|—||Brent Woo (TEDxEMU)|
i remember once when i was 11 years old being like ‘hey i don’t pronounce the t in important like a normal t i like pronounce it in my throat isn’t that interesting’
i had no idea what a glottal stop was but man look at me 11 years old analyzing glottalization i was so cool
Listen to yourself and see how often you nasalize the vowel and drop the nasal phoneme in a syllable coda. I just realize that I frequently say [wɔ̃ʔ] “won’t”…
In fact, there is an interesting change happening, at least in American English. The negative form of these words (mainly found in contractions) is changing in pronunciation. Traditionally, can’t and won’t are pronounced with both an [n] and a [t], originally from the word not. However, as lhaasiri notes, they actually say [wɔ̃ʔ] instead of [wɔ̃ntʰ]. Now, with won’t, the positive form, will, is sufficiently different that there’s no confusion.
With the words can and can’t, on the other hand, this change is more problematic.
- [kæ̃ntʰ] = can’t (long)
- [kæ̃ʔ] = can’t (short)
- [kæ̃n] = can (long)
- [kæ̃ːʔ] = can (short)
See how similar these forms are?
The two short forms, [kæ̃ʔ] and [kæ̃ːʔ] only differ in vowel length. The extra segment in can’t (that can doesn’t have) is transformed into vowel length (through various processes you can research on your own).
So now they’re almost pronounced exactly the same way. How can you tell the difference? They occur in the same places in the the sentence, or as two opposite answers to a question…
- Are you going to be able to make it to dinner?
- I can.
- I can’t.
This may cause problems in the conversation. One way this may be resolved is that people develop other ways of answering, either with different words, intonations, or different pronunciations of these words. Just as they are converging, they may diverge. And this is one way that language changes.
“Here comes the semantics” says the person speaking in a language with words and meanings
I met a little lady from way down south
and I thought she was kinda sweet.
She had a tasty tongue in a cowgirl mouth
that said things you’d wanna repeat.[…]
Oh, I bought her a ring, and I bought her a home,
and I got her set up nice and neat.
But sometimes I’d worry she would use me and roam,
and whenever I did, she’d repeat,
“I don’t want none of your money, sweet,
I don’t care for no one but you.
I don’t know nothin’ ’bout how to cheat –
that ain’t nothin’ I’d wanna do.”
So now why am I sittin’ with my head hangin’ low
with nothin’ left, not even pride,
wonderin’ where my sweetheart and my money did go
and how I got took for a ride?
My gal was a master of verbal predation,
a lawyer who took her reward –
she tripped up my ears with double negation
that I thought was negative concord
“Don’t Tell Me No Lies” by James Harbeck (full poem here)
You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!
It’s an odd little speech. But if you went back 15,000 years and spoke these words to hunter-gatherers in Asia in any one of hundreds of modern languages, there is a chance they would understand at least some of what you were saying.
That’s because all of the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the four sentences are words that have descended largely unchanged from a language that died out as the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age. Those few words mean the same thing, and sound almost the same, as they did then. …
It’s like trying to reconstruct the original mammal that all the other mammals evolved from by comparing an abstraction of all rodents, plus an abstraction of all felines, plus an abstraction of all canines, plus an abstraction of all primates, plus an abstraction of all cetaceans, plus an abstraction of all marsupials, plus an abstraction of all ungulates, plus whatever the heck the platypus is descended from, etc.
But it’s harder than just that, because none of these languages were written down until long after they’d all split off, because writing systems only started being used around 3200 BCE in very few locations, whereas language has been around since sometime between 5 million and 50 000 years ago (we don’t even know).
So imagine trying to figure out that the common ancestor of chickens and iguanas was actually a dinosaur. Without having any fossils.
I love these studies, but they need to be taken with so many grains of salt because the data that they’re working with is an abstraction of an abstraction. But that’s the only way to study this until we invent time travel.
I gave a presentation yesterday on “I can’t even.”
Linguistics is neat
(Also that font is the raddest, check the ampersand on the 5th slide.)
Tumblanguage seems to be a socio-pragmatic phenomenon. It is not a pidgin or a new language. It is incredible in its own right. This simple, elegant slide show doesn’t explain all the details, but it points out some really neat tidbits. For instance: there are consistent restrictions on what is and isn’t said by its community of practice. In other words, tumblanguage isn’t random mutations of English — there is a principle structure that governs its use. This isn’t to say that future changes in use won’t allow some of the marked (unacceptable) phrases from coming into use.
((Guys, linguistics is so cool. But like any science, you have to treat it with respect. Please don’t go claiming that something is or isn’t a “language” without putting serious thought into your reasoning. It just creates confusion and pseudoscientific assumptions about what our amazing field is and what it is capable of.))
I was telling a friend I was on the last episode of my Korean drama and I said: “One more ep and I’m done this drama.”
I could have said: “And I’m done/finished with this drama.”
Now that I think about it. ‘with’ deletion is actually pretty normal for me at least when I say “done …such and such.”
ie. I’m done this class. I’m done this book.
To me not all of these sentences would need the ‘with’. What say you tumblinguists?
my morphology prof mentioned to us that he thought it was horrendous whenever we say “i’m done.” he’s from california, but we’re in canada, and he implied it’s a canadian thing.
i’m pretty sure i’ve heard of it as a canadian thing too
“So you’re a linguist. How many languages do you know?” Every linguist hears this question a lot. There’s even a meme about it. And in addition to over-use, there are several contradictory reasons why it’s deeply frustrating.
1. Linguistics isn’t about learning lots of languages. Except when it is.
Linguists as scholars work to analyze language and figure out how it works and why we can speak it. Unfortunately, there’s also another meaning for linguist which is a translator or person who speaks a ton of languages. Academic linguists refer to the latter as polyglots or hyperpolyglots. But, for example, the US military job descriptions use linguist to mean polyglot/translator. It’s a real meaning, but it’s like asking a baseball player if they hit balls using a small winged mammal. Not so much.