June 12th, 2009

Dissimilation of velars

The classic example of velar dissimilation in Russian is 'легкий' [...çc...], but I've also noticed the same phenomenon in my own speech in the following situation: whenever 'к' preposition precedes a word starting  with plosive velar, it becomes fricative ('к каналу' [xk...], 'к городу' [γg...]). I think I do so because it's virtually impossible to geminate a plosive word-initially or a after a consonant without inserting an auxiliary vowel. The questions are:
a) is it a common (and even standard) or dialectal thing in Russian;
b) are there languages that allow geminated word-initial plosives in general (and velar ones in particular)?

korean grammar

korean language is beautiful, but hard. >.< in particular, all i feel like i come across are books to memorize the 'key phrases' arranged according to situation, like airport, shopping, dining out, etc. the kind of books mainly geared towards tourists. and the thing is, i want a more...thorough approach, that takes me through the basics like in spanish and french courses, where you learn how to conjugate the present verbs with all the pronouns, etc...

but i'm wondering if the reason korean books don't work this way is, there aren't verb conjugations in the same way?

i'm confused still with the many hierarchic levels/degrees of politeness and informality. and, the particle markers are definitely challenging to get a hold of! does anyone know of good resources to get a more solid grip on korean grammar?

i wish there were a Korean Grammar for Dummies! i so need it. >

Chinese language study


So I just came back from China (Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou) for a brief study abroad program relating to Chinese information technology and science and I feel compelled to "master" the Mandarin dialect ... I am a native Cantonese speaker but I am "conversant" or at least I thought I was "conversant" in Mandarin .. After the trip, I am below that. I took about 4 semesters of Mandarin in college .. and now I was thinking about studying intensively for a year ... in China or Taiwan .. I really thought about it .. investing a year and trying to become at least proficient in Mandarin. I can read and write .. at a basic/intermediate level .. so my question is ... where are these programs that offer such opportunity to study Mandarin intensively .. at an affordable rate? I have checked out Cornell's Falcon program .. too expensive. When I stayed in Hangzhou, it was at Zhejiang University ... I could contact the professor there and maybe I can study there? But I prefer Taiwan because it's in the south .. and it's close to Hong Kong and Macau and other places .. but I'm open to any ideas ... if anyone could give me some program links to these language programs I'd appreciate it!

I want to learn how to speak and listen ... after doing this, I hope to get a M.A. in Near Eastern Studies .. .(something completely different but I'll do Arabic another time)

Hyponymy of beans

I was inspired to make this post after reading a recent post on lj-vegancooking. Here's a quote from the post:

"As far as beans go there are garbanzo, red, white and fava beans."

Now, in my dialect of English, garbanzo beans are known as chickpeas. I don't think of chickpeas as being a subset of beans, so I'd probably never write a sentence that read "chickpeas, fava and other beans". I think of beans and chickpeas as subsets of legumes, so I might say something like "chickpeas, fava beans and other legumes".


Are these garbanzo beans or chick peas?

2! Using the example sentences as tests, which conceptual hierarchy is more natural to you?

(a) chickpeas/garbanzos are not a type of bean

legumes---> beans---> fava beans
---> cannellini beans
---> and other types of beans, etc.
---> chickpeas/garbanzos
---> lentils
and whatever else is a legume.
Are lentils legumes? I don't even know.

(b) chickpeas/garbanzos are a type of bean

legumes---> beans---> fava beans
---> cannellini beans
---> chick peas/garbanzos
---> etc.
---> lentils, other legumes,

3! Where are you from/what's your native dialect?

What does this say about the way a simple lexical difference can influence our conceptual hierarchies? Do you think it's just a linguistic difference or a conceptual one? Does hyponymy come encoded in words, or is it a natural feature of the world, or something else?