1. Usually, bimodal bilinguals are hearing children of Deaf adults (known as codas), who natively acquire both a sign language and a spoken language. Emmorey et al. asked American bimodal bilinguals to engage in several linguistic tasks with other, known bimodal bilinguals. This situation encouraged the use of both languages in narrative and conversation tasks. Emmorey et al. found that code switching occurred in about 6% of the participants’ productions.
    However, about 36% of the time, the participants produced code blends, uttering one or more signs simultaneously with one or more spoken words.
    — 

    Bimodal Bilingual Cross-Language Influence in Unexpected Domains, Diane Lillo-Martin, Ronice Müller de Quadros, Helen Koulidobrova & Chen Pichler (2009, link here)

    This whole paper is really neat, especially examples like this where the bimodal bilinguals alter both the spoken and signed languages in order to make them line up better (note: vache “cow”, petite “small”). 

    In this example, the speech satisfies the French noun-adjective word order, while the sign satisfies the adjective-noun word order of LSQ [Langue des Signes Québécoise].

    (3) Incongruent code-blend with language-specific syntax (Petitto et al. 2001: 489)

    French: vache    petite   vache     
    LSQ:     PETITE VACHE VACHE 

    (Source: lavidapoliglota)

     
  2. Lingdoku

    One of the best archival features of speculativegrammarian is Lingdoku “a sudoku-like activity for linguists.” The first, and easiest, lingdoku works like this:  

    Using the nine IPA symbols in the [first] table, complete the [second] unfinished table. Each symbol occurs exactly once in the box, and no row or column may contain more than one symbol with either the same place or same manner of articulation.

    Subsequent lingdoku get progressively harder: the second one involves a four by four grid and the addition of palatal place and lateral manner of articulation, and later ones are even more complex. Here’s a list of all the lingdoku and variations — note that each puzzle’s page also contains the solution to the previous one. 

    Any of the lingdoku are a fun way to practise the IPA! Here’s a clickable IPA chart and an explanation of manner of articulation, for reference. 

     
  3. At the risk of spoiling my own punchline, here’s my favourite paragraph from my Lexicon Valley article today. You’ll never be able to un-hear it. I’m not even sorry. 

    Interestingly, the West Country’s influence on popular culture isn’t just pirate speech. Newfoundland English is ultimately related to that of the founding settlers from the West Country, and it’s also the dialect of the incredibly catchy 1976 hit song “Combine Harvester.” But perhaps the most famous inhabitant of the West Country is Hagrid from the Harry Potter series. Can’t you just imagine Hagrid saying, “Yer a pirate, Harry”?

    Both the song (click it if you dare) and the quote have been stuck in my head for two days now, so I might as well infect everyone else. 

     
  4. Royal Babbies

    superlinguo:

    [In deference to the fact that this post is coming out just after the Scottish Independence referendum, I might be talking about the UK royals, but I’ll use the more Northern variety of babby for baby]

    I’m not personally that invested in the British royal family, but as long as Australia still uses their Head of State as our own, I suppose I have a vested interest in their progeny. They’ll end up on our coins after all. Although I’m not interested in the offspring of strangers, I am always interested in names, and naming conventions. As Laura Wattenberg at BabyNameWizard points out, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have astonishingly dull taste for traditional names - which is part of their general normcore appeal. 

    This is really a missed opportunity.

    There are some most excellent Anglo-Saxon names - many from royalty - just waiting for a return to fashinability. Admittedly, many of them predate the current ruling family, but they are all very satisfying to say, and will mean we can bring back graphemes like ash and eth. Last time around I suggested Æthelstan, but that was after they’d had the kid. This time, here is a list of excellent old Anglo-Saxon names that the Cambridges can mull over at their leisure.

    Boys

    • Eadred
    • Eadwig (although perhaps ‘blessed war’ isn’t really what we want)
    • Sweyn
    • Cnut
    • Æthelwulf ( I mean, this name means ‘noble wolf’ - how cool is that!)

    Girls

    If these aren’t enough for you, here is a list of hundreds of names and their meanings.

    When superlinguo and I were talking about this on Twitter last week, I suggested Æthelred, which is still my favourite suggestion, and now even more so since I’ve learned the history of his moniker “the Unready”. From Wikipedia:

    "Unready" is a mistranslation of Old English unræd (meaning bad-counsel)—a twist on his name “Æthelred”, meaning noble-counsel. A better translation would be ill-advised. 

