language and mind

May 23, 2013

No men, women, children, or houses with the pie

William JonesWilliam Jones was a reported a hyperpolyglot. He learned Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and basic Chinese. Wikipedia says he knew thirteen languages thoroughly, and another twenty-eight reasonably well.

Mr. Jones wrote The Sanscrit Language to tell that Greek and Latin had a common root, Sanskrit. This Proto-Indo-European “language”, PIE in short, was to originate contemporary European tongues.

Altogether, Mr. Jones is reported to have had at least reasonably good knowledge of 41 tongues. Any reasonably good acquaintance should encompass the words woman, man, child, and house. Let us compare these words in Latin, Greek, English, Russian, Polish, German, French, and Sanskrit.

Is there a root PIE vocabulary?

 

Woman silhouetteWOMAN

Latin: femina; Greek: gyne; English: woman; Russian: zenshchina; Polish: kobieta; German: Weib; French: femme; Sanskrit: nari.

Man silhouetteMAN

Latin: vir; Greek: andros; English: man; Russian: muzshtschina; Polish: mężczyzna; German: Mann; French: homme; Sanskrit: naro.

I do not know Sanskrit at all. I can only compare resources. The morpheme -man as quoted by supporters of the PIE, seems to refer to thinking, not sex.

Child silhouetteCHILD

Latin: putillus; Greek: pais; English: child; Russian: rebionok; Polish: dziecko; German: Kind; French: enfant; Sanskrit: sutah.

Words for children seem to have varied in Sanskrit. The culture remains reported as strictly stratified, in status and ancestry. “Children of men” made another name, napraja. The notion is unlikely to concern sexual differences.

House silhouetteHOUSE

Latin: domus; Greek: do; English: house; Russian: dom; Polish: dom; German: Haus; French: maison; Sanskrit: vasati.

Vir or andros, child or rebionok, woman or kobieta ― the words have nothing to do one with another. They are the basic vocabulary to tell language groups: they hardly ever change. Polish and Russian make a group. We may compare the words muzshtschina and mężczyzna. There is not much point deriving Polish from Russian or Russian from Polish, however. We can compare rebionok and dziecko.

Domus, do, and dom, or house and Haus, show geographic affinity. It is characteristic of urban or other developments and does not decide on grouping.

Language groups or families

Language groups work better than language families. ‘Families’ derive languages one from another. This might not work, as in the Polish and Russian examples above. Proto-languages are mostly constructs: there is no written evidence for them.

The natural fact will remain that people speak tongues as they are, and do not look up to any ‘parents’. With evolutionary approaches, languages do not have to come all from one. They may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement.

Why derive European vocabularies from Sanskrit, while Sanskrit might have absorbed loan words?

Sanskrit is dated thousands of years B.C. There is no writing in wood, papyrus, parchment or  paper preserved from those times. Stone inscriptions are too short and too scarce to work etymologies. The Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique, yet it allowed translation, not etymological study. Finally, Marco Polo was not probably the first visitor to the Far East.

TrundholmCarbon dating

Written resources should be carbon-dated. There is no philological method to affirm the original beyond evidence. Writings were copied in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and later, hand style and pen craft.

Radiocarbon results happen to be misunderstood. A website shares a story about a find from 9.5 thousands of years ago. It is … a piece of wood from an underwater site. There is much such wood world-round. It does not prove writing. The picture on the left shows a find dated with pollen. Palynology is naturally less likely to work for books.

Oldest does not mean wisest

In Antiquity, people were mostly illiterate, lived without running water, and had many health problems. The lifestyle diseases of the present day are those the Ancients would never get as … they would never live that long. One needs to be very selective, seeking wisdom in those times.

Contemporary Supporters of the PIE, professing the Proto-Indo-European ‘family’, have gone into making out religion, too. There is not even a PIE root for the name of our planet.

Earth silhouetteEARTH

Latin: terra or tellus; Greek: Gaia or Aia; English: Earth; Russian: Ziemlia; Polish: Ziemia; German: Erde; French: Terre; Sanskrit: vasudha.

