Does accent change intrinsically?

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Iain

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Mar 16, 2005, 5:25:41 AM3/16/05
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Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and social
restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various British
accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent suggests that
it might.

~Iain

Peter T. Daniels

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Mar 16, 2005, 8:07:49 AM3/16/05
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Language is always changing. What do you mean by "accent"?
--
Peter T. Daniels gram...@att.net

ranjit_...@yahoo.com

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Mar 16, 2005, 8:17:15 AM3/16/05
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Iain wrote:
> Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and social
> restructuring, immigration, language change, etc?

It does, as you can tell from the Great Vowel shift.

Iain

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Mar 16, 2005, 11:09:11 AM3/16/05
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Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> Iain wrote:
> >
> > Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and
social
> > restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various British
> > accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent suggests
that
> > it might.
>
> Language is always changing. What do you mean by "accent"?

I suppose the boundaries are fuzzy. The silent H at the beginning of
"honour" could be construed as a bit of French accent left over from
1066, rather than an actual aspect of the language.

But since you ask, by "language" I mean to involve the retention of the
identity of phonemes, but by "accent" I mean change in the sound,
length and emphasis of the phonemes, and amount of neutralisation into
shwas, if, like in English, shwa isn't part of the language itself.

The background to my question is the apparent fact that because accent
changes gradually, it invariably corresponds with migration and
changing social conditions.

My question is, if these things did not change, would accent change
nonetheless?

~Iain

ranjit_...@yahoo.com

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Mar 16, 2005, 11:43:37 AM3/16/05
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Yes; that's why RP is changing. "fifties" was once pronounced like
[fIftIz]; it's now more like [fIftiz].

Peter T. Daniels

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Mar 16, 2005, 1:23:35 PM3/16/05
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Iain wrote:
>
> Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> > Iain wrote:
> > >
> > > Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and social
> > > restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various British
> > > accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent suggests that
> > > it might.
> >
> > Language is always changing. What do you mean by "accent"?
>
> I suppose the boundaries are fuzzy. The silent H at the beginning of
> "honour" could be construed as a bit of French accent left over from
> 1066, rather than an actual aspect of the language.

?? There is no /h/ in <honour>; it's only spelled with one.

> But since you ask, by "language" I mean to involve the retention of the
> identity of phonemes, but by "accent" I mean change in the sound,
> length and emphasis of the phonemes, and amount of neutralisation into
> shwas, if, like in English, shwa isn't part of the language itself.

?? Why do you suppose shwa isn't part of the English language itself?

> The background to my question is the apparent fact that because accent
> changes gradually, it invariably corresponds with migration and
> changing social conditions.

Except that it doesn't. Ranjit mentioned the RP change of final /I/ to
/I/; in the US, the Northern Cities Shift is mucking about with the
vowels about as much as the Great Vowel Shift did 600 years ago, and
everyone but linguists is totally oblivious to it, and communication
isn't impaired in the least.

> My question is, if these things did not change, would accent change
> nonetheless?

My answer is, how could it not?

John Atkinson

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Mar 16, 2005, 10:07:20 PM3/16/05
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"Iain" <iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1110968741.6...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...

Like, I'm not sure what you're asking here, and don't much care. But I
would be very interested to know what particular aspects of the accent of
young Australians you've noticed that you're referring to here.

John.


Iain

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Mar 17, 2005, 5:14:31 AM3/17/05
to
Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> Iain wrote:
> >
> > Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> > > Iain wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and
social
> > > > restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various
British
> > > > accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent
suggests that
> > > > it might.
> > >
> > > Language is always changing. What do you mean by "accent"?
> >
> > I suppose the boundaries are fuzzy. The silent H at the beginning
of
> > "honour" could be construed as a bit of French accent left over
from
> > 1066, rather than an actual aspect of the language.
>
> ?? There is no /h/ in <honour>; it's only spelled with one.

That was the question I raised -- the line is blurry and depends
largely on a sort of reference point. How long does something have to
have to be ommitted before it ceases to become standard? The answer is
not "when a minority of people use it". I once pointed out that just as
regular long skirts in the U.K. are rareish, they are still a cultural
reference point for normality, etc, so if fashion changes in the
future, there is a *chance* of it returning to long(er) skirts(even
though it may not). This seems like a lost cause where things like the
H in honour are concerned, but that was also true about the "t" in
"often", until Victorian times when literacy increased sharply, and "of
/t/ en" was reconsidered as "polished" speech. Even an illiterate
person probably recognises "ishoo" as being a tongue-friendly version
of "isyoo"(as Princess Diana said it), even though most people say
"ishoo". For as long as there is an underlying sense of normality, that
is considered(usually curricularly) as the standard form of the
language itself, even if it's rarely adhered to. So I suppose we are
talking about English on a slightly synthetic level.

