(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 Sequor »

Yeah, Vulgar Latin can refer to a large number of dialects in space and time. In fact, specifically among the kind of scholars who write etymological dictionaries, "Vulgar Latin" can even be contemporaneous with Early Medieval Latin, as in, the 8th century. I can't think of a good example right now, but there are Spanish words in Coromines and Pascual's etymological dictionary which they say are only attested in Ibero-Romance, and nevertheless they give a "Vulgar Latin" reconstructed term for them... In other words, there is no evidence of the words having existed in other areas of Romance, but nevertheless the label "Vulgar Latin" is applied to the reconstructed Ibero-Romance terms.

Paul Lloyd's 1979 paper "On the definition of Vulgar Latin" gives an amusing 13-item list regarding how the term has been actually used:
1. the direct descendant of Classical Latin: Classical Latin > Vulgar Latin
2. a direct descendant of Classical Latin, emphasizing its parallel existence to Ecclesiastical (or Late) Latin
3. a direct descendant of Old Latin, coexisting with Classical Latin
4. equivalent to "popular" Latin, the Latin of the average people, particularly inferior social classes
5. lower-class Latin, spoken by plebeians
6. "uneducated" Latin
7. middle-class Latin, as opposed to both Classical Latin, and low-class and rural Latin (sermo plebeius, sermo rusticus)
8. ancient colloquial slang, therefore limiting the term to lexical concerns
9. spoken Latin of any sort, as opposed to written Latin
10. "vanished" Latin, i.e. terms reconstructible from Romance (e.g. *excorrigere > Spanish escurrir (in the specific sense of 'to go out to say goodbye'), Old Italian scorgere 'to escort, guide'), therefore limiting the term to lexical concerns
11. the Latin of the non-Roman inhabitants of the Roman Empire
12. Latin reconstructed from Romance languages (and not just in terms of the lexicon)
13. "diasystem" Latin, "a collective construct formed by combining many varieties of Latin, but designating the actual speech to no one"

A quote from the paper:
Since almost everyone who has ever taken the trouble to examine the many definitions that have been devised for "Vulgar Latin" has come to the conclusion that it is inherently ambiguous and contradictory, its persistence in scholarly writings is truly amazing.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Sequor wrote: 20 Dec 2021 22:33 Yeah, Vulgar Latin can refer to a large number of dialects in space and time. In fact, specifically among the kind of scholars who write etymological dictionaries, "Vulgar Latin" can even be contemporaneous with Early Medieval Latin, as in, the 8th century. I can't think of a good example right now, but there are Spanish words in Coromines and Pascual's etymological dictionary which they say are only attested in Ibero-Romance, and nevertheless they give a "Vulgar Latin" reconstructed term for them... In other words, there is no evidence of the words having existed in other areas of Romance, but nevertheless the label "Vulgar Latin" is applied to the reconstructed Ibero-Romance terms.
That doesn't have any dating implications, though, does it? After all, even if you limit 'Vulgar Latin' to some specific timeframe, it's entirely possible that a certain word was spoken in Vulgar Latin, but was lost in dialects outside Iberia; or, conversely, that it was only ever spoken in the local dialect in Iberia. Even if, for comparison, 'Modern English' were defined as including the 21st century, the fact that 29th century Amerenglish languages have a reflex of "garbage" whereas Britican languages don't wouldn't preclude us from saying that 'rubbish' was a word in Modern English - there'd be no need to assume it had to have arisen independently in Amerenglish only after the Great Schism of the 23rd century (when Briticans were abducted en masse and taken to Rigel, ensuring a split between the two language families).

Indeed, conceptually, any Spanish word that's not a loanword, or a rare de novo creation (onomatopoeia or the like) must be descended from a word in Vulgar Latin - a word that Latin speakers spoke.
Since almost everyone who has ever taken the trouble to examine the many definitions that have been devised for "Vulgar Latin" has come to the conclusion that it is inherently ambiguous and contradictory, its persistence in scholarly writings is truly amazing.
I think that's just because although there may be some debate over the edges of the definition, the core of its meaning is clear and useful. People who find Roman inscriptions that aren't written in classical latin need some word to call what they've found!
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

Thanks for the detailed and thorough answers! [:D] Good to know that the lack of (sibilant affricated) palatalisation is naturalistic enough to not need some weird handwave (even if IRL only one dialect of one natlang avoided it), and it'll still count as a Romlang regardless. But it's also interesting to learn that the whole topic of Latin, Vulgar Latin, Proto-Romance and Romance languages is so complex and that there's a lot that isn't known for certain and/or in detail about Latin, while some other things are known in so much detail. Makes sense but I never thought about it in any detail.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