It seems there was a pie more than the PIE, Mr. Jones time, and that pie was India. The colonial era began about 1500, and there was much competition.

Space 1999 would show reading Proto-Sanskrit accurately … ;)

Readout 1

Readout 2

The holocaust in the clip is not the Holocaust.

March 28, 2013

British grammar nazis

ImageDisclaimer: the adjacent — and colored meaningfully yellow — graphic piffle is not intended to mean the Union Jack proper. It is the British grammar nazis logo on Facebook.

BGN Facebook

The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full form on the right. Now, without going into matters of the meaning of life, or the spoken lore on WWII and British losses — invaluable for those hard of reading — let me focus on the statistics and implications.

Much has been written about WWII. Evidently, mere gathering orthography and other detail does not make one capable of text interpretation.

 The site has about 50 K ‘likes’. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand functionally illiterate among about 63 million people. Some might say it is not so bad, it is not even one percent. Still, you’d better ‘think literacy’, going to the UK.

Try for a plain passport photo, that is, without brooches, scarves, ties, anything you do not always carry; the piffle shows the guys’ attention to picture specifics. ;)

Remember to wave your hand, getting a taxi; it is a simple, therefore legible gesture. Try to get a map with statues and other tourist attractions in large icons. It is better to take a walk from the National Museum than end up the Piccadilly, owing to small print. ;)

In hotels, always tick the boxes. At best, you ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. ;)

When it comes to mailing letters, get the recorded: they have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers: there are odds they can read them. Never ever leave your books or papers, especially open: they might be taken for other utilities. ;)

It is not only to me that Hitler figures and grammar study do not get along, I believe. I do not associate grammar with humiliation and abuse — I’ve hardly had problems; teachers happened to be strict, yet never insulting.

The most important feature to make grammar nazis incongruous yet remains in intellection. I have grammar for a conceptual framework, not a disaster. Hitler, who spoke like and was a madman, wreaked havoc wherever he turned.

Feel welcome to try some of my concepts. Form Relativity is a new idea to try conciliation on the Conditional and Unreal Past. Dynamic mapping can boost language economy on the tenses. :)

Grammar web log

Relativity loopDynamic mapping

June 10, 2012

Apples grow on noses: two languages – two minds?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use, psycholinguistics — teresapelka @ 12:18 pm

The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012 provides an article by Catherine de Lange, ‘Mon espirit paratage – My two minds’.

Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people, the author quotes an experiment to compare the cognitive progression in monolingual and bilingual children.

Both monolinguals and bilinguals could see the mistake in phrases such as ‘apples growed on trees’, but differences arose when they considered nonsensical sentences such as ‘apples grow on noses’. The monolinguals, flummoxed by the silliness of the phrase, incorrectly reported an error, whereas the bilinguals gave the right answer, says Ms. de Lange.

Monolingual as well as bilingual children can learn Language mapping.

Dynamic mapping

Well, monolingual kids usually get fairy tales. If you tell a monolingual kid that a long, long time ago, there was a kingdom where apples grew on noses, the child gets it easy. Not only bilingual kids operate abstract notions, and no kids have their vocabularies for lexicons of empty items.

For example, a kid speaking English and French will not have pain for bread, whatever to say about his or her syntax. More, any attempts at negotiation could look only sick. Seriously sick. Mal a l’oreille.

Children naturally use invented, virtual words. See the Gumption set.

River of time

To appreciate children’s syntactic abilities, we need to use empty lexical items. For example, Phimos bimoes, right or wrong? Kids knowing the singular, Phimo, and the infinitive, to bimo, would not be likely to show differences, monolingual or bilingual. Bilingualism is not a dissociative disorder.

Feel welcome to visit my grammar blog, travelingrammar.com. My project uses virtual lexical items to encourage syntactic progression. Virtual items do not deny sense: Form can’t be empty. You bet. A todas luces.

Important: the project is not an experiment.

