(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 Iyionaku » Wed 04 Oct 2017, 14:00

Lao Kou wrote:What led you to this impression?
I don't know. Bias, maybe?

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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Solarius » Wed 04 Oct 2017, 22:27

Does the use of a postural verb+locative applicative seem like a plausible route to a progressive auxiliary to anyone?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » Wed 04 Oct 2017, 23:51

Like "I am standing/sitting/lying-at singing?" I think there are some languages that do something, though I am not that sure about the applicative thing.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » Thu 05 Oct 2017, 17:56

How did syllables like /we/, /wi/, /wu/, /je/, and /ji/ all disappear in Japanese. I know it has 'wa, and 'wo' as well as 'ya', 'yo', and 'yu.' Was it something completely random, or was there a reason for it?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sumelic » Thu 05 Oct 2017, 18:16

LinguoFranco wrote:How did syllables like /we/, /wi/, /wu/, /je/, and /ji/ all disappear in Japanese. I know it has 'wa, and 'wo' as well as 'ya', 'yo', and 'yu.' Was it something completely random, or was there a reason for it?
I'm not sure I understand the question entirely. Is it just based on your knowledge of the gaps in modern Japanese, or do you already know about the semivowel-deleting sound changes that occurred historically and are asking about their structural or phonological motivation?

As far as I know, there is no evidence for Japanese ever having ha a /wu/-/u/ contrast or an /ji/-/i/ contrast, but my impression is that the lack of a such a contrast is not rare.

Old Japanese did have /je/, /wi/, /we/; in modern Japanese, these have merged with /e/ /i/ /e/. I don't know the details of the intermediate sound changes. Maybe Clawgrip will be able to tell you more.

Semivowel loss is not such a rare type of sound change; other examples in Japanese are the more recent simplification of /wo/ to /o/ and the simplification of labiovelar gwa kwa to ga ka. Here is a Google Books link to a section of "The Phonology of Japanese", by Laurence Labrune, that looks relevant: https://books.google.com/books?id=ix9r6 ... es&f=false
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguistCat » Fri 06 Oct 2017, 08:31

Sumelic wrote: Old Japanese did have /je/, /wi/, /we/; in modern Japanese, these have merged with /e/ /i/ /e/. I don't know the details of the intermediate sound changes. Maybe Clawgrip will be able to tell you more.
Not clawgrip, but /wi/ and /we/ at least stayed around in Middle Japanese and into Early Modern. /e/ and /je/ however merged pretty early on as /je/ and only later became /e/ in the standard dialect.

Also as you say, as far as it can be seen, Japanese has never had /wu/ or /ji/ as separate from /u/ or /i/.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore » Wed 11 Oct 2017, 17:10

1.
Modern English still contains words starting < wr >, often homophonous with words starting < r >.
wrack/rack, wrap/rap, wrath/rath;
wreck/reck, wrest/rest;
wright/right, write/rite;
wrote/rote;
are just some examples.

I understand this reflects an originally phonemic (-etic? I think it's -emic?) difference.
a. When and where did the merger happen?
b. Are there any extant 'lects of English that don't have this merger?

[hr][/hr]

2.
Some current 'lects of English merge whether/weather and which/witch and whale/wail and why/wye and so on.
Some don't.
Originally the phonemes /w/ and /ʍ/ had their own letters, namely < w > and < ƕ >, or so I understand.
IIRC both Chaucer's contemporaries and Shakespeare's contemporaries sometimes spelled the /ʍ/ sound as < hw >, at least at the beginnings or words.
For (I think) about the last four decades, it's been my opinion that the <hw> spelling is actually a closer clue to the sound of /ʍ/ , than the <wh> spelling is, at least in those 'lects where the contrast between /w/ and /ʍ/ still exists.
Am I over-extrapolating from my own 'lect?

[hr][/hr]

3.
From my aunt -- an English teacher with a graduate degree in linguistics and a thesis on old English -- I gather that English used to make much more use of the word-initial consonant clusters /gw/ and /dw/ than it does now.
(We still use the /dw/ cluster, though; <dwarf>, e.g., starts that way.)
I understand that both <guarantee> and <warranty> are cognate to an earlier word with very similar meaning which was pronounced more like
/gwa ran ti/ than like /ga ran ti/ or /wa ran ti/.
Another such pair might be <guile> and <wile>.
(But probably not <gilt> and <guilt> and <wilt>!)

