(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 Dormouse559 »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 20-m%20and

EDIT: Fixing URL

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Dormouse559 wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:39
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 2%2F%20and
Thank you!

I didn't think of Albanian. I need to study that language more.

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

Post by jimydog000 »

Dormouse559 wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:39
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
26 Jul 2020 04:26
Is there some database where I can look up languages by phonemes or I can compare inventories?

I want to know of languages with both /θ/ and /ʒ/ as phonemes. Off-hand I can only think of English and Avestan.
PHOIBLE has a large database of inventories. Someone made an search tool for it that's more flexible than the one on the main site; here's the results for languages with non-"marginal" /θ/ and /ʒ/: http://defseg.io/pshrimp-client/#search ... 2%2F%20and
No one ever mentions Pbase ...?

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

Post by Dormouse559 »

jimydog000 wrote:
27 Jul 2020 00:51
No one ever mentions Pbase ...?
You just did, so strictly speaking, that statement is false. [:P]

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

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.

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

Post by Khemehekis »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
29 Jul 2020 04:47
Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.
You're thinking of imasu (animate) and arimasu (inanimate).

Japanese also has a third BE verb, desu. It's like ser/soy (the copula).

Also, in German, the copula is always sein. The locative use of "to be" can be sein, but verbs like liegen (to lie) are more commonly used in such a situatuon.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by brblues »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
29 Jul 2020 04:47
Are there other languages that have two different words/lexemes for "to be" with a similar sense of soy/estar in Spanish? Or a different sense, but still two or more "to be" verbs?

I know Japanese has two, with one being used for animate, and the other inanimate.
Korean has 있다 (ittda) as locative copula (which can also be used to indicate possession) vs 이다 (ida) to express "noun=noun" constructions (not sure how to term them). For adjectival meanings, it does not need a copula, as they are expressed by stative verbs.

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

Post by Ser »

I imagine most languages around the world, in fact the vast majority of them, have more than one basic verb to translate different key meanings of English 'to be'.


Portuguese and other Ibero-Romance languages have ser vs. estar too.

Mandarin uses 是 shì for noun = noun, noun = non-gradable stative verb, and noun = headless relative clause. It uses 很 hěn (in accents with many toneless syllables, also toneless hen) with gradable stative verbs, meaning literally 'very' but normally a plain grammatical word unless strongly stressed, and alternatively it can be replaced by a degree adverb. Note Mandarin stative verbs comprise most of the notions covered by adjectives in English. For locatives, 在 zài is used. The copulas are negated with the usual negator for statives, 不 bù.

Cantonese is much the same as Mandarin, 係 hai6 being the equivalent of 是 shì, 好 hou2 that of 很 hěn/hen (with similar semantic bleaching from 'very'), and 喺 hai2 that of 在 zài. The main difference is that the first word, when negated as 唔係 m4 hai6, is often phonologically reduced to 咪 mai6.

In Classical Chinese, to express noun = noun / headless relative clause, you use the construction NP + predicative + 也, where 也 (Mandarin yě, Cantonese yaa5, Middle Chinese jæ) is a sentence-final particle expressing a state with pragmatic focus. The described NP is optionally marked with a TOPIC particle such as 者 (M zhě, C je2, MC tsyæ). However, the copula 惟 (M wéi, C wai4, MC ywij) may optionally be used as well between the described NP and the predicative in positive statements, especially when a pronoun is involved. 非 (M fēi, C fei1, MC pjɨj) is the negative copula, used in the same position as 惟. For locatives, 在 (M zài, C joi6, MC dzoj) is used.

In Standard Arabic, كان kaana is used as the copula in the past and future. In the present tense, no copula is used in positive statements, but the verb ليس laysa supplies the negated present-tense copula. These copulas are used for all four of noun = noun, noun = adjective (and the adjective appears in the accusative case!), noun = headless relative clause, and locatives.