April 28, 2012

Burning the Flag – where is the language?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use, law, psycholinguistics — teresapelka @ 10:46 am

Having earned a legal badge with EzineArticles should not make one overconfident, I realize. The legal profession is a depth of recondite detail the Supreme Court has the right firmly to deliberate. The linguist I am, I yet can venture a few observations — and this has been quoting freedom of speech to invalidate prohibitions on desecrating the American flag.

United States versus Eichman, United States versus Haggerty, Texas versus Johnson: all cases argued violation of free speech under the First Amendment. Haggerty’s case would have the implication to make the Flag necessarily your piece of cloth before burning. It is when the Flag belongs to an institution like Seattle’s Capitol Hill Post Office that you get fined. ;)

Let me think. I imagine a person burns something. Is there a speech sound produced, should the human just silently sit by a campfire, warming his or her hands? Is there any written or printed stretch of language to emerge from the flame? Should one try to interpret the wood or coal crackling and hissing as stanzas, quatrains, epodes? Could we hear the anacrusis?

I could not, and there is nothing wrong with my hearing. Things do not produce language. Facts remain similar with hammers, saws, wrenches, screwdrivers, and whatever a handyman’s bag might contain: there is no speech produced with the use, unless the guy is eloquent, interesting, and whatsoever handsome — however noisy the job. ;)

Non-verbal acts cannot convey speech and language. The Flag itself – the many the people, the many the answers; ask someone what the Flag looks like and what it symbolizes: no description will be identical, owing to language specifics.

The Supreme Court decided the Flag could be burned under the First Amendment. It does not allow abridgment of free speech. If a burning object could be legally a speech act, what do you do if you see the Flag burning – would it be against the law, to put it out? ;)

The Flag Code may be found here,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Flag_Code,

http://www.usflag.org/uscode36.html,

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf, and many other places.

I do honestly believe that flags are for people and, naturally, their use should not be forbidden. I have put an image of the American flag on my grammar book covers. For one thing, I like it: I think the flag is visually attractive. More, the grammar is not a temporary idea. :)

View this document on Scribd

November 6, 2011

Tongue entanglement

Filed under: language, language autonomy, language bias, language use — teresapelka @ 8:31 am

Language is often taken for granted, or given the regard for the humanity’s unloved child.

Diarmaid Ferriter of The Limits of Libertyan RTE One show, ventured the classic frown. Irish people speak English owing to cultural submissiveness, avouched Mr. Ferriter. You cannot dominate someone who does not speak your language: these have been the English to speak English; they brought the language.

Well, you could not make a prodigal son or daughter of language. It does not spend much, and it can give a lot. Most businesses in Ireland work on English language papers and cash. People have English language business talks. People learn in English language schools. People go to English language medics and shops. Many have never learned British. Irish English has a distinct sounding, one might find more pleasurable than that from over the Thames, as Pete McCarthy observes.

Getting rid of all this would not be freedom; it would be a disaster.

IMAG0172Contrary to Mr. Ferriter, I think Irish English should have a corpusAutonomous language environments always have own corpora. Google brings mostly Gaelic-English glosses, should you key in the phrase ‘Irish English dictionary’. Limerick university would not focus on Irish English, offering courses. The International Corpus of English requires a request form and does not promise anything.

Bus tours in Dublin symbolize English with the Union Jack; the Irish flag represents Celtic.

There are two kinds of power, The Limits said. The police and the military were the ‘hard power’. Language was the ‘soft power’.

I agree that saying ‘come in’  can be physically more efficient than carrying people into rooms, especially if the persons would be wholesome. Yet saying ‘fish and chips’ does not give a Leo Burdock, unless there is the cash to make the deal.

Language does not have an overpowering potential. More, political debates world round prove humans phylogenetically capable of days and more of a language production to have no influence on thought or decisions. ;)

Language is not a physical power. It can be an opportunity.

May 11, 2011

Larry Selinker’s interlanguage – Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain didn’t have it right?

