Category Archives: Language is Great!

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

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

‘S arrived into my life likea a train wreck. /sə.’ɹ̠avʔ inʔ ma ‘lajef ‘lajegə ə tə’ren ɹ̠æʔ/ — The Centuries Unlimited. The development of American English from 1900 to 2100 is characterized by phonological simplification, a shift toward isolating sentence structure, and … 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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Learning Bulgarian: Vacations and Governments

Remember last week? Well here’s some more Bulgarian vocab! Obrashtam se kam (nyakogo): Turn to (somebody) for help Dezhuren-on duty (from French, de jure meaning “of day”) Pikolo-a bellhop (from Italian, piccolo meaning “smallest”) Funny how English also imported both words, but with different … Continue reading

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