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Showing posts from December, 2015

Toasts in a grammar

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I'm reading Holisky & Gagua (1994), a grammar sketch of Batsbi. I just came across this sentence, "the words said by him remained toast". I like it, a lot.

I take it that despite some sort of condition or expectation, the words he said remained to best be described as speeches or hot white bread. Like some sort of uncle at a wedding who never stops talking once he's got the space. There is no more context, so all we can do is speculate.

Batsbi [bbl, bats1242] is spoken at the dot on this map below and transitivising affixes, inclusive pronouns and aorist.

References Holisky, Dee Ann and Rusudan Gagua. 1994. Tsova-Tush (Batsbi). In Rieks Smeets (ed.), North East Caucasian Languages Part 2, 147-212. Delmar, New York: Caravan Books.

Glossing, how I miss you!

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I'm currently reading some older grammars that are written in a quite different style from most modern grammars. They're very ambitious, meticulous and good in many ways, but most crucial is the fact that they lack glossing. I miss glossing so!

Glossing is a way for linguists to divide up utterances and translate more fine-grained units so that other linguists can have a better understanding of what's going on. When reading a grammar and trying to understand how the language works, glossing is immensely useful and practical. You as a reader might be interested in different things from the author, and glossing makes their analysis more transparent and makes more information available to the reader. You can read more about it, and conventions for it, here.

Let's make ourselves happier by looking at some of my favourite glossing ever, the texts of the project on Typology of Negation in the Ob-Ugric and Samoyedic languages. I'm not even kidding, looking at these texts…

Go play some language games!

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There are more and more exciting new tools cropping up for scientist to gather data, and in linguistics one new tool such is gaming! We just had a talk here at CoEDL at ANU from a researcher working on mutual intelligibility of closely related european languages - Charlotte Gooskens - where they've been using games to investigate this question. Apropos that, I thought I'd let you all know about some games you can play that can further our understanding of language!

Go play games, for science!
Mutual understanding between closely related languages-game
As a speaker of a major european language, how good are you at understanding your neighbours? Really... :)?
Link to game.
Link to science behind (don't look before playing!)

LingQuest! How good are you at correctly identifying which language you're hearing?
Test yourself on over 30 European languages and other languages from all over the world. Included are many languages currently under study in the DOBES-program.
Link to new…

Generative and non-generative ideas of the current questions and aims of linguistics

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This is a blogpost about the way that different linguists see the great challenges and aims of linguistics, it's full of quotes that I hope will prove illustrative. The quotes are taken mainly from here  and here, you can also go there to read more. As usual, you're more than free to skim and scroll, there's quite a few quotes this time.

On this blog we're interested in discussing what the "Big Research Questions" in linguistics are, and also we've been interested in getting past the functional-fenerative divide that often is very destructive. Two of our readers even commented that the inflammatory "debates" of the Great War are "profoundly unattractive" and that they had left that part of linguistics intentionally because of it's unproductive nature. Here's Haspelmath describing the situation:

It is not hard to see that linguists who work on linguistic diversity tend to fall into two very rough sociological groups: Those who are…

Tips when looking for PhD positions or other jobs in linguistics

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A few quick tips to people looking for jobs in linguistics, especially as students. I've recently been trying to help out some friends of mine who are looking for positions, and thought I'd perhaps share some quick tips that have helped me. Not that I'm an expert or anything, I'm just a tiny little PhD student who overthinks things a lot, but all the same. These might seem quite obvious, but I think they might actually be helpful still. Lemme know if you found them useful.

1) Talk to the professors, colleagues and bosses you like and let them know you're looking and would appreciate advice and support. Seriously, they might not have realised this and could be very helpful. Pre-warn them that you might need them to write recommendations letters.

2) Subscribe to mailing lists, and filter them(!!). Go to Linguist List and set yourself up to a few lists that look interesting. The large one LINGUIST has a tag for jobs, it's "Jobs", and I also highly recomme…

Smelling underarms in Apali

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We've had a new submission for Goodies from Grammar Reading - a series of blog posts with interesting, fun or in other ways noteworthy utterances found while reading linguistic description (blogger posts here, old posts on tumblr here).
This one was noted by Siva Kalyan during Don Daniels' talk at the annual meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS 2015 in Western Sydney University). The example is taken from a collection of texts in Apalɨ by Martha Wade (Wade n.d.) and serves to illustrate the way this language encodes imperatives. The codes for this language are: ena and apal1256.
Original text: Vac-ɨna huji hisi sɨmɨl-ɨlɨŋ u-avɨ-la-lɨ. Glossing: move.aside-2sg.ds underarm rotten smell-1sg.imp say-pl-hab-3 Translation: ‘“Move aside and let me smell your underarm,” they say.’                 
As utterances out of context goes, this is a most humour one. I was not present at the talk, nor at the occasion when this was said but I'd like to imagine it's a parent tryi…

Ethnologue institutes pay-wall after 7 pages

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The Ethnologue, the most widely used catalogue of the world's languages, has instituted a restriction on how much content is available for free on their site. After 7 data pages per month (excluding "navigation pages, indexes, and other "administrative" pages that you may need to access to get to the data you want to see") you will need to be a subscriber in order to access more. The cost is 9.95 USD per month, or 60 USD per year.  
This is quite simply due to lack of funding (cf Linguist Lists funding drives), you can read more about this in their official blog.

Which then are the most useful 7 pages? I would say the ones found under "statistics", check them out!
Already before this there was certain content that had to be purchased ("country reports" for example)
and a physical version. There are also rumours that the glossaries of linguistic terms (the monolingual English one and the bilingual French-English one) might be restricted in som…

Check out this phylogenetics blog!

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Hi peeps.

If you're interested in historical linguistics and phylogenetic networks, and these topics interaction with biology and anthropology, you should check out this blog The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks!



The most recent post is on the history, problems and current uses of lexicostatistics by Mattis List

You might also want to check out some of these post:

the phylogenetics of Little Red Riding Hood Inconsequential splits in NeighborNet graphs Reducing networks to trees  Just a friendly tip.
Btw, if you got any fun candidates for Goodies from Grammar Reading,let us know.