Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Swadesh Word List

The Swadesh word list is a list of basic words for the purposes of historical and comparative linguistics. It was compiled by the American linguist Morris Swadesh. He compiled several versions, but his final one has only 100 words.

Morris Swadesh believed that a comparison of the basic vocabulary of related languages could be used to establish the degree to which they were related and to determine when they diverged from one another. He determined the list on the basis of intuition. Here are some of the words from his final list:


The words on the list have what Morris Swadesh considered the core vocabulary of a language. He selected vocabulary which was unlikely to be borrowed from other languages. Other linguists have published similar lists, but they aren't as widely used as the Swadesh list.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Schwa of Catalan

In unstressed syllables Catalan often has a schwa. This is different from Spanish. Here are examples of the schwa in Catalan:

aigua (water)
cosa (thing)
Europa (Europe)
febre (fever)
geografia (geography)
pare (father)
punta (tip)
taula (table)
teatre (theatre)
torre (tower)

In the examples the schwa occurs word-finally. The schwa in Catalan only occurs in unstressed position. The Spanish spoken in Mallorca is an exception because in this dialect the schwa can even occur in stressed position. In the dialect of western Catalan the schwa occurs less frequently than in other dialects. In the word geografia, the schwa occurs in the syllable gra as well as in word-final position. Both of these syllables are unstressed.

One of the features which distinguishes Catalan from Spanish is the schwa. As in English, the schwa occurs in unstressed position. As the examples illustrate, the schwa is a very common vowel in Catalan.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Analysis of Ain't

The contraction ain't is considered a nonstandard form of am not. It was first used extensively in the early nineteenth century in the Cockney dialect of London. In addition to am not, ain't can also mean are not, is not, have not and has not.

The word was derived from am not. The following illustrates the process:

am not --> amn't (vowel deletion)
amn't --> an't (consonant deletion)
an't --> ain't (vowel raising)

Here are examples with ain't:

I ain't seen him = I haven't seen him.
You ain't told me = You haven't told me.
I ain't sure = I'm not sure.
You ain't late = You aren't late.
He ain't well = He isn't well.

The five examples illustrate the different uses of ain't. Though the contraction isn't considered standard, it often occurs in informal speech. In writing, though, the word is far less frequent.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Stress Shift in The Same Word

English is a language with variable stress. The words photograph, photographer and photographic are all stressed differently. However, stress can also vary in the same word.

The word afternoon is stressed on the final syllable. In the compound afternoon tea, many speakers put the main stress on the first syllable of afternoon. This avoids the occurrence of two syllables with strong stress. English tends to prefer a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. This example also applies to a sentence such as This afternoon's weather is terrible.

The word thirteen has second-syllable stress. In the phrase thirteen students, however, the stress is often placed on the first syllable of thirteen. This results in the stress pattern Strong + Weak + Strong + Weak.

Another example is the word bamboo. It has second syllable stress, but in the compound bamboo mat many speakers stress the first syllable. The trisyllabic compound then has the stress pattern of Strong + Weak + Strong. Note that if bamboo were pronounced with second syllable stress, the compound would have two consecutive syllables with strong stress. By stressing the first syllable of bamboo, this is avoided.

In certain cases, however, many speakers do not shift the stress. For example, cosmetic has second-syllable stress. In the compound cosmetic surgeon, though, most speakers maintain second-syllable stress on cosmetic. Here stress shift isn't so common. The reason may be that in this compound there is no occurrence of two consecutive syllables with strong stress.

Many English words can be stressed in two different ways depending on the context in which they are used. English favours an alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. As a result, many words undergo a shift in stress when they occur before another word.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Languages of Spain

Spanish is the official language of Spain. It is also the official language of many other countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuatorial Guinea and Peru. Though Spanish is the official language, Spain also has regional and minority languages.

The regional languages of Spain are Basque, Catalan and Galician. Basque is spoken in the north of the country and also has a significant number of speakers in France. It is different from the other languages of Spain because it is classified as a language isolate, not an Indo-European language.

Catalan is the official language of Andorra, a small country located between France and Spain. It is also spoken in Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain. The region of Catalonia is in the northeast of Spain.

Another regional language is Galician. It is spoken in the northwest of Spain. Galician is a language which shares many similarities with Portuguese.

Asturian and Aragonese are also spoken in Spain. They are classified as minority languages and have relatively few speakers. Aragonese is spoken in northern Spain near the French border, and Asturian is spoken in the northwest.

Spain is a country with one official language as well as regional and minority languages. The most widely-spoken language after Spanish is Catalan. The Basque language is unique because it is completely unrelated to the other languages of Spain.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Lyonnaise Style Pork Chops

Lyonnaise Style Pork Chops are easy to prepare. Here is the recipe for this French dish:

4 pork chops
4 potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon butter

Put the pork chops in a pot and brown with butter.
Remove the pork chops and deglaze the pot with the vegetable stock.
Put the potatoes in the bottom of the pot.
Add the thyme, chopped onion and pork chops on top.
Cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes over moderate heat.
When most of the liquid has evaporated, the pork chops are ready.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Different Spellings of English Phonemes

The English language has an irregular spelling system. The result is that many English phonemes can be spelt in various ways. Here are examples:

[f] forest off phone
[i] defeat feet grieve happy receive 
[k] car neck school skate
[m] hymn lamb morning
[n] knee now sign
[s] cycle pass seat
[o] so row though toe 
[u] boot do glue manoeuvre rude shoe you 
[v] of vine
[z] his possession zoo

Vowel sounds in particular often have many different spellings. This is especially true of the schwa, the reduced vowel present in words such as actor, singer and sugar. The list illustrates that many English phonemes have a variety of spellings.

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