in Search

linguistics

October 2005 - Posts

  • Language of the Week - "P"

    The language for this week is one of my personal favorites! Papiamento is the creole language spoken on the islands of the Netherland Antilles....Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustasius, and St. Maarten (not to be confused with St. Martin). When I was a kid, I sat on the beach in Aruba in a tiki hut and took Papiamento lessons for a week. Language nerd! I know, I was only in 6th grade, but I knew what I liked. This language is an interesting mix of Spanish, Dutch, English, Carib, and few others thrown in. It is a great example of an area with positive language attitude, as Papiamento is spoken in all areas of life and exists among other dominant world languages. It has been said that Papiamento is becoming more like Spanish in recent years, but this research has not been completed. This creole language is taught in schools in the first 2 years of primary education and it then becomes a subject and the classes are taught in Dutch or Spanish.
    Posted Oct 31 2005, 02:58 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language in the News - "As the Americans Would Say"

    I know that I usually post some news article about language stuff somewhere around the world, but today I couldn't help but talk about an amusing interview I heard on NPR. The interview had nothing to do with language or linguistics, instead it was about the use of feta cheese in Denmark. As many of us probably know, feta cheese is most often associated with Greek food, but apparently it is also widefly used in Denmark. The gentleman who was being interviewed on NPR was adamantly defending the right of his country to use feta cheese (which apparently Greece is trying to patent the name and the cheese). I must admit that I only heard the tail end of the interview, but it was the last response of the interviewee to Terry Gross that really caught my attention. When she asked the man what he thought about the outcome of the policy (whatever it is)...he responded, (through a thick Danish accent) "well....like the Americans would say....this is crap." !!! Wow, on NPR....and Terry Gross was as shocked as I was because she said "I'm sorry, what was that?"....to which he promptly responded again "this is crap". She hurriedly thanked him and that was that. So what do you think of that? Is that crap? So, that's what the world thinks about the attitudes of Americans...or at least the way we express ourselves. I couldn't decide if I was amused at the statement or ashamed for the speech of Americans. But, I suppose that there is some truth in his statement. Americans have developed a very lax way of speaking and don't often think before they speak. After all.....look at the president...

    Posted Oct 27 2005, 02:08 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Tuesday Trivia - Bang for the Buck

    I think that everyone can give a pretty good example to use for the phrase "bang for the buck." If not, I'll give one...

    When my roommate Michael makes mixed drinks, he always asks if I want it regular or 'bang for the buck'. Got it?

    So where does this actually come from? Well, as luck would have it, I came across the phrase when I was doing some research. The phrase originated back in pre-Cold War days when the armed forces was doing military planning. When talk turned to missiles, the Army was interested on what kind could to the most damage but cost the least amount of money to produce. Therefore, more bang for the buck. It's so crazy, there are so many words and phrases that have slipped into our vocabulary that we have no idea where they started from. If you have a favorite that you want to know about, let me know, and I'll check it out!

    Posted Oct 25 2005, 01:35 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language of the Week - Q

    Since I usually try to be very positive in my outlook on language revitalization, I don't often talk about languages that are actually extinct. I think that it is important though to remember that language death is happening every year. What many don't realize is that it is happening right here in the United States. North America is home to three large super-families of languages stretching from the Arctic Circle down into central America. Of all the places in the world, the language decline and death has been steeper in North America than anywhere else. The reason?...as if you can't figure it out yourselves, is all of us. In a language contact situation between native American languages and English, which do you think will win in the end? English of course! In a contact situation where a superstratum world dominant language like English exists surrounding many substratum local languages, those languages will be swallowed. In order for native Americans to advance in society, politics, education, etc., they need to learn English. This causes the use of their native languages to decline, and children will often completely abandon these languages. Think about how you would feel if that happened to English.....oh yeah....it almost did. If the population of England in the middle ages had adopted the French language of the Norman invaders of the British isles, we would all likely be speaking French right now. Est-ce que vous pensez que vous pourriez comprendre? A little scary right? It takes you out of your comfort zone just to think about it. With that said....Quinault is the language of the week. The ethnic population of about 1,000 people still survives, living near the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The Quinault people have completely abandoned their native language and now use English for all aspects of life. Luckily, there are many linguists and anthropologists today who study these native American languages in a hurried effort to record them or save them before it is too late. The Quinault people are a member of the Salishan language family, a group studied by Sarah Grey Thomason of the University of Michigan. Thanks Dr. Thomason...
    Posted Oct 24 2005, 01:16 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Word of the Week

