pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

According to Wikipedia, Foreign bodies that fall down the trachea are more likely to enter the right bronchus because the carina of the trachea (a little ridge at the place where it divides into the two bronchi) lies to the left of the midline.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Someone on Quora linked to the Wikipedia article on the ‘Canaanite shift’:

In historical linguistics, the Canaanite shift is a sound change that took place in the Canaanite dialects, which belong to the Northwest Semitic branch of the Semitic languages family. This sound change caused Proto-NW-Semitic *ā (long a) to turn into ō (long o) in Proto-Canaanite. It accounts, for example, for the difference between the second vowel of Hebrew שלום (šalom, Tiberian šālōm) and its Arabic cognate سلام (salām). The original word was probably *šalām-, with the ā preserved in Arabic, but transformed into ō in Hebrew.

The article cites several examples, some of which I had known independently as Arabic and Hebrew forms, but I had never inferred that regular sound shift from them! (Quite possibly because I don’t really know Hebrew and Arabic.)

Interesting!

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

I just read that in French, HTTP sounds like acheter tes pets.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

So I knew that "church" is "kos'ciol" (or something like that) in Polish and learned that it's "kostol" in Slovak, but didn't know that there was a similar word in Russian until I heard it today.

When I asked about the difference between "cerkov'" and "kostyol", I was told that the former is Orthodox while the latter is used, for example, for Catholic churches. And they volunteered the information that Hindus (for example) have "khram". I asked about Jews and Moslems and was told "sinagog" and "mechet'".

So! "Kostyol" in Russian. Interesting.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Listening to this clip on YouTube, right at the beginning she said aftermath with a BATH vowel in the final syllable.

Huh! I had always used TRAP there, as in maths. (But then, I’m not sure whether I’ve ever heard the word spoken before.)

Looked it up on dictionary.com; its house dictionary only has TRAP for the final vowel, but further down, the World English Dictionary has BATH (i.e. it lists both the TRAP and the PALM vowel, and in fact the PALM one first).

Since for me, BATH goes with PALM, perhaps I should use BATH in aftermath as well.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

In Klingon, there’s an animal toqvIr lung translated as “Tokvirian skink”.

I thought that was a made-up word, but apparently, there really are animals called “skinks”. Huh!

(And they’re lizards, which makes sense, given that lung “loong” is described as a lizard-like animal. I presume the name was influenced by the Chinese word 龍 lóng for a dragon.)

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Turns out that Edmonton and Hamburg are at nearly exactly the same latitude (around 53° 32' N), as I found out just now when I received a Postcrossing postcard from there. (Postcrossing plots the start and end on a map and draws a line between them, and I wanted to see whether the line just looked horizontal or whether it was actually completely horizontal.)

So the postcard travelled effectively due east all the way! (Well, if it had followed a rhumb line, at least….)

Always fun to see such coincidences.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Today, I found out that in Esperanto, “ĝis la revido” means “up to the dream-child” („bis zum Traumkind“). A curiously idiomatical phrase for a farewell :)

Fun stuff!

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

In Gregg shorthand (simplified), “thorough” is written th-e-r-o.

I would have used different vowels there, so I tried to see where those came from.

The first was easiest; I was expecting a STRUT vowel there, since I have STRUT in case such as “hurry”, but I have heard NURSE in such words from Americans. Essentially, I have “hu-ry” while they have “hur-y”. (I do have NURSE in words where I segment things with the r in the same syllable as the u; for example, in “furry”.)

OK, so this presumably represents a pronunciation with NURSE; that sound is regularly spelled e-r, so that made sense.

But I have commA at the end of the word; the vowel in both syllables is nearly the same for me. So seeing an o there seemed odd. (So I would have spelled the word th-oo-r-a, since oo is used for STRUT.)

I checked dictionary.com and while that gave both STRUT and NURSE for the first syllable, it gave only GOAT for the final vowel.

Then I had a look at Forvo; that had seven pronunciations recorded. Clicking through them one by one, it seems that there is a Commonwealth/US split for this word, with commA for the former (the UK samples and the Australian one) and a fairly clear, unreduced GOAT for the latter.

Huh! Learn something new every day.

(And now, thorough sounds extremely odd to me. Typical result of listening to a word over and over!)

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

So apparently Russian хлеб khleb “bread” is a loanword from Germanic, from a the ancestor of English loaf and German Laib.

I don’t think I would connected those three words off-hand. (Even though the English and German words at least mean the same thing! Perhaps because the word Laib is fairly rare in my speech; I usually talk about ein Brot rather than ein Laib Brot.)

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Things I did not know: apparently, there are alcohol suppositories. Supposedly popular among youths, partially because that delivery method bypasses the stomach, so you don't vomit.

I knew that alcohol could be absorbed by mucous membranes (from a medicine you were supposed to leave in your mouth for a bit for part of it to be absorbed there), but I wouldn't have thought to try those mucous membranes.

(The background was: after lunch, a colleague put his hands into this disinfectant/hand sanitiser machine, and then the corridor started smelling of alcohol. Another colleague mentioned that he was “old school” and preferred to take his alcohol internally. This triggered a small discussion of ways to administer alcohol.)

pne: A DataMatrix 2D barcode encoding "pne" (DataMatrix pne)

So apparently, “demonstrative” (as in “demonstrative pronoun”) is stressed on the second syllable: deMONstrative.

I have pretty much been stressing it on the first, like with “demonstrate”; hence, DEMonstrative.

