Hey. If you’re reading this, go you. If you’re from Edinburgh University and are in LangSoc – this is for you. Did you know that you can join this blog and write whatever you want on it relating to language? Well, you know now. This post is basically my explanation as to why I blog, how I do it, and why you should. I highly suggest reading it all the way through. Full disclosure: I wrote it, so I’m naturally biased in this respect.
Basically, I’ve noticed over the past semester that I am by far and away the main person writing on this here blog. Admin and Langsoc together have 17 posts, most of which I’ve made. There are four posts from four other people. And then there are 45 blog posts from me. I kind of think we should move away from that ratio. Not because I’m tired of blogging – this is only one of seven blogs I write on – but because I think that you guys can benefit from this. Every now and again, people comment on my blog posts, and I learn more. The lice/louse post I made a few days ago, when checked over by someone reliable, turned out to be a misunderstand that I had had – and so I edited it, and learned what I should have learned in class. And it’s damn fun, writing these.
In order to help you guys understand the process that I go through, I decided to just give you a glimpse of my notes to myself this week. I sprinkle my class notes with hashtags, which is my own short-hand for ‘read me later’. Sometimes, I go through my notes, find these, and try and think over them, or look up information I hadn’t, or do tasks I forgot to do. I went to over twenty hours of lectures this week (yes, I am a nerd.) So I have quite a few of these notes. I’ve compiled them here for you guys to see, and I’ve gone through, in color, and shown my process for each one. I’ve taken out some – stuff like ‘pick up camera’ and ‘download this amazing journal article you won’t read now’ (I tend to download around 20-40 articles per week. I skim most of them, but a lot get left aside. (For all of those who didn’t know, I’m a massive workaholic, so don’t feel bad if you don’t download articles for fun. You probably have a life.)) But here they are, otherwise in full. The notes are in bold – my notes from right now are not.
Cranberries – cran-berry free vs. bound morpheme. but cran can have it’s own meaning, as in cranapple, crantastic. And isn’t cran from crannog?
You can see here that this is short hand. If you’re ever in class and a random thought comes to you, don’t lose it! Write it down. You’ll be thankful later. You can see here that I’ve tried to figure out how cranberry might not be a good example a bound morpheme that has lost all semantic notion on its own. Someone else in class later raised the cranapple example, as well. Crantastic isn’t just my invention. Just now, I thought it might have been – but a quick search for the word on google comes up with 11,000 results. That’s a lot. What’s important is that cran can never be on its own as a free morpheme, however. I only realised this later. And now you know, too.
As for the etymology, the OED is available as an online resource through the library. Here is the etyma for cranberry:
A name of comparatively recent appearance in English; entirely unknown to the herbalists of 16-17th c., who knew the plant and fruit as marsh-whorts, fen-whorts, fen-berries, marsh-berries, moss-berries. Several varieties of the name occur in continental languages, as G. kranichbeere, kranbeere, LG. krônbere, krones- or kronsbere, krônsbär, kranebere (all meaning crane-berry); cf. also Sw. tranbär, Da. tranebær, f. trana, trane, crane.
There’s more to do with the use of it in Britain, but I’m American and don’t care that much. What I did care about was my folk-etymology of cranberry as being a portmanteau of crannog and berry. I was wrong. It’s from crane. Cooool! (For the record, I love anything to do with bogs. I’m not sure why. That’s probably why I noted this. For more, see this.) This kind of note is pretty much what I write about here.
baby-talk isn’t just a raise of pitch. It’s simpler syntactic structures: now, what about semantic structure of words in the adults mind? Is cactuses really the same as cactus?
Here I was just wondering aloud in writing whether cactuses really is the same semantically as cacti. I’m not sure it is. I think that when we use either form, we mentally associate them with their user groups, which causes us to view them differently. How would I test this, though? Anyone have any ideas? This is the kind of thought that never makes it to this blog.
go-went, good-well suppletion. Related?