    If I asked you.....how do you find a word that means Maria?....what's the first thing that comes to mind? If you answered with a "huh" or just a "?"....first off, we're no longer cool.....just kidding.....it just means that you probably haven't seen or don't know well one of the best movies of all time. If I were to think of words that mean Maria, I would say....a flibbertigibbet, a will-of-a-whisp, or a clown. Yes, some of you know....Maria...from the Sound of Music. Julie Andrews....a nun? OK, so enough fun for me thinking about the Sound of Music, and now let's talk about that first word. Flibbertigibbet...

    Well, as you can imagine, the origin is not very precise. Most sources that I've found say that the word came about in a rather nonsensical way, much the way that we have gotten chat-chat or jibber-jabber. What most people don't realize is that the origin description was not meant for a flighty person like Maria von Trapp. When the expression first arrived in English, it was meant more to describe a young person (male or female) who was prone to gossip and endless chattering. The first recording written used of the word was in a sermon in the 1400's as flybbergybe.

    Posted Oct 21 2005, 12:48 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language in the News

    Today we're going to talk about something that is totally new to me. In my search for linguistics news, I came across an article about the attempts at revitalization or Judeo-Spanish, better known as Ladino. I have never heard of this language before, and let me tell you, that surprised me because ever before becoming a linguistics nerd, I used to read the encyclopedias of world languages. Anyways....less about me and more about Ladino. As you can probably infer from its name, Ladino was (or is) the language of Jews of Spanish descent. It was apparently widely used until the second world war, but afterwards, attempts have been made at revitalizing it. What strikes me as interesting about the revitalization efforts is the way some "revitalizers" are doing their part. There is a singer named Yasim Levy who sings in Ladino who considers her concerts in the language as a 'holy mission'. Another example is the novel "Like a Bride" by Rosa Nissan that recounts the story of the Sephardic Jews (those who speak Ladino). Perhaps the best (or strangest) efforts come from the American rap group the 'Hip-Hop Hoodios' who provide us with raps in both English and Ladino. Fortunately, on a more academic scale, universities in both the US and Europe have begun including Ladino in their language curriculum.
    Posted Oct 20 2005, 01:28 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • It's that time...

    I think that it's about that time where I've been in LIC for long enough to be able to rant a bit. Let me preface my rant with the fact that I love my class. I love my professor and I love my colleagues. In combination with my current job, I couldn't really ask for much more. I am surrounded by highly intelligent people all day at work and then at my classes. However (comma) the material that we're covering in LIC is getting really old, and everyone knows it...even Dr. J. I give our class, as a whole, a lot of credit for attempting to keep things interesting. I guess I should rephrase...it's not the material that is getting old, it's the material(s) that we're using. Our text (not naming any names) is probably one of the worst books that I've ever read. It's difficult to get into a book when the author prefaces chapters with something paraphrased to...."I really have no idea about any clear or accurate evidence for this chapter, so take this all with a grain of salt." I honestly just have to shake my head when I see stuff like that, because it just makes me want to ask..."why are you writing this book if you don't have the info?" In Dr. J's defense for choosing this book, she has provided us with supplemental texts, but each covers the same information, but with different terminology and in various degrees of detail. As a result, we end up reading and talking about the same material for weeks at a time. Then, in later chapters, the material is often recapitulated with a twist. So, how did I get onto this rant? How bad is it really? The repitition got so bad today that we left class early and walked to a bar down the way for beer and snacks. I'm not complaining about that part, but seriously... I can't wait for some new stuff to talk about.
    Posted Oct 19 2005, 12:29 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Tuesday Trivia - "Step"

