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

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All4Ɇn wrote:
03 Apr 2020 20:07
Thanks for the responses. It's really amazing how quickly things have shifted since then. Coming from a working class background on both sides of the family, I had no idea that that recently there was still an expectation, even in America, of most scholars being able to speak so many languages. Something I wish we had carried over into the modern times!
Honestly, I'm glad of the opposite. The expectation was that you would learn French or Latin, not because that representing a widening of one's mental sphere, but a narrowing of it; English was a dirtied language by virtue of it's cosmopolitan demeanor, sharing of European, American, Asian and African languages. Those languages were pure and "white"- not sullied by an association with "lower races" that were to be civilized or eradicated from the Earth.

If our connection to other languages were actually devoted to the widening of our world, I would be happy. But that would be a very different understanding. I would expect us to learn more of languages foreign to Europe: Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, even Native American languages, like Navajo.
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Post by Ser »

When it comes to linguistics, it continues to be common to expect readers to be able to handle French though. More so in papers than books.

In Romance linguistics, all five of German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are regularly assumed (and you come across them in this order of frequency, German being pretty much the most common one).

In Classics, Latin, Ancient Greek, German and to a lesser extent French continue to be assumed as well.


In general, of course, it's true that you can no longer assume anyone with a university education can handle Latin and French just fine. I remember thinking about this when I had a look at the recent English-translation-and-revision of Paul Joüon's Biblical Hebrew grammar Grammaire de l'hébreu biblique (1923) by Takamitsu MURAOKA, entitled A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (2006). Joüon had originally used Latin extensively along with French to clarify the meaning of Hebrew words, but Muraoka says this is not reasonable anymore:

"Joüon had a valid reason for using Latin in trying to bring out subtleties of Hebrew which he apparently felt could be better reproduced with it than with French. However, as it can no longer be assumed that Hebrew students are conversant in Latin, we have decided to use it less frequently."


Very interestingly, though, he also provides an example of the opposite phenomenon. Apparently, until fairly recently it has been the norm to ignore publications in Modern Israeli:

"For the purpose of revision and updating we like to believe that we have read as extensively as possible in monographs and articles published in periodicals and Festschriften which have appeared since about 1920, including what has been published in Modern Hebrew. These days serious Hebraists or Semitists can ignore works written in that language only to their own detriment."
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Post by Salmoneus »

qwed117 wrote:
03 Apr 2020 20:30
Honestly, I'm glad of the opposite. The expectation was that you would learn French or Latin, not because that representing a widening of one's mental sphere, but a narrowing of it; English was a dirtied language by virtue of it's cosmopolitan demeanor, sharing of European, American, Asian and African languages. Those languages were pure and "white"- not sullied by an association with "lower races" that were to be civilized or eradicated from the Earth.
I'm afraid that's largely a fantasy of the modern era. The expectation of multilingualism far predates the 20th century (and to a lesser extent late 19th century) racialist theory; English was in fact widely celebrated for its promiscuity, and people recognised the value of non-European languages that were associated with perceived cultural sophistication (in particular, knowledge of Hindustani was very widespread, and academics often knew Sanskrit); the large-scale importation of words of Indian origin into English was generally seen as elevating it - lower-class English was seen as inferior to Hindustani, while upper-class English borrowed extensively to show sophistication*; if you read late 19th century fashionable English, particularly from India (eg Kipling's society sketches) it can be almost impenetrable at times due to the fashionable use of Hindustani-derived vocabulary; the speakers of Hebrew, Aramaic, and also of course Arabic were not seen as 'white', but these languages were very popular and given a high status; and multilingualism was just as common among those who were ardent supporters of English as a language - even among the purification movement. English pupils growing up in India were taught Arabic and Sanskrit, as well as generally knowing a lot of Hindustani.

