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im just

the cherokee language has a verb tense that specifically notes the exclusion of a person in the conversation

so there’s i’m going, you’re going, we’re going, and we’re going (but not you) 

i love it

This is called “clusivity” and it’s found a bunch of languages, including Chechen, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Quechua.

Some languages just side-eye harder than others.

No wait, please come back. How does this work? Like, is there a conjugation system so it’s everyone by me, everyone but you, everyone but him/her/it, etc.? Or is the change made on the noun, so there’s like the root verb hanging there and everyone knows SOMEONE is being excluded, but you don’t know until the indication pops up on the word for “you”?

In all the examples of this I’ve heard it is just for first person plural. So there’s we as in me and you vs we as in me and someone else. It’s not everyone but you. For instance, in English if you say, “what are you up to tonight” and I say, “we’re going to dinner,” it might be ambiguous whether I meant something like “you and I made dinner plans for tonight, remember?”  or “I can’t hang out with you because I made dinner plans with someone else.” Many languages have first person plural pronouns and conjugations which clarify that

Exactly. The OP made the whole thing really unclear by calling it a “tense”, but it’s not. It’s a person. As in “1st person” (I), “2nd person” (you), etc. Clusivity is about how some languages do not have one but two separate 1st person plural markings (pronouns, affixes on verbs, etc.): an inclusive 1st person plural that means “you, me and possibly others”, and an exclusive 1st person plural that means “me and others, but not you”.

That’s all clusivity means. It’s a very useful distinction mind you, but it’s not dark magic!

If English had clusivity, we could imagine that instead of “we” we might have “wein” and “weex” (we-inclusive and we-exclusive). So you’d get: 

Wein are going
Weex are going

And of course you’d need object and possessive forms, so you’d also have:

They like usin
They like usex

Ourin chocolate
Ourex chocolate

If a language with verb inflection, like Spanish, had clusivity, we could imagine that instead of “vamos” there might be “vamosi” and “vamose” (again for inclusive and exclusive). These would be in your present tense paradigm along with voy, vas, va, etc. 

Except that pronouns and verbal inflection tend to be pretty old parts of the language, so they almost certainly wouldn’t be formed after the grammatical descriptive terms which came around much later. But that’s how it could show up on pronouns or inflectional endings. 

It’s kind of like when a language has formal and informal second persons – they tend to show up on pronouns and/or verbal inflections. 

Can slur avoidance be taken too far?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 11:19 pm
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Posted by Lameen Souag الأمين سواق

I was rather flabberghasted to read an otherwise good post on Language Log seriously suggesting that racial slurs are so painful they should be coyly asterisked out even in careful lexicographical explanations of why they should not be used. I do not pretend to any expertise on the impact of the specific slur in question there - I'd prefer to hear more black linguists' comments on that - but much of the argument they make is general, not specific:
If you take the standard linguistic analysis of slurs, though, the word’s power does not come from mere taboo [...] The word literally has as part of its semantic content an expression of racial hate, and its history has made that content unavoidably salient. It is that content, and that history, that gives this word (and other slurs) its power over and above other taboo expressions. It is for this reason that the word is literally unutterable for many people, and why we (who are white [...]) avoid it here.

Yes, even here on Language Log. There seems to be an unfortunate attitude — even among those whose views on slurs are otherwise similar to our own — that we as linguists are somehow exceptions to the facts surrounding slurs discussed in this post. In Geoffrey Nunberg’s otherwise commendable post on July 13, for example, he continues to mention the slur (quite abundantly), despite acknowledging the hurt it can cause. We think this is a mistake. We are not special; our community includes members of oppressed groups (though not nearly enough of them), and the rest of us ought to respect and show courtesy to them.

Anglo culture has a long tradition of scrupulously avoiding certain words in order to respect and show courtesy towards, in particular, women and children - people who were thought of as weaker and more emotional than adult men, and in need of their protection. Politeness is great, but if you treat people like they're made of glass, you're not only patronizing them, you're excluding them - you're implying that there are some discussions they just can't handle. (The term "white knight" comes to mind.)

This is ironic in general - people who have made it through serious oppression tend to be pretty tough, though everyone has their vulnerabilities. It's doubly ironic within an academic context, in that a core academic skill is the ability to confront and (if necessary) rebut personally threatening arguments without getting carried away by one's immediate reactions. In order to master North African historical linguistics, I've had to read works by colonial generals and OAS terrorists who fought and killed to subjugate my ancestors, and whose attitudes often colour their work; most people working on marginalized languages will have had similar experiences. If I can deal with that, do you really expect me to be incapacitated by some professor's cautious mention of, say, the word "raghead"? Words certainly can hurt, but slurs have enough power as they stand without adding the power of absolute taboo on top.