Filed under: language, language processing, language use — Tags: , , — teresapelka @ 9:54 am

Naturally, I do not postulate error about the two authors. Should there have been misconduct somewhere on the way — the reader may individually judge. ;)

Larry Selinker, a professor emeritus of linguistics, developed his theory  of  ‘interlanguage’ or ‘third language’ in 1972. The hypothesis is that people who learn English after another tongue, learn English as a second language. A ‘latent psychological structure’ becomes woken in the brain, when a human learns a second language, says Mr. Selinker.

                      Regardless of the perspective — monolingual, multilingual, first or second language learning — all Englishes of the world have 4 Aspects, Simple, Progressive, Perfect, and Perfect Progressive. Try Aspect mapping.

Aspect mapping

Language theories should not be made merely to give lectures. Let us think how Larry Selinker’s theory could hold in life.

Eduardo was born in America, in an immigrant Hispanic family. He spoke mostly Spanish before he went to school: his parents spoke Spanish and his little friends in the town area he lived were all Spanish. Mr. Selinker would have Spanish for Eduardo’s first tongue.

Mr. Selinker built his hypothesis on studies of student errors. His interlanguage theory says people idiosyncratically make rules from language experience.

An idiosyncrasy may be a structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group, a physiological or temperamental peculiarity, or an unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 

Let us compare the relaxed perspective by a notable author, Mark Twain: And if I sell to the reader this volume of nonsense, and he, instead of seasoning his graver reading with a chapter of it now and then, when his mind demands such relaxation, unwisely overdoses himself with several chapters of it at a single sitting, he will deserve to be nauseated, and he will have nobody to blame but himself if he is. ;)

Mark Twain’s Speeches by Mark Twain, Project Gutenberg

 

Mark Twain caricature,  published in Vanity Fair, May 13 1908. Author: Leslie Ward.Caption: “Below the Mark”. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now, Eduardo is 20. He never wanted to stay in the small town. He has worked and learned hard. He wants to do an IT degree. He does elliptic integrals easy, but he would need a dictionary to translate math from English to Spanish — he learned math at school, in English-speaking classes.

It is not only math that Eduardo does not comprehend in Spanish. His girlfriend is an American. American English is the only language she has ever spoken. She is a real treasure and a natural for a good conversation. When Eduardo tells his sweetheart he loves her, he says it in English and he means it.

Stative mappingIf grammars tell people to say I love, they tell them to say I hate, too — and that just to follow the rules some people made a few hundreds of years ago.

I am hating you could sound milder.

It could be more to the fact.

See Stative mapping.

Ai-li also was born in America, in a family of second-generation Chinese immigrants. She has always been for languages. Before she went to school, she learned American along with Chinese. She started to learn German and French when she was about seven years old.

Ai-li is writing a thesis about spatial reference in German and French — her two ‘second languages’ or her ‘third-second languages’? Should American count as the second, German and French could count as the third or fourth, but actually she has learned the languages at the same time … ;)

Both Eduardo and Ai-li are made up figures, but they are absolutely possible in modern America. Larry Selinker would imply abnormal mental realities about both whereas they could easily communicate with one another, as well as with other people.

Mr. Selinker says second language learners show simplification, circumlocution, and overgeneralization, and that owing to latent psychological structures in the brain. Well, it is always the skin to be the skin. A second skin is just a way of saying things.

The brain is a physical structure to have no purely ‘functional’, ‘mathematical’ or, ‘psychological’ connectivities. There are no ‘latent’ brain areas in unimpeded humans. If you want to have a ‘latent’ brain region, you have to ask someone to hit you on the head and do it real hard. ;)

To be serious, the human language faculty is neural. The way we internalize language knowledge depends on the way we conceptualize language facts, whatever the language or languages we learn.

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American President

Get in the Relativity loop.

Relativity loop

Second language learners produce utterances different from those by other people, says Mr. Selinker. Let us think, is this different? ;)

 THE BRAIN.

The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

Source: Project Gutenberg

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype; source: Wikimedia Commons

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