January 29th, 2008

Cantonese phonology resources?


I've recently started taking a conversational Cantonese class, and it's great fun. It's mostly going well, despite the fact that the teacher, an older gentleman from Canton City with fluent but not native competency in English, is a fairly traditional proscriptive grammarian rather than a linguist. This means, in practice, that he's great at drills and pointing out mistakes, but not as good at answering detailed phonology questions. And like a lot of native speaker language teachers, he doesn't seem to hear some subtle distinctions that seem pretty obvious to a linguistically astute foreigner.

I've noticed a great deal of contextual variation in both tone and vowel quality. To cite one example, tones that I believe are supposed to be mid-level often sound quite high to me in some contexts. Seems like it might also be emphatic.

Even more interesting, the vowel transcribed in the Yale system as o seems to vary between /ɔ/ and /o/, perhaps depending on tone, but I can't find the pattern described anywhere, and the teacher insists that the vowel remains constant, despite the fact that it doesn't sound like it to me. The only reference I've got, the 1970 Cantonese Basic Course from the FSI, describes this vowel as mid-back-rounded (/ɔ/) only, but it sure sounds like /o/ sometimes.

Anyone have any advice or suggestions for good, readily available, linguistics-oriented resources? I'm not a student, so things I can get in places other than university libraries are particularly appreciated.

Dō jeh in advance!

transcription from German

Hello, germanphiles!

I need a bit of help. There is a radio-play "OK COMPUTER" which is based on the groundbreaking album of Radiohead and was broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 in past October. It is in English commonly but includes 2 fragments in German. I need your assistance to transcript them and translate. Both of them are just several phrases, so they are pretty short.

The MP3 file [39 mb] of the piece you may download from here:

or here (mirror):

The 1st fragment [which starts on the 0:04:50 of the running time] is a short conversation of two policemen at the car accident in Berlin, the 2nd one [0:09:05 of the running time] -- a couple of phrases of a nurse in the hospital.

You may either put the german transcription and English translation into a comment to this post or mail me: VETROLOV (at) YA (dot) RU

Thank you for your assistance in advance!!!

Real Academia Española

X-posted to grammargasm:

I'm getting mixed messages from friends about how important it is to be justified by the Real Academia Española in my Spanish vocabulary and grammar. Some say it's the law; some say it's no longer important to adhere to. Some say it's like demanding that an American speak "the Queen's English," and they don't always specify whether that's good or bad. Anyone care to illuminate me?


So, I work at a Disability Services office, and I had been intending on learning Braille for personal amusement for a long time. I told one of my supervisors, who is still going through the certification training, that I learned Grade 1 Braille (basically, the equivalent to fingerspelling, pinyin, or kana or what have you.), and that I was planning on learning higher levels. She suggested that I get some formal training and get certified, which apparently is near-free. It also could potentially help me at work ;) Anyone have any experiences with Braille training? There seems to be a lot of resources, so any suggestions for what's best and goes beyond simple letter-by-letter transcriptions would be nice, especially formatting. I'm looking for Literary and Format Braille, though Braille for technical and mathematical texts wouldn't hurt
Imai Kira - Twinkle Mermaid

Really quick question.

We are currently reviewing the futur tense in French this week, but I really don't get futur anterieur.
I usually think of a time line such as the present is in the middle, passe compose to the left, l'imparfait behind p.c. and then futur to the right of the present.
But where would futur anterieur go?
Hopefully that made sense.

  • mavisol

"universality of things"

Hello to all,
I am trying to "crack" a phrase from a legal informational text:
"A foundation is an organisation consisting of a universality of things constituted by a founder whereby assets are destined either for the blah blah blah"

What is "universality of things"? Google says this is a phrase from a William Carlos Williams' poem. What does it mean in this context?

And also, what does "constituted by a founder" refers to in this text? Is it the organisation or "a universality of things" that is "constituted by a founder"?


cross-posted to Linguistics

For my historical linguistics class, we've been given a largely self-directed project that can take just about any form (essay, multimedia, etc). My background is in Dutch and English, so I'd like to do something with the relationship between one of those languages, or perhaps Frisian, Scots, or Afrikaans. I'm having a hard time with my proposal. I was thinking I could do something with comparing their vocabularies or something, but I'm pretty stuck. We will be presenting these, so I'd like to try and find something that will appeal to my classmates as well, since they will have to sit through quite a few.

Any ideas? Thanks!