(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 Ælfwine » 03 May 2018 02:08

Until what century was length phonemic in Latin? I've been reading examples from Rhetoromance that /u/ for example had become /ü/ when length was still phonemic, as an example.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 03 May 2018 19:07

I don't think it's possible to say. It depends what you mean by 'phonemic length'. When did length stop being phonemic in English?

Latin never "lost" phonemic length, per se. Four things happened:

a) an inherited 'length' distinction produced a secondary difference in quality
b) stressed vowels tended to lengthen and unstressed vowels tended to shorten
c) losses made stress unpredictable
d) former long /e/ and former short /i/ merged

Now, we don't know when the first happened, because there's no way to tell - it could have been like that all along, for all we know. And similarly, we don't know about the second either, because so long as stress is predictable, stress-based length alternations are non-phonemic.

In terms of the front vowel merger, the appendix probi has a couple of examples, but they may be particular isolated words. Apparently the merger doesn't appear widespread in the evidence from the 1st century (Pompeii, etc).

More generally, AIUI there are three important bits of evidence regarding length:
- in Pompeii, people often wrote <ae> for both long and short <e>. This used to be seen as evidence of a loss of phonemic length. However, now it's seen as maybe evidence of phonemic length. [that former /ai/ may have been monophthongised as /E:/, so people sometimes hypercorrected both /E/ and /e:/ to it.
- Constantius complained in the 5th century that Africans lengthened stressed vowels and shortened unstressed ones. What that means in phonemic terms for both Africa and non-Africa is debatable
- Vegetius, c. 400, tried to write metric poetry, but got confused which feet were allowed where, suggesting he didn't know which vowels were long and which were short, suggesting that the contrast for him was purely qualitative. However, it's not great evidence. Maybe he distinguished by length, but just wasn't very reflective and didn't realise that, particularly if he also didn't really understand the system of metrical poetry that he was imitating. Many native speakers, after all, don't fully internalise the rules of archaic poetry even when the rules are very easy.


Also interesting: Oscan continued to be spoken into the 1st century, and Oscan (etc) already had the front vowel merger. For some people it might therefore have been a diglossic feature.


Regarding <u> specifically: note that something weird happened with the <us> and <um> endings in many languages. Although both should end up with /o/, it's common for the latter to trigger umlaut and the former not to, so they may have continued to be distinguished somehow.

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

Post by Ælfwine » 04 May 2018 00:53

Salmoneus wrote:
03 May 2018 19:07
I don't think it's possible to say. It depends what you mean by 'phonemic length'. When did length stop being phonemic in English?

Latin never "lost" phonemic length, per se. Four things happened:

a) an inherited 'length' distinction produced a secondary difference in quality
b) stressed vowels tended to lengthen and unstressed vowels tended to shorten
c) losses made stress unpredictable
d) former long /e/ and former short /i/ merged

Now, we don't know when the first happened, because there's no way to tell - it could have been like that all along, for all we know. And similarly, we don't know about the second either, because so long as stress is predictable, stress-based length alternations are non-phonemic.

In terms of the front vowel merger, the appendix probi has a couple of examples, but they may be particular isolated words. Apparently the merger doesn't appear widespread in the evidence from the 1st century (Pompeii, etc).

More generally, AIUI there are three important bits of evidence regarding length:
- in Pompeii, people often wrote <ae> for both long and short <e>. This used to be seen as evidence of a loss of phonemic length. However, now it's seen as maybe evidence of phonemic length. [that former /ai/ may have been monophthongised as /E:/, so people sometimes hypercorrected both /E/ and /e:/ to it.
- Constantius complained in the 5th century that Africans lengthened stressed vowels and shortened unstressed ones. What that means in phonemic terms for both Africa and non-Africa is debatable
- Vegetius, c. 400, tried to write metric poetry, but got confused which feet were allowed where, suggesting he didn't know which vowels were long and which were short, suggesting that the contrast for him was purely qualitative. However, it's not great evidence. Maybe he distinguished by length, but just wasn't very reflective and didn't realise that, particularly if he also didn't really understand the system of metrical poetry that he was imitating. Many native speakers, after all, don't fully internalise the rules of archaic poetry even when the rules are very easy.


