(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 Omzinesý »

Salmoneus wrote: 08 Aug 2022 16:57 However, schwa is sometimes i-coloured by context (particularly before alveolars?)
[...]
Later loanwords seem to retain /I/ more often; it's more retained before /k/ and /S/. The suffixes -ing, -ish, and -ic, for example, always contain /I/.
I just started wondering if there is an explanation for those rules/tendencies that is based on phonetic characters of those sounds or is it just "English happens to do so".
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Well, -ic and -ing both involve dorsal consonants, and -ish involves a consonant with rounding (and it's also very close to dorsal for me, though I know some people have more fronted realisations). These factors might encouraging centralisation of /I/, but as my theory is that the 'shift' is really a merger caused by raising and fronting of schwa, which would be less likely to occur in these situations, that would make these situations in which the two sounds remained more distinct and were less likely to be confused.

All three suffixes create closed syllables. This probably contributes a degree of 'stress' (i.e. prominence), as closed syllables will tend to be said more slowly than open syllables. This might discourage the reduction. Also, syllable closure may have direct effects on the phonetic realisation by itself.

[For me, "graphical" is still /I/, not /@/... but the different in sound between 'graphical' and (hypothetical) 'graphacal' is much, much smaller than between 'graphic' and 'graphac', where the difference is wholly unambiguous]

I don't know the details, but the context before /S/, and particularly before /N/, has a number of effects on vowels in North American English in particular - something to do with neutralisation of the lax/tense contrast, which may have knock-on effects on vowel reduction (assuming that similar underlying processes are at play even in other dialects).

And then again, -ic, -ish and -ing are all regular suffixes, which may make them inherently more resistant to the sort of ad hoc reanalysis we're talking about here: it's much 'easier' to reanalyse a single phoneme in a single word than it is to regularly "mispronounce" an entire commonplace affix.

-ic is also a marker of more recent and elevated borrowings

And perhaps most importantly, all three are spelled with < i >. The words that more often get reanalysed with /@/ tend to be those that are not spelled with /i/ - when I learnt about this process, there were several words I saw and thought "wait, some people have /I/ in that!? why?". This isn't a cast-iron rule - there are plenty of words that still have /I/ despite not being spelled that way, and also some that now have /@/ despite being spelled with < i >, but I do think spelling pronunciation is a big part of the process, particularly with less common words. [eg, I actually pronounce "elusion" with /E/, not /I/, presumably because that's how it looks like it's spelled...]
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

Ok, I see.
Exact rules are hard when you go deep enough.

Thank you. I think I learned something.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nel Fie »

I've been reading up on phonation types (e.g. creaky voice, slack voice, etc...). Most information I could find suggest that they are a byproduct of tones and tonogenesis, or a leftover of tone loss. The main exception would be breathy voice, which seems to be also linked to aspiration.
A lot of non-tonal cases seem to make it a non-phonemic aspect of a speech register, but there are also some languages where phonation is a phonemic feature on its own - sometimes in parallel to some kind of tone system, sometimes not (depending on the analyses I could find), but haven't yet found information about how it happened.

My question is: How does phonemic phonation develop in natural languages? For lack of a better word, how does "phonogenesis" occur?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

The most common form of phonation change is voicing - modal voice tends to spread from vowels and sonorants (which tend to be phonetically voiced) to adjacent obstruants, and this allophonic effect can become phonemicised through changes in context that reintroduce a new set of voiceless consonants in those positions, or voiced consonants in typically unvoiced positions. Consonants can lose modal voice though contact, or at the beginning or end of words, or when stressed.


Similar processes apply to other phonations.

Firstly, phonations can easily change phonetically for sociological reasons (or randomly) - eg the way that voiced stops have become 'voiceless lenis' in Icelandic and many dialects of German (or voiceless lenis stops have become voiced in the other Germanic dialects?). Or the way creaky voices is spreading in American English. These phonetic changes can subsequently be phonemicised by the reintroduction of true modal voice from other sources.

