November 26th, 2007

Discorso de Perasto

Hello all,

I've got a translation request, from what I suppose is 18th Century Venetian or a version of it, from the end of Venetian rule in a beautiful town I once visited, in modern Montenegro. It's not hugely long and I'd be very interested to know more about the language it's written in as well as the actual content. Thanks to anyone who can help me out.

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Looking for help from East Asian IPA experts in the group

Recently discovered a wonderful little application called OpenVanilla ( ), which basically allows you to design and use custom IMEs for both Windows and Mac. I'd been thinking about doing one to help with transcription of Japanese, and so I downloaded it and decided to muck around. Between checking wiki and using what I already know, I think I've hammered out a decent Japanese one for the most part. Curiosity and a persistent interest in comparative phonology got me poking around some and I've started working on ones for Korean and Vietnamese as well (the latter having separate ones for the Hanoi and Saigon dialects).

That said, as I know there are some here who are much more up on their phonology than I am, I thought I'd put it out there for a bit of collaboration. I've bundled up the .cin files I've done so far in a zip file here: . If anyone wants to check through and proofread them or offer advice on how to make them more responsive to sound changes in each language (e.g. variation in the pronunciation of Korean consonants based on where they are located in the character).

For those who are interested, a brief description of the status of each:

Think this one's pretty well set for the most part. It's romaji based, and can accept either one English character at a time (useful for isolating phonemes) or one kana at a time (e.g. it'll recognize 'k' or 'ka', but not 'kare' since the last one hasn't been programmed in yet). I've also got it set up to recognize ん after words to make things a bit easier. ん on its own is n' so as to distinguish it from the initial n's phoneme in isolation. Next planned step is to make it factor in long vowels.

Think I have the basics put together so far. It's currently set up to handle any combination of a single initial consonant and a vowel, and should compensate for any allophonic shifts resulting from such combinations (e.g. it knows that ㅅ + ㅣ is supposed to be /ɕi/ and not /si/). Final consonants (if present) have to be added individually after the combined initial and vowel. Adding an apostrophe after a consonant will change its form to its variant if it has a separate form for the end of a character (e.g. a final ㅅ would be rendered as /t/ if entered as s'). Jamo locations are the same as Apple's HNC Romaja input method. Consonant clusters have not been factored in yet, because I'm not quite sure what to render them as and none of the resources I can find address them.

Letter and tone locations are based on Apple's Vietnamese IME. I've scoured Wiki's references on Vietnamese phonology and set up just about all of the consonants, consonant clusters, vowels, and polyphthongs, as well as factoring in phonological differences between northern and southern dialects into two separate versions. Consonants and vowels presently need to be entered separately, but everything should work fine otherwise. If someone knows how to properly mark for tones in IPA I'm all ears; in the meantime I'm using the notation used in the article as a placeholder.

Here's hoping someone else finds some of this useful!

the greater "they"

I'm fascinated by how a person can go on talking and talking for several minutes about a subject and give the illusion of authority on the subject without ever revealing their source. The word "they" is the culprit in English. Here's an example:

"So, they just found out that eating too much chocolate can cause kidney disease. Yeah, they're saying that dark chocolate is actually really bad for you, contrary popular belief. Yeah, isn't that crazy? First they say it's good for you, then they say it's bad."

You can infer that "they" refers to some type of medical authority or research establishment, but technically, "they" COULD just refer to two crazy guys at the bar who told me this story. Nonetheless, it seems to give the illusion of authority. It's also a really good way for a person to pit him/herself against an imaginary opponent and appear rebellious:

"They say that spending too much time working is bad. But you know what? I love my job. And I love working."

Does this happen in any other languages? Can "they" be used for the same purpose in any other languages (i.e., authority, hiding the source, etc?)
  • oh_meow

(no subject)

Poll #1095202 Whilst vs While

Which do you prefer?

I use whilst mostly
I use both whilst and while, but they have different meanings for me
I use both interchangeably
Whilst sounds ok to me, but I use while
Whilst sounds weird to me, I only use while

I am ...

A native English speaker
A non-native English speaker

My variety of English is closer to

British English
American English

My country is...

  • Current Music
    the pastels - up for a bit with the pastels
  • oh_meow

Strong Pasts

I was wondering about different regional variations of the strong simple pasts.

I pronounce came in exactly the same way as come "They come round ours last Thursday for dinner" and ate as et. I think these two are both pretty common round the UK. I often hear people in Medway use see instead of saw ie "I see him last Thursday, he didn't look well", but I don't use it myself.

My boyfriend is from Wiltshire, he doesn't sound particularly West Country, but there's the odd thing (such as the way he says castle), he says led instead of laid "I was led in bed, reading a book, when the doorbell rang."