    In follow-up of my 10/4 Tuesday trivia about grandparents, I'm going to bring you the promised info on "step"...as in stepchild or stepmother. I would imagine that most would think that 'step' means "a step away in relation" or something to that effect. However, the meaning is etymologically more interesting. Several hundred years ago, Old English had a word 'steopcild'...looks kinda like stepchild right? Well, whereas 'stepchild' today means your husband or wife's child that isn't yours...in Old English, the word meant orphan. Even further back, the roots of this word have reconstructed to what linguists call Proto-Indo-European...the root language of all Indo European languages. The root derived from steop- was steup- which was also related to -steip...both of which had the meaning concerning bereavement. We can therefore see how this root was applied to orphans, as an orphan is deprived of his or her parents. Thus, a stepparent became known as the parent of an orphan. It works...more or less.
    Posted Oct 18 2005, 01:32 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language of the Week - "R"

    This week's language is one that everyone should know about. It's not because it's terrible widely spoken or has an extensive literary tradition. It's because it's a fighter! In Switzerland, nestled in between Germany, Italy, Austria, and France, an interesting linguistic situation has survived. The Swiss have 4 official languages that are all used and spoken as native languages. German, Italian, French, and Romansch. There it is, our language of the week...Romansch. Isn't it funny that Romansch is the only one of the bunch that isn't a dominant world language?...yet it survives. As far as I understand, Romansch survives because it is spoken in a very specific sphere...the home. Where German is mostly spoken in politics and law, Romansch has continued to be spoken among close friends and family members and just recently is has begun to be taught in primary schools. Even more exciting is the fact that a grammar and proper orthography have been created for Romansch, called Grischuna, and so now all different dialects can be used in publications and education.
    Posted Oct 17 2005, 01:51 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Something to think about....noun classes

    I've recently had a few people ask about noun classes, so I figured it would be a good time to look into what they're all about. When people discuss noun classes, they are actually looking at the grammatical gender of words. It's difficult for most people to step outside the idea of gender as masculine vs. feminine....heck, it's hard enough to get people to understand that words can be masculine or feminine if they haven't been exposed to it before. This is the situation with English, as we have distinctions between gender in some nouns and pronouns. When it comes to German, they add a neuter gender to their system. It only gets more extensive from there. The classic textbook example of grammatical gender comes from the Bantu languages of eastern and southern Africa, where there are a total of 22 noun classes. These classes make a distinction between several different criteria...I'll name a few...

    animate vs inanimate

    rational vs non-rational

    human vs non-human

    strong vs weak

    augmentative vs diminutive

    single vs mass

    countable vs uncountable

    Noun classes are often marked by an affix attached to the stem of a word to designate its class. As an example from Swahili, the KI/VI class of nouns are objects or things. The Ki- prefix designates 'singular things' and the Vi- prefex designates 'plural things'.

    One small book is kitabu kidogo kimoja (book/small/one)

    where three small books is vitabu vidogo vitatu. (book/small/three)

    Posted Oct 15 2005, 02:17 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Word of the Week - Eyot

    Today's word is one that I know that I've seen before, but I've never really bothered to figure out what it is since it worked so well in context that it didn't matter. The word is eyot. Looks like ee-yacht right? Think again...the word is pronounced ay-it....but spoken in conversation it comes out more like eight. An eyot is a small island in a river, and most often the word is used when referring specifically to such a thing in Great Britain. The reason that I know that I've seen the word is because it appears in Tolkien's LOTR. The word has descended from Old English 'iggath'...which is 'ieg' or island...and the diminutive suffix -ath changes things around slightly.
    Posted Oct 14 2005, 01:52 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language in the News - Buzzwords

