language use

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

William Jones was a reported hyperpolyglot. He learned Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and basic Chinese, says Wikipedia, adding he knew thirteen languages thoroughly, and another twenty-eight reasonably well. This makes a total of 41 languages.

 

William Jones

 

Mr. Jones wrote The Sanscrit Language, to tell that Greek and Latin had a common root with Sanskrit, and there must have been a Proto-Indo-European language, PIE in short, that originated contemporary European tongues.

 

Is there a root PIE vocabulary? A reasonably good acquaintance with a language should encompass the words woman, man, child, and house. Let us compare these words in Latin, Greek, English, Russian, Polish, German, French, and Sanskrit.

 

WOMAN

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

 

MAN

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

 

I do not know Sanskrit. I can only compare resources. The morpheme man, quoted by supporters of the PIE, yet seems to refer to thinking, not gender, whereas it is common lore that masculinity is not strictly synonymous with pensiveness. 😉

 

CHILD

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

 

Words for children would have varied, in Sanskrit. The language is to have taken origin in rigid social stratification, for status and ancestry. “Children of men” made another name, napraja. We thus could not say, let us look for a common root with the PIE, because it must have been a beautiful culture.

 

HOUSE

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 do not resemble one another, and they are the basic vocabulary that hardly ever changes. This vocabulary is compared for language grouping.

 

Polish and Russian could 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. Language groups work better than language families. “Families” derive languages, one from another.

 

Similarities in form as domus, do, and dom, or house and Haus, show geographic affinity; they are characteristic to urban or other developments, and do not decide on language grouping. Within evolutionary approaches, languages may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement. Language knowledge became shared, in the process.

 

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

Proto-languages are constructs. They are theoretical guesswork. Taking the Russian and Polish words for children as our example, to make up a “proto-language”, we would have to create a word form that might have preceded both “dziecko” and “riebionok”. Even if we created a form as *dieriebok, it would not mean such a form ever existed. Honestly, it is unlikely.

 

Decent linguistic work requires a source. However, the Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique, and it covered only the Ancient Egyptian ― the glyphs and the demotic ― along with Ancient Greek. The stone allowed translation, but not an etymological study. There never was anything like the Rosetta Stone, for “Indo-European” languages, and Marco Polo was probably not the first visitor to the Far East.

 

Carbon dating

Whenever possible, 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.

 

Oldest does not mean wisest

What rationale could we find to constructing probabilistic language forms? Linguistically, there is none. Machine or otherwise constructed, a code is not a natural language and thus does not belong with linguistic inquiries.

 

Regarding the psychological side to the human being, I also do not share in the enthusiasm or fascination with speculative ancient cultures. People were not more sophisticated in ancient times. Ancient languages were not more intelligent, either. Modern languages are far more economical and refined, at the same time. It is not true a language is the more advanced, the more flections it has. We can speak without looking up to “parent tongues”.

 

In actuality, supporters of the Proto-Indo-European “family” have gone into making own Proto-Indo-European religion. There is not a PIE root for the name “Earth”, however.

 

EARTH

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, in the times of Mr. Jones, and that pie was the Company rule in India. The India colonial era began about 1500, and there was much rivalry.

 

Space 1999 would show reading Proto-Sanskrit accurately… 😉

 


My YouTube: Sanskrit Readout

The holocaust in the clip is not the Holocaust.

British grammar nazis

Disclaimer: 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.

 

Grammer

 

The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full down here, also with a click.

 

British grammar nazis header

 

Let me lay out on the fundamentals of orthography. I do not spell the nazis with a big letter. Big letters, though they do not always import reverence, are reserved for proper nouns, everywhere except a beginning.

 

The proper noun Nazis were German nationalists. Their having bombed London during WWII might belong with the semantic field too, and further reasonably connote displeasure on the part of the British people. I mean, I do not have other people’s feelings, but thus I do reckon.

 

Much has been written about the second world war, including Hitler’s evident lack of linguistic finesse. Therefore, I will do some wondering only, on the British who want to be grammar nazis.