As an aside, you may find it interesting that older forms of English and Latin used a bare copula as an existential. Descartes' modified dictum, cōgitō ergō sum, means 'I ponder, therefore I exist' (where cōgitō is an intransitive verb meaning thinking repeatedly or thinking for a long time, cf. putō 'think (sth)', cēnseō/arbitror 'think sth in a judgemental way', sentiō 'think sth as a feeling rather intuitively'). Shakespeare's "to be or not to be" similarly means 'to exist or not to exist'. Mandarin/Cantonese/Classical Chinese use other verbs as existentials (有, 存, 存在), and Arabic uses its copulas with an adverbial place (هناك hunaaka 'there' by default to say 'there is an X'), or the participle موجود mawdʒuud 'found' as a predicative.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Once again, I suppose, English (or "SAE") is the exception, not the rule.

Yes, I was wondering how common it is for a language to have two or more copulas, two or more words translated as "to be" in English.

Thanks for the answers. [:)]

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

Post by Salmoneus »

FWIW, Irish also has two forms - a verb 'to be' and a copula. The copula mostly seems used for noun=noun, but I'm not sure it's as simple as that.

Oh, and Old English has one verb, but with two different forms in the indicative present tense - one for the essential and one for the accidental/temporary/contingent senses.

-----------

Conceptually, there are at least three very distinct uses of "to be", with futher subtypes and borderline cases:

1. Equating one thing to another.

2. Ascribing a property to a thing.

3. Positing the existence of a thing.


Looking at #1, there's a couple of major semantic faultlines that can result in syntactic, morphological or lexical distinctions. Semantically, are the things in question individual items, or abstracts, or substances, or classes? [in real equation, both items will have to be in the same category]. And then grammatically, each item can be either a common noun [the dog], a proper noun [Bob] or a description [the thing eating your hat] - and here it's possible, even common, to identify a thing of one sort with a thing of another ("the thing eating your hat is my dog").

There's quite a big difference between "a columbine is an aquilegia" (identity of classes) and "Bob is the fourteenth president" (identity of proper name individual with modified common noun)! [note, for instance, that identity of classes in English uses the indefinite, whereas all other identities use the definite]

Then there's the big borderline case between #1 and #2: classification. When you say that X is not identical with Y, but is a member of the class of Y, I think European languages tend to see this as a form of equation; but it could also be treated as a form of predication. And even if it's treated as equation, it's still possible, probably even common, to somehow grammatically distinguish this from identification. [English does this simply by using [is the X] for identification and [is an X] for classification, but of course many languages don't have the luxury of articles!; Irish does have articles, but still decides to vary the syntax here just to be complicated...]

[and then there's the distinction English makes between [X is a Y] and [an X is a sort of Y]/[an X is a form of Y]]

And regarding identifications where one party is a description - what sort of descriptions are allowed?

And that's an even more pressing problem in #2. You can ascribe properties with adjectives, with relative clauses, or with prepositional phrases, and those prepositional phrases can be divided between those describing internal properties ("without his head", "in pain") and those describing extenal properties ("on the island", "under suspicion"), with the latter in turn being either physical or non-physical. [you can also of course ascribe properties using dummy nouns via a classification structure - "this is a big thing", rather than "this is big"].

And in the case of adjectives, you then have to worry about comparatives and superlatives.

Finally, even #3 isn't as simple as it looks. Saying that X exists is all well and good, but what does 'exists' mean? And 'saying'? I think we can easily distinguish a metaphysical claim ("God exists"), from a deictic claim ("There wasn't a cinema last time I went!"), a concessive or hypothetical positing ("What explanations have been offered for this? On the one hand, there's God..."), a defocused claim used to ascribe a property ("there's a wart on your face!"), and a narrative device ("so there was this bloke, right..."), and no doubt also others.


----

"To be" covers a very large functional and semantic space that cuts across a lot of distinctions that individual languages may find important; so it's no great surprise if other languages break that space up differently.


-----


Ser: I wouldn't quite call that "an older form of English", though the use is rare. There's a famous poem, for instance, with the first line "I am, but what I am none cares or knows" (in fact, the poem is called "I am"- and while this isn't exactly an everyday, colloquial thing to say, it also doesn't read to me as actively archaic (the syntax of the second clause is more old-fashioned that the first, I think). It wouldn't be that weird to hear some sort of motivation speaker saying something like "it's important to be willing to affirm your existence to the world, to say to the world "I exist! I am!"", or the like - it's unusual, but not specifically archaic, IMO. Or to hear someone say "The mountain doesn't worry about being this or being that - it simply is!". Part of it is just the rarity of having to make bare existential claims in the first place...

