Monday, June 29, 2009

cultural dominance, language change

'Donald MacQueen has examined the word million in English, especially how language usage shifted from the previously nearly totally dominant “five millions of inhabitants” to today’s “five million inhabitants.”'

It turns out that the modern construction took over in the American newspapers in the middle of the 1880s and in the British The Times only in the mid 1910s. What’s more, it became apparent that the transitional period was shorter in The Times. These circumstances indicate that usage in American newspapers influenced and accelerated the shift in the British newspaper.

This took place at the height of the British empire, and roughly when the US economy overtook the British for the first time.

D: lessons?
The Chinese will start contributing more to global vocabulary with loan-words by around 2020, and much more so by around 2050.


D: this article tends to agree.

"The popularity and spread of a native language has always been a function of the economy of the country to which it belongs. Consider the British. They were the world rulers at one point of time in history and had an extremely strong economy - a fact that spawned the adage “the sun never sets on the English soil”. Along with their domination came the proliferation of their language, English."
D: The author has some amusing notions about how easy English is to learn, though.
If the author clarified that a pidgin or creole version is easy, I would have agreed.
It seems quite improbable and far-fetched that the most widely spoke language in the "world will also become the most popular. "

D: a version sans lexical pitch and divorced from the Chinese writing system seems more likely. Resulting in huge numbers of homophones, which would be terribly confusing.
The pidgin reaction is typically to vary them somehow, reducing brevity.
Word reduplication would also reduce brevity.

D: here are some loan-words from Chinese.

Chop chop, chow, ketchup, tea.

D: mostly food for now.

D: as always, I propose an intelligently designed English-Chinese interlanguage.
Not only as an acceptable compromise for the English (now) and Chinese (then), but also as a fairly palatable world language.
Decimese (the compromise language) would be more acceptable than Esperanto is by design principles.
However, it would be less widely and simply usable than, the LangX/Lang53 proposed creoles.
However, since Mandarin has such restricted syllable forms, it nonetheless forms a nearly-ideal basis for word formation, once divorced from pitch for lexical purposes.
Reintroducing pitch later for certain refined lexical and/or grammatical purposes remains an option.


For some unknown reason, The Language X Institute has chosen not to purse pitch in future iterations.
Pitch makes as much sense as adding more phonemes.
Furthermore, as I've observed before, I think their reintroduction of increased numbers of phonemes requires some modification to be ideal.
They wish to reintroduce phonemes at a linear rate as the language becomes increasingly popular.
I think most phonemes cannot be reintroduced until such time as LangX is a childhood language for most people.
Otherwise, it will serve as a barrier to adult acquisition, which will still be the case for a significant portion of the world's population.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

most resumés have grammar errors - dying art

Experts found that 94% of job hunters risked missing out on vacancies through CV blunders such as poor spelling, grammar or presentation on their CVs.

From a sample of 450 CVs, researchers found that 81% were laden with spelling and grammatical errors, while nearly half were poorly laid out.

A mere six per cent were error-free, the study by career advisers Personal Career Management (PCM) concluded.

D: read the examples. Very funny!

Grammar should at least be consistent. I understand personal style has much to do with grammar, but it should still be consistent!
It should also be clear. If typical grammar becomes unclear, then either rephrase the sentence, or change the punctuation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

mouse gets transgenic human fox2 language gene

"Scientists of the German Mouse Clinic at Helmholtz Zentrum München have generated and analyzed a mouse model in which parts of the human Foxp2 gene were introduced. Foxp2 is known to be a key gene for language. Since the human and chimpanzee lineages diverged, only minimal genetic alterations have occurred, even with reference to the mouse: The alterations, as scientists surmised, are closely associated with speech and language ability. However, proof on a functional level has been lacking until now."

"Helmholtz scientists analyzed the Foxp2 mice by screening for more than 300 parameters, including the ability to see and hear, bone density, important metabolic functions and a number of neurological functions. The mice carrying the humanized Foxp2 gene showed no physiological abnormalities. However, behavioral tests showed an altered exploratory behavior and reduced movement activity – both results point to altered brain functions"
D: I was just reading about empathy and deception, which develops around age 4 in humans, being linked to language.

So the question is whether an animal that performs these tests at the level of a child would be considered sentient?

Reminds me of a story called "Flowers for Algernon".

"The titular Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told as a series of progress reports written by Charlie, the first human test subject for the surgery, and touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled.[4]"

D: add a dextrous tongue and lips, and who knows?
Maybe our pet mice will be asking for cheese in the future.

Monday, June 22, 2009

magnetic poetry, colour coding grammatical role

D: colour code based on grammar.
Of course, English recycles nouns as verbs and so on.
It works better with Esperanto.
It could show prefix versus suffix.
Et al.

I looked into the idea of Esp-o magnetic poetry, but production runs must be at least 10,000 units. OMG.
Since their world congress typically only has about 5000 people attend, and mostly likely repeat attenders, I imagine I'd die of old age with boxes of the stuff.
Which says volumes about how popular the language... isn't.

Friday, June 19, 2009

pattern of foreign loan-word change from English to Japanese

Office lechery, which had been socially acceptable, became stigmatized as seku hara, or sexual harassment.

Japanese travelling abroad will regularly request kōhii in a restaurant, imagining that they are using an English word. The English spelling 'coffee' ...

D: a language with fewer phonemes and simpler word formation rules will do this.
Unable to hear the foreign sounds, the speaker will puzzle a native speaker.
Of course, Anglos do the same thing to Japanese regarding gemination.
One ex-waitress at the club I work at proudly boasted of her fluency, yet did knot even KNOW about gemination. Of course, she was a twit.

