didn't have person marking on nouns? Just plain old possessives? I could have sworn I'd read repeatedly that it had person marking...

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Parlox wrote:
09 Jun 2020 01:53
Salmoneus wrote:
09 Jun 2020 01:48
Person marking on nouns is definitely a thing. The famous example is Sumerian.

But I don't know whether obligatory person marking on nouns is a thing. How obligatory are you talking? If it's just "1st and 2nd are obligatorily marked when the deixis is overt [i.e. not when 3rd peson periphrastic address is being used]", I could go with that... but if there's no zero marking for 3rd person, that seems like a LOT (95% of nouns being obligatorily marked with the same non-zero suffix?).
In Celos nouns always mark for the 1st and 2nd person, while the 3rd person is assumed. It isn't obligatory per say, but if a speaker were to say "The man is me, I killed him" without a person marker it'd literally be "The man killed him". Of course this could be fixed simply with pronouns, but whats the point when you can indicate the person of a noun with one simple marker.

Basically, it's not mandatory but generally expected and not doing it can lead to confusion among speakers.
This seems like something that could absolutely exist... but, per my last post, I can no longer confirm it. Anyone else have an example of a language where 'nominal person marking' doesn't just mean a possessive?

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

Post by Pabappa »

Sal, you may be thinking of Elamite, not Sumerian. Elamite has person marking on animate nouns. It also has pronouns .... I believe you have to still use a pronoun even when youre marking the noun ... e.g. I dont think you can say "doctor-1p pill-ACC prescribe-PAST" for "I, the doctor, prescribed you a pill".
Parlox wrote:
09 Jun 2020 01:06
So I've been working on a little conlang alongside my big one, named Celos. It mandatorily marks nouns for person. My question is, do any natlangs do this? When I searched up "person marking on nouns" the closest I got was a WALS chapter on person-marking adpositions.
My main conlang, Poswa, also marks person on nouns and I can assure you it works just fine. What works for me may not work for you though, because the grammar of Poswa is different in many other ways as well. For one thing, the person-marked nouns are mostly used as standalone sentences, e.g. from the stem /sittut-/ "doctor" I can say Sittuto! "I'm a doctor".

A less common use of person-marked nouns in Poswa is to use them as the head of a clause, e.g. sittuto pappabosebebi "I, a doctor, prescribed you a pill". Poswa needs to be able to this because it entirely lacks pronouns and also entirely lacks relativizing conjunctions such as English "that/which/what" etc. So Poswa is not like Elamite at all, and following my lead may not make sense if youre not planning to reject or at least minimize the use of pronouns.

If you decide to do this, you can still *also* have a second set of person markers on nouns to indicate possession. e.g. to use Poswa again, because its all I know, sittufo means "my doctor" because the stem change of /t/ > /f/ indicates that this 2nd set of person markers is being used. For some nouns, the two sets of person markers are the same, e.g. žopo can be parsed as meaning either "I am a limestone" or "my limestone", but since the first sentence will only ever be used metaphorically, this is no problem. It happens that most of the nouns where the two sets of person markers collide are inanimates, and therefore there is little confusion to be had.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

Parlox wrote:
09 Jun 2020 01:53
In Celos nouns always mark for the 1st and 2nd person, while the 3rd person is assumed. It isn't obligatory per say, but if a speaker were to say "The man is me, I killed him" without a person marker it'd literally be "The man killed him". Of course this could be fixed simply with pronouns, but whats the point when you can indicate the person of a noun with one simple marker.
So basically, something along the lines of 'this man killed him' to say 'I killed him', where ""this"" is a 1st person affix marker... I don't know about natlang attestations, but I like it.
Pabappa wrote:
09 Jun 2020 02:54
Sal, you may be thinking of Elamite, not Sumerian. Elamite has person marking on animate nouns. It also has pronouns .... I believe you have to still use a pronoun even when youre marking the noun ... e.g. I dont think you can say "doctor-1p pill-ACC prescribe-PAST" for "I, the doctor, prescribed you a pill".
Do you know details on how that person marking is used in Elamite?
hīc sunt linguificēs. hēr bēoþ tungemakeras.

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