 

The Daily Mash offers observations.

 

“The way they selflessly dedicate themselves to correct punctuation, for example by pointing out to the staff of a chip shop why the term >>chip’s<< is a sloppy obfuscation, confirms they are bold and righteous individuals.”

 

 

On Facebook, grammar nazis share the article and comment.
“This pleases me. A lot!”
“We are doing a service to the world in helping people be rid of their ignorance!”
“We knew it all the time!”

 

It is only after a few lines or whiles that thought emerges.
“I suspect someone is taking the p*ss.”

 

 

Grammar nazis do not get irony. Let me think about statistics and implications. Should there be visiting nazis on this page, I promise a brief primer on irony after this indispensable piece of advice about living on the same planet.

 

The site has about 50 thousand “likes”. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand oddly deficient, among about 63 million people.

 

Some might say it is not so bad. It is not even one percent. Still, it could be better to think literacy, going to England: the guys are permitted to have the UK flag for their capriccio, and odd types favor big towns, as London.

 

However this could not mean there only odd types in big towns, before you go to London, 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. 😉

 

Wave your hand broadly, getting a taxi. It is a simple, therefore legible gesture. 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. Ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. 😉

 

Mailing letters, get the recorded. They have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers. They could be literate. However, never ever leave your books or papers open and unattended. They might be taken for other utilities. 😉

 

Now, the primer on irony. The basics are in the affirmative and the negative. You do not take them for a yes or no merely. Let me quote the Mash:

 

“In no way are any of these people vain, arsey pedants.”

 

This does not have to mean a refutation, as Wikipedia explains. Life cannot be about affirming or denying only. Let me return to the Mash.

 

“The way they selflessly dedicate themselves to correct punctuation, for example by pointing out to the staff of a chip shop why the term >>chip’s<< is a sloppy obfuscation, confirms they are bold and righteous individuals."

 

Antonyms and synonyms are the answer.

 

Laying all out in detail to a grammar nazi looks discouragingly big a task, hence the handful of thoughts and the primary color, yellow (adjective, reference 3).

 

Grammar nazis do not offer own blogs or websites, especially with serious language work, for evaluation. Their picking on people’s works has no chance to bring anything creative, sophisticated. My attitude to them as well as critics will remain the same: Where is your own, better stuff?

Apples grow on noses: two languages – two minds?

“Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people”, says Catherine de Lange.

 

“Mon espirit paratage — My two minds”, appeared in the New Scientist of May 5th, 2012. Ms. de Lange compares monolingual and bilingual children. The Washington Post has included the article online.

 

 

Ms. de Lange describes her testing children on syntax. Syntax is about the way we phrase our talk or writing.

 

“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 or multilingual, children get to hear or read fairy tales. It does not matter, if the kid speaks one or more languages. It is important that the child comprehends the words: there was a fairy land, a long time ago, where apples grew on noses.

 

Figurative thinking does not disturb syntax, and more, children learn early that words can have more than one meaning, also when the talk is for real. Whether in one or many languages ― but dependent on pragmatics ― we could or could not count any noses in picture 1. The Big Apple Corner in picture 2 only might have apples.

 

Language pragmatics deals with talk in context and with work on ambiguity.

 

 

PICTURE 1. IS THERE EVEN ONE NOSE IN THE PICTURE, IF WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT NOSES COUNT?

 

Noses

 

PICTURE 2. DO APPLES GROW SQUARE, IF WE HAVE BIG APPLE CORNERS?

 

apples

 

Thinking psycholinguistics for the science, the task was most probably deictically misconstrued. The children did not know what noses the talk was about, and thus if to focus on syntax or pragmatics.

 

 

Ms. de Lange says she speaks English and French. Humorously, but to follow her observations, with English and French, we would have to imagine monolingual people carrying shields instead of umbrellas, for heavy rain. They would be the people to get “flummoxed” with figures of speech, and it rains halberds in French, when it rains cats and dogs in English (in which latter case we would have to think monolingual people cannot keep appointments, staying home).