     
  5. How Germans ACTUALLY Pronounce English Words

    amaranthine-ephemerality:

    (This is an updated and revised version of a previous post of mine, “Phonological Features of ‘German English’”.)

    There is one thing that always upsets me a little when I watch an American TV show or movie: the representation of the English spoken by a “German” and the “German” spoken by an American. The latter problem can be solved very easily in that instead of hiring an American actor who speaks some German, you can simply get a real German. There must be some of them in all of Hollywood, right?

    The first problem requires a lot more effort because Hollywood doesn’t really seem to know what a German speaking English with a noticeable accent actually sounds like. However, rather than discussing all the weird features that are placed in a German’s mouth on television or the big screen, I would like to give an overview of what a German speaking accented English might actually sound like.

    Please note that there are huge differences among Germans speaking English, which means that while some speakers might only have a slight accent, others have a fairly thick accent. And as always, an extremely tiny percentage manages to speak accent-free English whereas another minority might not even be understood by a native speaker.

    If you’re interested in the features of “German English”, just go on reading.

    Read More

    And, as luck would have it, the English word “squirrel” is a perfect storm of several of these particularly difficult features. 

     
  6. The ubiquitous forms of address for women ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’ are both abbreviations of ‘mistress’. Although mistress is a term with a multiplicity of meanings, in early modern England the mistress most commonly designated the female equivalent of master–that is, a person with capital who directed servants or apprentices.

    Prior to the mid eighteenth century, there was only Mrs (or Mris, Ms, or other forms of abbreviation). Mrs was applied to any adult woman who merited the social distinction, without any marital connotation. Miss was reserved for young girls until the mid eighteenth century. Even when adult single women started to use Miss, Mrs still designated a social or business standing, and not the status of being married, until at least the mid nineteenth century.

    This article demonstrates the changes in nomenclature over time, explains why Mrs was never used to accord older single women the same status as a married woman, and argues that the distinctions are important to economic and social historians.

    — 

    Abstract from Mistresses and Marriage: or, a Short History of the Mrs, also known as the most interesting article I’ve read all day.

    Full text is available here, but if you remember one thing, how about that Jane Austen in 1811 is the earliest citation that the author can find for the “Mrs Man” form, e.g. “Mrs John Dashwood”? 

     
  7. Syllables in Latin

    intellectualhedonist:

    allthingslinguistic:

    intellectualhedonist replied to your link “Why Does English Use “Iambic Pentameter” and Other Greek Poetic Terms?”

    This was awesome! One nitpicky thing - it’s being followed by *two* consonants, not one, that make a short syllable long in Latin or Greek. (Hence the long a in anseris or the long u in medullula in Catullus 25.2).

    Well, it’s one consonant in the same syllable, although I didn’t specify the syllable part. So an.se.ris has to be long-short-long because ns- is not a good combination for the onset of a syllable, but notice that the final syllable is long because it ends in a single consonant. 

    On the other hand, two consonants that can begin a syllable in Latin, such as the br- in Februarius (c.f. breve), don’t have to make the preceding syllable long. (Well, Februarius can be syllabified as fe.bru.a.ri.us or feb.ru.a.ri.us depending on how you deal with ambisyllabicity). 

    Interesting to see how rules are phrased depending on discipline - in Classics it’s “a short vowel followed by two consonants or a double consonant (ζ, ξ, ψ), though a mute + liquid is an occasional exception,” but now that I see the linguistic POV…yeah, “a syllable ending in a consonant” is a lot simpler.

    (I was about to be really excited about how much easier this would make explaining long-by-position vowels to my students, and then I realized that it’d require giving them a quick 101 on breaking words up into syllables too. I guess it’ll help with the ones who’ve taken linguistics, anyway.)

    Hence why I think a bit of basic linguistics helps everyone! 

    I expect that Classics rule would also give you an exception for s+C clusters (where C is a consonant), because those are also licit in the onset of Latin syllables (na.sci not nas.ci, Ve.sta not Ves.ta because you have sc- as in scire, st- as in stella, etc.). 