> > But since you ask, by "language" I mean to involve the retention of
the
> > identity of phonemes, but by "accent" I mean change in the sound,
> > length and emphasis of the phonemes, and amount of neutralisation
into
> > shwas, if, like in English, shwa isn't part of the language itself.
>
> ?? Why do you suppose shwa isn't part of the English language itself?

It is of accent.

I nev'r say it. English and Americans say "'rly"; I in Scotland say
"early".

I tell an Englishman that my surname is Inkster, and he immediately
converts the /er/ sound into a shwa, even though he never heard the
word before(this would be meaningless if the word was "g*i*rl" because
he may remember it is three phonemes: g/shwa/l). This is illustration
of accent as opposed to language. He might have an English version of
my /o/ and /e/ but we don't have our own versions of each other's shwa
phonemes (both the Scots and English sometime use shwa sounds, but they
do not share the same phoneme in words). Our common "legend" or
"language" doesn't agree on shwa as an identifyable phoneme -- The
sound is there, but it sorts itself out via accent.

Hence what I mean by shwa not being part of the language, in the
capacity of language as legend we use to decipher sound.

When a Chinese man has an /er/ sound in his name, an Englishman renders
it as shwa -- again it's accent.

> > The background to my question is the apparent fact that because
accent
> > changes gradually, it invariably corresponds with migration and
> > changing social conditions.
>
> Except that it doesn't. Ranjit mentioned the RP change of final /I/
to
> /I/; in the US, the Northern Cities Shift is mucking about with the
> vowels about as much as the Great Vowel Shift did 600 years ago, and
> everyone but linguists is totally oblivious to it, and communication
> isn't impaired in the least.

But you cannot use real-world examples because I'm talking about a
hypothetical cultural "freeze". Look at the subject title. The
pronunciation of "fifties" that was mentioned, may well be due to
changing social conditions, media, etc.

Most of the time British accent change hints of interchange, rather
than solitary change, which is the topic of my question.
Reconstructions I've heard of Elizabethan English accent, I would
describe as "miscellaneous British Isles". I wouldn't notice if I heard
it from a Top of the Pops presenter.

> > My question is, if these things did not change, would accent change
> > nonetheless?
>
> My answer is, how could it not?

See above. Short answer, I don't know whether it would or wouldn't.

~Iain

Iain

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Mar 17, 2005, 12:43:48 PM3/17/05
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John Atkinson wrote:
> "Iain" <iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1110968741.6...@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
> >
> > Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and
social
> > restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various British
> > accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent suggests
that
> > it might.
>
> Like, I'm not sure what you're asking here, and don't much care.

The question is in the first sentence. It's perfectly clear.

> But I
> would be very interested to know what particular aspects of the
accent of
> young Australians you've noticed that you're referring to here.

No I didn't mean the young people; I meant the young accent.

~Iain

brennus

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Mar 18, 2005, 4:33:15 AM3/18/05
to
There is some evidence that accents in human languages can still
change without external influences. For example, Icelandic, as
conservative as it is, has changed a little bit in acccent and
pronunciation from that of Old Norse. Yet, Icelandic society was
almost completely isolated from the rest of northern Europe after the
middle of the 12th century.

Linguists have also noticed changes in the accents of Black American
speakers. Just a century ago, Black American accents were nearly
identical to those of White American Southerners. Recordings of them
were made as late as the 1940's. By comparing the speech of 21st
century American Blacks with these, we know that their accents have
undergone some changes. However, I can't think of any external
influences that would really cause their accents to change. The
majority of them still live in the South or have until the last 15 to
25 years. Even, outside the South, they have little interaction with
Northern Whites or Hispanics.


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Ruud Harmsen

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Mar 18, 2005, 5:34:36 AM3/18/05
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18 Mar 2005 03:33:15 -0600:
galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>There is some evidence that accents in human languages can still
>change without external influences.

Whyever would they not?

>For example, Icelandic, as
>conservative as it is, has changed a little bit in acccent and
>pronunciation from that of Old Norse.

Not just a little bit, but considerably.

>Yet, Icelandic society was
>almost completely isolated from the rest of northern Europe after the
>middle of the 12th century.

So?

>Linguists have also noticed changes in the accents of Black American
>speakers. Just a century ago, Black American accents were nearly
>identical to those of White American Southerners. Recordings of them
>were made as late as the 1940's. By comparing the speech of 21st
>century American Blacks with these, we know that their accents have
>undergone some changes.

