Memo to Self...

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Didn't blog yesterday due to moodiness.
Should get over that soon.

Ling. 292 notes:
There's no clock in this room, gyah.

How many languages in the world?
We can't really count, but the estimate is 5,000-6,000, with the range being 3,000-8,000.

No way to determine, linguistically, language vs. dialect.
Two key things to sort languages
1. Difference in structure--if extremely different, more likely to regard as separate languages. (Grammatical structure.)
2. Mutual intelligibility--less of this, more likely to regard as separate languages.

Neither simple to apply, nor are these absolute rules.
EX: Dialects of Chinese are very different in structure, but all are still considered Chinese.
Some Romance languages have very close structures, but are all considered different languages.
A speaker of Taiwanese doesn't automatically understand Mandarin--related, but not mutually intelligible.
Whereas some Romance languages are mutually intelligible, though it may not be balanced, as in
Spanish and Portuguese.
Political and ethnic heritage come into play. Two different states speaking varieties close to each other
look to different standards. There are gradations of dialect--language is fluid.
Language or dialect? is more of a political question.

Other problems counting languages--not all 6 billion people have been counted or censused, so it's not
accurate. Also, census questions can be faulty, and people don't always know what they speak.

Top five languages o' the world, come on down!
1. Mandarin Chinese
2. English
3. Spanish
4. Bengali
5. Hindi

About 12% (11.5) of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 150 people.
About 1/3 (30.1) of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 1000.

Ling 331 notes:
We will be studying language and gender, endangered languages and language policy, and bilingualism and bidialectalism.

Really. All the notes I took.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Back to school, back to blogging.

MW: 4:00-5:15 (Phonetics)
TR: 2:00-3:15, 4:00-5:15 (Ling Analysis, Language and Society)

Phonetics notes:
Class is okay. Still a clockwatcher, especially on nice digital clocks. Lecture style is ummy, reminds me of Mrs. Johnson.
Here's hoping the class won't kill me in the end--have yet to peek at textbook or course notes. Need folder/binder for

articulatory phonetics: study of the movements to produce sounds
acoustic phonetics: study of the sounds themselves (waveforms)

Powerpoint--the Ling. prof's best friend.

"Speech is special"
-We have a special ability to process sound
*ability to zero in on one voice despite background noise
*interpret sound as speech even if the voice is not human produced (some people)

"Speech is complex"
-Speech is audible gesture, movement that produces sound
-Simple phrases produced by complex sequences requiring elaborate and precise coordination

"Speech is a continuous signal"
-No breaks between words during speech, unless you deliberately pause, which sounds unnatural
-Oronyms--jokes made on this principle ("the stuffy nose" vs. "the stuff he knows")

"Same sounds not always the same"
lip vs. pill -- light vs. dark "l"
kit vs. cot -- palatalized vs. back "k"
cat vs. can -- plain vs. nasalized "a"
miss you vs. miss her -- palatalized vs. alveolar "s"

"Speech is fast."
Ex: 80 speech sounds in five sec. vs. 63 music notes in five seconds (even at a rapid clip)--rate of sounds is very fast
We hear different sounds as the same by subconsciously compensating for context.
We can talk much faster than we can deal with other sounds.

Speech sounds are part of a system--Duality of Patterning (DoP).
-Combine meaningless units of sound to create units of meaning--words
-Morphemes: smallest unit of meaning. "cat" is a word and morpheme; "s" is the plural morpheme, etc.
-Reorder the sounds, get a different meaning:
slip, pills, lips, etc.

Communication systems without DoP
-Road signs and other types of signs
-All animal communication--play it backwards, doesn't change meaning

All human languages have DoP--why?
-Advantage: Language becomes extensible. Small amounts of sounds make up gigundo vocabularies.
-Consequence: Order of sound becomes crucial.

So, what am I doing in this class?
-Studying sounds as part of a system of language
-How do we produce them?
-How are they put together

Then we're going to learn vocab, how to talk about sounds. Whee.