Here I was wondering if the fact that both of these words have original and suppleted words that were similar, and if this is coincidence. I could n-gram on google to find out, but I believe the suppletion happened before the 1700s, and Google’s books would not help me, then. Maybe we have a predisposition towards suppleting forms based on sound patterning? Thoughts? This is another of those thoughts that wouldn’t make it here unless I found something interesting later.
lice-infested: lice -> when is the learning age for this? I expect it to be late. It was 15? for me. How about historically? N-gram it!
I think this is a case of evolution of a collective noun.
Ok, the louse/lice may not matter historically – what matters is our grammars, based on our semantic experience, which in the modern era doesn’t call for louse! Think about the Swadesh list….!
This was my thought process for the previous post I made. The HA! I wrote because I n-grammed it – in class. Not having anyone to share my initial glee with, I just wrote. If anything like this ever happens to you, please write about it! There are people out there who care. James Wintz, a PhD student who invited me to write on his blog at replicated typo (where I just wrote a post on prairie dog communication, if that’s your thing), saw this and retweeted it later. So there must have been something interesting in it. And, as I mentioned before, I learned early on – from Heinz, actually – that my initial assumptions had been wrong. I had misheard him. What does this mean? That this blog can help you learn shit. And that shit is real.
German is underlying a verb-final language, but statistically this isn’t the case. How does WALS account for this?
I was shocked today to learn that not everyone knows about WALS – even those doing their dissertations in cross-linguistic typologic features. The World Atlas of Language Structures is one of the best databases on the web. Bookmark it. It knows everything about every language, and can point you to where you can get more information if you need it. In this case, it isn’t helpful, sadly – the syntax portion hasn’t been updated since 1969, which is pretty near when Chomsky came out with the generative framework that I am working with in Current Issues in Syntax which says that German is underlyingly verb-final. I’m starting to think that GG is shite. Thoughts? (If you made it this far.)
Consult Corbett on dev. vs. inf.
Corbett wrote the best books on Agreement and Gender around. He’s a pretty good morphologist. I was going to look him up, because I particularly like agreement phenomenon and wanted to know if there’s any weird things happening with derivational morphology and agreement. Unfortunately, he’s at home right now, and I’m in the lab. I’ll look this up later and make a blog post. Probably. Literally, this sort of thought can be useful. Not just to yourself – to your peers who read these things.
does dev. vs. inf. differ cross-linguistically?
I don’t know. I suspect it does. I wish I had gone to the Linguistic Circle this week, which was on syntactic categories. There was a great paper I read on Riau Indonesian that suggested that it may not have the categories we expect, at all, but that the documentation linguists drew them in based on their own research. This is the sort of thing that I generally turn into an essay, not a blog post. Not that they make much of a difference these days.
Research blog on airsacs in primates. What about Alex and diaphragm control? Paper topic – loss of air sacs and decrease in auditory range.
This is, metabloglistically, a reminder to myself to write a paper on air sacs in primates. Most of us have them – but humans don’t. Bart de Boer gave a brilliant talk on this last week in the Soap Vox Lectures, which I hope you saw. If you didn’t, check in at replicated typo now and again, because I’ll probably blog about it at some point.
As for Alex, my flatmate – well, he used to play wind instruments pretty awesomely. Because of this, he can make himself look extremely pregnant just through breathing in (although I’m not sure it is actually a causal relationship, that.) I was wondering if this was an airsac of sorts. I’ll have to research it. I do that by going on Google and typing in things like ‘diaphragm control’ normally.
And that’s it. I hope, through reading this, you saw how a few paragraphs could be strung out from a single jotted note in class. The process of writing about the smallest things really does make you consider a lot more than you would expect. My grades have gone up a full grade letter since I started blogging on a regular basis. I don’t believe this is because I’ve become a better studier. I think this is because I’ve learned that the way I learn is by knowing everything and then distilling down what I know through small little analyses of the data. Blogging is the perfect studying tool, for me. It also keeps me interested. Anyone who hangs out with me must have noticed that I never shut off the curious linguist. Why the hell would I? Language is really, really interesting. If you feel the same way, talk about it here! This is your space guys.
Right. Comments welcomed. I know this was a long post. 😛 I’ll end it here.