I've heard americans use dove as the past tense of dive, where I would use dived.

Anyone else got any more?
The Sideways Pie

The "England" question

There was a question about this on QI the other day, and it occurred to me that I had never really given it much thought.

Here in the Netherlands, we prefer the word "England" (Engeland) to "Great Britain" (Groot-Brittannië). We don't even have a word for just "Britain". (Presumably it's Brittannië, but so far I've only heard the adjective "British" - Brits.) It seems perfectly natural to us that the part stands for the whole, and so I must have accidentally insulted quite an amount of Welsh people by calling them "English" as a kid. The fact that it's so logical to us is probably because 1. The language is called "English", and 2. There's still a large number of children's songs and rhymes about "England", and zero about "Great Britain". I remember learning in elementary school that the country to our left was simply called England, and didn't learn about any other name for it until I was at least ten years old.

Stephen Fry mentioned this on QI, and his guests seemed to be genuinely shocked that people could refer to the entire country by its part. As it turns out, the switch only took place halfway through the 20th century (not the name "Great Britain", but it being the only correct word), and not all countries/languages have adopted the new politically correct version yet.

My question is: in your country and language, does "England" sound like an acceptable alternative to "Great Britain"? Would you use the word for the country in casual conversation? In formal conversation? And which name were you taught in school?

Infinitive Stuff.

In a recent syntax assignment, I've only just realized that the "to" in an English infinitive - i.e. to eat, to dance, to f$%k - is a free morpheme that represents (-tense) and is the head of the IP embedded in the outer CP.

So unless I've done this wrong, Collapse )

Question #1: Is this (-tense) morpheme etymologically related to the English preposition "to"? I looked at the definitions on and they're all about the preposition. Where do they both come from? Is there a free morpheme such as this in other languages besides those that could be related to English?

Question #2: Where, in a structural tree, does the Fr. de go in the sentence, Je déteste cesse de pleurer. It can't be a (-tense) if it doesn't show up in Je veux pleurer. Right?

Question #3: How does Tagalog deal with infinitives? I'm incapable of forming a sentence involving them - i.e. "I want to know" = Gusto kong... alam? Mag-alam? Alam-an?

Oh yeah! and: Collapse )
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    "Last Man On Earth" by Key Witness

Pet peeves.

I was just talking with my friend (okay, ranting. There was some foaming on my part) about various common grammar errors that irk us, both in spoken and written English. IE e.g: Your/you're their/there/they're confusion or, my example, people using "less" when they should use "fewer".

So, basically, I'm curious about similar common mistakes that might be made in other languages. For you non-native English speakers: what are your language pet-peeves?

(Hell, English speakers are welcome to chime as well. I'm always up for a little linguistic frothing. ;) )

Edit: This has gone off the rails a bit, and I would like to apologize for my ignorance. I only posed the question out of idle curiousity, and I honestly didn't intend to make any sort of judgment or perscriptivist statement. In fact, I hadn't heard of perscriptivism before these threads (more proof of ignorance, I know). At least my eyes have been opened that much! The links provided have been very interesting.

Once again, I didn't mean to offend anyone. :x
joe the cat - amish farmer/rabbi

translation software or simply bad grammar?

This post is my first at linguaphiles.

I'm a relatively new English Composition instructor at a university, and I have a few students whose native language is not English. Nearly all have achieved an acceptable fluency, but one particular student whose native language is Russian has not achieved fluency that I consider sufficient. I'm grading his answers to several prompts that were assigned to the whole class. What I'm going to copy and paste here is a brief excerpt from one answer, and I'd like you to tell me whether you think his wording sounds more like someone not very good in his use of idioms, or if perhaps a translation software was used. I'll appreciate your opinions. Here you go:

A travel is useful for the students because it helps to learn unique knowledge of foreign countries and to bring back the understanding of the characters and ways of those nations, which would rub and polish pupil's brains.

LATER NOTE: It was my feeling that what we're seeing in this excerpt is a matter of poor word choices. Another reader suggested that I run it past this community and see if you agreed, or if it might be a product of translation software.


In the useless_facts community today, someone posted the below-quoted text. Can anyone tell me if this is true or not? I'm always wary of linguistic trivia like this.

Belief in were-hyenas is so entrenched within the traditional lore of the Bornu people of north-eastern Nigeria, that their language even contains a special word bultungin which translates as "I change myself into a hyena".

Here's a link to the original post if you so desire.
Wanna bettaworld

(no subject)

Car anyone tell me about the word ' car'?

It first appears as a wagon attached to a train, apparently but then becomes a word for automobile, so i am told. and apparently is not linked to carraige in any way.
can someone enlighten me on its entymology and useage please?