Secondly, vowels can alter their phonations due to interactions with neighbouring consonants. In particular, glottal, epiglottal or pharyngeal consonants can easily interact with existing phonation of adjacent vowels to create new phonations. Ejectives, implosives and so on may also alter phonations. Interactions between adjacent consonants may also result in such phenomena as half-voiced or pre-aspirated consonants, whose VOT distinctions may be reanalysed as phonation differences.

Thirdly, existing vowel distinctions can be reanalysed as phonation distinctions. Famously tone and phonation often interact, and ATR can be mistaken for phonation, and vice versa. Voiceless vowels may also become more audible by gaining a new non-modal phonation. Distinctions in length may become distinctions in phonation.

Fourthly, interactions between systemic phonemic distinctions may produce novel phonetic realisations that may in turn become phonemic. So, for example, if phonemic aspiration is applied to a phonetically voiced consonant, some solution must be found as to what the result ought to be, as this may well be a non-modal phonation.

Fifthly, prosodic factors that phonetically influence the perception of stress and word edges can manifest as phonation distinctions. This can interact with any of the above. For isntance, in English it is common to introduce phonetic glottalisation as a marker of word edges, and in some dialects this results in non-modal phonation of adjacent segments.


Just off the top of my head; I'm probably missing some possibilities.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

That was interesting!
I didn't know most of it.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

How is Arabic Idhaafa stressed? Is it phonetically one or two words?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nel Fie »

Salmoneus wrote: 25 Aug 2022 20:11 The most common form of phonation change is voicing - [...]
Just off the top of my head; I'm probably missing some possibilities.
That's already plenty to work with - thank you very much for writing all these up! Though you're of course welcome to write up more if anything else comes to mind and you can spare the time, ha ha!
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sequor »

Omzinesý wrote: 26 Aug 2022 17:22 How is Arabic Idhaafa stressed? Is it phonetically one or two words?
I'd say it is usually two words, except for the notable case of the idhaafa of ðuu + noun, naturally since those are so idiomatic (and the possessed "noun" is so short).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

Sequor wrote: 26 Aug 2022 22:48
Omzinesý wrote: 26 Aug 2022 17:22 How is Arabic Idhaafa stressed? Is it phonetically one or two words?
I'd say it is usually two words, except for the notable case of the idhaafa of ðuu + noun, naturally since those are so idiomatic (and the possessed "noun" is so short).
OK, thank you.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nel Fie »

I have two questions about signed languages:

1) Are signed languages subject to diachronic changes in largely the same way as vocal languages? I.e. sound changes apply across the whole lexicon without exceptions unless they are outside of an environment specified by the rule; grammaticalizations are almost always reductive in one way or another, etc...

2) Do signed languages show equivalent patterns in diversity to vocal languages? Or perhaps more accurately, that if there are (or were) as many natural, independent signed languages as there are vocal languages, would the range and distribution of diverse features in phonology and grammar be roughly equivalent to those of vocal languages, or would the patterns and numbers be substantially different?

To give a better idea of what I'm asking: I'm trying to figure out how much knowledge from vocal languages can be transposed to signed languages - i.e. how much signed and vocal languages only differ by medium, and how much the medium also affects the underlying structure and workings so that I must assume ignorance even if I have knowledge of these structures and workings in vocal languages.

I know what my intuition would be, but knowledge trumps intuition, and I know that intuition can be wrong often enough. I also know these questions are probably difficult or maybe impossible to answer with the support of facts, as there seems to be much less data on signed languages (in no small part due to lack of study).
One particular difference that I read about, and which makes sense at least on the face of things, is that signed languages might have a greater tendency to condense information in various ways due to visual processing being much slower than auditory processing. But I wouldn't surprised if the difference doesn't actually matter because visual processing might still be more than fast enough - and auditory processing might instead be much faster than actually "necessary" (to only cite one quibble with that theory.)

EDIT: Rephrased question 2 for enhanced clarity.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore »

@Nel Fie:
1) I do not know.
2) I want to.