    The way I teach it to intro linguistics students is that you need to put as many consonants in the onset (the part before the vowel) as possible, and what’s a possible onset for a given language can be seen in what consonants are found at the beginnings of words. So, for example, there are Latin words beginning in br-, st-, etc. but not mp-, cc-, etc. The licit onsets belong to the subsequent syllable, while the illicit ones must be divided between the coda of the preceding syllable and the onset of the next. 

    The Greek double consonants (ζ, ξ, ψ - that’s zeta, xi, and psi for the non-classicists following along) make things complicated though. At some point they should have been licit onsets in Greek (e.g. psyche and xylos were once pronounced with /ps-/ and /ks-/; /pn-/, /pt-/ were also fine, as in pneu-, pter-) but there have been a lot of sound changes so at various points in different languages people started not pronouncing them in full at the beginning of words but preserving them word-medially by splitting them into different syllables: in English loanwords, for example, pterodactyl has a silent p, but helicopter splits the pt cluster; both are from Greek pter- “wing”. So before this sound change happened, double consonants shouldn’t have triggered the preceding syllable as being considered “heavy”, but afterwards they should have. It’s plausible that the Greek double consonants may never have been licit onsets in Latin, for example. (Given that my knowledge of Greek and especially historical developments in Greek poetry is much weaker than my Latin, I’d be very interested to know how accurate this speculation is.)

    With respect to your other comment: 

    intellectualhedonist replied to your post “Syllables in Latin”

    The -ris in anseris is followed by two consonants, as the next word starts with an ‘m’ - though of course you’re right in that the actual rule is a consonant ending the syllable. (Hence why ‘z’ lengthens a short syllable - it’s a double consonant.)

    You also syllabify irrespective of word boundaries, because people don’t pause between words when speaking naturally. (Liason and elision in French are an excellent example of this happening.)

     
  8. Syllables in Latin

    intellectualhedonist replied to your link “Why Does English Use “Iambic Pentameter” and Other Greek Poetic Terms?”

    This was awesome! One nitpicky thing - it’s being followed by *two* consonants, not one, that make a short syllable long in Latin or Greek. (Hence the long a in anseris or the long u in medullula in Catullus 25.2).

    Well, it’s one consonant in the same syllable, although I didn’t specify the syllable part. So an.se.ris has to be long-short-long because ns- is not a good combination for the onset of a syllable, but notice that the final syllable is long because it ends in a single consonant. 

    On the other hand, two consonants that can begin a syllable in Latin, such as the br- in Februarius (c.f. breve), don’t have to make the preceding syllable long. (Well, Februarius can be syllabified as fe.bru.a.ri.us or feb.ru.a.ri.us depending on how you deal with ambisyllabicity). 

     
  9. swutol-sang-scopes replied to your link “Why Does English Use “Iambic Pentameter” and Other Greek Poetic Terms?”

    The “original” Hey Diddle Diddle was in fact written by J.R.R. Tolkien, although I am sure that someone with his interest in poetry and its transmission would be flattered to be taken as “traditional”!

    Thanks for the correction! I’ve updated the original post too. 

     
  10. I’m on Lexicon Valley talking about the history of metrical terms and some of the differences between English and Latin/Ancient Greek. 

    I glossed over the ways that Latin poetry actually differs somewhat from Ancient Greek poetry, but if you’re looking for more, this Wikipedia article is a good place to start.

    Also, I couldn’t fit it in the article, but while writing it I discovered that apparently Hey Diddle Diddle used to be far longer and had quite a different meter. (Edit: apparently this version is actually newer and by JRR Tolkein. It’s still great though.) Here’s an excerpt, but it’s worth reading the full thing aloud: 

    Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
    the dog began to roar,
    The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
    The guests all bounded from their beds
    and danced upon the floor.

    With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
    the cow jumped over the Moon,
    And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
    And the Saturday dish went off at a run
    with the silver Sunday spoon.

    I also found this delightful example of tap-dancing to iambic pentameter in the first 30 seconds of this clip from Love’s Labours Lost

    I’ve been writing about poetry a lot lately: there’s trochaic tetrameter and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there’s Hey Diddle Diddle in ASL, and I have an upcoming puzzle in Schwa Fire. The full solution will be up next week for subscribers, but in the meantime you can try to answer it yourself to win a subscription. (Or get a subscription, if you can: Schwa Fire is pretty cool, and subscribing lets them pay contributors like me!)