I refer to LangX and Lang53. There is a one-way-only direction for speech elements that is widely palatable.
One can decrease phonemes, but not increase them.
One cannot add complex consonant clusters.
Nor more variable word-position consonant rules.
Nor lexical pitch such as Mandarin uses.
Nor infixes.

A first childhood language CAN be highly complex and still be fairly easy to learn.
See Turkish infixes.
BUT being highly irregular, with many exceptions is the bane of childhood literacy.

I think using a scoring system for various languages (and their writing systems) would agree with observed literacy levels in childhood.

D: I tried to explain to my friend Silvia how to say the subject "big men" in Esperanto.
After about five minutes of gradually introducing infixes with forced agreement, her eyes glazed over. <:

grand- vir-
grand-a vir-o
grand-a viro-oj
grand-ay viro-oy
grand-ay viro-o-y-n
Finally grand-a-y-n vir-o-y-n.
That is right- after choosing the root/stems, there are SIX steps.
Just to say "... big men".
(D: oops, I confused J and Y.)

D: you know, if one removes forced agreement between grammatical elements, and then adds rigid word order in lieu of infixes denoting grammatical elements, then about half of my objections to Espo go away.
And it ends up looking fairly similar to some LangX-inspired creoles, though with more complex phoneme combinations.

Contrast with rigid word order, in this case SVO.
... O.
grand vir.
Plural: either grand vir-ez OR, say, xie/some/plus grand vir.
Rigid word order would even allow dual/more plural to be recycled for more/most comparative/superlative.
More, most, less, least. Plus/minus one/two. All/none- three?
Somewhat, very, totally.
A simple cypher, based on single-digit Decimese naming conventions, will suffice.
Anywhere there is a hierarchy or a continuum, a numerical basis makes sense.
Differentiating between qualitative and quantitative adds flexibility.
Before numbers, the ancient Greeks used letters for numbers.
I'm just reintroducing that with a twist! <:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

oral and written language, punctuation as timing

D: I was pondering apostrophes.
Or perhaps I should say apotrophe's or apostrophes'.

I wonder if proficient speakers of a language are on to something.
Various punctuation symbols are associated with a certain length of pause between words.
Arguably, there are NOT pauses between words without these implicit punctuation symbols.

Like Ceqli, Decimese does not requires spaces between words.
Since the words have a Mandarin-style layout, word breaks are clear, even without spaces.
Use of space(s) could be considered "punctuation lite" for oral speakers.

We all KNOW to pause where a comma, colon or period would appear on paper.
(Apostrophes are invisible in timing in spoken speech.)
Ergo, just initially require one or two spaces in written form, in lieu of more advanced knowledge.
This timing CAN be built into the HIOXian character set, with a key 'meaning segment' denoting timing pause for punctuation, if any.


The mailman, seeing the dog about to bite him, yelled, "stop!"

Decimese quasi-form:

Themailman seeingthedogabouttobitehim yelledstop!

D: I like the Spanish punctuation symbol, with inverted exclamation mark and question and mark before the sentence begins.
Just using spacing and English punctuation would work.
I'm not sure how I wish to indicate a query in Decimese.
I think I'd use a variant of Esperanto.
Much improved, of course. <:

Que plus who/what/where/when/why/how - some totally predictable form.
Modular- based in SMELT key concepts- space, matter, ethics, logic, time.
Or simple yes/no.
The problem with this modular approach, including for key "closed class" function words, is that the most common and fundamental words can become lengthy.
I believe brevity is key for closed class words.
This requires a powerful cipher for this word class to use consonant clusters.
Additional vowels, even on a 1:1 basis for lexical meaning, add considerably to word duration by time.

Take, for example, such a simple concept as "he".
Pronoun, masculine, singular, third person.
And so, I dedicate myself to a powerful consonant cluster truncation for a syllable/lexemic based vocabulary.

Wish me luck! <:

Friday, June 12, 2009

english reaches million word mark

"The winner - an expression for the next generation of the internet – narrowly defeated far jazzier choices, such as n00b (spelled with two zeroes), a variation on rookie, and “Jai ho” – a Hindi exclamation meaning victory."

"Mr. Payack's site tracks speech patterns and emerging words in English, the world's most common language, with 1.5 billion speakers, and its fastest growing."

D: IT'S! That is twice in one week the Globe and Mail could not figure that out!
My god...
For the love of all things holy, proof-read!!!!!!!!!!!
I miss the old black and white newspaper.
Nothing said "snob" quite like that.
And the money saved on colour ink could instead be used for quality of content.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

old Thieves' Cant now in use in UK prisons

"ROCHDALE, England, June 8 (UPI) -- The British Ministry of Justice is warning the country's prisons that prisoners have taken to using a 16th-century slang to hide talk about drug deals.

The 500-year-old dialect, which is known as thieves' cant or rogues' cant, was believed to have been developed by medieval gypsies and adopted by a handful of scoundrels across England."


""This is the most ingenious use of a secret code we have ever come across," an official at the 381-prisoner facility said. "Elizabethan cant was only used by a tiny number of people and it is quite amazing that is has been resurrected in order to buy drugs. Some inmates will try anything to get contraband into jail."


D: what is old is new again.
Icelanders are so conservative with their vocabulary that they can still read the ancient sagas.
They just find new meanings for old words.

For example, "simi" means thread or rope. Now it also means telephone.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

evolution of punctuation online

A trailing character within a quotation, required by grammatical tradition, could introduce unnecessary error to the data. Example:

You want to enter at the shell "gcc -cf ."

Here exists some confusion. (well, not a lot if you're really familiar with bash and gcc but bear with me) Does the trailing dot belong in the shell command? Who knows? The following is far superior.

You want to enter at the shell "gcc -cf".

D: I have preferred the period outside of the technical quotation forever.

My point is that punctuation continues to evolve.