How can we tell apart a syllabic consonant and a similar coda consonant?
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Post by Creyeditor »

If there is a preceding vowel in the same syllable it's definitely a coda consonant.
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Post by Omzinesý »

Creyeditor wrote: 25 Dec 2021 01:56 If there is a preceding vowel in the same syllable it's definitely a coda consonant.
But I mean

VC.CV
vs.
V.C.CV
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Post by Creyeditor »

I think the first option is generally more common, but eventually this has to be answered on a language specific basis. If the language only allows open syllables the second option might be possible. It is important to note that syllable structure is abstract and cannot be measured easily. Instead, language-specific phonological and phonetic processes provide evidence for syllable structure.

Also, aren't syllables of the type .CCC. more interesting, because different consonants could be syllabic? In a way cCc vs. ccC vs. Ccc, where capital letters are syllabic consonants? German has such syllables like the second syllable of nieseln /ni:.zln/.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

Mostly consonantal syllables are unstressed.
Mostly consonantal syllables don’t have onset clusters nor coda clusters.
Mostly consonantal syllables don’t have both an onset and a coda.
Most consonantal syllables are at most two phonemes long.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Are any of those things true? When I think of languages famously rich in syllabic consonants - Berber, Bella Coola - those are languages that are also rich in onset clusters and codas.

On the general point: If you have a sequence CVCCV, I think you'd have to work very hard to convince anyone to syllabise it CV.C.CV. But it's possible. Generally you'd either be looking at suprasegmental factors - syllable breaks can influence VOT, tone, amplitude, pause locations, timing, vowel length and so on - in order to show that phonologically this looked a lot like a syllable break, or else you'd be looking a more abstract phonosyntactic generalisations in the language to show that they could be explained more simply by assuming a syllable break (eg, you might want to say "this one consonant can be syllabic" rather than "CVC syllables are possible but only with this one random coda consonant" and the like). Although some of the phonotactic motivations are shortcircuited by the concept of morae, since morae basically exist to explain why some rules respond to syllable-like units that don't actually line up with suprasegmental indicators of syllabic breaks...
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Post by Backstroke_Italics »

eldin raigmore wrote: 25 Dec 2021 17:59 Mostly consonantal syllables are unstressed.
Mostly consonantal syllables don’t have onset clusters nor coda clusters.
Mostly consonantal syllables don’t have both an onset and a coda.
Most consonantal syllables are at most two phonemes long.
In American English, the word "word" violates three of those, and "blurred" and "curved" violate the second one. You can even have multisyllabic words with no vowels at all, as in "burden."
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Post by Creyeditor »

Exceptions are not an argument against statistical tendencies. The burden of proof is of course not on you, though.
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Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote: 25 Dec 2021 21:04 On the general point: If you have a sequence CVCCV, I think you'd have to work very hard to convince anyone to syllabise it CV.C.CV. But it's possible. Generally you'd either be looking at suprasegmental factors - syllable breaks can influence VOT, tone, amplitude, pause locations, timing, vowel length and so on - in order to show that phonologically this looked a lot like a syllable break,
OK, seems plausible.
The concept of syllable is very language specific but seems to be intuitive emic.
Salmoneus wrote: 25 Dec 2021 21:04 or else you'd be looking a more abstract phonosyntactic generalisations in the language to show that they could be explained more simply by assuming a syllable break (eg, you might want to say "this one consonant can be syllabic" rather than "CVC syllables are possible but only with this one random coda consonant" and the like).
I'm usually sceptical with such abstract and diachritically motivated analyses (like: this vowel is actually a diphthong because it cannot be followed by a coda like monophthongs) but, yes, they can make analyses elegant.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Omzinesý wrote: 26 Dec 2021 18:43 I'm usually sceptical with such abstract and diachritically motivated analyses (like: this vowel is actually a diphthong because it cannot be followed by a coda like monophthongs) but, yes, they can make analyses elegant.
I would suggest seeing this sort of thing less as a metaphysical claim that X 'is actually' or 'is really' Y, and more just as a descriptive claim that 'X appears in many regards to be treated in this language as part of Class Y', where 'Class Y' called that because most of its members are Ys. This means you don't have to posit any ontologically perplexing linguistic entities, or entertain the notion that speakers are befuddled by the veil of maya and know not the true natures of linguistic things in themselves, but only have to accept that rules apply to classes that may sometimes have non-intuitive (or even inconsistent) memberships. Aristotle over Plato, as it were.

