Relformaide Dictionary:Linguistic Log

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This is the Relformaide Dictionary's Linguistic Log, a collection of notes, trivia, and peculiarities related to the field of language. Works cited herein are listed at Project:Bibliography.

October 2016

"...There are more than 15,000 syllables in English. Creating a database for this number of units is a very difficult and time-consuming task."

Corrochano (2009), p. 325

"...Some languages insist on more careful attention to evidence for all statements that are made, specifying whether the speaker knows about it from doing it themselves, seeing it, detecting it by some other sense, from hearsay, from inference, or by other means — typically by a grammatical marker on the verb.

"Take Eastern Pomo, for example, now spoken by just a few old people in northern California. To translate English 'it burned,' you have to choose between four suffixed forms of the verb: pʰa•békʰ-ink'e if you felt the sensation yourself, pʰa•bék-a if you have other direct evidence for it, pʰa•bék-ine if you saw circumstantial evidence and are inferring that it happened, and pʰa•békʰ-•le if you are basing your statement on hearsay. It is possible to translate these back into the English versions that have the precision of the Eastern Pomo versions: respectively 'I felt it burn me,' 'I saw it burn,' 'it must have burned,' 'they reckon it burned.'"

—"Chapter 4: Your Mind in Mine: Social Cognition in Grammar" in Evans (2010), p. 74

"Considered to be a 'last speaker' of Amurdag, [Aboriginal elder] Charlie [Mangulda] is at the best of times a reticent man[.] He told us he had not used the language conversationally in some years and remembered words with difficulty. ...

"Charlie's difficulty in recalling a language he had known from birth, but now almost never used, is what linguistics call 'attrition.' Can a person forget his own language entirely? Immigrants who seek to assimilate to another culture may go decades without speaking their mother tongue. Later, if they try to retrieve it, they may find their knowledge rusty or deficient. As the neural pathways decay from lack of use, they cannot even string together simple phrases in a language they once commanded natively. Many of the last speakers I've met, like Charlie, show both of these effects. They can barely remember common words, and the locally dominant language, whether English, Spanish, or Russian, has thoroughly infected their mother tongue, leading them to make all kinds of ungrammatical (from a traditional point of view) utterances."

—"Chapter Four: Where the Hotspots Are" in Harrison (2010), pp. 97–99

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