 

We would have to dread multilingual medics, fearing they would be the people to take cardiac cases for a game of opinion. They would be the people not to care what a matter literally might denote.

 

Quite seriously, both English and French have spoken and written forms. What we write as “bread” in English is “un pain”, in French.

 

 

Boy eating bread

 

Not only to a child, a test to neglect word sense would be a sort of mal a l’oreille. Without semantics, a multlilingual person would be left with some “phonological interface” only, for linguistic discernment.

 

What is likely to happen then (and I believe happened, in Ms. de Lange study), people go “surfing” the language form. The “surfing” is not a developmental stage. Monolingual or multilingual, very young or more advanced in age, people can learn to “surf” ― for a joke.

 

Natural language progress for syntax is more likely to have virtual or invented words. They have an extra advantage. They let exercise speech sounds without the flummoxing that verbal associations might bring, especially to very young minds:
[th] is the sound in mother;
[th] is the sound in father
[th] is the sound in brother;
[th] is the sound in… pother. 😉

 

We do not have to depend on nature; we can encourage syntax, in children as well as grown-up people. A car rolls, a doll dances, a troll hops, and a ball bounces. Toys are things. They can be “phimos”. Every phimo can bimo. Before long, a learner may tell easy, if we are correct saying,

 

The phimo bimo;
or if we should say,
The phimo bimoes. 🙂

 

Phimos can bimo.

 

Multilingualism is becoming an everyday thing in more and more countries and cultures. I like that.

 

I do not like bias about language and mentality. The simple, common sense fact of life is that bread is bread, whether a person speaks one or more languages.

 

Generally, experimentation on children raises ethical concerns, and honestly, for language acquisition, there is no need to experiment: it is enough to listen and talk. I have never experimented, and I would have mixed feelings. When you experiment, you introduce factors that naturally would not be there. A very serious ethical concern comes with Ms. de Lange reporting infant brain scans for experimental purposes. There is no way to obtain informed consent from an infant. Feel welcome to read why I do not see sense about such scans.

 

 

Naturalness does not require we never try anything novel. The method here would not fit an experiment well. I invented it in childhood, worked on it for some 30 years for own language progress, it is complete, and it does not have the “open ends” that experimentation explores. Feel also welcome.

 

Themis and the Flag

Burning the Flag ― where is the language?

The legal profession is a depth of recondite detail the Supreme Court has the expertise firmly to deliberate.

 

United States versus Eichman, United States versus Haggerty, Texas versus Johnson: all cases argued freedom of speech under the First Amendment. The Amendment says, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

 

 

The Supreme Court holding on Eichman says:
“The government’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol did not outweigh the individual right to disparage that symbol through expressive conduct.”

 

What is the meaning of a national flag? It symbolizes: the country, the people, and the language. The Flag does not correlate with the authorities only.

 

flag-associations-2

 

Even if you do not like anybody around, would rather live in a tent, make own clothes,  and hunt for food ― all that to liberate yourself of American capitalism ― the nonsense of burning the Flag remains appalling, if to think about cause and effect.

 

There never would be the Constitution ― what follows, the Amendments ― without the people who fought for American freedom, also in Fort McHenry, about which the American anthem tells. The Flag continues to symbolize them.

 

flag-associations-3

 

Further, can we have burning for a speech act? Is there a speech sound produced, if the human sits silently by a campfire, warming his or her hands? Is there any written or printed language to emerge from the flame? Could the wood or coal crackling and hissing make stanzas, quatrains, epodes? Could we hear an anacrusis?

 

A national Flag symbolizes the language as-is and all-in-all, therefore I take the precedent for reasonable associations. The fact remains the Flag symbolizes, but it is not language, also unburned.

 

 

The First Amendment says that people have the right to the freedom of speech. The Amendment does not say, *”Congress shall make no law abridging expressive conduct in association with speech and language…” Fortunately: human expressive behaviors are a very wide spectrum part of which belongs under parental guidance and is not language at all.

 

At the same time, I would not uphold the term of “Flag desecration”. The word desecration suggests abuse on sanctity. I think flags are for people, as books and knowledge on language.