Unfortunately a lot of linguists of the more formalist kind do fall into the bad habit of speaking in the Platonic way, but that's just because they don't really think much about what they're saying or its implications, not because that sort of ideological commitment is actually necessary...
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Post by Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote: 27 Dec 2021 00:26
Omzinesý wrote: 26 Dec 2021 18:43 I'm usually sceptical with such abstract and diachritically motivated analyses (like: this vowel is actually a diphthong because it cannot be followed by a coda like monophthongs) but, yes, they can make analyses elegant.
I would suggest seeing this sort of thing less as a metaphysical claim that X 'is actually' or 'is really' Y, and more just as a descriptive claim that 'X appears in many regards to be treated in this language as part of Class Y', where 'Class Y' called that because most of its members are Ys. This means you don't have to posit any ontologically perplexing linguistic entities, or entertain the notion that speakers are befuddled by the veil of maya and know not the true natures of linguistic things in themselves, but only have to accept that rules apply to classes that may sometimes have non-intuitive (or even inconsistent) memberships. Aristotle over Plato, as it were.

Unfortunately a lot of linguists of the more formalist kind do fall into the bad habit of speaking in the Platonic way, but that's just because they don't really think much about what they're saying or its implications, not because that sort of ideological commitment is actually necessary...
I agree with you very much. I think there is no such thing as real phoneme analysis. There are just more useful phoneme analyses.
I would, however, draw a distinction between elegant and useful phoneme analysis. An elegant analysis is simple in formal terms (fewer rules) while useful analyses is simple to understand (simple concepts and intuitive rules). Of course, usefulness depends on who you are trying to describe things for. If a language can be described without the concept of syllabic vowel, it should (usually) be described without it.
But I think you already gave examples when it cannot be avoided (tone, amplitude ...).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Vlürch »

When did Persian /ɑː/ become rounded? Less importantly, why? I know the latter can only be speculated on, but... eh.

The impression I get is confusing, since in Classical Persian it was apparently still unrounded and Persian loanwords in most languages borrowed /ɑː/ as unrounded, so it had to be a fairly late development. On the other hand, though, it's (usually) accepted that Uzbek /*ɑ/ became rounded under Persian influence. I know Uzbek continued having Tajik influence after the Persian influence on Hindustani and other languages dwindled down, and the line between Persian and Tajik is kinda arbitrary, but like... I can't find anything about when /ɑː/ became rounded and why.

The closest I can find is this paper, which only talks about the rounding of /*ɑ/ in Tajik, which it says happened under Uzbek influence... but how can the rounding of Tajik /*ɑ/ have happened under Uzbek influence if the rounding of Uzbek /*ɑ/ happened under Tajik influence?! I mean, Uzbek was naturally most heavily influenced by the Persian dialect that became Tajik, so the implication is... what exactly? That Uzbeks time travelled to the future, where Persian /ɑː/ had become rounded, then travelled back in time to induce that very rounding in the first place????🤔

I guess it must've happened before the divergence between Persian, Dari and Tajik since they all have rounded /*ɑː/ to some degree, right? Some say the divergence point was already in/after the Middle Persian period, which would logically mean the rounding began in the 9th or 10th century or something. I find that hard to believe, since all languages except Uzbek borrowed Classical Persian /ɑː/ as unrounded AFAIK. Unless, of course, the rounding wasn't considered a distinctive enough feature and that's why it was borrowed unrounded...?

And yeah, obviously I'm asking for conlanging purposes. Still working on that Persian-influenced Romlang, and I'd want it to have the same /æ/ vs /ɒː/ contrast that Persian has but I'm not sure if that's at all naturalistic if that shift in Persian happened very recently. [>_<]
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Post by Davush »

Vlürch wrote: 03 Jan 2022 15:07 When did Persian /ɑː/ become rounded? Less importantly, why? I know the latter can only be speculated on, but... eh.
I can't answer regarding the timing of the Persian shift, but rounding (and often raising) of /ɑ:/ is very common (it even raises to /u:/ in some environments in Tehrani Farsi I think). This type of shift also happened/is happening in a lot of Semitic, the Canaanite shift had /a:/ > /o~ɔ:/ (likely via /ɑ:/ I assume), various Aramaic varieties had /a:/ > /ɑ:/ > /o(:)/, and Gulf Arabic (particularly in Bahrain/the Southern half of the Gulf) have /a:/ > /ɑ:/ > /ɒː/, essentially giving these dialects an /æ ɒː/ contrast like Persian (actually makes me wonder if this was partly influenced by Persian). So I suppose the answer as to why is simply that vowels tend to shift around a lot...Even if the shift happened late in Persian, rounding occurring independently in your conlang certainly wouldn't be unusual given the precedents.
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Post by Salmoneus »

Vlürch wrote: 03 Jan 2022 15:07 When did Persian /ɑː/ become rounded? Less importantly, why? I know the latter can only be speculated on, but... eh.

