(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 Xonen » 10 Aug 2014 19:22

Squall wrote:
Xonen wrote:
Squall wrote:Since the environment is noisy, we do not hear all phonemes and the brain convert the words, which is better: a language with short words and large phoneme inventory, or a language with long words and small phoneme inventory?
I'm afraid linguistics hasn't really yet advanced to the point where we can rank languages based on how good they are. [:S]
Bad question. [:x]
Actually I mean "good" in understanding phonemes or how rare someone does not understand a word or statement in the language.
That study could be possible by counting the number of times that someone is not understood in dialogues.
The size of the words or the phoneme inventory may influence it.
You'd have to control for a whole bunch of other variables, though. Languages have numerous strategies to ensure comprehension, on all levels from phonetics to pragmatics. Trying to isolate the effect phoneme count and word-length has on it sounds really, really difficult.

Personally, I suspect all languages are roughly equally good in this department (with the possible exception of Danish [:P]). A situation where some feature in a language is noticeably interfering with comprehension is bound to be unstable, and any change resulting in such a situation will soon be countered by some other balancing change. For example, most words in Classical Chinese were monosyllabic, but during the development towards Mandarin, the number of possible syllables dropped dramatically, resulting in many formerly distinct words becoming homophonous. Instead of living with a situation like this, though, Mandarin has increased the number of bisyllabic words (as well as undergone grammatical changes).

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

Post by Ahzoh » 12 Aug 2014 07:02

I don't understand this vowel analysis (done in Praat) in the context of a vowel diagram that you see on wikipedia pages. Anyone know what it means? I'm not particularly savvy on all this formant stuff.

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

Post by eldin raigmore » 12 Aug 2014 07:18

Micamo wrote:You know, a lot of conlangers take it for granted that languages with large phoneme inventories have generally shorter utterances (in terms of phoneme if not in terms of time), because there's more bits per phoneme. But how true is this, really? My anecdotal experience is that the length of utterances has little to do with the number of distinctive phonemes: Are there any studies that look into this?
Most of what I'm about to say is not, strictly speaking, responsive to your question.
I understand that an average clause in most any language is likely to communicate about the same amount of information as an average clause in most any other language.
I think I've read that somewhere; if so, there must have been a study; but I can't guarantee there was one, much less remember how to find it, or who the author(s) was/were, or what the title was, or what year it was published, or what journal it was in (if it was a journal) or what book-series it was in (if it was in a book-series).
Sorry I'm no help there.

But I have more to say:

Lots of conlangers initially assume that smaller phoneme-inventories must make for more complex syllables, while greater phoneme-inventories must make for simpler syllables.
In fact, that's exactly backwards.

If you examine WALS.info you'll see that more phonemes actually correlates with more complex syllables and fewer phonemes correlates with simpler syllables.

So what one's intuition tells one might be misleading.

There is no reason that clauses can't tend to be the same number of bits long without the words necessarily varying in size.

Say you generally wanted to communicate about 40 bits per (simple, intransitive) clause (such as "birds fly").

With 32 phonemes you could do this in two four-phoneme words, or one eight-phoneme word, or four two-phoneme words. You might think eight phonemes per word is pretty long and two phonemes per word is pretty short; and IMO you'd be right to think so.

With 16 phonemes you could do this in two five-phoneme words, or one ten-phoneme word, or five two-phoneme words.

And so on.

So, I think either the question is ill-posed, or most of the answers posted so far don't consider all the variables deeply and carefully enough.
(I could be wrong … though at the moment I can't think how.)

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

Post by Ear of the Sphinx » 12 Aug 2014 10:32

Ahzoh wrote:I don't understand this vowel analysis (done in Praat) in the context of a vowel diagram that you see on wikipedia pages. Anyone know what it means? I'm not particularly savvy on all this formant stuff.

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It's basically the same.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » 12 Aug 2014 12:36

Ahzoh wrote:I don't understand this vowel analysis (done in Praat) in the context of a vowel diagram that you see on wikipedia pages. Anyone know what it means? I'm not particularly savvy on all this formant stuff.