[I do think racist attitudes existed at that time toward African languages, mind you, and some rather confused attitudes toward Chinese]

The reality is that multilingualism simply reflects the fact that before about 1900, an educated person who only read English just wouldn't have much to read. French was particularly essential, as the language not only of the cultural capital of the world, but also of the last 500 years or so of liteature; Latin and Greek were only learnt by the upper classes at first, and through the movement to fully educate the poor to the standard of the upper classes, but they were essential to anyone who wanted to be widely read - they were still the language of philosophy and classical literature, and the primary language of theology, and even when they ceased being the primary sources for literally every scientific subject, they continued to be the language of the older texts that the new primary sources were referencing. Not knowing them meant that you could only have a superficial understanding of your own culture - not knowing Latin was like having seen the Simpsons, but not knowing anything about the history and pop culture that the Simpsons jokes are referencing, so not really fully getting the joke. And of course Latin was also traditionally the language that things were translated into if you didn't read the original - so instead of having to read Polish, you could read the Latin translation. (even Chinese was translated into Latin).

Meanwhile, German was necessary because 19th century Germany led the world academically - in certain subjects, like linguistics, philosophy and chemistry, German would have been absolutely essential if you wanted to know anything, while in most other subjects being able to reference works in German would at least have been greatly beneficial.

Italian was less essential, but was culturally valued - in part because of the contribution of Dante and Petrarch (literature fans were certainly expected to know Italian!), and in part because Italian opera was the most prestigious popular entertainment.

Hebrew and Aramaic were necessary to understand religious texts.

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I think I largely have to agree with Sal on this point. Various "dictionaries of slang" have largely treated those "slangs", or even just dialects, as some "degredation" of English, or as generally "less sophisticated", and were generally looked down on as either lower class or the "tongues of an underclass".

Some languages amongst colonised regions, however, largely seem to have been held in high regard, especially those with traditions going back to some "classical age", like Hindi (going back to the Vedas in Sanskrit), Chinese (even with its seemingly impenetrable script, going back thousands of years through dynasties representing a thousands-of-year-old empire). And the prestige of French, Latin, and Greek, to a point, were held in such high regard, at least in the British Isles (and especially in England), because of a millennia old cultural heritage (which goes alongside the long-held idea that Greece influenced Rome influenced Western Europe influenced England).

Where English sourced do speak of foreign languages as "lesser", it tends to revolve around those that either didn't have a literary tradition (literature means laws, and poetry, and culture), or those that had a literary tradition we couldn't understand (Mayan, for example, for a long time, was considered largely pictographic, and therefore "lesser" (although saying that, Ancient Egyptian was considered "pictographic" for hundreds of years, but I suppose the fact that it existed thousands of years before the Iliad, and was referenced in the Bible, sort of raised it up).

Borrowing from languages like Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit, etc. never really seemed to be a problem within English, while at the same time multilingualism in the "regional classical" languages seems to have been encouraged. The idea of some "pure" language-learning tradition does appear to be relatively new (purging modern English thought of ideas from "foreign part"), I think largely developing in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Where does the Latin word "senex" come from? By which I mean, how come the nominative singular ends in -x when the stem of all the other case forms of this adjective is simply sen-, whence genitive singular "senis" and nominative plural "senēs" (and not *senicis, *senicēs). So why the -x in the nominative singular? Are there other nouns and adjectives that exhibit this pattern?

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KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
06 Apr 2020 02:49
Where does the Latin word "senex" come from? By which I mean, how come the nominative singular ends in -x when the stem of all the other case forms of this adjective is simply sen-, whence genitive singular "senis" and nominative plural "senēs" (and not *senicis, *senicēs). So why the -x in the nominative singular? Are there other nouns and adjectives that exhibit this pattern?
In Latin, in fact, probably in many languages with case, the nominative singular is often statistically salient enough that it can develop or retain an irregular stem that is at odds with the rest of the declension.

Here, the expected nom. sg. *senis seems to have been influenced by various words for professions formed with compounds of two roots that create an athematic stem that incidentally ends in [ɛk], like jūdex 'judge' (< iūs 'law' + dīc(ere) 'say' + nominative -s) or haruspex 'diviner that reads animal guts' (< har(u)- 'guts' + spec(ere) 'look at' + nominative -s). The [k] also makes an appearance in the common derived word senectūs 'old age'.