Also interesting: Oscan continued to be spoken into the 1st century, and Oscan (etc) already had the front vowel merger. For some people it might therefore have been a diglossic feature.


Regarding <u> specifically: note that something weird happened with the <us> and <um> endings in many languages. Although both should end up with /o/, it's common for the latter to trigger umlaut and the former not to, so they may have continued to be distinguished somehow.
Thank you for this.

So to me, it seems like the distinction of length gave way to a distinction of quality by the fourth century (I should have phrased it this way.) Your examples are telling, although not quite satisfactory.

What I was thinking of doing in my own Pannonian Romance was shifting /uː/ to /ɯː/, as did Common Slavic (and likewise /uː/ to /ʉː/ in some Rhetoromance). But the major issue being is the fact the Slavs did not really settle the Carpathian Basin until at least the mid 6th century. By then length would've surely given way to a pure quality difference and may have already done its mergers.

That being said, it's possible that VL length may have still been maintained through outside contact. Certain the Greeks (as suggested by Gonda), Goths, and other groups coming through the area wouldn't have trouble distinguishing Latin vowel length.

Also, what umlaut are we speaking of here? I know that /m/ might have preserved the height for a while longer, as Old Spanish evidence suggests.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by eldin raigmore » 11 May 2018 12:30

Is there any semantic or pragmatic difference in English between “I am retired “ and “I have retired”?
And what is it, exactly?

—————

Cross-linguistically the questions might be:
* what’s the difference in meaning between the (to be)+(passive participle) and the (to have)+(active participle) constructions?
* if there is a difference for some verbs, but no difference for others, is there anything systematic about which verbs are in which groups?
* do any languages have middle-voice participles? If so how do they fit into the above questions?

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

Post by shimobaatar » 11 May 2018 15:31

eldin raigmore wrote:
11 May 2018 12:30
Is there any semantic or pragmatic difference in English between “I am retired “ and “I have retired”?
And what is it, exactly?
It's hard to pinpoint it, but I think I'd say that the latter puts more emphasis on the action of retiring, and implies that the speaker retired fairly recently, while the former focuses more on the state of being retired, and could be said even decades into someone's retirement. That's how I'd phrase the difference between the two for me, at least.

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

Post by Dormouse559 » 11 May 2018 15:50

Semantically, the present perfect allows for another meaning. "I have retired" could in a certain register mean "I have gone to bed". Compare that with "I am retired", which doesn't allow that interpretation.

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

Post by Creyeditor » 11 May 2018 17:24

eldin raigmore wrote:
11 May 2018 12:30
Is there any semantic or pragmatic difference in English between “I am retired “ and “I have retired”?
And what is it, exactly?

—————

Cross-linguistically the questions might be:
* what’s the difference in meaning between the (to be)+(passive participle) and the (to have)+(active participle) constructions?
* if there is a difference for some verbs, but no difference for others, is there anything systematic about which verbs are in which groups?
* do any languages have middle-voice participles? If so how do they fit into the above questions?
I am not a native speaker of English, but I think one difference is the interaction with time adverbials. 'I have retired for three years.' and 'I am retired for three years.' might not be the same. Maybe negation is also different. Is 'I am not retired.' different from 'I have not retired.'
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar » 11 May 2018 17:44

Creyeditor wrote:
11 May 2018 17:24
'I have retired for three years.'
This is not allowed in English, at least not in my dialect. I'd have to say "I have been retired for three years".

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

Post by GrandPiano » 11 May 2018 18:12

“I am retired for three years” also sounds strange to me.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar » 11 May 2018 18:39

GrandPiano wrote:
11 May 2018 18:12
“I am retired for three years” also sounds strange to me.
Same here. I didn't catch that before.

