Category Archives: Language is Great!

My musings on languages natural and artificial and the science of linguistics

Babytalks: And he became a beybo gwegew

My daughter can now recite “the very hungry caterpillar” from memory. Which is great because it gives me a direct one-to-one comparison for her utterances. Here’s one of the more bizarre. Instead of saying “beautiful butterfly” (the last two words … Continue reading

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Baby Talks: Approximantation

Yes, my baby is still practicing fricative harmony. She’s also doing something else, which is approximanting? Is that even a word? She makes stops into approximants, is what I mean. I speak General American English, so my intervocalic dental stops become … Continue reading

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Learning Kalispel: phonotactics and sentence structure

Back again with more lessons on the Kalispel language. The workbook is getting into some simple questions and answers, so this time I can talk about what I think might be Kalispel sentence structure. I won’t know if I’m right … Continue reading

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Future English

I’ve been thinking a lot about the next 150 years of the English language for The Centuries Unlimited. And then there was that “spelling pronunciation” post on tumbler that got me and some other people talking… And before you know … Continue reading

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Japanese Phrasal Verbs?

I was going to write this week about Kalispel numbers, but yesterday I learned something interesting in Japanese class. I already knew the verb hikkosu (引っ越す*; to move house), but yesterday I learned the verb ikineku (生きねく; to survive something**) … Continue reading

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Learning Kalispel: Orthography

Okay, I had a dream in Kalispel Salish* last night, which I guess is a signal I need to talk about it. It all started when I found this webpage of the Kalispel Tribe  which has both written and recordings … Continue reading

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Bulgarian has words for:

to wake up completely: разсънвам се (razsanvam se) Raz-san-vam se glosses as “apart-dream-verb reflexive” something like “I break up my dreams.” You can add the same suffixes and prefix to buzh- (the root for “wake,” cognate to Sanskrit “Buddha”) to get разбуждам се … Continue reading

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Japanese Junction

(scroll down for the English translation) (吉田の携帯が鳴る) 吉田:もしもし? 誰 – ? お、かしこまりました! もちろん。 (松森に携帯を上げる)竹田さんです。 松森:はい? 竹田:君はね、英語話せるよね? 松森:必要ほどできます。 あの、ご存知じないかもしれませんが、撮影の途中でございますし。 竹田:締め切ろ! 荷造りして出発の準備しよ。 松森:出発ですか? 吉田:え? (携帯をつかむ)どうも、松森くん。 (松森は、吉田が携帯をつかんだことに苛立つ。キャリアが低下していることと吉田が尊敬しないことを心配する。) 松森:何が起こっている? どうしたの? 吉田:(松森を追い払う)残念ですけど不可能でございます。 お金はもう。。。キャンセルされた?(顔が赤く変わる)でわ、お帰りになるとおっしゃるんですか。 竹田:(くすくす笑う)まったく帰るつもりはないよ。 松森:どういう意味? (携帯をつかむ)竹田さんは別の場所で撮影させようしますか? この撮影は最後にすると通知いらっしゃいました。 私は健康ではないですし。 そして、東京で、あの、重要な会議がありますし。 竹田:松森くんの奥さんの弁護士たちは待てる。ヘリコプターのほうは待たせないぞ。 松森:(怒りを見せる)いったいなんでヘリコプター? (ドアが叩かれる。背景で声が聞こえる。竹田は他の人と話している。) 竹田:(上司に話す)はい。 そうでございます。 そういたします。 … Continue reading

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Bulgarian root: Mah “wave”

In Bulgarian class yesterday, we were reading about eagles (like you do) and came across the phrase: Размах на крилете –  Raz-mah na kril-e-te – “Wingspan” (lit. apart-wave of wing-s-the). But while English span comes from a root meaning “to stretch” (other … Continue reading

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Ergatinglish!

Ha ha, suckers! You thought you were going to get a short story today, but instead I’m going to lecture you about made-up future English. Wait don’t go! It’ll be a form of English that has evolved ergative-absolutive alignment! Wait … Continue reading

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