    As we all know, I'm pretty much a language nerd....ok, I AM a language nerd. As a result, I frequent a great online publication called The Global Language Monitor. You might be able to guess, that this is step up to be a newspaper about language happenings around the world. One of the most covered topics on this site is the presence and use of 'buzzwords' in different areas among different people. A buzzword is what old school linguists call jargon. These words are used in a particular arena for specialized objects. It's almost the beginnings of a natural lexical expansion in the English language. Anyways...I found an article recently that I thought was interesting, about the 10 Most Confusing (yet widely used) High Tech Buzzwords. I thought that I'd share that top ten with you. Those of you into computers will probably laugh at the explainations, but others may just have some information cleared up for them. Enjoy!


    1.HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not to be confused with text on too much Starbucks. More than 1 billion references to HTTP on the web alone.

    2. Voice Over IP VoIP, (pronounced voip rhyming with Detroit). Voice over Internet Protocol. Simply put: web telephony.

    3. Megapixel A really big pixel. No, one million pixels (thats a lotta pixels) OK, whats a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.

    4. Plasma As in Plasma TV. Are we talking Red Cross Drives here? Rather, a flat, lightweight surface covered with millions of tiny glass bubbles with a digitally controlled electric current flowing through it that causes the plasma inside the tiny bubbles to glow.

    5. Robust No one quite knows what this means, but its good for your product to demonstrate robustness.

    6. WORM A virus, right? No, a Write Once, Read Many file system used for optical disk technology.

    7. Emoticon A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon). Now, whats a smiley?

    8. Best of breed Not to be confused with the Westminster Dog Show. A personalized solution made of components from various manufacturers; a sort of high tech mix-and-match.

    9. Viral marketing Marketing that Freezes your computer? Actually, a high tech marketing fad that theoretically results in a geometric progression of ones marketing message. Sometimes stealth. Always irritating.

    10. Data migration Nothing to do with pre-historic mastodons or, even, global warming. Its where the data in your present software programs can move to newer (or older) versions of the programs or, better yet, into competitive solutions without causing much of a fuss. A highly unlikely result.

    Other terms being tracked included client/server, solution, Paradigm, hypertext, backward compatible, best of breed, and the STUN protocol.

    Posted Oct 13 2005, 01:13 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • This Week in LIC

    Part of our weekly assignment was to write a proposal for our upcoming research paper...since researching my topic occupies most of my LIC time for the week, I thought I'd include it as today's post.

    After having read numerous books and articles on language planning and policy in Africa, it appeared that, due to the complexity of multilingualism on the continent, that African countries have a particularly difficult task ahead of them. In an area of such a vast array of tribes, religions, remaining colonial influences, and political regimes, it is understandable that each country will have a rather unique and individualized method for handling language planning and policy. Of particular interest to me, after my summer of studying the Nafara dialect of Senari, a language of the Senoufo people of Cot� dIvoire, was the situation that exists in that country and of others having previously been under the colonial rule of France. The working title of my research project will be ꒓Language Planning and Policy in the Wake of Colonial Power: A Case Study of Cot dIvoire and B�nin. I锒ve chosen these two countries in order to highlight the key differences that attitude and politics can have in the success or failure of a language policy that hopes to promote nationwide multilingualism and native language education.

    Both countries start with the same base, as they were both French colonial possessions that operated under the policies of France and the rest of the Francophone world. They differ in their progress and history after gaining independence, and these differences have caused highly divergent attitudes among the citizens of each country and therefore the development of language policy. Cot dIvoire is one of the few remaining countries in Africa that has not developed a language policy outside of that previously imposed by the French government. On the other hand, the Republic of B�nin has taken great strides in promoting multilingualism and native language education. I will present information on the historical background of language practices before, during, and after colonial power in each country. In each instance, I will highlight the particular importance played by attitude and politics in each country.