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

Post by alynnidalar » 11 May 2018 19:04

They're sort of answers to two separate questions:

"What do you do for a living?" "Oh, I'm retired."

vs.

"Do you still work for Llama Corp?" "No, I've retired."

Like shimo says, "am retired" focuses more on the state (I am in the state of retirement as opposed to the state of job-having), while "have retired" focuses more on the transition (I took the action of retiring, which transitioned me from "job-having" to "not-job-having"). And I think I also am with him on "have retired" implying it was relatively recently while "am retired" doesn't have that implication.

But the two phrases are fairly interchangeable, at least in the context of my sample questions.

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

Post by Salmoneus » 11 May 2018 23:43

alynnidalar wrote:
11 May 2018 19:04
They're sort of answers to two separate questions:

"What do you do for a living?" "Oh, I'm retired."

vs.

"Do you still work for Llama Corp?" "No, I've retired."

Like shimo says, "am retired" focuses more on the state (I am in the state of retirement as opposed to the state of job-having), while "have retired" focuses more on the transition (I took the action of retiring, which transitioned me from "job-having" to "not-job-having"). And I think I also am with him on "have retired" implying it was relatively recently while "am retired" doesn't have that implication.

But the two phrases are fairly interchangeable, at least in the context of my sample questions.
Another connotation I'd suggest is that the two sentences shift the blame differently.

"Could you help me find my dog?" - "I've retired".
- here, the former detective is 'assuming' the speaker is unaware that a certain event, his retirement, has occured, and is supplying the information that makes his refusal make sense.

"Could you help me find my dog?" - "I'm retired"
- here, the former detective seems almost to be suggesting that the questioner already knows about the retirement, and the detective is just restating it as a way of refusing to do one last job.

I think the former is more likely to have a softer tone, and perhaps an apology - "Sorry, no, I've retired" (but otherwise I would help - and I guess I could come back for one last job, if you made a good case?). The latter is more likely to be flatter and less yielding - "I told you, I'm retired" (that's the end of the matter, there's no way in hell I'm helping you).



Another nuance might be that the perfect is more linked to issues of transition. So we might find something like: "I've retired - and I'm not really sure what to do all day!", or "I've retired, and I've never felt better!" - where the issues discussed related to the transition of retirement - the implication is that the state discussed are possibly temporary results of the change. Whereas the other, we're more likely to find something like "I'm retired - I play golf all day" or "I'm retired, and lonely" - the issues aren't directly related to the change itself, and are more likely long-lasting conditions.
This is strongest with conditions that are totally unrelated to retirement, of course: we can say "I'm 74, retired, and Bolivian", but we can't say "I've retired and Bolivian", and it would be weird to say "I've retired and I'm Bolivian" except in very specific conversational contexts.

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

Post by Xonen » 12 May 2018 00:32

eldin raigmore wrote:
11 May 2018 12:30
Cross-linguistically the questions might be:
* what’s the difference in meaning between the (to be)+(passive participle) and the (to have)+(active participle) constructions?
Depends entirely on the language, I'm quite sure. Although I'd be surprised if there were a lot of non-European languages using the 'to have' + past participle construction for forming the perfect - or for anything, for that matter.

Also, "I'm retired" doesn't strike me as a passive, but rather an active participle used adjectivally with a present-tense copula. I suppose that could be Finnish interfering with my analysis, though.

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

Post by Nachtuil » 12 May 2018 03:34

Phonology question:
Are there languages where gemination of consonants is restricted to certain points of articulation? Say.. only coronals get geminated?