Can anyone confirm and/or elaborate on this?
And is it true that the /gw/ cluster usually got replaced by either a /g/ or a /w/?
And is there any 'lect of English still spoken for which many (or at least some) words (preferably not loan-words) still start with /gw/?
(A 'lect with few common words like that, might be just as interesting as one with many uncommon words like that.)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by qwed117 » Wed 11 Oct 2017, 20:21

eldin raigmore wrote: a. When and where did the merger happen?
b. Are there any extant 'lects of English that don't have this merger?
It's appears to have emerged in the 1700s. It doesnt occur in Doric Scots, where it becomes /vr/. It looks like the merger was happening over a long period of time, the /r/ was likely labialized much earlier
eldin raigmore wrote: 2.
Some current 'lects of English merge whether/weather and which/witch and whale/wail and why/wye and so on.
Some don't.
Originally the phonemes /w/ and /ʍ/ had their own letters, namely < w > and < ƕ >, or so I understand.
IIRC both Chaucer's contemporaries and Shakespeare's contemporaries sometimes spelled the /ʍ/ sound as < hw >, at least at the beginnings or words.
For (I think) about the last four decades, it's been my opinion that the <hw> spelling is actually a closer clue to the sound of /ʍ/ , than the <wh> spelling is, at least in those 'lects where the contrast between /w/ and /ʍ/ still exists.
Am I over-extrapolating from my own 'lect?
Not sure why you'd consider <wh> to be worse than <hw>. It's both a combination of a devoicing segment and the labiovelar stop. In dialects where it is over pronounced, it may be that it is more similar to /xw/. Maybe <hw> seems more accurate for that reason
eldin raigmore wrote: 3.
From my aunt -- an English teacher with a graduate degree in linguistics and a thesis on old English -- I gather that English used to make much more use of the word-initial consonant clusters /gw/ and /dw/ than it does now.
(We still use the /dw/ cluster, though; <dwarf>, e.g., starts that way.)
I understand that both <guarantee> and <warranty> are cognate to an earlier word with very similar meaning which was pronounced more like
/gwa ran ti/ than like /ga ran ti/ or /wa ran ti/.
Another such pair might be <guile> and <wile>.
(But probably not <gilt> and <guilt> and <wilt>!)

Can anyone confirm and/or elaborate on this?
And is it true that the /gw/ cluster usually got replaced by either a /g/ or a /w/?
And is there any 'lect of English still spoken for which many (or at least some) words (preferably not loan-words) still start with /gw/?
(A 'lect with few common words like that, might be just as interesting as one with many uncommon words like that.)
No, unfortuantely, that's all French invading. For guile and wile, the original OE word had a <w>. They were replaced by French loans with <gu>. Guarantee is actually confusion in French. In PG, the sound /w/ was probably closer to [ɣʷ]. As a result transcription into Latin varied between <gu> and <w>
Last edited by qwed117 on Wed 11 Oct 2017, 21:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » Wed 11 Oct 2017, 20:44

eldin raigmore wrote:1.
Modern English still contains words starting < wr >, often homophonous with words starting < r >
I understand this reflects an originally phonemic difference.
a. When and where did the merger happen?
b. Are there any extant 'lects of English that don't have this merger?
Wikipedia on one page locates the merger roughly between Chaucer and Shakespeare: 1400-1600. However, on another page it locates the merger in the 17th century, so slightly later. I don't know if one page is wrong, or if there's a scholarly debate, or if it depends on dialect. But broadly I'd say between 1500 at the earliest and 1700 at the latest, and I'd guess 1550-1650.

All dialects of English have the merger, but apparently Doric doesn't. However, Doric reflects older /wr/ as /vr/, apparently.

Originally the phonemes /w/ and /ʍ/ had their own letters, namely < w > and < ƕ >, or so I understand.
I'm afraid not, no. The ƕair ligature was invented around 1900 to transliterate Gothic ƕair (which looks totally different). Neither form of ƕair had been recognised as a letter in English previously, although of course at some point the sound would have been spelled 'hv'.