    I plan to use the case study鑒 outline proposed by Fasold, in order that all relevant topics are researched, analyzed, and discussed. It is my hope that a concise study of this topic will assist in my future study of language planning and policy in this region. Also, as Fasold notes, a standardized method of presenting researched material is important to not only the current study, but also the work of others in the field.

    Posted Oct 12 2005, 03:23 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Tuesday Trivia - Borrowing and Loaning

    In response to a recent question, today we are going to revisit the concept of borrowing and loan words. Back on September 14th, I posted about a discussion of borrowing and loaning that we had discussed in LIC, but I think it's time that we delve a little deeper into the situation. Any time that two languages come into contact, there is the possibility that one, the other, or both speakers of the languages will participate in the process of borrowing or loaning. Definitions....ok....a borrowing is a word that is taken from a second language (L2) into the first language (L1) for use from time to time. The key to borrowing is that, the borrowed word is not ingrained into the speech of the L2 speaker. When a borrowing becomes a permanent fixture of L2, it becomes a loan word. Take a second, read that, and let that soak in...........................................................very important concept.................

    Ok! Are you understanding? If you've got it, then we'll move on. There are often various motivations for borrowing. We're going to talk about prestige, because it's the easiest to understand. If you are a member of a subordinated community and speak L2 and are surrounded by a dominant community speaking a dominant language L1, it is most likely that you will borrow words and eventually speech patterns from L1 into L2 in order to gain prestige. It is usually unlikely that borrowing occurs in the opposite direction. Remember that prestige isn't the only reason that borrowing occurs, but it's the easiest to illustrate. Often times, a type of borrowing occurs, called a calque, in which only the "idea" of the L1 word or phrase is borrowed, but it is placed into L2 with native morphemes (words as far as most are concerned).

    Often times, borrowing occurs in situations where one language doesn't have the same concept as another. Let me give an example and then explain. English has borrowed the French word entourage (from the verb entourer - to surround). The English and the French word mean nearly the exact same thing....a group of people or things that surrounds someone or something. I think that by explaining the definition, I proved my point. We have to use that whole phrase " a group of people....etc." to explain one word. The one word does the job! A few more examples, and we'll stick to French for the moment. You know that thing that happens when you see something and you think you've seen it before? D�j� vu! What does that mean in French....already saw...literally. What about soir�e? This one is not quite a direct borrowing, but it's close. The French word soir means evening, and we've adopted soir�e in English to mean a fancy party held in the evening. It works out pretty well! We'll get into the concepts of codeswitching and diglossia another time now that we know about loans and borrowing

    Posted Oct 11 2005, 01:28 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
  • Language of the Week - "S"

    Today's language is one that is becoming increasingly important around the world. Swahili has become the lingua franca of Eastern Africa. OK...momentary digression....lingua franca means a language spoken widely outside the native community. Swahili is actually a member of a subgroup of the Bantu family called Sabaki, and the version of Swahili the is most well known today comes from the island of Zanzibar and is called Kiunguja. The people who originally spoke Swahili were named so from the plural of the Arabic word for 'sahel' (the arid boundary to the desert) and thus 'Sawahil' turned into Swahili. During a period of national development in Tanzania, language policy planners chose the Swahili dialect to develop and it has now become the national language of that country and is widely spoken elsewhere in eastern Africa. One amazing feature of the Swahili language is the numerous amount of loan words that it has borrowed, including some from Arabic, Persian, Chinese, and several languages of the Indian subcontinent. My favorite part about Swahili is its intricate system of noun classes...but we won't get into that here. For info on noun classe, you're just going to have to wait...I'll put it on my list!
    Posted Oct 10 2005, 01:09 PM by christophergreen with no comments
    Add to Bloglines Add to Del.icio.us Add to digg Add to Facebook Add to Google Bookmarks Add to Newsvine Add to reddit Add to Stumble Upon Add to Shoutwire Add to Squidoo Add to Technorati Add to Yahoo My Web
More Posts Next page »