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

Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
30 Jul 2020 07:42
Once again, I suppose, English (or "SAE") is the exception, not the rule.
As Salmoneus just said, it's natural and expected that this would be the case, since the English/French (not SAE) 'to be' includes so many basic key uses that languages may find it important to distinguish. So I would say it's true but a bit uninteresting.

Let's make an analogy with Chinese: "Once again, Chinese is the exception, not the rule, because Chinese varieties commonly have the word 會, Mandarin huì and Cantonese wui5, which is generally translated with more than one word elsewhere in the planet, e.g. English 'will' and 'would' and 'know how to', or in Arabic, ســ sa- and أجاد ʔadʒaada". It is true, but you could probably say this about most basic words with multiple meanings in any given language.
Salmoneus wrote:
30 Jul 2020 13:47
Conceptually, there are at least three very distinct uses of "to be", with futher subtypes and borderline cases:

1. Equating one thing to another.

2. Ascribing a property to a thing.

3. Positing the existence of a thing.
I think your classification is still missing what I termed "(used with) locatives" in my previous post, that is the use with adverbials of place, as in "My father is in the garden".
Ser: I wouldn't quite call that "an older form of English", though the use is rare.
I agree with you and I already thought as you do, but (as it often happens) I'm not exact with my words... I tend to think of such rare uses, which are practically just poetic or allusive of poetry or religious texts, as "old", even though technically they aren't old until they're honestly obsolete (except as surprising archaicisms on very rare occasions*).

* Like your beloved "lief" and "fain". By the way, some time after you told me about those, I found "fain" is attested only four times in the KJV, in Job 27:22, 1 Esdras 4:31 (the apocryphal book, not Ezra), 1 Maccabees 6:54, and Luke 15:16. "Lief", not even once.
Last edited by Ser on 30 Jul 2020 23:41, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

Salmoneus wrote:
14 Jul 2020 16:10
This isn't really true, and I'm not sure Thim actually claims it is. Thim's differences from... well, everybody else on the planet, it seems... actually appear to be more about rhetoric and strawmen than about what actually happened - Thim is anxious to defend phrasal verbs as pure and Germanic, against those who argue that they are imported, and while he's right that they're not just imported, his "continuation" is pretty much the same as everyone else's "replacement".
Salmoneus wrote:
14 Jul 2020 16:10
Thim's continuity hypothesis appears to consist of two claims, neither of which anybody I think denies: later phrasal verbs continue the same structure as the old strong particle verbs; and the difference between strong and weak particle verbs can largely be explained by assuming that weak particles were unstressed (hence tended to cliticise) while strong particles were stressed (hence tended not to) [when OE was SOV, all particles preceded the verb; when the verb increasingly came to be fronted, unstressed particles came with it, while stressed particles were left in situ]. Thus, the two systems can be conceptually regarded as one system with different values for a variable. [Indeed, there are a few examples in the literature of particles that could be treated as variably strong OR weak, so it wasn't two completely distinct systems at any time]. Thus, phrasal verbs are a continuation of the OE system. And indeed, OE-style weak particle verbs are still (sort of) productive. So nothing has changed.

However, while it may be true that in some strictly philosophical sense, nothing has changed, this should not distract from the fact that, in practical terms, everything has changed.
I think you're right and I'm wrong here. When I wrote "Basically, the particles were syntactically separable in Old English in a similar way to modern German's "separable prefixes" (anfangen ~ ich fange ... an)", I both confusingly said what I actually meant while also misportraying what OE was like and what Thim claims (due to not reading Thim correctly).

What I meant to say is that OE was like (not the same as) German in having both unstressed "inseparable" prefixes that attach at the beginning of the verb wherever it is, and stressed "separable" particles that can appear before or after the verb with some sensitivity to syntactic context, but which do not exhibit the strict regularity and German, or the degree of separation between verb and adverbial particle that that language often shows. (More on this below, after I quote you again.)