 

I have put images of the American flag on my American English grammar books, which are absolutely my human work.

 

I do not support the Supreme Court verdict. I hope time will bring legislation to discern physically abusive behaviors from speech and language, as well as allow national symbols in the hands of the people: it should be a public vote to decide on the matter.

Tongue entanglement

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

 

Diarmaid Ferriter of The Limits of Liberty ventured his frown at human glibness on RTE One.

 

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 to Ireland.

 

On love and humanity, I can agree that language is neither a prodigal son, nor daughter: it does not spend much, and it can give a lot. 😉

 

On life and freedom ― most businesses in Ireland work with English language papers and cash. These are all kinds of English, to include American, Australian, and whichever you like.

 

People make cash owing to English language business talks. People learn math and many more, in English language schools. People get advice from English language medics, and buy bread from English language bakers. Many have never learned British English.

 

 

Irish English has a distinct sounding, one might find more pleasurable than that from over the river Thames, as Pete McCarthy noted in his McCarthy’s Bar.

 

 

Getting rid of Irish English would not be freedom. It would be a disaster. English is a lingua franca, a language spoken world-wide. The Irish horizon for business and culture is all around the globe, with Irish English.

 

Rather, there is a predilection for terms of power, and it might be worthwhile to tell it apart from language itself. Probably, the predilection inspired the name “Hiberno-English” for Irish English, as in Wikipedia.

 

 

“English was brought to Ireland as a result of the Norman invasion of Ireland of the late 12th century”, tells Wikipedia.

 

The Irish isle was named Hibernia by ancient Romans, who evidently thought it was very cold; they must have compared temperatures in ancient Rome, Greece, or North Africa ― the regular influence they exercised, military campaigns mostly in warm times of the year.

 

 

Regarding a theory that Normans would have brought English, William the Conqueror was French and his Normans did not speak English, which was named for a factor in the Great Vowel Shift.

 

Exactly as other conquerors, Normans did not interact much linguistically, in battles. Without people who spoke, wrote, and traded ― in a preferably moderate climate, which both English and Irish isles certainly have had ― there would not have been language learning or change.

 

For “Hibernian English”, nothing holds linguistically. Just as Irish people do not need snowballs to learn language, the British do not need to join the military to have a “one-to-one” on “Birran English”, rainy days. Birrus was a Latin word for a raincoat. It is the predilection for terms of power to try bringing the Roman empire and a Norman conqueror into a field where pen craft matters most.

 

Mr. Ferriter claimed there were two kinds of power. 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 wholesome. Yet saying “fish and chips” does not give a Leo Burdock, unless there are the cash and the consensus to make the deal. More, various debates world round have proved humans phylogenetically capable of days and more of a language production, as well as reception, of no influence to thought or decisions. 😉

 

The word “power” deserves a more favorable regard as an intellectual capacity and ability to act. Naming language as one of tools for conquest does not do language justice. Language can be attractive. Language can be an intellectual pursuit.

 

I think Irish English should have a publicly accessible corpus. Autonomous language environments have own language corpora.

 

 

To date, no corpus of Irish English exists, said a paper from Limerick University in 1999.

 

I have looked up the Internet for an update. As of April 17 2016, the Limerick University says there is a corpus. There is yet no public access to it.

Larry Selinker’s interlanguage

Larry Selinker, a professor of linguistics, developed his theory of interlanguage” or “third language”, in 1972. A “latent psychological structure” becomes woken in the brain, when a human learns a second language, said Mr. Selinker.

 

We learn English as a second language, if we have spoken a few words of another tongue before. My Polish was a long way from fluent proficient, when I began learning American. I was about 4 years old. More and more people learn two or more languages, beginning early.

 

 

Let us reason. We can think about people without pointing at anyone in particular. Let us imagine Eduardo. He was born in America, in an immigrant Hispanic family. He spoke mostly Spanish before he went to school. His parents spoke Spanish, and his friends in the town area he lived were all Spanish. However, Eduardo has always had a good awareness of American English in his environment, also via the media.