Dear Niantic,

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 03:29 pm
green_knight: (Abandoned)
[personal profile] green_knight
We have received reports that Trainers haven't been able to collect their Defender bonus after the Gym update. We’ve investigated many of these reports and have not been able to reproduce any bugs related to this issue.

(as posted here) is not a good conflict resolution.

If you're unable to reproduce the bug, that just points to it being intermittent. Fair enough. Doesn't mean you should stop looking. However, you have the stats: you can compare pokemon activity and gym rewards, and if they don't match what they should be, you can fix.

Trainer of a Pokemon which stayed in the gym for 10 days, got fed a lot of berries, was kicked out this morning, and brought home 0 pokecoins.
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Lingthusiasm Episode 10: Learning languages linguistically 

Some linguists work with multiple languages, while others focus on just one. But for many people, learning a language after early childhood is the thing that first gets them curious about how language works in general and all the things in their native language(s) that they take for granted. 

In episode 10 of Lingthusiasm, your hosts Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne talk about how learning languages can feed into linguistics and vice versa. We also explore the power dynamics that affect learning languages, and the importance of learning about the rules of interaction as well as the rules of grammar.

This month’s Patreon bonus was about hypercorrection, where you try so hard to follow a linguistic rule that you end up overshooting. You can get access to it and previous bonuses about the doggo meme, swearing, teaching yourself linguistics, and explaining linguistics to employers by supporting Lingthusiasm on Patreon. Gretchen’s new recorder in this episode is thanks to the support of our patrons! 

Here are the links mentioned in this episode:

Keep reading

Music meme: day 14 of 30

Friday, July 21st, 2017 01:24 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you

I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?

(no subject)

Friday, July 21st, 2017 12:53 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
15.A song that is a cover by another artist

oh, I know one for this!


Chis Hadfield sings space oddity.
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Tag yourself: IPA symbols edition. (via)

Update: Thanks to readers who have reached out and let me know that there are exotifying and ableist phrases in this meme. I didn’t read it as carefully as I should have before putting it up, which is not a good excuse, but I no longer stand by it and I appreciate being told. While I am leaving it up for accountability, I’ve removed the tags to help limit its spread and I’d suggest people reconsider sharing it further. If you’re looking for an IPA tag yourself meme, here’s a different one.

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane

I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )

(no subject)

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 12:55 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
14.A song that you would love played at your wedding

Well, I decided that Castemere was inauspicious...

I rather like this for an entry.although it's rather long, I think I'd have to extract the theme.


(entry of the gods into valhalla, das rheingold WagnerL)

“Five” and “Punch”

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 08:49 pm
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed


This one is a fairly familiar example in linguistics textbooks, but one that is probably surprising to someone not familiar with Indo-European linguistics.

Punch, in the sense of a fruit beverage, is a borrowing from the Hindi pāñć meaning “five”, from the fact that the original version of punch used five ingredients.  Numbers, of course, especially small numbers, tend not to be borrowed, and tend to be pretty stable in meaning as well.  They therefore provide a perfect class to look at when figuring out if groups of languages are related.  The Hindi pāñć descends from Sanskrit páñcan, in turn from Proto-Indo-European *pénkʷe.  In the course of evolving into Sanskrit, short /e/ /a/ and /o/ all merged as /e/, the labiovelars became plain velars (thus kʷ became k) and (before the /o/-/e/-/a/ merger), /k/ became palatized before front vowels, thus, *kʷe became *ke, became *ce, became *ca.

In an early stage of pre-Proto-Germanic, *pénkʷe became *pémpe, a sporadic form of assimilation.  Then, under the normal sound changes, particularly Grimm’s Law, *pémpe became Proto-Germanic *fimf.  In the Ingvaeonic languages, a small group of West Germanic languages (made up primarily of English, Frisian, and Low German), nasals before voiceless fricatives were lost, with compensatory lengthening, thus, *fimf became Old English fīf, which became Modern English five.

There were two PIE roots that appear to have been closely related to *penkʷe which have also left descendants in English. *pn̥kʷ-sti-s meaning “fist” and *penkʷ-ró-s meaning “finger”  The first is the origin of Modern English “fist” and the second is the origin of “finger”.  It is plausible that the original meaning of this root had something to do with “fist” or “hand”.  Compare, for example, the Proto-Austronesian *lima, which meant both “hand” and “five”.