Thanks for asking; I hope I get to read the answer one day!
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nel Fie »

I've kept digging and reading on my own after posting the questions, and found various tidbits of information that suggest at least parts of an answer - if sadly not the whole answer by any stretch of the imagination; or in some cases express the lack of an actual answer.
But there might be more to find yet - if no one else replies here in a way that covers it, I'll probably try to write up a summary; either here or in a new thread (if we don't already have an old Natural Sign Languages thread? I have searched the CBB for sign language terms, but can't remember having found such a thing. Must search again.)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Shemtov »

How mutually intelligible are Scottish Gaelic and Irish?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

I don't speak either. However, as I understand it:

- remember that Irish is a written language; in speech, there are (at least) three distinct dialects, with considerable differences between them. Ulster is the most divergent from Irish, and apparently the closest by far to Gaelic

- reportedly, Ulster speakers and (some?) Gaelic speakers can mostly understand one another if they speak slowly and work at it, or if they acclimatise themselves to it over a period of time

- Connacht/Munster speakers will find it harder. I've seen people say everything between "can mostly get the gist" and "can't understand a word"

- it's much easier for Irish speakers to read Gaelic than it is to listen to it. However, the great spelling reform has made this harder, so it will be easier for older speakers or those used to reading old-spelling Irish for some reason

- it's important to bear in mind that there are major grammatical differences between the two languages, so even if an Irish speaker can get the gist of something in Gaelic, they may not be understanding important grammatical aspects, and may not be able to make themselves understood as they wish. There are reportedly also quite a lot of false friends, due to semantic drift, so misunderstandings would be likely

- I don't know any fluent Irish speakers. However, my mother and aunt do sometimes watch the BBC's Gaelic channel - mostly just for the sound (the languages sound very similar even when the individual words don't!), but they say they can understand bits here and there. [my mother basically doesn't know Irish any more, but does remember some phrases; my aunt is a little bit better, remembering many common words, though I don't think she'd be able to speak it]

- conversely to the false friend point, there's also apparently a bunch of expressions found in common in the two languages, making it a little easier



So... my impression in short is that, depending on which Irish (and I'm guessing also which Gaelic?) we're talking about, and whether it's slow speech or allegro or written, and what the register is (apparently poetic and Biblical language may still have more in common than colloquial language), and how smart the listener is, and whether it's their first time hearing it or they've made a habit of watching BBC Alba for six months in advance, an Irish speaker's understanding of Gaelic is probably going to be somewhere between "absolutely nothing, except maybe a few words or expressions but they may or may not mean something different", all the way through to "total comprehension, actually finds it easier than talking to someone from Cork".

...which probably isn't very helpful. Plus, as I say, I don't speak either myself, or know any native speakers of either (well, not well enough to have asked them that sort of question). Why do you ask?


[the one thing everyone seems to agree on, on the Irish side, is that that Gaelic SOUNDS like an Irish speaker SHOULD be able to understand it, even if they can't. Some find this enjoyable, others find it distressing.]




EDIT: to add a more practical aspect to my answer: my understanding is that if you learn Irish, you shouldn't expect to immediately understand (or be understood by) a Gaelic speaker you meet in the street, but that (particularly if you've learnt Ulster) you will have reduce the time you need to learn Gaelic by many years.



FURTHER EDIT: or we could just go with what Wikipedia says: "While most dialects are not immediately mutually comprehensible (although many individual words and phrases are), speakers of the three [i.e. including Manx] languages can rapidly develop mutual intelligibility."

That article actually gives a nice illustration of the "some bits are exactly the same, others are unintelligible" thing. Here's a comparison of a random phrase, that'll make you think the languages are identical:
an fear atá ina sheasamh ag an doras (Irish, "the man who's standing at the door")
vs
am fear a tha na sheasamh aig an doras (Gaelic)

But on the other hand, here's another phrase elsewhere in the article in the two languages:
Saoláitear gach duine den chine daonna saor agus comhionann i ndínit agus i gcearta. (Irish, "all men are created equal in dignity and rights")
vs
Rugadh na h-uile duine saor agus co-ionnan nan urram 's nan còirichean (Gaelic)

...sort of suggests why Irish speakers may find listening to Gaelic frustrating. One moment you get a sentence like the first one there, then suddenly you're dealing with the second...