 

Let us think Eduardo becomes 20. He is doing an IT degree. He takes elliptic integrals easy, but he would need a dictionary to translate math from English to Spanish — he has learned math and spoken about it in English. Mr. Selinker would say Spanish is Eduardo’s first tongue.

 

Love yet wouldn’t come Spanish-first. Eduardo’s 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. Mr. Selinker would say Eduardo uses a second language to express feeling, and there must be another, third or interlanguage form in Eduardo’s head he relies on.

 

INSIGHT FROM EXPERIENCE

 

  • Regardless of social background or gender, people have primary languages, rather than first or second. My primary language for linguistics is American English. I need a dictionary, to translate my own linguistic work to Polish, though Polish is my native tongue.

 

Ai-li was born as Eduardo, in America. Her grandparents were Chinese. 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.

 

Let us think Ai-li grows up and writes 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 would make the third or fourth, but actually she has learned and worked with all her languages at the same time…

 

INSIGHT FROM EXPERIENCE

 

  • The primary language is not a fixed option. Multilingual speakers will prioritize the relevant tongue, dependent on the environment and context.
  • A primary language that prevails in an aspect of personal experience may become “the learner”. For example, learning German began to work better for me, when I started referring it to American English, not Polish. The matter was the same when I learned French, therefore the matter is not about language groups or families.

 

Larry Selinker would imply abnormal mental and neural realities about “second language learners”. It is owing to latent psychological structures in the brain that second language learners show simplification, circumlocution, and over-generalization, claims Mr. Selinker.

 

We could say Mr. Selinker holds second language learners for idiosyncratic. An idiosyncrasy can 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).

 

Medically, there are no purely “functional”, “mathematical”, or “psychological” connectivities in human brains. There are no “latent” brain areas, in unimpeded humans. Injury does not produce neural structures for language.

 

“Selinker noted that in a given situation, the utterances produced by a learner are different from those native speakers would produce, had they attempted to convey the same meaning“, says Wikipedia.

 

Emily Dickinson was an American poet. Her works remain widely recognized, and favorably appreciated as well. Whether a person likes the poetry or not, who would there be to say that every American would write the same, were he or she to “convey the same meaning”?

 

 

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.

 

Emily Dickinson, source: Project Gutenberg, The brain is wider than the sky.

 

Idiolect is the way a person speaks or writes. The word comes from Greek idios, meaning one’s own, and lektikos, meaning able to speak, or good at speaking.

 

 

Everyone has own idiolect. Mark Twain may be a natural association, when there is talk about idiolects. It is difficult or even impossible to imagine this proficient author saying, you do not speak as I do, therefore you are wrong.

 

“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, Project Gutenberg.

 

Let us analyze Second Language Acquisition: An Introductory Course, by Susan M. Gass and Larry Selinker.

 

“Imperfective morphology emerges with durative and/or stative verbs (i.e. activities and states), then gradually spreads to achievement/accomplishment and punctual verbs.”

 

The book gives examples.

 

(7-33) She dancing (activity)
(7-34) And then a man coming… (accomplishment)
(7-35) Well, I was knowing that. (state)
(7-36) Other boys were shouting ‘watch out’! (achievement).

 

All in all, Mr. Selinker would purport that second language learners “get the language differently”. Where would that be, however, Harlem, Bronx, countryside, or uptown, metropolis America, where people hold accomplishment and achievement for separate?

 

The book says the study began on children aged 8 years, French and Dutch. I have been able to find the “punctual verbs” mostly for Japanese or Singlish.

 

“The French learners were overall less proficient than the Dutch learners and never reached the stage where they could use the regular past morphology productively. Transfer factors were also involved, in that learners appeared to be predisposed by basic distinctions in their L1 tense-aspect system to look for similar distinctions in the L2 input, specifically in the case of the past/non-past distinction, where Dutch is closer to English” (page 209).

 

The study lasted three years. A private teacher, I would have have been sacked, if the student had not been able to use regular past morphology after three years of work.