It appears there are only two other examples of weird longer nominative singulars in Latin:
- nix nivis 'snow' (the nom. sg. retains a previous -g- that is dropped in the declension, cf. the verb ningit 'it snows', Irish sneachta 'snow')
- Juppiter Jovis 'Jupiter' (the nom. sg. is a compound of Jov- + pater 'father')

The language has more weird nominative singulars, but they're not longer than the declining stem (grūs gruis 'crane', bōs bovis 'cow/bull/ox' with genitive plural boum, pār paris 'pair', carō carnis 'meat'). An interesting example is supellēx supellēctilis 'furniture', where the -ilis suffix that derives adjectives (agilis 'agile') has been attached in the declining stem. For IE studies, also iter itineris 'trip, journey' and jecur jecinoris 'liver', which reflect an old Indo-European -r-/-n- alternation in declension (cf. the evolution peth2r pth2en-s 'wing' into Greek pterón with -r- and Latin petna > penna with -n-), and femur feminis 'thigh' (which, having no cognates, may even be a borrowing shaped into an IE pattern). We may also mention ego vs. the m- stem in its declension and derived terms (meus).

Some examples of weird nominative singulars in Old French would be emperere empereor [empəˈrerə empəreˈɵr] (< imperātor imperātōrem, although this particular -ere/-eor suffix is common), cuens conte (< comes comitem), seindre seignor [ˈseindrə seˈɲɵr] (< senior seniōrem). In Old Occitan, enfas enfan [ˈenfas enˈfan] (< īnfāns īnfantem, expected nom. sg. *enfantz *[enˈfants] < *infantis), molher molher [ˈmoʎər moˈʎɛr] (< mulier mulierem), senher senhor [ˈseɲər seˈɲor] (< senior seniōrem). In PIE, see wédo:r udn-és 'water' (with the -r-/-n- alternation mentioned above), with a relatively strange long [o:] (many other such words too though, e.g. uksé:n uksn-és 'bull, ox').

Interestingly, I can't think of any example in Standard Arabic. It likely helps that in that language the nominative is always marked with a vowel-initial suffix just like in the other cases (whether it's -us or -u in the two most common declensions for common nouns, or dual -aani, or masc. plural -uuna and fem. and abstract plural -aati, or -in in C-C-j nouns, or...), unlike old Indo-European and its nominative singular ending in -s or nothing (as opposed to other cases formed historically with -o-s, -o-m, -o:s, -eh2, -eh2s, -osyo, etc.).

Suggested reading:
McFadden, Thomas. 2018. "*ABA in stem-allomorphy and the emptiness of the nominative". Glossa.
https://www.glossa-journal.org/articles ... /gjgl.373/
It discusses possible hierarchies of stem irregularity by case in a discussion of Tamil, Finnish and Latin, with further examples from a few other languages.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thanks for the explanation and for the link :) I did think it may be analogical, but I wasn't sure (and couldn't think of any similar examples).

Always been interested in iecur and iter, bizarre words they are. They seem to have been original r/n stems that then did a "cake and eat it too" thing in the obliques by stacking both -r and -n stems one after the other.

Looks like "nix" can be explained by the PIE form having been *snígʷʰs (gʷʰ becoming /w/ in Latin between vowels, but retained as /k/ before the nominative singular -s).

I also remember once asking about pecus/pecudis (where does that "d" come from?) [o.O]

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Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
06 Apr 2020 06:19
Always been interested in iecur and iter, bizarre words they are. They seem to have been original r/n stems that then did a "cake and eat it too" thing in the obliques by stacking both -r and -n stems one after the other.
And hilariously, the common IE pattern is reflected in the word without IE cognates (femur feminis feminī femine...).
I also remember once asking about pecus/pecudis (where does that "d" come from?) [o.O]
De Vaan, who is far, far better than me at this, simply says it "is unclear".

I notice that pecus pecoris is a typically mass, collective noun meaning 'cattle', and the related pecus pecudis (with short -u-!) is a countable noun meaning 'a single animal' (typically for sacrifice). Maybe it is relevant that rudis rudis (also with a short -u-) exists as a noun meaning '(wooden?) cooking rod; wooden rod for military training (wooden sword?)', and an adjective meaning 'wild; unskilled'. Overall though, this alternation of entirely unstressed -us/-udis with short -u- is very weird (contrast palūs palūdis 'swamp', nepōs nepōtis 'grandson; descendant'). Rudis is the only common word that otherwise ends in -udis with a short -u-, too.

EDIT: changed my mistake of thinking of pecus/pecudis as pecus/*pecodis.
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Does anyone know if /d/ is turned into [ɾ] in New Zealand English for speakers who also do this with /t/? I find plenty of sources who talk about /t/ but no one mentions /d/...

