kutsuwamushi: (they see me rollin')
"wood tick"

God it's cute.

You can hear it in this (kind of big) sound file of Montana Salish words. It's the third one.
kutsuwamushi: from a Married to the Sea Comic (edumacation)
I can't make my mouth do this yet.

The above page has a few audio files of words in Montana Salish, showcasing the ejective consonants. (They're the ones followed by an apostrophe.) And it also has to this page on the UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive, which has more recordings than you could ever want--unless you're a phonetician.

The Salishan languages in general have really cool phonetics. Nuxálk, the language that has the famous word xłp̓x̣łtłpłłskʷc̓, is also a Salishan language. This page has a poor-quality recording of some vowel-less Nuxálk words.

What I really want, though, is good-quality audio of running speech, and I'm having a hard time finding any. I found this short story in Klallam, but it doesn't have ejectives as far as I can tell.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
The last speaker of the Bo language has died. Bo was an Andamanese language. The Andamanese languages have evolved independently for as far back as we can know; most are extinct. Wikipedia has this interesting tidbit on their Andamanese languages article:
Possibly their most distinctive characteristic is a noun class system based largely on body parts, in which every noun and adjective may take a prefix according to which body part it is associated with (on the basis of shape, or functional association).
(They cite "Deep Linguistic Prehistory: with particular reference to Andamanese" by Niclas Burenhult, which I haven't had a chance to read yet. It's not that long and I plan to.)

The Metafilter post I linked to has links to pages with more information about Bo, including one that has sound files of Bo being spoken. You can probably ignore most of what's said about Bo in mainstream news sources, though.

Here are some colorful pictures from India during the last month. Everything from traditional Kathakali dancers to motorcycle stunts. And an escaped tiger. But my favorite is this one:

Queens girl Alexa Gonzalez hauled out of school in handcuffs after getting caught doodling on desk -- in erasable marker, no less. What the hell is wrong with people? This was the part of the article that really stood out for me: :
She and her mom went to family court on Tuesday, where Alexa was assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience.
I imagine myself as the twelve-year-old arrested for scribbling on a desk with erasable marker and asked to write an essay about what I learned:

"I learned that when people are given control over other people, it encourages their worst authoritarian impulses. Any infraction, no matter how minor in reality, becomes serious in their minds because they see it as a threat to their authority. This is why kids get arrested for drawing on desks or their wrists broken for dropping some cake."

"My experience has taught me if I actually turn in an essay that describes what I learned truthfully, it will also be seen as a threat to authority, and I'll probably be punished. It has taught me to toe the line. Fuck you all."

(Of course, when I was twelve, I wasn't that well-spoken, but it would have had a similar sentiment.)
kutsuwamushi: from a Married to the Sea Comic (edumacation)
I hate vowels.

I really, really do. I especially hate English vowels, because I keep wanting to interpret the speech samples through the lens of Korean vowels, which are just as stupid but in a different way.


I am not good at vowels.
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
The "is your name Ben?" post on [livejournal.com profile] linguaphiles has been deleted. Someone doesn't have a sense of humor.

Luckily, one of the moderators saved screencaps.

(The poster, by the way, had a feminine-looking username and icon.)
kutsuwamushi: (Default)
Classes start tomorrow and I'm still psyched about Korean. I know next to nothing about the language, and indeed it hasn't interested me before. What first attracts me to a language is usually the phonology, and Korean's is--at first glance, anyway--rather simple. I like a little complication.

What's awesome about Korean is the writing system. I linked to the Wikipedial entry on Hangul in my last post, but since I know none of you clicked on it, and because I'm stuck at work with nothing better to do, I'm going to subject you to a brief explanation here.

This is what Geoffrey Sampson says in his Writing Systems, wrapping up the section on Hangul:
When we come to compare the solution the Koreans have evolved for the problem of recording speech visually with the solution reached from precisely the same starting-point by the Japanese, we may well marvel at the outstanding simplicity and convenience of Han'gŭl. Whether or not it is ultimately the best of all conceivable scriptos for Korean, Han'gŭl must unquestionably rank as one of the great intellectual acheivements of humankind.
Before there was Hangul, there were Hanja--imported Chinese characters, the Korean version of Kanji. Anyone who's familiar with Japanese knows what a pain these are. Chinese characters are hard enough for the Chinese; use them to write a totally unrelated language and it only gets more complicated.

In The World's Writing Systems, Ross King summarizes what I find most intriguing about Hangul (emphasis mine):
Hankul is original. It was the product of deliberate, linguistically informed planning. Despite numerous theories attempting to link it to, or derive it from, other scripts (there are no less than ten different "origin theories"), the most convincing theory of letter shape origins remains that given in the Hwunmin cengum haylyey (HCH) 'Explanations and examples of the correct sounds for the instruction of the people', which was lost and not rediscovered until 1940. According to the HCH, the basic consonant shape for each of the five places of articulation is based on a graphic representation of a graphic representation of the speech organ involved.


Hankul is scientific. Its invention rested on an elaborate phonological analysis of fifteenth-century Korean, and transcended Chinese-based theories of phonology of the time.
And this marvelous invention was published in 1444. We still hadn't invented spelling in English, yet.* (Some would say we still haven't!)

But apart from being scientific, Hangul is also elegant. It resembles the shape of Chinese characters--its aesthetic was undoubtly inspired by them. However, it functions completely differently. This is the world "Hangul" in Hangul:

With thanks to Wikipedia. You can see how each character is actually a syllable block composed of symbols (these are called "jamo") that represent a single sound. In this case, there are three sounds per syllable. The jamo themselves were based on the scientific analysis of Korean; as mentioned, many are representations of the place of articulation, and also, related sounds have related jamo. This isn't the case in English. You can't tell, for example, that the sounds represented by the letters t and d are very closely related just by looking at those letters.

Unfortunately, awesomeness often loses when pitted against tradition, and it wasn't until the previous century that Hangul was widely accepted. It was seen as a degenerate form of writing; its relatively easy accessibility to the lower classes and women no doubt caused a lot of defensiveness towards it among the educated elites. They spent years learning Hanja (some academics still do), and Hangul could be mastered in days.

* Yes, I know. Joke.


kutsuwamushi: (Default)

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