IIRC both Chaucer's contemporaries and Shakespeare's contemporaries sometimes spelled the /ʍ/ sound as < hw >, at least at the beginnings or words.
I don't know about that, but certainly it was spelled 'hw' in OE.
For (I think) about the last four decades, it's been my opinion that the <hw> spelling is actually a closer clue to the sound of /ʍ/ , than the <wh> spelling is, at least in those 'lects where the contrast between /w/ and /ʍ/ still exists.
Am I over-extrapolating from my own 'lect?
Neither spelling is closer to genuine [ʍ]. Personally, I know that sometimes when I say /ʍ/, I actually say /hw/, because it's a more 'natural' and 'easy' sound; probably there are some modern speakers who regularly have /hw/ in this way, but at least traditionally they would have used something closer to [ʍ] instead.
From my aunt -- an English teacher with a graduate degree in linguistics and a thesis on old English -- I gather that English used to make much more use of the word-initial consonant clusters /gw/ and /dw/ than it does now.
(We still use the /dw/ cluster, though; <dwarf>, e.g., starts that way.)
I'm skeptical. Wikipedia reconstructs only two Proto-Germanic nouns in dw-, two adjectives, two root verbs and a couple of other verb forms derives from those nouns and adjectives. So, basically, six roots. Three of the roots remain in common English (dwindle, dwarf and dwell), one has been resurrected for the fantasy genre (dweomer/dwimmer), and two seem to have been lost entirely (dwas and dwesh (Wiktionary claims that "adwesh" is still a word, but... well...)). To these we've added at least one more root (dweeb).

Proto-Germanic had no /gw-/ at all. /gw-/ is generally a result of the strengthening of initial Germanic or Latin /w/ in Frankish and Old French. [/quote]

I understand that both <guarantee> and <warranty> are cognate to an earlier word with very similar meaning which was pronounced more like
/gwa ran ti/ than like /ga ran ti/ or /wa ran ti/.
Another such pair might be <guile> and <wile>.
[/quote]
Indeed. The more famous example is "guard" vs "ward". However, the /gw-/ forms would have existed only briefly; already in Old French spellings without the 'u' are found, and I don't think the /gw-/ forms would ever have occurred in English, though I could be wrong.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sumelic » Wed 11 Oct 2017, 20:58

Salmoneus wrote:
Originally the phonemes /w/ and /ʍ/ had their own letters, namely < w > and < ƕ >, or so I understand.
I'm afraid not, no. The ƕair ligature was invented around 1900 to transliterate Gothic ƕair (which looks totally different). Neither form of ƕair had been recognised as a letter in English previously, although of course at some point the sound would have been spelled 'hv'.

IIRC both Chaucer's contemporaries and Shakespeare's contemporaries sometimes spelled the /ʍ/ sound as < hw >, at least at the beginnings or words.
I don't know about that, but certainly it was spelled 'hw' in OE.
The use of "w" as a definite letter distinct from "uu"/"vv" is, I think, post-OE. Wikipedia says "It was probably considered a separate letter by the 14th century in both Middle English and Middle German orthography". Previously, the digraph <uu> was used, or in Old English the rune-derived wynn. So the actual graphemes used in OE manuscripts would have been something like <huu> or <hƿ>. However, in modern editions of Old English texts, and modern spelling of Old English words, the graph <w> is commonly used, so they do have <hw>.

For (I think) about the last four decades, it's been my opinion that the <hw> spelling is actually a closer clue to the sound of /ʍ/ , than the <wh> spelling is, at least in those 'lects where the contrast between /w/ and /ʍ/ still exists.
Am I over-extrapolating from my own 'lect?
Neither spelling is closer to genuine [ʍ]. Personally, I know that sometimes when I say /ʍ/, I actually say /hw/, because it's a more 'natural' and 'easy' sound; probably there are some modern speakers who regularly have /hw/ in this way, but at least traditionally they would have used something closer to [ʍ] instead.
It is difficult to separate the sound of word-initial /h/ from the sound of any following segment. E.g. Wikipedia says that in English, /hj/ in words like "human" may be pronounced as [ç], and Icelandic has word-initial voiceless nasals that are analyzable phonologically as sequences of /h/ + a nasal consonant. Words pronounced with /h/ before a vowel in English generally can also be transcribed as starting with voiceless vowels e.g. /hɑ/ ≅ [ɑ̥ɑ]. So my undestanding is that there is no real phonetic basis for either order. A Language Log post about this: "Hwæt about WH?", Mark Liberman