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Post by Lao Kou » 12 May 2018 07:53

Okay, so as I've mentioned over in the "What are you watching thread?", I've been watching a bad German knock-off of "The Love Boat". Two questions arise:

1) Our protagonist refers to his aunt as "Tante". Easy enough. But he also says "Tantchen". My question is: what's blocking the umlauting here? Me, as a non-native speaker, would have thought "mein Täntelein" to be an expression of affection more adorable than an firework explosion of Gummibärchen, but nothing. And no Täntchen, either. Is that final -e, which does get dropped, blocking the umlaut? And "Tante" seems to be a French import. But I also recall my grandfather's aunt was always referred to as "Tanti", and like "Mutti" and "Vati" was never umlautized. (and, again, depending on dialect), Just askin'.

Edit: Another film I recently saw offers us "Mäderl". Mäderlein makes its way across the German-speaking world. I can cope.

2) Of course, as non-native speakers of German, we are taught that the verb in V2 position is sacrosanct. But as I watch these movies, it seems this is not always the case.

Sometimes that verb seems to be right in V1 position, and hardly feels subjunctive-y. I wish I could remember some decent examples.

Not dropped subjects like "Got it?", I understand this.
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Post by ixals » 12 May 2018 11:43

Lao Kou wrote:
12 May 2018 07:53
1) Our protagonist refers to his aunt as "Tante". Easy enough. But he also says "Tantchen". My question is: what's blocking the umlauting here? Me, as a non-native speaker, would have thought "mein Täntelein" to be an expression of affection more adorable than an firework explosion of Gummibärchen, but nothing. And no Täntchen, either. Is that final -e, which does get dropped, blocking the umlaut? And "Tante" seems to be a French import. But I also recall my grandfather's aunt was always referred to as "Tanti", and like "Mutti" and "Vati" was never umlautized. (and, again, depending on dialect), Just askin'.
The final -e is definitely not blocking the umlaut, there are plenty of words with final schwa that are umlauted (e.g. "Lampe" to "Lämpchen"). "Kante", rhyming with "Tante", would also turn into "Käntchen". I do think there is a possibility the umlaut is missing because it is a French umlaut. And then we also have "Frauchen" (nowadays mostly a female dog owner) which isn't umlauted either. But I think if I were to diminutise in colloquial speech, I think it's likely that I'd accidently say "Täntchen", but maybe that's just me. Concerning "Tanti" etc., the -i diminutive is fairly new I'd say and it never causes umlaut. But "Tantchen" shouldn't be as much of a surprise, since there are many words with umlauting suffixes such as -ig or -lich that don't have an umlauted vowel (e.g. "dreiminütig" but "dreispurig", "käuflich" but "baulich", "förmlich" but "fürsorglich", "erdig" but "irdisch", and many more).
Lao Kou wrote:
12 May 2018 07:53
2) Of course, as non-native speakers of German, we are taught that the verb in V2 position is sacrosanct. But as I watch these movies, it seems this is not always the case.

Sometimes that verb seems to be right in V1 position, and hardly feels subjunctive-y. I wish I could remember some decent examples.

Not dropped subjects like "Got it?", I understand this.
V1 is most common and always used in questions without question words ("Gehst du nach Hause?") and imperatives ("Iss das auf!"), but because you say you understand dropped subjects, I assume you know about these two already. Although I would like to add, that German doesn't drop subjects, it more often drops objects which causes sentences to be V1. The answer to "Macht er seine Hausaufgaben?" in colloquial German would be "Macht er", being short for "Das macht er". Another thing I could think of the top of my head would be conditional sentences like "Hat man Geld, hat man Macht" (= "Wenn man Geld hat, (dann) hat man Macht"). This Wikipedia article lists some more examples like the use of V1 for humorous purposes.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor » 12 May 2018 13:21

Lao Kou wrote:
12 May 2018 07:53
Spoiler:
Okay, so as I've mentioned over in the "What are you watching thread?", I've been watching a bad German knock-off of "The Love Boat". Two questions arise:

1) Our protagonist refers to his aunt as "Tante". Easy enough. But he also says "Tantchen". My question is: what's blocking the umlauting here? Me, as a non-native speaker, would have thought "mein Täntelein" to be an expression of affection more adorable than an firework explosion of Gummibärchen, but nothing. And no Täntchen, either. Is that final -e, which does get dropped, blocking the umlaut? And "Tante" seems to be a French import. But I also recall my grandfather's aunt was always referred to as "Tanti", and like "Mutti" and "Vati" was never umlautized. (and, again, depending on dialect), Just askin'.

