Today I learned ...

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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Today I learned that that French "on" derives from the nominative meaning 'man' while "homme" derives from the accusative. Thus "on" has a very similar history to Germanic "man". I had thought it was related to "un" and similar to English "one".

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Ser
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Ser »

Omzinesý wrote:
01 Dec 2019 12:03
Today I learned that that French "on" derives from the nominative meaning 'man' while "homme" derives from the accusative. Thus "on" has a very similar history to Germanic "man". I had thought it was related to "un" and similar to English "one".
I was very surprised when I read about that years ago, especially because I knew both Spanish and English when I started studying French, and both the English high-register pronoun one and the Spanish mostly spoken, low-register pronoun uno/una are used in some similar ways to French on.

Italian has a fun, very conservative descendant: singular uomo, plural uomini.
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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Kechua really has this simple possession construction. It basically just sais: 'Your children don't exist.'
I've always thought that the possessor and the possessed cannot form one NP because they are separate entities in the information structure. Kechua however has a special topic marker. So maybe word order is not that important for information structure then.
I though didn't find an example with a full noun as the possessor.

Mana wambrayki kanchu.
mana wambra-yki ka-n-chu
no child-2 be-3-neg
‘You don’thavechildren.'

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alynnidalar
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by alynnidalar »

Ser wrote:
03 Dec 2019 07:56
Italian has a fun, very conservative descendant: singular uomo, plural uomini.
Proof positive I'm a linguistics nerd: I made an audible "oooh!" sound when reading this. (luckily my coworkers did not notice; I don't think they'd understand!)

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Aszev »

The other day I learned that it is typologically very ususual for languages to mark person on verbs while also having obligatory subject pronouns. According to Haspelmath (2001), this is over-represented in major European languages, making it seem more 'normal' than it actually is. In Europe it occurs in a northwestern cluster of Welsh-Germanic-French as well as in Russian (the latter being a semi-case, as it doesn't mark person in the past tense).

I find it interesting to note that the person agreement system in all of the northwestern languages are in decline since way back, currently show a lot of syncretism, and will probably be eroded completely in the future (as has already happened in mainland Scandinavian). I take it to imply that the current system is a sort of intermediary between a more complete pro-drop system (with no or minimal syncretism between endings) and a system where only pronouns mark person.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Salmoneus »

Yes.

Intuitively, it's because, as the verbal desinences decline in distinctness (and eventually merge), pronoun use, which was once optional, gradually becomes more and more obligatory, to prevent misunderstandings (which, in turn, reduces the need to innovate new desinences as the old ones become less useful).

The alternative - pronouns become more common, and then as a result the desinences become less distinct - would be much more interesting, and therefore less likely. However, I don't know the actual details of when things happened in reality, and of course Welsh and French are also heavily influenced by Germanic, so...


[at least in French, I think it's certainly the case that independent pronoun use in Latin was relatively sparse. However, either the growth of pronouns or the decline of verbal agreement could be the result of Germanic, so...]

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Zekoslav »

Even though I have a master's degree in French, I shamefully transmit what I read on another forum rather than what I learned in my studies here: apparently increased, although not obligatory use of subject pronouns in Old French precedes the erosion of personal endings. So there might have been Germanic influence there rather than a simple consequence of the erosion of personal endings.
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Aszev »

My impression is that syncretism precedes obligatory pronouns, but that it really doesn't seem to take that much to trigger this development -- certainly not a lot more than we find in pro-drop languages where there is no indication of pronouns becoming obligatory.

In the Germanic languages, overt subject pronouns appear to have become common while syncretism was mostly limited to 1s and 3s forms in the past tense of strong verbs, and, probably more importantly, the present tense of some common auxiliaries (e.g. can, shall, know). That's not all too unlike present-day Spanish, where you have syncretism between 1s and 3s in the imperfect of regular verbs (or indeed in the plurperfect auxiliary haber).