The impression I get is confusing, since in Classical Persian it was apparently still unrounded and Persian loanwords in most languages borrowed /ɑː/ as unrounded, so it had to be a fairly late development. On the other hand, though, it's (usually) accepted that Uzbek /*ɑ/ became rounded under Persian influence. I know Uzbek continued having Tajik influence after the Persian influence on Hindustani and other languages dwindled down, and the line between Persian and Tajik is kinda arbitrary, but like... I can't find anything about when /ɑː/ became rounded and why.

The closest I can find is this paper, which only talks about the rounding of /*ɑ/ in Tajik, which it says happened under Uzbek influence... but how can the rounding of Tajik /*ɑ/ have happened under Uzbek influence if the rounding of Uzbek /*ɑ/ happened under Tajik influence?! I mean, Uzbek was naturally most heavily influenced by the Persian dialect that became Tajik, so the implication is... what exactly? That Uzbeks time travelled to the future, where Persian /ɑː/ had become rounded, then travelled back in time to induce that very rounding in the first place????🤔
It's possible that there is disagreement which language influenced which.

It is also possible that rounding occured in one Persian dialect first, which spread to adjacent languages before it had managed to spread to the central standard of Persian itself.
I guess it must've happened before the divergence between Persian, Dari and Tajik since they all have rounded /*ɑː/ to some degree, right? Some say the divergence point was already in/after the Middle Persian period, which would logically mean the rounding began in the 9th or 10th century or something. I find that hard to believe, since all languages except Uzbek borrowed Classical Persian /ɑː/ as unrounded AFAIK. Unless, of course, the rounding wasn't considered a distinctive enough feature and that's why it was borrowed unrounded...?
In particular, if your native language doesn't have a rounded low back vowel, there's a good chance that you're going to replace that with some vowel sound that you DO have when you borrow words that feature it.
And yeah, obviously I'm asking for conlanging purposes. Still working on that Persian-influenced Romlang, and I'd want it to have the same /æ/ vs /ɒː/ contrast that Persian has but I'm not sure if that's at all naturalistic if that shift in Persian happened very recently. [>_<]
This is an INCREDIBLY common sound change. Another example would be English - at least twice. Once in Germanic (which is why we have 'mother' and not 'mather'), and then again in middle (modern?) English (which is why we have 'stone' and not 'steen').