Meanwhile, Thim's argumentation of modern English phrasal verbs as descending from Old English and in fact, further so, Pre-English, is a criticism of those who argue they were imported from Scandinavian, and also, more importantly, those who have apparently argued it is a new phenomenon peculiar to English, whether those people say they were imported from Scandinavian or are an internal innovation. (I don't think he's particularly anxious to show that they're "pure" and Germanic, as at some point he mentions their use in e.g. late Middle English to calque some Latin verbs.) A lot of the later part of the book also attacks 18th-century prescriptivists' attitude against phrasal verbs, who tended to prefer Latinisms and to portray phrasal verbs as "colloquial" when they actually hadn't been, an attitude apparently still reflected in some recent works...

I don't really know whether Thim's criticisms are fair or strawmen because I don't know the literature, but I just checked Burnley's chapter in The Cambridge History of the English Language, vol. 2 1066-1476, which Thim criticizes in §4.2.2, and in his case it seems surprisingly fair:
Burnley 1992: pp. 422-3 wrote:5.1.1.11 Further effects of incomplete bilingualism were felt in terms of semantic shift and in word formation, and will be discussed below; and it is probably to the influence of Scandinavian that we owe two important characteristics of Modern English phrase structure: the common recourse to particled verbs (Denison 1985c), and the extensive use of the verbal operator get. The earliest record of the extensive use of verb+preposition/adverb colligations as phrasal verbs on the model of Old Norse is in the Peterborough Chronicle: gyfen up (probably with Scandinavian initial /g/), faren mid, leten up, and tacen to.
Thim complains that here and later in his chapter, Burnley doesn't mention the connection to the existing verb + particle construction in Old English (i.e. your "strong particle verbs"), as if the ultimate origin of phrasal verbs was calques of Scandinavian... Note that the Peterborough Chronicle is from the 12th century, so arguably a work in early Middle English even. He mentions it also contradicts the forward-looking comments of the equivalent Old English chapter in volume 1 of the series (written by another author who had a better understanding of the history of phrasal verbs).

On the other hand, I checked if Momma and Matto's one-volume A Companion to the History of the English Language (2008), published four years before Thim's book, would say something about phrasal verbs, and while I found they do not discuss them in prose, there's a table of important syntactic changes in page 62 that very clearly links the modern phrasal verbs to OE syntax, which I here reproduce in list form:
Momma and Matto 2008: 62 wrote:Phrasal Verbs:
Old English - position of particle: both pre- and postverbal
Middle English - great increase; position particle: postverbal
Modern English - idem
...which shows some linguists at least clearly present the history of phrasal verbs in a way Thim would like.
Salmoneus wrote:
14 Jul 2020 16:10
So far as I'm aware, Old English did not actually have separable prefixes. What it did have was two different, parallel compounding systems, which we might (plucking terms out of the air for convenience) weak and strong particle verbs.

Weak particle verbs saw an particle affixed onto the verb, and follow the verb wherever it went.

Strong particle verbs saw a particle linked to but separate from the verb, but still usually adjacent to it.
Funnily, Thim complains at various points about the use of the term "compounding" to characterize the strong particle verbs, but that's more of a philosophical concern.

I'm not familiar at all with Old English to qualify his data in any way, but he provides some interesting examples where the strong particle/adverb is not so adjacent:

& efsones let him ut þurhc wærse red (quoted in p. 108, source: "ChronE 276.12 [1140]")
and soon.after let him out through worse advice
'and soon after, on worse advice, he let him out'
(likely not worth mentioning because that's just a clitic pronoun, but anyway...)

