June 5th, 2007

(no subject)

Random and somewhat pointless, but what's your favorite phoneme? I'm partial to fricatives, my favorite being [δ] (it's the "th" in English "the" or the "d" in Spanish "lado" and yes, I know it's just an allophone in Spanish. ;) ). My least favorite phoneme is definitely [ϒ] (again, an allophone in Spanish). Even though it's a fricative, it's annoying and hard to do. :(

EDIT: Well damn. What I thought would be a fairly straight-forward, simple post has been anything but! Which is good in a way. So, new question: is my definition of "phoneme" (the smallest unit of sound that distinguishes meaning and an allophone being the range of sound that phoneme can have without changing meaning) incorrect? Please say no because that means my linguistic professor has been lying to me. haha

Chorded Keyboards

Since standard keyboards can recognize multiple keypresses, does anyone know of any chording keyboard software that doesn't require additional hardware? There is also software that allows you to make your own keyboard layouts, but as far as I know none of them let you do quite what is needed to accomplish the same sort of thing that chorded keyboards do with their multiple presses for one letter. I could be wrong though, and I'd kind of hope so. :)

I'm also curious if anyone knows of any syllabic input methods for non-asian languages... But open to any sort of entertaining alternate text input methods. :)

Intelligent Reading... serially

I know it's been asked before (I remember it popping up before myself, but I can't remember the results of the discussion), but I'm getting a bit tired of Language Log's prescriptively-non-prescriptivist-as-we-tell-you-what-any-amateur-linguist-should-already-know-by-now Bible-thumping. Too much chaff for the wheat I reap, if you ken what I mean.

So, what bloggishly-periodical things exist on teh Internets relating to more "purely" linguistic subjects? Granted, a bit of ribbing or look-at-how-silly-humans-are sighing is nice, but not to the point of inanity like the above-mentioned. A good example of the direction I'm headed is more like Languagehat, where at least I can read every article and say to myself: "Wow, that's cool; I didn't know that", rather than being able to paraphrase the entry even before reading it completely.

Anything out there even solely devoted to something like terribly-obscure languages like Basque-Icelandic Pidgin and I've-never-heard-of-that languages out there?

Anecdote Analysis

A French professional looked at some applicants' passports (for identification), and so realised that they were from the People's Republic of China. After telling them "have your applications ready and everything in the envelope: photos, fee..." he ushered them into his office. As they went in, he replied to something they'd said with "xie xie" and a short sentence in what was obviously Mandarin. The applicants smiled and responded back amusedly.

My question is, then: as it seems everyone studying "Chinese" as a second language learns Standard Mandarin, does it actually function as a proper lingua franca in (mainland) China? This guy is quite an important figure and so I'd doubt that he would make a socially-risky move like that, so he either knew they'd understand or was just ignorant after all. I mean, for example, obviously Cantonese is the main player in Hong Kong and such, but to me at least, automatically speaking (Standard) Mandarin to someone from (mainland) China seems like automatically speaking German to someone from Swizterland-- and if you've ever been to popular, picturesquely-Swiss places like Lausanne or Geneva, you'll notice that that's not always so clever to do... yet we (usually) automatically speak English to Canadians.

So what's the deal here? Would it really be entering a closer sociolinguistic sphere by using (Standard) Mandarin over English with, say, Hakka-speaking Chinese-- or would English and Mandarin have roughly-equal status in this situation?
momoe yamaguchi

double negatives and confusion as an English speaker

I'm in need of clarification on double negatives...

I've been taking both Japanese and Latin, and just now have I figured that I really don't know what's going on with either of their negatives.

In a Shiina Ringo song lyric she sings "nanimo iitakunai" (何も言いたくない), which would be "I don't want to say nothing", but in English that would be inferred as "I want to say something". After kinda being clarified I kinda took that "nanimo" (何も) could be an intensifying of nothingness... but I often hear "nandemo nai" (何でもない) for "it's nothing"... which translated perfectly in English as "it's not anything". So I'm still confused. This is especially bad, since in specific situations, in English one can say "I don't want to say nothing" meaning the speaker would feel regret if they didn't speak up. Would a Japanese speaker be able to convey the same conotation?

Also in Latin (sorry I don't have a better example of this) but I always see "non nullam", meaning "not nothing", and my teachers always described it as "something" (or one translated it as "a lot"... so I'm kinda confused there.) So, while I get the negation to a positive, I don't get how we're able to define how much it is. It is some or many? I also don't think I know the basics of the negative here either, as I don't know how something like "non nullam dicere volo" would be translated. (or... nullam dicere nolo?)

Can anyone help describe this to me? Has anyone else been so horribly confused on the subject that they want to cry too? ;___;

Thanks for any help!
Zoe/Wash woods

French lyrics: Ne me laisse pas seule ici

I'm looking for a copy of the lyrics to a song from the Hotel Rwanda soundtrack -- Ne me laisse pas seule ici by Tilly Key. I am not good enough at French to understand all of the lyrics when listening to the song, but I can easily follow along if I can read the words. I'm using the song for a project, so a copy of the lyrics would be extrememly helpful.

Sorry if this is off-topic. Mods, feel free to delete the post. If anyone knows of a better suited community to help me out, I'd appreciate a tip.


Gene and Tonal

I am reposting this from a friend's journal:

Dear language geeks,

Did you know that Scottish scientists have discovered a striking link between genes for brain size and tonality in spoken language? Nontonal speakers, which is what most people reading this are, have mutations in genes called ASPM and Microcephalin. These two genes are known to affect brain size during embryonic development. The mutations are relatively new -they began to appear approximately 37,000 years ago. This is apparently the first time we've had any evidence that there is a genetic aspect to language.

So, what do you folks think of this?