It seems likely that both French and Welsh would have been influenced by Germanic, the geography seems too perfect for them not to have been. But a quick glance at Old French conjugation patterns does show some syncretism that could have formed a basis for futher development. The most eye-catching to me is the 1s and 2s of ir-verbs (fenir 'end' -> je/tu fenis).


Above all, my strongest reaction to reading about this was that it is so limited to Europe. Surely there must have been several cases of loss of person agreement on verbs globally? But yet this intermediary stage of obligatory pronouns + defective agreement is really rare.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Zekoslav »

I got the same hunch about French, and the -ir pattern is actually a regular, productive (although not very productive) pattern which eventually drew all irregular verbs to itself. The result is that 1sg = 2sg syncretism became regular for -ir, -oir and -re verbs.

Another interesting case, which might be similar to the Russian one you mentioned (although I don't know enough Russian to verify), is the conditional mood in colloquial and dialectal Croatian. The conditional mood was originally marked by a special conjugated form of the verb 'to be' descending from the PIE optative followed by the perfect active participle, but as this was morphologically isolated it tended to be reshaped in various ways. One common way is to turn it into a non-conjugated particle bi. Croatian is pro-drop and this leads to ambiguities in the conditional mood. Often no pronouns are used anyway and there's context to disambiguate, but not uncommonly pronouns are used in the conditional mood where they would be highly unusual in other TAM categories. I assume the same is true for Russian past tense. So in this case/these cases syncretism indeed precedes obligatory pronouns, but they remain limited to a particular TAM category.
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Ser
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Ser »

Zekoslav wrote:
16 Jan 2020 17:51
Even though I have a master's degree in French, I shamefully transmit what I read on another forum rather than what I learned in my studies here: apparently increased, although not obligatory use of subject pronouns in Old French precedes the erosion of personal endings. So there might have been Germanic influence there rather than a simple consequence of the erosion of personal endings.
Considering that many if not most East Asian and Southeast Asian languages are pro-drop while having no subject agreement in verbs (even in subordinate sentences with a different subject: "want finish project" can mean 'I want you to finish the project'), maybe a greater probability could've been given for Germanic influence. [:)] Maybe Old French could've remained pro-drop like the rest of Romance while having its verbal subject agreement eroded, although admittedly that's less likely when your sprachbund is northwestern Europe, but who knows.

Talking about weirdly conserving old features in spite of ambiguity, I recently learned that the Old French oblique case not only retained preposition-less genitive uses as it is well known (oes Charlon < opus Carol-ōnem 'Charlemagne's profit'), but less commonly also bare dative uses (normally replaced by a and par), and in fossilized phrases even some ablative ones.

Bare obliques occur in verbal indirect objects:
- Ne ben ne mal ne respunt sun nevuld 'He replies to his nephew neither well nor badly' (Chanson de Roland)
- Ne le dirai ne fame ne home 'I will not tell this to either women or men' (Eustache d'Amiens, Le Boucher d'Abbeville)
- Le roi le mostra son segnor 'She made a remark to the king about his own lord' (Le Laï de Graelent)
- Mandez Carlun, al orguillus & al fier 'Send [a message] to Charlemagne, that proud and arrogant man' (Chanson de Roland, note the prepositional appositions!)

In other words, the bare dative in Si Dieu plaist 'God willing' is not actually archaic grammar, or at least not quite.

The ablative uses seem to have been limited to very particular expressions like tante mare 'unfortunately' (< Lat. tantā malā horā) and grant erre 'fast, quickly' (< Lat. grande(m) + iter, also spelled oirre, variants bon erre and bel erre). I suspect this might ultimately be the motivation behind the modern French adverbials (faire qqch) les yeux fermés '(to do sth) with confidence' and (dormir) les yeux ouverts '(to sleep) with one's eyes open', but interestingly, it appears that these two expressions are only attested in Old French with the preposition a (aux yeulx ouvers, a yeux clos, and other variants).
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Ser
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Ser »

I was thinking about my recent mention of French la foire, a vulgar word for 'diarrhea' (another such word is la chiasse), when I realized that Salvadoran Spanish also has a couple vulgar words for "diarrhea": la churria and la churrutaca (which I imagine are partly chosen for their sound symbolism), and, less obscenely, there's also el pringapié and el curso. (I'd say pringapié has some folksy connotations, but curso is very common, to the point of being practically a register-neutral term.)