ær he ut wolde faran to gefeohte (quoted in p. 106, source: "Or 232.4")
before he out wanted to.go to fight
'before he wanted to go out to the fight'
(idem, because it's just an auxiliary verb)

þa ahof Paulus up his heafod (quoted in p. 107, source: "BlHom 187.35")
there raised Paul up his head
'Paulus raised his head'
(this V2 example is much better)

Aaron ahæfde his hand upp on gebedum (quoted in p. 178, source: "ÆLS (Pr Moses)")
'Aaron raised his hand up in prayers'

þæt he wearp þæt sweord onweg þæt he on handa hæfde (quoted in p. 108, source: "Bede 38.20")
that he threw that sword away, that he on hand had
'...that he threw the sword away, the one he had in his hand'

þa wearp se broðor þæt glæsene fæt ut (quoted in p. 181, source: "ÆCHom II, 11 104.25")
then cast the brother that glass-y barrel out
'then the brother cast out the glass barrel'
(could this use of "throw sth out" meaning "cast sth" be considered idiomatic, i.e. non-transparent? Thim mentions it as an example of non-transparent usage)

Thim provides an interesting description of the sensitivity of strong particle verbs to their context to determine verb-particle order. In general, the particle tends to be on the side of a direct object, so when there is or would be VO there's also verb+particle order, and where there's OV there's also particle+verb object. Then when the VO verb+particle order is used, the particle doesn't need to be adjacent anymore either (examples above: in a main clause, "Aaron ahæfde his hand upp on gebedum", in a subclause "...þæt he wearp þæt sweord onweg").

The pattern is particularly strong in OV subordinate clauses. Thim comments: "In subordinate [verb-final] clauses [...] Hiltunen (1983a: 116) finds only four instances with a postposed particle in his sizeable corpus. But of these one is not V-F [i.e. verb-final] (his example 15), one involves the adverb togædere (his example 17), which had perhaps better be not classified as a part of a verb-particle construction, and in the remaining two the particle is followed by a prepositional phrase, which might be a special case anyway."

That said, he also notes the particle+verb order is also found in spite of the use of VO with some frequency ("...þæt heo onweg adyde þa gemynd" '...that he [away] removed the memory', Bede 154.10, quoted in p. 109), which is then the main exception to the above pattern. And he further mentions that nevertheless all sorts of other minor, much more uncommon word orders are also attested in texts.

Regarding intransitives and particle adjacency, in p. 5 he gives an example of an idiomatic (non-transparent) strong particle verb, forþ fēran 'to go forth; pass by; die, pass away', in both the V2+particle order (coordinated, with subject understood) and the V2+subject+particle order:

& ferde forþ on his weig 'and went forth on his way'
& fere se ceorl forð 'and if the man dies'

Salmoneus wrote:
14 Jul 2020 16:10
Strong particle verbs
Strong particle verbs existed in OE, but only barely. They were vastly less common than weak particle verbs. Unlike weak particle verbs, they were almost entirely transparent in meaning, and seem still to have been created productively, almost ad hoc (many of the combinations are low-frequency, suggesting the writer just came up with them to suit, rather than them forming a fixed stock of vocabulary). Only a few particles were found in these constructions, and they were almost always directional particles used in a plainly directional sense.

In Middle English, these constructions exploded in popularity. More particles were used, and they tended to develop aspectual meanings, and in general to become less semantically transparent.
Salmoneus wrote:
14 Jul 2020 16:10
When I say that OE didn't have separable verbs, I mean in the German sense of a particle that is independent in one word order but prefixed in another. However, strong particle verbs did still have a particle+verb word order when the verb was backed, so they resembled a separable verb - except that the prefix was stressed and independent, and retained a transparent meaning, unlike German separable verbs.
There are two ideas here, that OE strong particle verbs had transparent meaning and that they were uncommon or even non-existent, that Thim posits a caveat against.

Regarding that they were uncommon or non-existent, he deplores what he sees as an excessive influence of Arthur Kennedy's The Modern English verb-adverb combination (1920), apparently because Kennedy didn't make the distinction you make of weak vs. strong particle verbs, counting all pre-verbal particles as "weak" and not bothering with post-verbal ones:
Thim 2012: 119 wrote:In Old English he [i.e. Arthur Kennedy] counts very few separable combinations as opposed to a high number of inseparable ones, and in Middle English the overall number of separable combinations (i.e. phrasal verbs) seems to remain rather low, but an assessment of the situation is difficult, he states, because of the French lexical influence and because of the differences in text types. [...]