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Aszev wrote:
07 Apr 2020 19:26
Does anyone know if /d/ is turned into [ɾ] in New Zealand English for speakers who also do this with /t/? I find plenty of sources who talk about /t/ but no one mentions /d/...
I[ɾ] is.

It's funny that this phenomenon is commonly called "t-flapping" now that you mention that. It's not just /t/ that gets flapped, but also /d/. Maybe it's because native speakers tend to naïvely perceive it as "pronouncing the t like a d", whether they have it in their dialect or not.

I'd be interested in hearing about differences of where it occurs. I remember Xephyr from the ZBB saying that his grandpa used to pronounce "at all" like "a tall" [əˈtʰɑɫ], with no flapping but in fact with aspiration, and since then I've heard it in older movies too in actors that otherwise have the usual flapping.

Flapping generally occurs at the end of a word before a word beginning with a vowel, even if that vowel is stressed. So "cat island", "rabbit island" and "whatever" (underlyingly "what ever") have flapping. Xephyr's grandpa likely didn't have flapping it in "at all" because he thought of it as one word: atall.
Last edited by Ser on 09 Apr 2020 00:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Ser wrote:
08 Apr 2020 00:05
Maybe it's because native speakers tend to naïvely perceive it as "pronouncing the t like a d", whether they have it in their dialect or not.
This is what I suspected, but all the references to /d/ were of this kind, which looks too much like a layman's approximation for me to be able to take seriously. Especially since I did manage to find references to AuE (and others) where it's apparent that /t/ and /d/ don't always behave identically with regards to flapping.

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Aszev wrote:
08 Apr 2020 12:53
Ser wrote:
08 Apr 2020 00:05
Maybe it's because native speakers tend to naïvely perceive it as "pronouncing the t like a d", whether they have it in their dialect or not.
This is what I suspected, but all the references to /d/ were of this kind, which looks too much like a layman's approximation for me to be able to take seriously.
By "layman's approximation", you mean things like guides that tell you Spanish J is pronounced /h/, right?
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Ser wrote:
08 Apr 2020 00:05
Aszev wrote:
07 Apr 2020 19:26
Does anyone know if /d/ is turned into [ɾ] in New Zealand English for speakers who also do this with /t/? I find plenty of sources who talk about /t/ but no one mentions /d/...
I[ɾ] is.

It's funny that this phenomenon is commonly called "t-flapping" now that you mention that. It's not just /t/ that gets flapped, but also /d/. Maybe it's because native speakers tend to naïvely perceive it as "pronouncing the t like a d", whether they have it in their dialect or not.

I'd be interested in hearing about differences of where it occurs. I remember Xephyr from the ZBB saying that his grandpa used to pronounce "at all" like "a tall", with no flapping but in fact with aspiration, and since then I've heard it in older movies too in actors that otherwise have the usual flapping.

Flapping generally occurs at the end of a word before a word beginning with a vowel, even if that vowel is stressed. So "cat island", "rabbit island" and "whatever" (underlyingly "what ever") have flapping. Xephyr's grandpa likely had it in "at all" because he thought of it as one word: atall.
That's interesting, because in AmE, I don't think /t/ is flapped across word boundaries, but /d/ is.
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qwed117 wrote:
08 Apr 2020 20:36
That's interesting, because in AmE, I don't think /t/ is flapped across word boundaries, but /d/ is.
I was talking about American English there; Xephyr is from South Dakota. I've met some people here who sometimes or often pronounce /t/ + a vowel-initial word as [Vt̚ʔV], e.g. "cat island" [ˈkʰæt̚ ˈʔaɪlənd] (probably most often when the vowels around are both stressed, as in this example), but in general /t/ gets flapped across word boundaries. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of AmE speakers would flap the word-final -t in "to exhibit a new statue".
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Ser wrote:
08 Apr 2020 21:16
qwed117 wrote:
08 Apr 2020 20:36
That's interesting, because in AmE, I don't think /t/ is flapped across word boundaries, but /d/ is.
I was talking about American English there; Xephyr is from South Dakota. I've met some people here who sometimes or often pronounce /t/ + a vowel-initial word as [Vt̚ʔV], e.g. "cat island" [ˈkʰæt̚ ˈʔaɪlənd] (probably most often when the vowels around are both stressed, as in this example), but in general /t/ gets flapped across word boundaries. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of AmE speakers would flap the word-final -t in "to exhibit a new statue".
Hmm. I think I can do either, just depends on the time of day, and the color of the leaves. Weird
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Post by Znex »