Image
The x-axis shows the difference between F1 and F2 1, which is rather directly related to the backness/frontness of a vowel. However, it is also affected by lip rounding.
The y-axis shows F1 which is related to the open-ness or height of a vowel.
As you can see, these results can almost directly be translated into an (articulatory) IPA/Wikipedia chart.
Some comments about your vowels. Watch out, this is just my opinion2 [;)]
You've got a very beautiful 'i' there, but you're 'u' seems somewhat fronted. Don't mind the lowering though, that's pretty normal.
Your 'ɔ' and 'ɛ' also look good to me, 'ɛ' appearing more back than 'i' seems to be common, too. Your 'ɔ', however, is somewhat fronted, that might have to do with the fronting of your 'u'.
The diphthongization of your 'e' and 'o' is an english problem, I guess.
Your schwa seems pretty out of place, there might be a mistake somewhere.
Your 'a' is not as low as other 'a's I encountered, but there's nothing wrong with the backness.
Now I feel like a fortune teller [:D]
1 If you don't understand what a formant is, that's totally okay. Just think of them as an acoustic variable.
2 This also means, that this is not a professional analysis and stuff.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 13 Aug 2014 05:07

Creyeditor wrote:
Ahzoh wrote:I don't understand this vowel analysis (done in Praat) in the context of a vowel diagram that you see on wikipedia pages. Anyone know what it means? I'm not particularly savvy on all this formant stuff.

Image
The x-axis shows the difference between F1 and F2 1, which is rather directly related to the backness/frontness of a vowel. However, it is also affected by lip rounding.
The y-axis shows F1 which is related to the open-ness or height of a vowel.
As you can see, these results can almost directly be translated into an (articulatory) IPA/Wikipedia chart.
Some comments about your vowels. Watch out, this is just my opinion2 [;)]
You've got a very beautiful 'i' there, but you're 'u' seems somewhat fronted. Don't mind the lowering though, that's pretty normal.
Your 'ɔ' and 'ɛ' also look good to me, 'ɛ' appearing more back than 'i' seems to be common, too. Your 'ɔ', however, is somewhat fronted, that might have to do with the fronting of your 'u'.
The diphthongization of your 'e' and 'o' is an english problem, I guess.
Your schwa seems pretty out of place, there might be a mistake somewhere.
Your 'a' is not as low as other 'a's I encountered, but there's nothing wrong with the backness.
Now I feel like a fortune teller [:D]
1 If you don't understand what a formant is, that's totally okay. Just think of them as an acoustic variable.
2 This also means, that this is not a professional analysis and stuff.
Thank you. I don't care if it's an opinion, I just want to know I'm on a right track. I think I can get rid of the diphthongization if I make /e/ and /o/ shorter.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Xonen » 13 Aug 2014 13:06

Creyeditor wrote:Your 'a' is not as low as other 'a's I encountered, but there's nothing wrong with the backness.
Wouldn't that, strictly speaking, be an [ɑ] then, though? Of course, most languages don't distinguish between [a] and [ɑ], so the difference is rarely terribly relevant.

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

Post by loglorn » 13 Aug 2014 13:17

And that schwa smells like [ʌ] (but again, not terribly relevant)
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Tanni » 13 Aug 2014 13:38

Questions for native speakers:
My focus on E's as well as on A's novel is the delineation of a female central character/female protagonist, who takes on/slips in/assumes various roles because it has to undergo different development phases (from a girl to a Lady or from a fallen woman to a married woman with a rescued reputation).
female central character vs female protagonist?

takes on vs slips in vs assumes various roles?

... because it vs she has to undergo ...?

I think that if one would use ''female central character'', ''it'' would be better, but if one would use ''female protagonist'', ''she'' would be required.
My focus in E's and A's novel
This was the original beginning of the sentence. Don't care for what E and A stand for. Would the word ''novel'' require the plural in this case? I was not sure, so I proposed the ''as well as'' construction.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 13 Aug 2014 17:21

loglorn wrote:And that schwa smells like [ʌ] (but again, not terribly relevant)
It is relevant, it means I'm not pronouncing my conlang properly. And I don't want an echo chamber of false representations.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by thetha » 13 Aug 2014 18:14

@Tanni: you should never refer to a person as it unless they're one of the 10 people in the world who might ask you to. It's majorly no bueno. So "She is the female central character".

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

Post by Tanni » 13 Aug 2014 18:27

Teddy wrote:@Tanni: you should never refer to a person as it unless they're one of the 10 people in the world who might ask you to. It's majorly no bueno. So "She is the female central character".
It's not me, but in text which I proofread. The ''it'' would refer to a fictional character, not a real person. That's why I asked.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by thetha » 13 Aug 2014 21:01

They're fictional, but they're still a girl/woman which makes them a she.

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

Post by Tanni » 13 Aug 2014 21:13

Teddy wrote:They're fictional, but they're still a girl/woman which makes them a she.
It's not because theiy're fictional, it's because they're characters or figures. That's why I asked.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 13 Aug 2014 21:35

What's the functional difference between fictional people and "characters"? I thought they were synonymous terms.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Lambuzhao » 13 Aug 2014 21:50

What Teddy is getting across is that, even though a character is an abstract creation, native speakers of English do not refer to them in objective literary works as an 'it'.
In academic literature, characters are referred to by their gender, with some notable exceptions (e.g. Moby Dick the White Whale).