Kennedy’s account of the rise of the phrasal verbs is seriously flawed by the fact that all constructions with a particle or a prefix in preverbal position are counted as ‘compounds’ while only those instances where the particle is in postposition are counted as ‘verb-adverb combinations’; he concludes that in Old English “occurrences of the verb-adverb combination are practically nil” (Kennedy 1920: 12). That is to say, the post-verbal position of the particle is quite ahistorically taken as an unchanging characteristic of the construction. As a result, Kennedy’s discussion creates the impression that the phrasal verb is a new phenomenon in English and something specific to this language alone, i.e. that there is a ‘rise’ of the phrasal verb from the Middle English period onwards. To take just one prominent example (among very many others) of the popular afterlife of such notions: Burchfield (Fowler 1996, s.v. phrasal verb) states that the “earliest example known to me is to give up ‘to surrender’, which is recorded in 1154 ... [t]he type thrived in the centuries that followed”.
I don't know what Thim means by Kennedy taking post-verbal particles as "an unchanging characteristic", but if Kennedy really said the verb-adverb combinations were "practically nil", that seems like a lamentable oversight. Again, I don't know whether that quote from Burchfield is a fair representative of "very many others" or not. Thim also expresses suspicion that Old English strong particle verbs have tended to be understudied by lexicographers in particular, to some extent as an influence of Kennedy's book, and that some grammar-minded linguists have then also overrelied on lexicographers' work.

Regarding their attestation with only or almost only transparent meaning, Thim does grant that "non-spatial, non-compositional" (i.e. non-transparent) meanings are "slower to emerge" (p. 5), that "the vast majority of particle tokens in Old English will have been spatial" (p. 181), and that when a non-transparent candidate is found it's hard to tell whether it was truly non-transparent or not, but also says that there are clearly a few such verbs (forþ (ge)fēran 'to die' as mentioned above, noting that the with the synonym gān 'to go', forþ gān is not used in the sense of 'to die'), and that the "critical context" for the metonimy is also found in OE already (also p. 181):

deofol-seocnessa ut to adrifanne
devil-sickness out to drive
'to drive out the devil-sickness' (source: "Mk 3.15", no hyphen in "deofolseocnessa" in Thim p. 181)

& lett agan ut hu fela hundred hyda wæron innon þære scire (quoted in p. 181, source: "ChronE 1085.26")
and let own out how many hundred hides were inside the shire
‘and let [them] find out [i.e. discover, learn] how many hundreds of hides were in the shire’



Please note I'm mostly quoting all this stuff for you guys' amusement more than anything else. Thim also has some section I found fascinating about Gothic (but irrelevant for this post). I'm not a fanboy of Thim's going all out to defend him at all costs, as I'm not him. (stupid pun intended)
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Evni Öpiu-sä
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Evni Öpiu-sä »

My newest and largest conlang's name is pronounced [ˈlɑnriuŋ] in the language. How is it spelled in English?
:fin: - C2
:eng: - ranges from A2 to B2
:swe: - ranges from A1 to A2

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

Post by jimydog000 »

Evni Öpiu-sä wrote:
02 Aug 2020 09:51
My newest and largest conlang's name is pronounced [ˈlɑnriuŋ] in the language. How is it spelled in English?
That's your choice and depends how your language works. It could be Lanriung, Lanriun or even Lanrinese.

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

Post by Salmoneus »

Or Lahnraiodhounn...

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

Post by eldin raigmore »

Following David Peterson’s recommendation would make the English spelling as simple as possible, and as likely as possible to guide the Anglophone reader to as close-to-correct a pronunciation as possible, within the constraints of the Latin alphabet, English phonology, and English orthography.

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

Post by Ser »

Although Salmoneus' example is exaggerated, I think the point is that English speakers generally don't mind using very weird spellings for names of languages (and people, tribes, ethnicities, places and countries). Just look at the use of the Spanish <j> in "Navajo", the Mandarin pinyin <x> in "Naxi", the Portuguese <x> in "Xucuru", or the use of the early modern English final <a> in "Ojibwa" (intended to pronounced oh-JIB-way, with an English "long ā"; also spelled "Ojibwe" resembling a French final <é>).

I imagine the name of the "Tape" language of Vanuatu is supposed to be pronounced [ˈtʰɑpeɪ], but I'm not sure. "Wutun" (Wǔtún) represents /u˨˩.tʰwən˧˦/ in Mandarin too.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Actually, I initially took it as just asking how it 'should' be spelled.