That’s fairly far back, but not unheard-of for English (compare, for example, “investigator”, which also has main stress on the fourth syllable from the end, at least for me).

Ah well.

(Or is this like “alveolar” [DW, LJ], where a significant number of people use my pronunciation, i.e., the “wrong” one?)

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

While I was reading through a paper on developing orthographies for previously unwritten languages (from the 2011 LSA Symposium on Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages), I came across the word obesity, presented as an exception to the English process known as Trisyllabic Laxing (TSL): instead of the expected short vowel in the second syllable, it’s long.

So, compared with serene:serenity ("long" "ee" -> "short" "eh" in the -ren- bit), obese:obesity keeps the same "long" vowel.

Never knew that.

I guess this is a word I’ve only come across in writing, and I’d always applied TSL to it automatically and unconsciously: I’d always pronounced it as if written “obessity” (though I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had learned that it was actually pronounced as if written “obezzity”).

Whodathunkit.

(On a side note, while looking the word up in dictionary.com to check the pronunciation, I found it a bit annoying that the top couple of dictionaries cited don’t give a pronunciation for obesity because they don’t have a separate lemma: they treat it as a derivative of obese and only give a pronunciation for that headword. Fortunately, a couple of specialised dictionaries further down the page gave pronunciations.)


I would like to take exception with the author’s statement on page 10 that “Despite neutralization of obstruent voicing in syllable-final positions, native speakers of many German dialects have an intuitive feeling that syllable-final voiceless obstruents that are derived from voiced obstruents are different from those derived from voiceless ones”—I think there are too many spelling mistakes and too much emphasis on “inflect the word, then you will know how to spell it” during acquisition of writing for it to be as automatic and intuitive as the author makes it sound. Or maybe I’m simply not a speaker of one of the many German dialects for which this is supposedly true.

For those for whom the above is mumbo-jumbo, I’m referring to the fact that das Rad and der Rat are spelled with a different letter at the end even though the pronunciation is the same, or similarly with the adjective tot and the noun Tod.

I think that if such devoicing were reflected in the orthography (e.g. der Tot, die Tode) and people grew up used to this (so, current literate speakers of German excepted), this would work just as well, if not better, than the current orthography, and, in fact, could reflect better what people think is the word.

Sure, the last letter would change, but you have changes in spelling (especially in vowels) in inflected forms, anyway (Baum : Bäume, du isst : ihr esst), so having such changes in consonants as well would probably not be such a big deal.

In short, I think the author is misled by thinking that if educated people can handle the orthography of German without problems, that it reflects the way they think.


For that matter, I also doubt his claim that writers of English could not learn to write he chafes, he chafet; he lovez, he loved because “they are not aware of the differences” (i.e. they don’t notice that they have voiceless endings /s, t/ for some verbs and voiced ones /z, d/ for others). The justification for that claim, by the way, is: “The fact that native speakers of English simply aren’t aware that one or other of these representations [i.e. -(e)s for present tense, -(e)d for past tense, regardless of pronunciation] is “wrong” argues strongly for this being a sub-conscious constraint.”

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

According to Wikipedia, the first component of the German word Bargeld “cash” comes from the Greek βαρύς “heavy”, since originally money was in the form of (heavy, metallic) coins.

Edit: neither my Duden nor my dtv Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen support that claim; they both relate it to “bar” meaning “nackt; frei von; sofort verfügbar” (Duden) or “unmittelbar verfügbar; unverhüllt, offen daliegend; offen aufgezählt” (dtv); “Bares Geld ist aus dem verhüllenden Behältnis gezogenes, aufgezähltes, offen daliegendes Geld und tritt in Gegensatz zu dem erst durch schriftliche Zahlungsanweisung verfügbaren.” (dtv) So it’s related to English bare instead.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

So apparently palette (the thing an artist keeps their paint on) is pronounced /ˈpælɪt/ (rhymes with mallet or, for that matter, pallet, as in the thing that you stack goods and and carry with a forklift).

I had always assumed it was a /pəˈlɛt/ (puh-LET), à la française.

Whodathunkit.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

Apparently, ounce and inch both go back to Latin uncia “one-twelfth part” (of a pound, foot, etc.).

ounce was borrowed via French while inch came directly from Latin into Old English, which accounts for the different sound changes each word went through.

So those words are doublets just like skirt/shirt, fragile/frail, and so on.

Fun stuff!

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

I would have thought that choose and choice would be related, but they’re only related distantly: choose is Germanic (related to German kiesen/auserkoren; Kür, etc.) while choice is Romance (though ultimately from Germanic as well).

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

I knew Ajungilak as a brand of sleeping bags from my scouting days.

Today, while reading a phrasebook of Greenlandic, I read that ajunngilaq means “it is good” (aju·nngila·q be.bad–OPPOSITE–3sg).

I presume that’s not a coincidence.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

OK, so I knew that cherries are related to plums, since they’re both in genus Prunus. What I didn’t know is that almonds are, too—and that they’re even more closely related to peaches, both being in the subgenus amygdalus!

Almonds, peaches—what is difference?

Huh. Whodathunkit.

pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

A utensil that’s apparently ubiquitous in the Netherlands yet unknown outside the country: the bottle scraper (flessenschraper/flessenlikker).

Useful for extracting the last bits of vla (which is more viscous than milk) from the bottles it was traditionally sold in; modern versions of the scraper apparently have not only a rounded edge useful for bottles but also a straight edge with two right angles useful for the cartons that vla tends to be sold in these days.

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Philip Newton

June 2015

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