That's even before you factor in the apparent areal affect...
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Davush wrote: 04 Jan 2022 01:06I can't answer regarding the timing of the Persian shift, but rounding (and often raising) of /ɑ:/ is very common (it even raises to /u:/ in some environments in Tehrani Farsi I think). This type of shift also happened/is happening in a lot of Semitic, the Canaanite shift had /a:/ > /o~ɔ:/ (likely via /ɑ:/ I assume), various Aramaic varieties had /a:/ > /ɑ:/ > /o(:)/, and Gulf Arabic (particularly in Bahrain/the Southern half of the Gulf) have /a:/ > /ɑ:/ > /ɒː/, essentially giving these dialects an /æ ɒː/ contrast like Persian (actually makes me wonder if this was partly influenced by Persian). So I suppose the answer as to why is simply that vowels tend to shift around a lot...Even if the shift happened late in Persian, rounding occurring independently in your conlang certainly wouldn't be unusual given the precedents.
Ooh. I'd only heard about that shift in Bahraini Arabic before (exactly in the context of Persian influence) but didn't even remember about that, but especially if it's actually more widespread, then it's definitely naturalistic enough to not need some additional justification/handwave. Thanks! [:)]
Salmoneus wrote: 04 Jan 2022 03:11It's possible that there is disagreement which language influenced which.
It's interesting because I'd always heard it was just Persian influence, but it would make sense especially if it was something like a mutual reinforcement of a thing that had already started in both. It'd still be interesting to know when and where it began in the first place, but I guess that's something that's not exactly clear then.
Salmoneus wrote: 04 Jan 2022 03:11It is also possible that rounding occured in one Persian dialect first, which spread to adjacent languages before it had managed to spread to the central standard of Persian itself.
Hmm, that makes sense. So the rounding of /ɑː/ spreading in Persian would've been kinda similar to how Dari is apparently in the process of merging /eː oː/ with /iː uː/ like already happened in Iranian Persian, according to that same paper I linked.
Salmoneus wrote: 04 Jan 2022 03:11In particular, if your native language doesn't have a rounded low back vowel, there's a good chance that you're going to replace that with some vowel sound that you DO have when you borrow words that feature it.
True, and I guess it's my own weird bias of perceiving the roundness as a huge defining feature of [ɒː] that made me assume it would've more likely been borrowed as /ɔː/ in Hindustani if it had already been rounded... but actually Finnish has also borrowed Persian [ɒː] as /ɑː/ or even just short /ɑ/ so it doesn't seem like the rounding is the important factor in general (although in Finnish they've been filtered through English or Swedish (at least in most cases)), and it does sound more like /ɑː/ than /oː/ to my ears too so I'm not even sure why I thought/think that. Maybe just knowing it's rounded...
Salmoneus wrote: 04 Jan 2022 03:11This is an INCREDIBLY common sound change. Another example would be English - at least twice. Once in Germanic (which is why we have 'mother' and not 'mather'), and then again in middle (modern?) English (which is why we have 'stone' and not 'steen').
Somehow it never occurred to me that the Proto-Germanic rounding was a "thing", which now that you point it out is so obvious, but somehow I never thought about it. I never knew about the second rounding... well, I mean, obviously I knew in practice because I pronounce that rounding myself, but that it was actually a sound change that happened because I really don't know enough about Germanic languages in general. [:$]
Salmoneus wrote: 04 Jan 2022 03:11That's even before you factor in the apparent areal affect...
So it's totally naturalistic enough. Thanks! [:)]
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Post by Salmoneus »

Vlürch wrote: 05 Jan 2022 18:14 Hmm, that makes sense. So the rounding of /ɑː/ spreading in Persian would've been kinda similar to how Dari is apparently in the process of merging /eː oː/ with /iː uː/ like already happened in Iranian Persian, according to that same paper I linked.
One thing we often overlook is that sound changes take time to spread through a language, and that in many ways a major language is like a family of related languages: changes can happen at significantly different times in different dialects, or sociolects. This can sometimes lead to surprising results when a certain sociolect has been hidden from view all along!
True, and I guess it's my own weird bias of perceiving the roundness as a huge defining feature of [ɒː] that made me assume it would've more likely been borrowed as /ɔː/ in Hindustani if it had already been rounded... but actually Finnish has also borrowed Persian [ɒː] as /ɑː/ or even just short /ɑ/ so it doesn't seem like the rounding is the important factor in general (although in Finnish they've been filtered through English or Swedish (at least in most cases)), and it does sound more like /ɑː/ than /oː/ to my ears too so I'm not even sure why I thought/think that. Maybe just knowing it's rounded...
Rounding doesn't seem to be that salient back there, and rounding and derounding across time and between languages seems fairly common. Americans, for instance, just furiously deround every damn low vowel they come across. [PALM? No rounding. LOT? No rounding. CLOTH? No rounding. CAUGHT? No rounding! (yes, I know that's not all Americans, but...)]
(PALM is of course also unrounded here too, but historically it was /aw/, and I wouldn't be surprised if it went through a /Q:/ stage before ending up at /A:/.)
Somehow it never occurred to me that the Proto-Germanic rounding was a "thing", which now that you point it out is so obvious, but somehow I never thought about it. I never knew about the second rounding... well, I mean, obviously I knew in practice because I pronounce that rounding myself, but that it was actually a sound change that happened because I really don't know enough about Germanic languages in general. [:$]
The second rounding was apparently very early in Middle English: long front low vowels raised, and long back low vowels raised and rounded. [long low vowels were then temporarily restored through open syllable lengthening, before the GVS made those raise too, leading us, in a desparate attempt to get some damn long low vowels back, to a whole heap of issues that drive a lot of modern dialect differences...]
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Post by Nortaneous »

Salmoneus wrote: 06 Jan 2022 00:52 Rounding doesn't seem to be that salient back there, and rounding and derounding across time and between languages seems fairly common. Americans, for instance, just furiously deround every damn low vowel they come across. [PALM? No rounding. LOT? No rounding. CLOTH? No rounding. CAUGHT? No rounding! (yes, I know that's not all Americans, but...)]
Not only is it not all Americans, rounding of START is common in the US (in addition to preservation of rounding on CLOTH and CAUGHT)
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