Edit: Another film I recently saw offers us "Mäderl". Mäderlein makes its way across the German-speaking world. I can cope.

2) Of course, as non-native speakers of German, we are taught that the verb in V2 position is sacrosanct. But as I watch these movies, it seems this is not always the case.

Sometimes that verb seems to be right in V1 position, and hardly feels subjunctive-y. I wish I could remember some decent examples.

Not dropped subjects like "Got it?", I understand this.
1) Umlaut is still a very debated topic in German linguistics. Some stems seem to be more prone to exhibit Umlaut while others are not. The same is true for suffixes, where some trigger umlaut more often than others. The only prediction we can make is that if "Tante" does not show Umlaut in diminutive forms (which is a very "strong" Umlaut trigger), it should also not show Umlaut with 'weaker' Umlaut triggering suffixes. This prediction seems to be borne out. 'tantlich' for example yields more google results than 'täntlich'. I think there are as many as seven classes of suffixes and stems, if you would want to describe the Umlaut patterns in a very detailed way.

2) Often this might actually be more of an ellipsis, I feel. A dialogue like: "Dann geh doch ins Kino" - "(Dann) geh ich halt ins Kino. " sounds very natural to me. If you hapen to remember some conrete example, maybe we could offer an explanation.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Lao Kou » 12 May 2018 14:33

I very much appreciate Creyeditor and ixals for their extended thoughtful answers to my questions about German. Thanks, guys! [:D]

Extended answers about umlauting with "Tante" shed some decent light on the subject. But I must say I find this a little surprising:
ixals wrote:
12 May 2018 11:43
Concerning "Tanti" etc., the -i diminutive is fairly new I'd say and it never causes umlaut.
"Fairly new" is a relative term, certainly. But our family's "Tanti" was about 175 when I knew her as a child (a gypsy witch -- her, not me), making her about 215 when she crossed over, and I've been around the block a few times myself. That "-i" doesn't trigger umlaut is fine, but "fairly new"? [O.O] She was a beloved klump older than dirt (granted, and they spoke some preWWI Austro-Hungarian patois anyway).

As for V1 in clauses, I just don't know what's going on -- it's just so jarring. If I sit through another piece of this drek and hear it in context, I'll let you know.

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

Post by Creyeditor » 12 May 2018 18:06

Lao Kou wrote:
12 May 2018 14:33
ixals wrote:
12 May 2018 11:43
Concerning "Tanti" etc., the -i diminutive is fairly new I'd say and it never causes umlaut.
"Fairly new" is a relative term, certainly. But our family's "Tanti" was about 175 when I knew her as a child (a gypsy witch -- her, not me), making her about 215 when she crossed over, and I've been around the block a few times myself. That "-i" doesn't trigger umlaut is fine, but "fairly new"? [O.O] She was a beloved klump older than dirt (granted, and they spoke some preWWI Austro-Hungarian patois anyway).
I think that's what we call fairly new here. 300 years must be about right [:D] Maybe Goethe's parent generation... I guess it has also been reinvented several times.
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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by gestaltist » 12 May 2018 20:13

Lao Kou wrote:
12 May 2018 14:33
But our family's "Tanti" was about 175 when I knew her as a child (a gypsy witch -- her, not me), making her about 215 when she crossed over
Sorry but what? That'd make her the oldest known person in history by a magnitude of almost 2. Not sure if you're using licentia poetica or if you're trolling. :roll:

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