See how many times the authors use 'it' to refer to the characters discussed-

Here's a little monograph about Dickens' character Ebenezer Scrooge of A Christmas Carol:
http://blog.richmond.edu/psyc449/2010/1 ... rned-hero/

A disquisition on Lady MacBeth as tragic heroine:
http://quinnae.com/2012/12/28/shaking-h ... c-heroine/

IMHO as a native speaker, in both of these academic works (and many, many others), if the author starts using 'it' (s)he is either referring to a) the book or play within which the character exists, or b) some quality, characteristic or attitude belonging to the character in question, c) anything else except the character him/herself.

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

Post by Tanni » 14 Aug 2014 09:52

XXXVII wrote:What's the functional difference between fictional people and "characters"? I thought they were synonymous terms.
I thought about that, too, yesterday. Seemed all the same to me.

But now, I would say that ''character'' or ''figure'' is a technical or generic term for one instance of the class of fictional people, motivating the ''it'', as it refers to the ''function''. So Peter Pan is a fictional boy, the protagonist in a novel called ''Peter and Wendy'', and refered to by ''he'', while Peter Pan is a character from a novel by J. M. Barrie, possible refered to by it?

I think that if one would use ''female central character'', ''it'' would be better, but if one would use ''female protagonist'', ''she'' would be required.

Is there a semantic difference between female central character and female protagonist?

What's better: takes on vs slips in vs assumes various roles?

... because it vs she has to undergo ...?

Ok, as this is a concrete fictional woman, I think it's ''she''.

My focus in E's and A's novel
This was the original beginning of the sentence. Don't care for what E and A stand for.

My focus on E's and A's novel vs My focus on E's and A's novels?

Would the word ''novel'' require the plural in this case? I was not sure, so I proposed the ''as well as'' construction.

Thanks Teddy, XXXVII, and Lambuzhao for answering.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Squall » 14 Aug 2014 18:31

During the last days, I learned a bit of linguistics in some threads and about myths. It is good because I was used only to European languages.

Any natural language is stable, usable, learnable, non-broken and able to express anything.

Info that is grammatically required seems verbose to the listeners of other languages.
While the plural differentiates between one and four units, it fails in differentiating four and four million units.
Tenses are as difficult as evidentiality.
While I am unable to differentiate the English 2SG and 2PL (and I use "you all" or "you and the others"), the English speakers (and other languages) have problems to differentiate the Romance "to be", which are two verbs.

Double negation that means negative is logical, because it came from a special operator or a special negative word (such as the Latin 'nec/neque': not even, neither, also not, less than, below an inferior limit, below the minimal expectancy).

And other facts.

Thank you.
English is not my native language. Sorry for any mistakes or lack of knowledge when I discuss this language.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ahzoh » 14 Aug 2014 18:44

Tanni wrote:
XXXVII wrote:
My focus in E's and A's novel
This was the original beginning of the sentence. Don't care for what E and A stand for.

My focus on E's and A's novel vs My focus on E's and A's novels?

Would the word ''novel'' require the plural in this case? I was not sure, so I proposed the ''as well as'' construction.

Thanks Teddy, XXXVII, and Lambuzhao for answering.
Depends, is it referring to a single novel made by A and E or does it refer to two novels, each made by one person?
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » 14 Aug 2014 18:57

Ahzoh wrote:
Tanni wrote:
XXXVII wrote:
My focus in E's and A's novel
This was the original beginning of the sentence. Don't care for what E and A stand for.

My focus on E's and A's novel vs My focus on E's and A's novels?

Would the word ''novel'' require the plural in this case? I was not sure, so I proposed the ''as well as'' construction.

Thanks Teddy, XXXVII, and Lambuzhao for answering.
Depends, is it referring to a single novel made by A and E or does it refer to two novels, each made by one person?
I'd say that's the main question, although there could be some ambiguity:

a) "E's and A's novel" - A single novel written by E and A (although would E need the possessive "-'s" as well? I know I only mark the final possessor when there's more than one, e.g. "Alan and Peter's flat" instead of "Alan's and Peter's flat")

b) "E's and A's novels" - I think this ties in with my last question/point a little bit. To me, this means we're talking about a novel or multiple novels written by E and a novel or multiple novels written by A as opposed to:

c) "E and A's novels" - Multiple novels which are jointly written by E and A.

"E's and A's novel", at least in my speech, just doesn't quite sit right, but "E and A's novel" seems perfectly fine for "one novel, jointly written by E and A".
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That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.

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