The development of “fist” from *pn̥kʷ-sti-s was this way: the syllabic non-vocalic sonorants became -uC-, thus PIE *n̥ became Proto-Germanic *un.  /kʷ/ (and /kw/, which merged with /kʷ/ early on) lost its labialization (the /w/ sound) in certain contexts, one of which which was when preceded by /u/, including /uC/ sequences.  /k/ before an /s/ or /t/ subsequently became /x/, thus becoming Proto-Germanic *funhstiz, which was simplified to *funstiz.  This became Old English fȳst, the result of the /i/ in the last syllable fronting the /u/.  The vowel was shortened and unrounded to become Modern English fist.  There is, however, another possible etymology of Progo-Germanic *funstiz from the zero-grade of *pewǵ- “punch”, in which case the verbal -n- infix would appear along with the suffix *-sti-s

In *penkʷ-ró-s, Verner’s Law caused /kʷ/ to become /gʷ/.  Most cases of /gʷ/, whether derived originally from *gʷʰ via Grimm’s Law or *kʷ via Verner’s Law were subsequently lost, with various reflexes depending on environment.  Word-initialy, historic *gʷʰ became *b, most likely after Grimm’s Law happened (thus *gʷʰ → *gʷ → *b), but the opposite order is also possible (thus *gʷʰ → *bʰ → *b), while word-medially it generally became either *g or *w.  Unstressed /e/ became /i/, thus creating Proto-Germanic *fingraz.

*pénkʷe is also the origin of Ancient Greek pente (as in pentagon) and Latin quinque (as in quintet), both meaning “five”. This connection is more obvious than the Germanic one because there’s only one sound change each: /kʷ/ to /t/ in Greek and /p/ to /kʷ/ in Latin (”qu” is pronounced /kʷ/). 

(no subject)

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 04:11 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
13.One of your favourite 70's songs

I don't really have one... wikipedia claims this is c. 1570 and will do :-p


(Spem in alium)
[syndicated profile] allthingslinguistic_feed
“Interpreting, despite the fact that it is often taught at universities, is not an academic subject; it is far more akin to a craft or a sport. One cannot learn to interpret by going to a lecture (or reading a book) and understanding an explanation of how interpreting works. Interpreting is a skill or, to be more exact, a combination of skills that one can explain and understand quite quickly, but which take far longer to master in practice. In practice, and through practice!”

- Gillies, Andrew (2013) Conference Interpreting - A Student’s Practice Book. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. p.3. (via linguisten)

(no subject)

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 02:16 pm
naath: (Default)
[personal profile] naath
12.A song from your pre-teen years

strong memories of primary school discos... yes I know it is awful.

(Blobby song)

Catch up

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 01:42 pm
lnr: (Default)
[personal profile] lnr
Done since Jun 14th:
  • Test rode an Onderwater tandem, which has the child stoker seat at front - Matthew loved it
  • Second parents evening for Matthew's school, nice to see teachers again and get more idea of school plans
  • Rainbow Sponsored Trike Ride - I ended up riding Matthew's bike as a balance bike since he didn't want to join in
  • Blood tests: my calcium, parathyroid hormone and vitamin D levels are all normal, but keep taking the vitamin D for now
  • We did HBA1C as well, which is average blood sugar levels, also fine - I'm at slight risk due to Type 2 diabetes in family and current weight)
  • Picnic lunch and playdate with Kirsten/Andre/Judith/Colin and Lammas Land - lots of fun
  • Shelford Feast - Matthew enjoyed all the stalls and mini steam train and bouncy castles, I helped out on the Rainbow stall
  • Eye Test for Matthew this morning: doing great, patching is helping his eyes work well together, ordered new lenses for his current glasses, next appointment in October half term
  • Work appointed one interim head, who only stayed 2 days, and are now appointing again
  • The "implementation" phase of Organisational Change is officially complete and we all now in theory have new jobs - but almost no management so not much actual change at the moment
  • Total resignations now at 4 (Patrick, James, Stephen, Andrew) with possibility of more to come

Plus assorted bike rides, visits to the park, dyeing hair purple again and so on - and lots of lego :)

Coming up in the near future:
  • Collect Matthew's school uniform (I see the school's admin at Pre-School and she's kindly said she'll bring it along for me)
  • Early start tomorrow for Rainbow Leavers Trip to Wandlebury
  • Rainbow end of term staff party tomorrow evening: as part of the committee I'm involved in helping host it
  • Rainbow leaving party on Friday morning - last day of pre-school!
  • A week in the lake district starting on Saturday
  • Test riding a Circe Helios tandem when we get back
  • Folk Festival on Sunday 30th - possibly with Matthew, possibly without
  • New Interim Head of IT Group starts (phased in) on 1st August (Hi Julian)
  • A week in Devon with family from 4th August - staying at Wortham Manor

In between the two weeks away Matthew will have a week at Hania's - and then when we get back he's got three weeks of holiday club before granny and grandad come to visit the first week in September, and then school starts on the 11th.

