English language

The conscious mind of Emily Dickinson

There is an occurrence in Emily Dickinson’s verse; it is beyond mere coincidence or unaware habit. Noticed, it helps see her light musing with Greek and Latin.

 

(Time and Eternity, XVIII, Playmates) Latin: collusor, companion at play; condiscipulus, school-mate; angelus, a messenger, an angel; lapillus, small stone, pebble (marble?); lusus, a game;  Greek: ὁμηλυσία, omelusia, companionship.

 

God permits industrious angels
Afternoons to play.
I met one, — forgot my school-mates,
All, for him, straightway.

 

God calls home the angels promptly
At the setting sun;
I missed mine. How dreary marbles,
After playing Crown!

 

The inspiration is morpho-phonemic. Let us try a few more pieces. (Life, XXIII, Unreturning) ἀνάπλυσις, anaplusis, washing or rinsing out; ἀνήλυσις, anelusis, going up, return; ἤλυσις, elusis, step, gait; lenunculus, a small sailing-vessel, bark, skiff (the toddling little boat).

 

‘T was such a little, little boat
That toddled down the bay!
‘T was such a gallant, gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

 

‘T was such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the coast;
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!

 

We can compare the Greek -upo/ypo- for I asked no other thing (Life, XII, p. 213): ἰσότυπος, isotypos, shaped alike, συνυπόπτωσις, synypoptosis, simultaneous presentation to the senses; Latin cauponarius, a male shopkeeper, tradesman, ποπτερνίς, upopternis, a knob (a kind of a button that can twirl, in the modern use), and πo, below, looking a picture up and down (as Brazil on a map).

 

I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.

 

Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”

 

Feel also welcome to read Why I stay with the first print.

 

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.

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.