They moved from the south to New York, Chicago etc.? Which Black
accent are we talking about, from which parts of the US?

>However, I can't think of any external
>influences that would really cause their accents to change.

Why should external influences have anything to do with accents?

>The
>majority of them still live in the South or have until the last 15 to
>25 years.

Is that so? Aren't black people now all over the country?

>Even, outside the South, they have little interaction with
>Northern Whites or Hispanics.

???


--
Ruud Harmsen - http://rudhar.com/

Peter T. Daniels

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Mar 18, 2005, 8:10:13 AM3/18/05
to

Don't worry. "Brennus" knows as much about US sociology as s/he does
about Icelandic.

brennus

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Mar 19, 2005, 4:33:14 PM3/19/05
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Dear Ruud and Peter,

Even if you disagree with me, it would be nice if you could post
something that shows that you can talk about the topic in an
intelligent manner. Seriously. What I see is some brain dead
guttersniping instead. While you may get away with it on Science
Forum, I sure hope that you would never write like this for a school
or college assignment.

Regards,

Brennus

Brian M. Scott

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Mar 19, 2005, 4:58:54 PM3/19/05
to
On 19 Mar 2005 15:33:14 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in
<news:423c9a9a$1...@127.0.0.1> in sci.lang:

> Dear Ruud and Peter,

> Even if you disagree with me, it would be nice if you could post
> something that shows that you can talk about the topic in an
> intelligent manner. Seriously.

Ruud's comments were entirely appropriate. That you don't
recognize them as an intelligent response tends to confirm
your ignorance of the subject.

[...]

Brian

Ruud Harmsen

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Mar 19, 2005, 5:17:01 PM3/19/05
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19 Mar 2005 15:33:14 -0600:
galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>Even if you disagree with me, it would be nice if you could post


>something that shows that you can talk about the topic in an
>intelligent manner.

What are you talking about? How would I know without any quoted
context?

John Atkinson

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Mar 19, 2005, 7:16:22 PM3/19/05
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"Iain" <iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1111081428.3...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
>
> John Atkinson wrote:

> > "Iain" <iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote...


> > >
> > > Would accent change alone, independent of social mobility and
> social
> > > restructuring, immigration, language change, etc? Various British
> > > accents are inconclusive but the young Australian accent suggests
> that
> > > it might.
> >
> > Like, I'm not sure what you're asking here, and don't much care.
>
> The question is in the first sentence. It's perfectly clear.
>
> > But I
> > would be very interested to know what particular aspects of the
> accent of
> > young Australians you've noticed that you're referring to here.
>
> No I didn't mean the young people; I meant the young accent.

Three independent questions for you:

(1) Is the accent currently used by English-speakers in Australia "younger"
than that used in any other part of the English-speaking world? What
evidence do you have for your answer?

(2) Do you believe there has been significantly less "social mobility,
social restructuring, immigration, language change, etc" in Australia than
elsewhere?

(3) I assume that by "accent" in your original question means the way a
language sounds. OK, the answer to your question is "Yes". That is, it
would still change if there was no change in social mobility, social
restructuring, immigration, language change, etc (an impossible situation,
which has never occured in the history of the world). And the answer to
your question is "No". That is, if social mobility, etc, change, this will
have some (perhaps small, but never zero) effect on the changes that occur
in "accent" -- they're not completely "independent".. Do you still think
your original question is "perfectly clear"?

J.


Iain

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Mar 21, 2005, 3:02:57 PM3/21/05
to

According to the people of the respective time, the accent only became
identifyable as an "Australian accent" in the 1820s, hence "young" --
presumably because it actually sounded different to anything else.

So I'm talking in terms of identity of accent, rather than speed of
change. E.g. The English accent(s) is(are) therefore "old" albethey
different in their youth. But this isn't especially material.

> (2) Do you believe there has been significantly less "social
mobility,
> social restructuring, immigration, language change, etc" in Australia
than
> elsewhere?

Not especially AFAIK -- but I gather the early days involved much
distillation of various British communities and that British society
was not lifted neatly onto another island without transformation,
especially since only certain cross-sections of society were
transferred at all. Instead, it was like transferring a fragile pancake
between pans.

> (3) I assume that by "accent" in your original question means the
way a
> language sounds. OK, the answer to your question is "Yes". That is,
it
> would still change if there was no change in social mobility, social
> restructuring, immigration, language change, etc (an impossible
situation,
> which has never occured in the history of the world).

