Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bavarian Dialect

The Bavarian dialect is very different from Standard German. In fact, Bavarian can even be considered a language, but it is rarely written. Bavarian shares many similarities with Austrian German.

In Bavarian, the /s/ is voiceless in all positions. The word Rose (rose) is pronounced with an /s/ rather than a /z/. Word-initial /p/, /t/ and /k/ are not aspirated, i.e., Polizei (police), Tee (tea) and Kaffee (coffee). The consonants pf are always pronounced as written, unlike in the rest of Germany where the p is often dropped. Most Germans do not pronounce the p in Pferd (horse).The /r/ is often realized as an alveolar trill, especially in syllable-initial position. Double consonants are often pronounced long as in Suppe (soup), unlike in Standard German.

Bavarian also have different vowel qualities. The low vowel of Sand (sand) tends to be more retracted than in Standard German and the high front vowel of mich (me) is usually higher and of longer duration than in other varieties of German.

Bavarian differs significantly from Standard German. Though Bavarians learn Standard German in school, they usually speak Standard German with a Bavarian accent. Bavarian differs not only in pronunciation, but also in grammar and vocabulary.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

African Languages

Many languages are spoken in Africa. It has the greatest linguistic diversity in the world with over 1500 languages. These include Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. However, a number of languages native to Africa are also widely-spoken.

A few widely-spoken native languages of Africa are Swahili, Amharic, Yoruba, Hausa, Zulu and Shona. Swahili is official in Kenya and Tanzania, and Amharic is official in Ethiopia. Yoruba and Hausa are official in Nigeria. Zulu is an official language of South Africa and Shona is widely-spoken in Zimbabwe.

Africa is the continent which has the greatest linguistic diversity. In addition to colonial languages such as Arabic, English and French, many native languages of Africa are also widely-spoken. Swahili and Amharic are two native African languages with many speakers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Optional Reflexive Pronouns in English

English allows optional reflexive pronouns. These are pronouns which can be expressed with either a reflexive or object pronoun.  Let us look at a few examples.

In the following sentences either an object pronoun or reflexive pronoun can be used:

Michael saw a snake near him/himself.
Lisa wrapped the blanket around her/herself.
They saw a picture of them/themselves.
I pushed him away from me/myself.

When the object pronoun is used, the sentence is ambiguous. It can refer either to the subject or to another person. With the reflexive, no ambiguity occurs because it must refer to the subject of the sentence. However, the context in which the sentence is made usually makes the meaning clear.

In certain cases only the object pronoun can be used. Here are examples:

You can bring someone with you.
He has no money on him.
She pressed him to her.
Ellen put all her problems behind her.
Jack has a whole week of travel before him. 

Here it is clear that the object pronoun refers to the subject. No other interpretation is possible. Unlike in the earlier examples, here the pronoun cannot be replaced with another.

The English language allows optional reflexive pronouns. When the reflexive is used, it is clear that the pronoun refers to the antecedent, the subject of the sentence. However, in certain cases, when only one pronoun can be used in the prepositional phrase, this is an object pronoun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Differences in Verbs of British and American English

A few verbs have different forms in British and American English. The verb get has the past participle gotten in American English, but got in British. Here is a list of verbs with different forms in the two varieties:

American English


In British English the same verbs are usually irregular.


The verbs quit and wet are both irregular in American English. In fact, they are invariable:

quit quit quit
wet wet wet

In British English they are regular:

quit quitted quitted
wet wetted wetted

Most verbs are the same in British and American English. However, a few are different. Many regular verbs in American English are irregular in British. A few regular verbs in British English are irregular in American.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Vowel Mergers before /r/

Many vowels have merged before /r/. However, the vowels have not merged in the English of all speakers. For many, though, the distinction between lax and tense vowels is neutralized before the /r/. Let us consider a few examples.

The words let and late have lax and tense vowels. However, it is also true that for most English speakers, the vowel of late is a diphthong. For many speakers, ferry and fairy are identical. For these speakers, the lax and tense vowels have merged and they only produce the lax vowel before /r/.

The distinction between lax and tense is also present in sit and seat. However, in mirror and nearer, most speakers only have the tense vowel. This is another example of a vowel merger.

The words pull and pool also have a tense-lax distinction. However, in the words poor and tour the distinction is neutralized. Here only the tense vowel occurs.

In the words bat and bought the distinction is between front and back. Nevertheless, in the words heart and cart the distinction is neutralized. Speakers use a back vowel.

The words hurry and furry have the same vowel in the English of many speakers. For those who do not, the vowels differ not only in vowel height but also in backness. For speakers who exhibit a merger, hurry has a high back lax vowel and furry has a low mid central vowel. Most speakers have neutralized the distinction and have a central vowel in both words.

In the English of many speakers, vowels have merged before /r/. This can be viewed as a form of neutralization. This merger is especially common in North America, particularly in Canada.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Alveopalatal Fricative of Argentinian Spanish

Argentinian Spanish is famous for the alveopalatal fricative. This sound is common in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas. In the rest of the country, the voiced palatal glide is used.

The alveopalatal fricative can be voiced or voiceless. It corresponds to the s of sugar and the s of treasure. The following words are pronounced with the alveopalatal fricative by many speakers from Argentina:

arroyo (creek)
ayer (yesterday)
caballo (horse)
lluvia (rain)
playa (beach)
pollo (chicken)
silla (chair)
toalla (towel)
yate (yacht)
yo (I)

The alveopalatal fricative is used not only in Argentina but also in Uruguay. Though both the voiced and voiceless fricatives are used, most speakers use the voiceless. The alveopalatal fricative isn't used in other varieties of Spanish.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Finnish Negative Verb

Finnish is not a member of the Indo-European language family. It has a number of features which are not found in Indo-European languages. One of them is the negative verb.

The negative verb is conjugated in all persons. In English the be-verb is conjugated in phrases such as I am not, you are not and he/she is not. In Finnish, however, the negative verb is conjugated while the be-verb remains the same. Here are examples:

Minä en ole varma (I am not sure)
Sinä et ole varma (You are not sure)
Hän ei ole varma (He/She is not sure)
Me emme ole varma (We are not sure)
Te ette ole varma (You are not sure)
He eivät ole varma (They are not sure)

A special feature of Finnish is the negative verb. This is conjugated just like a regular verb. Unlike in English, the negative verb of Finnish precedes the main verb.

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