From a phonological perspective, it's easier to analyze it as a /hw/ sequence than it is to analyze it as as a /wh/ sequence, so that supports the "hw" digraph. English consonant clusters are often very coarticulated anyway (e.g. I'm not sure to what extent the alveolar gesture in "twig" actually phonetically precedes the start of the labiovelar gesture).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Egerius » Thu 12 Oct 2017, 19:12

eldin raigmore wrote:
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1.
Modern English still contains words starting < wr >, often homophonous with words starting < r >.
wrack/rack, wrap/rap, wrath/rath;
wreck/reck, wrest/rest;
wright/right, write/rite;
wrote/rote;
are just some examples.
I understand this reflects an originally phonemic (-etic? I think it's -emic?) difference.
a. When and where did the merger happen?
b. Are there any extant 'lects of English that don't have this merger?
I found some article on exactly this topic recently:
Fisiak, Jacek. “THE OLD ENGLISH <WR-> AND <WL->” In: Linguistics, 1967, Vol.5(32), pp.12-14.

What it basically says is: The graphemic representations <wr-> and <wl-> represent single phonemes (/ɻ/ and /ɫ/, respectively), as cluster realisations would violate the phonotactic constraints of West Saxon (and, possibly, other OE dialects, as well): Those would be distinct from /r/ <r> and /l/ <l>.

What I might imagine is that Southern British English generalised /ɻ/ (later /ɹ/), which was exported to America and the other colonies, while Northern (i.e. Scottish) British English generalised /r/ as the principal rhotic realisation at some time before the colonisation of America.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Davush » Thu 12 Oct 2017, 21:32

What I might imagine is that Southern British English generalised /ɻ/ (later /ɹ/), which was exported to America and the other colonies, while Northern (i.e. Scottish) British English generalised /r/ as the principal rhotic realisation at some time before the colonisation of America.
That is interesting. Tapped /r/ is still a common realization in large parts of the north outside of Scotland as well.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 00:21

Egerius wrote:I found some article on exactly this topic recently:
Fisiak, Jacek. “THE OLD ENGLISH <WR-> AND <WL->” In: Linguistics, 1967, Vol.5(32), pp.12-14.

What it basically says is: The graphemic representations <wr-> and <wl-> represent single phonemes (/ɻ/ and /ɫ/, respectively), as cluster realisations would violate the phonotactic constraints of West Saxon (and, possibly, other OE dialects, as well): Those would be distinct from /r/ <r> and /l/ <l>.
Can't really comment on the article since it appears to be behind a paywall, but... How does it account for the fact that at least <wr> descends from an earlier cluster, is still realized as a cluster in Doric Scots (as noted in a couple of posts above), and corresponds to a cluster in other Germanic languages? On the surface, the argument that it couldn't have been a cluster in OE because OE didn't allow such clusters strikes me as somewhat circular, but again, I don't have the benefit of having read the full article, so I could well be missing something.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by qwed117 » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 00:58

Xonen wrote:
Egerius wrote:I found some article on exactly this topic recently:
Fisiak, Jacek. “THE OLD ENGLISH <WR-> AND <WL->” In: Linguistics, 1967, Vol.5(32), pp.12-14.

What it basically says is: The graphemic representations <wr-> and <wl-> represent single phonemes (/ɻ/ and /ɫ/, respectively), as cluster realisations would violate the phonotactic constraints of West Saxon (and, possibly, other OE dialects, as well): Those would be distinct from /r/ <r> and /l/ <l>.
Can't really comment on the article since it appears to be behind a paywall, but... How does it account for the fact that at least <wr> descends from an earlier cluster, is still realized as a cluster in Doric Scots (as noted in a couple of posts above), and corresponds to a cluster in other Germanic languages? On the surface, the argument that it couldn't have been a cluster in OE because OE didn't allow such clusters strikes me as somewhat circular, but again, I don't have the benefit of having read the full article, so I could well be missing something.
Not sure I buy the article from what I'm reading. If <wl> signifies /ɫ/, why would /ɫ/ and /l/ become phonemic later (in British English tmk)? Redeveloping a rare distinction if you've just lost it seems pretty senseless
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 01:17

qwed117 wrote:Not sure I buy the article from what I'm reading. If <wl> signifies /ɫ/, why would /ɫ/ and /l/ become phonemic later (in British English tmk)? Redeveloping a rare distinction if you've just lost it seems pretty senseless
Sound change has no memory, so while it may be unlikely, a rare distinction can develop any number of times in a language's history.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by qwed117 » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 01:35