I think I know why I'm exhausted :)

Hugo thoughts

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 11:49 am
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.
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Previously: LingComm day 1: Goals, #LingComm day 2: Terminology and the explainer structure, and #LingComm day 3: The Curse of Knowledge and short talks.

The reading was the Debunking Handbook, which is written for science debunking. It talks about three kinds of backfire that we encounter when debunking:

  1. Familiarity Backfire Effect - repeating a myth can strengthen it rather than debunk it, especially if it’s repeated in headlines or titles where people may not see the whole text.
  2. Overkill Backfire Effect - providing too many reasons why a myth is wrong can make it harder for people to remember them.
  3. Worldview Backfire Effect - people are threatened by information that threatens their worldview. Solutions: focus on converting less committed people or bystanders, affirm people’s values.

Don’t just debunk: replace with an alternative, more compelling explanation.  

Supplementary persuasion tactics include getting other people to come to a conclusion rather than just telling them and getting people to explain how something works that they think they understand but do not (especially about things like “language”) to expose the “illusion of explanatory depth”.

We also talked about the “former prescriptivist confessional” genre of articles such as this one and that one. Though it can be hard to convert prescriptivists, their willingness to publically correct people for the sake of a good cause is a valuable asset when their perception of a good cause is changed from red-penning apostrophes to calling out linguistic prejudice.

We then played the Questions Only improv game in groups of 3: two people would start a scene (everyone is a fish!) by only talking in questions. When one person missed a question, the third person would swap in, and so on. This game is sometimes played with a two-person scene in front of the whole group, but I chose to reduce pressure and keep everyone engaged by doing small groups with no audience instead. We also, because this was linguists, had to clarify what was meant by questions, which I specified as wh-questions or auxiliary questions, not intonation-only or tag questions, because those can be added on belatedly which isn’t in the spirit of the game, but I think that might be worth playing around with for future versions.

Discussion: this game was harder than the previous improv games! It’s also harder than a normal in-person type of explanation, where you often get to prepare in advance, and you can definitely do it in whatever sentence type you want. So because it’s so difficult, it makes regular kinds of public speaking seem easier in comparison. It also violates typical norms of conversations, where the normal thing to do is to answer questions rather than follow them with another one, which is sometimes a thing that debunking also involves.

We then started talking about in-person events, like linguistics summer camps, bringing linguistics into school classrooms, linguistics olympiads, museums, science fairs, and more. I’ve started a list of linguistics events as a twitter thread here that I’m sure I’ll keep adding to. There are a lot of in-person events to talk about, so we’re going to split them across two days.

Today in particular I wanted to mention the Linguistics for Everyone open house and the Wikipedia editathon, which are both happening on Wednesday July 19 in JSB room 321. The editathon is 1-4 and the open house is 4-6:30, and I’d encourage anyone at the institute to attend! You can also follow along with the editathon from afar using the hashtag #lingwiki on twitter.

Reading: look into one of the in-person events in more detail, either from the list or another one you’re interested in, make a couple tweets about it, and be prepared to talk a bit about it for next class.

Catching up

Monday, July 17th, 2017 10:25 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
So I went away for a few days, and also did lots and lots of reading, and now I'm blocked on posting to DW until I've caught up with talking about both those things. That's not sensible, so I'll try for a small postcard-type entry.

Most importantly, congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] illusive_shelle and her newly-minted husband! The wedding which formed the excuse for a small summer holiday for me and [personal profile] jack was absolutely perfect and amazing.

mostly diary )

I have lots of reading I want to talk about, partly because I've been trying to get through at least some of the Hugo material, and partly because of going on a short vacation, and partly because I had a horrendous 11 hour train journey at the start of not quite having time to post. I'll talk more about that hopefully soon, and go back to the music meme and so on. I am reading, as usual, just a bit behind with posting.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)

July 2017


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