Ser wrote:
08 Apr 2020 21:16
qwed117 wrote:
08 Apr 2020 20:36
That's interesting, because in AmE, I don't think /t/ is flapped across word boundaries, but /d/ is.
I was talking about American English there; Xephyr is from South Dakota. I've met some people here who sometimes or often pronounce /t/ + a vowel-initial word as [Vt̚ʔV], e.g. "cat island" [ˈkʰæt̚ ˈʔaɪlənd] (probably most often when the vowels around are both stressed, as in this example), but in general /t/ gets flapped across word boundaries. I'm pretty sure the vast majority of AmE speakers would flap the word-final -t in "to exhibit a new statue".
Same rules in my idiolect of Australian English. I can't speak for New Zealand English, but there are still a lot of equivalencies between the two.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

According to Buck, the nominative singular of n-stem nouns in Oscan is -uf/f. I don't see how this can be.

I get that in Sabellic, there was a change of -ns to -f, but in order for this to make sense, this change would've had to occur before Szemerenyi's law and I thought that occurred at the PIE level. *stations --> *statins (zero grade) --> statif (cf. Latin statiō). Is there some other way this can be explained? Are the Latin -iō/-ionis nouns not explained by Szemerenyi's law?

(Heh. Imagine if we had gotten our -tion words from Oscan. We'd be speaking of temptatiuf and actiuf).

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Post by Ser »

KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
23 Apr 2020 21:48
According to Buck, the nominative singular of n-stem nouns in Oscan is -uf/f. I don't see how this can be.

I get that in Sabellic, there was a change of -ns to -f, but in order for this to make sense, this change would've had to occur before Szemerenyi's law and I thought that occurred at the PIE level. *stations --> *statins (zero grade) --> statif (cf. Latin statiō). Is there some other way this can be explained? Are the Latin -iō/-ionis nouns not explained by Szemerenyi's law?
Presumably analogy is involved, where the -n was restored on the basis of the oblique stem. So maybe Proto-Italic -tio: (oblique -tio:nV-) had its nominative singular restored from -tio: to -tio:-n-s.

A similar example would be the PIE NOM.SG ḱwo: ACC.SG ḱwonm evolving into Latin canis canem, where Proto-Italic *ko: had the ending analogized to *k-an-(i)s on the basis of accusative singular *kwanem (which then became *kanem too).

Another similar example would be the massive analogy of the oblique stem into the nominative singular in Old French and Old Occitan. The likes of amāns amantem became *[ˈamas aˈmante], but then first element was regularized because of the -is nominative singular elsewhere in the 3rd declension, creating *amant-is amantem *[aˈmantes aˈmante], and so OFr amanz amant [aˈmants aˈmant] and OOc amantz amán. Contrast Latin īnfāns īnfantem, borrowed as *[ˈenfas enˈfante], and showing up as semi-learned OFr enfes enfant [ˈenfəs enˈfant] and OOc enfas enfán.

On the basis of the normal -is and -em nominative and accusative singular, calor calōrem were regularized to *calōr-is calōrem [kaˈlo:res kaˈlo:re], then OFr chalors chalor [tʃaˈlɵrs tʃaˈlɵr]. Latin cor cor was also regularized to cor-is cor-em *[ˈkɔres ˈkɔre] > *[ˈkwɔres ˈkwɔre], producing OFr cuers cuer.
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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

Thank you. I was thinking it might be analogy; it just seemed unlikely to me, but I can't think of any other explanation that makes sense!

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Post by KaiTheHomoSapien »

There are a lot of instances of reduplication in English where the first element contains /ɪ/ and the second contains some other vowel (often /æ/ or /ɑ/), so-called "ablaut reduplication".

For example: wishy-washy, mish-mash, bric-a-brac, pitter-patter, flip-flop, chit-chat, hip-hop, etc.

Is there any "explanation" for why the pattern is high vowel first/low vowel second?

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