Dormouse559 wrote:
qwed117 wrote:Not sure I buy the article from what I'm reading. If <wl> signifies /ɫ/, why would /ɫ/ and /l/ become phonemic later (in British English tmk)? Redeveloping a rare distinction if you've just lost it seems pretty senseless
Sound change has no memory, so while it may be unlikely, a rare distinction can develop any number of times in a language's history.
I'm arguing on probability here, but sound change is affected at least somewhat affected by sprachbunds. For English to go in and out of a sprachbund in just this trait seems unusual.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » Fri 13 Oct 2017, 01:45

qwed117 wrote:I'm arguing on probability here, but sound change is affected at least somewhat affected by sprachbunds. For English to go in and out of a sprachbund in just this trait seems unusual.
I am also arguing on probability. At any given stage of a language, the probability it will develop a feature is determined synchronically. All other things being equal, that probability stays the same. I don't know enough about sprachbunds to speak to that point.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen » Sat 14 Oct 2017, 01:11

qwed117 wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:
qwed117 wrote:Not sure I buy the article from what I'm reading. If <wl> signifies /ɫ/, why would /ɫ/ and /l/ become phonemic later (in British English tmk)? Redeveloping a rare distinction if you've just lost it seems pretty senseless
Sound change has no memory, so while it may be unlikely, a rare distinction can develop any number of times in a language's history.
I'm arguing on probability here, but sound change is affected at least somewhat affected by sprachbunds. For English to go in and out of a sprachbund in just this trait seems unusual.
Somewhat affected, yes, but there's no need to assume that just this particular sound change would necessarily need one (what sprachbund would that even be, with Irish?).

And probability tends to defy human logic in some ways; it's extremely improbable for one hundred consecutive coin tosses to all turn up heads (at least assuming an evenly balanced coin, obviously), yet if you've just tossed 99 heads, the chances for the next one are still fifty-fifty (well, roughly; it's technically possible for the coin to end up or its side or spontaneously explode or whatever, but these don't really occur often enough to affect the percentage). Similarly, it's improbable that a language acquire the same unusual trait twice in a relatively short time period, yet after it's happened once, the chances for it happening again are still exactly as great as they were before. Which I'll agree doesn't make sense, but they wouldn't let me have creative control of the universe, so this is what we're stuck with.

Actually, I think you could also argue that having the two sounds in a somewhat complicated complementary or nigh-complementary distribution would be exactly the kind of situation where a phonemic contrast could rather easily appear and disappear, varying both chronologically and areally - with the typological rareness of the contrast itself being largely irrelevant.

All of that being said, though, /ɫ/ being a distinct phoneme in OE does still strike me as rather dubious.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Sumelic » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 16:53

Xonen wrote:probability tends to defy human logic in some ways; it's extremely improbable for one hundred consecutive coin tosses to all turn up heads (at least assuming an evenly balanced coin, obviously), yet if you've just tossed 99 heads, the chances for the next one are still fifty-fifty (well, roughly; it's technically possible for the coin to end up or its side or spontaneously explode or whatever, but these don't really occur often enough to affect the percentage). Similarly, it's improbable that a language acquire the same unusual trait twice in a relatively short time period, yet after it's happened once, the chances for it happening again are still exactly as great as they were before. Which I'll agree doesn't make sense, but they wouldn't let me have creative control of the universe, so this is what we're stuck with.
I think "assuming an evenly balanced coin" is the thing that messes up people's intuitions here. We can be perfectly confident that the odds for the next flip are still exactly fifty-fifty if we take the coin (and the entire flipping process, etc.) being fair as an axiom, but in any situation someone actually encounters in real life with a literal coin and a run of 99 heads, it probably doesn't make sense to put absolute trust in the coin being fair. If there's any uncertainty at all about whether the coin is fair, then knowing that you just got a run of 99 heads should in fact reduce your confidence in your ability to predict that the next flip has a 50% chance of coming up heads (although this information by itself doesn't allow you to rigorously determine a definite alternative prediction, since there are many possible ways in which an unfair coin could behave).
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by All4Ɇn » Sun 15 Oct 2017, 18:23

Not really an objective question, but what would you guys consider to be really cool looking Hanzi that are underused that I should incorporate into one of my conlangs?
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