My general point was just that there's no one right way to write a language: you have to choose that yourself. And there are many factors that might influence this. Nobody can say what spelling is better without knowing what effect you're aiming for (Lanraiodhonn, for instance, looks celtic, whereas Lahnriejung looks Germanic). Moreover, nobody can say what's a good way to romanise any word unless we know what contrasts are being made. So, for example, when I wrote 'Lahnraiodhounn' I was making clear three contrasts: -ah- rather than -a- to indicate the back /A/ rather than the front /a/; -ai- rather than -i- to indicate that /nr/ is not palatalised; and -ou rather than -u- to indicate a back /u/ rather than a fronted /y/. But of course, the language may not distinguish /a/ from /A/, nor /u/ from /y/, nor have systematic palatalisation - so I don't know if those (or countless other possible contrasts) need to be made clear. Conversely, I wrote -aiodh- because I'm assuming a language in which /iV/ diphthongs are rare, and are not distinguished from /ijV/ sequences - but maybe they're common and that distinction is made, in which case you'd need to indicate it differently! I also assumed that /nn/ sequences don't arise, leaving -nn- free to indicate /N/. And likewise, maybe /A/ is distinguished from /a/, but not from /o/, and /l/ is not distinguished from /r/ - in which case you could spell it Ronreung...


More generally, I think there are five - often contradictory - factors in play in creating an orthography:

1. Clarity: making the pronunciation unambiguous, efficient and predictable
2. Universality: using symbols and rules in a way that will be familiar to speakers of the most languages possible
3. Anglicentricity: using symbols and rules in a way that will specifically be most transparent to speakers of English (or another specific target audience language)
[2 and 3 can both be broken into two parts: what is most likely to suggest the right pronunciation?; and what is most likely to NOT suggest the WRONG pronunciation? The answers will not always be the same!]
4. Fertility: by which I mean, a fertile orthography conveys or suggests additional information, such as etymology, or the connexions between different inflected forms of the same root, or other words derived from the same root
5. Colour: giving a language a particular colour and flavour and overtone, by hinting at other languages the reader might be familiar with.


-----------


Now, if we instead take the question as literal - how WOULD it be written in English if it were a real name - then Ser is right. English uses all sorts of weird spellings for exonyms.

To work out the most plausible answers, you'd probably need to work out a) when English encountered the language, and b) what intermediaries the contact occured through. If it was via French, it might be spelled in a somewhat French way; if it was via Chinese, it might be spelled in a way influenced by Wade-Giles. Etc. If it was learnt about from non-speakers, it might well lose distinctions in the original, or gain new ones!

So maybe it's Laan-reung, or maybe it's Lariog, or Lanneriungue, or Landreeyoun, or...

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

Post by Curlyjimsam »

Evni Öpiu-sä wrote:
02 Aug 2020 09:51
My newest and largest conlang's name is pronounced [ˈlɑnriuŋ] in the language. How is it spelled in English?
I personally would go for Lanriung. Laanreoong or something might more reliably get you the right pronunciation, but I think it looks a bit weird.
The Man in the Blackened House, a conworld-based serialised web-novel

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

Post by Ser »

Somewhat relatedly to the topic of separable/inseparable "prefixes", I learned today that the ancient Roman grammarian Donatus considered the directional verbal prefixes as "prepositions" like the true prepositions...
Donatus wrote:- Quae praepositiones sunt quae dictionibus serviunt et separari non possunt? Di-, dis-, re-, se-, am-, con. Quo modo? Dicimus enim “diduco”, “distraho”, “recipio”, “secubo”, “amplector”, “congredior”.
- Quae sunt quae conjungi non possunt? “Apud” et “penes”.
- Quae conjunguntur et separantur? Reliquae omnes.
- What prepositions are there which serve words and cannot be separated? Di-, dis-, re-, se-, am-, con. How so? We say for example diduco, distraho, recipio, secubo, amplector, congredior.
- Which ones can't be attached? Apud and penes.
- Which ones can be attached and separated? All the others."
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