[although I'm told that a lot of Scottish words that don't immediately seem the same are actually recognisable as Irish words that have become archaic or have developed a specialised meaning. So sentences like the latter may be a lot easier for Irish speakers who are literate in Irish (i.e. read diverse and old-fashioned fiction in the language) than for those who are only fluent in it (i.e. speak quickly and easily in real-world situations)...
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

What is the origin of Serbo-Croatian /t͡ʃ/ vs /t͡ɕ/ and /d͡ʒ/ vs /d͡ʑ/? Did the palatals develop from dentals before front vowels as in West-Slavic or is the origin something more complicated?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sequor »

Omzinesý wrote: 21 Sep 2022 03:17 What is the origin of Serbo-Croatian /t͡ʃ/ vs /t͡ɕ/ and /d͡ʒ/ vs /d͡ʑ/? Did the palatals develop from dentals before front vowels as in West-Slavic or is the origin something more complicated?
Mind you I know nothing about Slavic linguistics, but this seems the kind of thing that could easily be deduced by just looking at Wiktionary examples.

gòšća 'female guest' < PS *gosti
ćutiti 'to feel sth' < PS *ťutiti
ćud 'temper, mood' < PS *tjudь
gorući 'hot' < PS *gorǫťь
već 'already' < PS *vęťь
veće 'larger; council' < PS *věťe
voće 'fruit' < PS *ovoťe
vući 'to pull, drag' < PS *velťi
žeći 'to burn' < PS *žeťi
žeđ 'thirst' < PS *žęďь
čađa 'soot' < PS *čadъ
vjeđa 'eyelid; eyebrow' < PS *věďa
češće 'more often' < PS *čęsťьjь

čest 'frequent' < PS *čę̑stъ
veče 'evening' < PS *večerъ
čakati 'to wait for sth' < PS *čakati
čar 'charm; spell, magic' < PS *čȃrъ, čȃrь
grč 'cramp' < PS *gъrčь
gorčina 'bitterness' < PS *gorьčina
vrač 'witch doctor' < PS *vьračь
mračan 'dark' < PS *morčьnъ

It seems ć, đ, č largely continue Proto-Slavic /ť ď č/. There is no term with dž in the category "Serbo-Croatian terms inherited from Proto-Slavic" though...
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Titus Flavius »

Sequor wrote: 21 Sep 2022 04:24 There is no term with dž in the category "Serbo-Croatian terms inherited from Proto-Slavic" though...
Because in Proto-Slavic, *dž occurred only in the combination *ždž. The Serbo-Croatian dž in words of Slavic origin comes from voicing assimilation of *č.
ω - near-close near-back unrounded vowel.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Omzinesý »

Sequor wrote: 21 Sep 2022 04:24It seems ć, đ, č largely continue Proto-Slavic /ť ď č/. There is no term with dž in the category "Serbo-Croatian terms inherited from Proto-Slavic" though...
Titus Flavius wrote: 21 Sep 2022 09:59
Sequor wrote: 21 Sep 2022 04:24 There is no term with dž in the category "Serbo-Croatian terms inherited from Proto-Slavic" though...
Because in Proto-Slavic, *dž occurred only in the combination *ždž. The Serbo-Croatian dž in words of Slavic origin comes from voicing assimilation of *č.
Thank you both!

How do you search them in Wiktionary if you don't know Serbo-Croatian to know which word to check?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

...by looking at the list of Serbo-Croatian words and finding words that contain the phoneme you're interested in and then looking at where they come from?

In the case of Serbo-Croatian there's even a helpful list specifically of Serbo-Croatian words inherited from Proto-Slavic, so you don't have to worry about loanwords.


[obviously this method isn't easily going to untangle any really complicated sound changes with all of their exceptions, but for a passing curiosity about a simple issue it's generally sufficient.]
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