This made me wonder if English had any such words. I don't think North American English does? But I found that people in the UK can say "the squits". Does anyone use "the trots" and does it have any vulgar or obscene connotations?
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VaptuantaDoi
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Re: Today I learned ...

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Ser wrote:
17 Jan 2020 23:46
This made me wonder if English had any such words. I don't think North American English does? But I found that people in the UK can say "the squits". Does anyone use "the trots" and does it have any vulgar or obscene connotations?
I've occasionally heard "the trots," but it's a very mild term. A more vulgar one would be "the shits." I've also heard "the runs," "the skitters / squitters" and probably a few others based on "squits ~ squirts," as well as adjectives like "squitty." Also humorously "the brown rain."

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Dormouse559
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Dormouse559 »

Last night I figured out how to count on my fingers in binary. It may not be the best idea to do it in public, because you'd end up flipping people off every few numbers. 132, in particular, causes you to hold up both middle fingers. Meanwhile, 17 will help you get along with surfers.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Shemtov »

That non-official hiragana are called hentaigana, though the Kanji read tai is different from the one in Hentai "pervert"
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KaiTheHomoSapien
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

I'd never heard of a Chinese state called "E" before, but here it is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_(state)

Man, the elision that occurred in Mandarin is just crazy. Original "ngak" becomes "e". The other dialects retain pronunciations more like the original.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Evni Öpiu-sä »

Today I learned to pronounce a few more pieces of IPA.
:fin: - C2
:eng: - ranges from A2 to B2
:swe: - ranges from A1 to A2

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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

Long vowels in Baltic languages derive from V+nasal.
Lithuanian marks them with a hook <ę> while Latvian marks them with a nasal line <ē>. Both letters also derive from how nasals used to be written.

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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by WeepingElf »

Omzinesý wrote:
29 Feb 2020 14:56
Long vowels in Baltic languages derive from V+nasal.
Lithuanian marks them with a hook <ę> while Latvian marks them with a nasal line <ē>. Both letters also derive from how nasals used to be written.
Not all long vowels in Baltic languages derive from VN groups, though; some in Lithuanian do so, and the ogonek indeed marked nasality quite recently, as it still does in Polish. I don't know of any such development in Latvian, and the line above long vowel letters in Latvian is a macron, not a tilde. It marks length and has always done so, and never marked nasality. (The Greek word makron means 'long'.) Rather, it is such that Baltic never lost the vowel length distinction it had inherited from Late PIE.
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Omzinesý
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Omzinesý »

WeepingElf wrote:
29 Feb 2020 18:08
Omzinesý wrote:
29 Feb 2020 14:56
Long vowels in Baltic languages derive from V+nasal.
Lithuanian marks them with a hook <ę> while Latvian marks them with a nasal line <ē>. Both letters also derive from how nasals used to be written.
Not all long vowels in Baltic languages derive from VN groups, though; some in Lithuanian do so, and the ogonek indeed marked nasality quite recently, as it still does in Polish. I don't know of any such development in Latvian, and the line above long vowel letters in Latvian is a macron, not a tilde. It marks length and has always done so, and never marked nasality. (The Greek word makron means 'long'.) Rather, it is such that Baltic never lost the vowel length distinction it had inherited from Late PIE.
A line on a vowel marked what is written with n not even a nasal vowel in some old orthographies. Maybe this is rather what I suppose. I must check again.

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Ser
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Re: Today I learned ...

Post by Ser »

Omzinesý wrote:
29 Feb 2020 23:01
A line on a vowel marked what is written with n not even a nasal vowel in some old orthographies. Maybe this is rather what I suppose. I must check again.
Yes, this was the case in various orthographies around the 13th century. You definitely see this in Old Spanish and Old French, e.g. OSp /ˈantes/ could be written <ãtes> (with ~ on the <a>) or <antes>.
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