Ok, but how do we know this?

> And the answer to
> your question is "No". That is, if social mobility, etc, change,
this will
> have some (perhaps small, but never zero) effect on the changes that
occur
> in "accent" -- they're not completely "independent".. Do you still
think
> your original question is "perfectly clear"?

Yes because I'm using an imaginary situation to ask about the real
nature of something, that makes perfect sense.

It's like "would some humans have gay anal sex if they grew up in the
wild without no language, civilisation or culture?" to elaborate on "is
homosexuality innate?"(for the record, I don't ken).

~Iain

Iain

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Mar 21, 2005, 2:31:08 PM3/21/05
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Ruud Harmsen wrote:
> 18 Mar 2005 03:33:15 -0600:
> galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:
>
> >There is some evidence that accents in human languages can still
> >change without external influences.
>
> Whyever would they not?
>

Natural hi-fi imitation, of course. My question is about *whether*
accent change is about lo-fi imitation. Your statement suggests someone
is asking a silly question.

~Iain

Brian M. Scott

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Mar 22, 2005, 10:47:34 AM3/22/05
to
On 22 Mar 2005 03:33:20 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in
<news:423fe660$1...@127.0.0.1> in sci.lang:

> Mr. Brian Scott,

> Re: <<Ruud's comments were entirely appropriate. That you don't


> recognize them as an intelligent response tends to confirm
> your ignorance of the subject.>>

> How naive can you be? Give me a break! Ruud poses seven
> questions or comments regarding my post; none of them
> very sterling.

He gave it just about the treatment it deserved, considering
how full of errors it is.

> Each one of them can be refuted categorically.

Questions are not subject to refutation in the first place.
But let's take a look. Here's the post, with comments
added:

On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 11:34:36 +0100, Ruud Harmsen
<realemail...@rudhar.com.invalid> wrote in
<news:lfbl31p2dueu3hgnh...@4ax.com> in
sci.lang:

> 18 Mar 2005 03:33:15 -0600:
> galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>>There is some evidence that accents in human languages can still
>>change without external influences.

> Whyever would they not?

Or to say the same thing at much greater length, all of the
evidence is that they invariably do change, with or without
external influences.

>> For example, Icelandic, as conservative as it is, has
>> changed a little bit in acccent and pronunciation from
>> that of Old Norse.

> Not just a little bit, but considerably.

Which is certainly true. And the morphology and syntax have
changed a bit, too.

>> Yet, Icelandic society was almost completely isolated
>> from the rest of northern Europe after the middle of the
>> 12th century.

> So?

>> Linguists have also noticed changes in the accents of
>> Black American speakers. Just a century ago, Black
>> American accents were nearly identical to those of White
>> American Southerners. Recordings of them were made as
>> late as the 1940's. By comparing the speech of 21st
>> century American Blacks with these, we know that their
>> accents have undergone some changes.

> They moved from the south to New York, Chicago etc.? Which Black
> accent are we talking about, from which parts of the US?

Ruud was overly kind here: he pointed out only one of the
obvious problems with your statement.

>>However, I can't think of any external
>>influences that would really cause their accents to change.

> Why should external influences have anything to do with accents?

A better question would have been why on earth you think
that external influences were necessary, since we know that
they aren't.

>> The majority of them still live in the South or have
>> until the last 15 to 25 years.

> Is that so? Aren't black people now all over the country?

Yes, though there are places where they're a very small
minority. However, over a third of them are in the states
of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.

>>Even, outside the South, they have little interaction with
>>Northern Whites or Hispanics.

> ???

Precisely. Your claim of little interaction is rubbish.

> However, the $60,000 dollar question

The idiom is '64,000 dollar question'.

> is why are you not discussing Iain's topic yourself?

There's nothing to discuss. Languages change irrespective
of circumstances.

[...]

brennus

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Mar 22, 2005, 4:33:20 AM3/22/05
to
Mr. Brian Scott,

Re: <<Ruud's comments were entirely appropriate. That you don't

recognize them as an intelligent response tends to confirm
your ignorance of the subject.>>

How naive can you be? Give me a break! Ruud poses seven questions or

comments regarding my post; none of them very sterling. Each one of


them can be refuted categorically.

However, the $60,000 dollar question is why are you not discussing
Iain's topic yourself? Even defending Ruud makes no sense if you
cannot compose your own posts on this site and argue with facts,
evidence and logic. Until you do so, my impression of you is that you
are just another troll.

Brian M. Scott

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Mar 22, 2005, 10:43:30 AM3/22/05
to
On 21 Mar 2005 11:31:08 -0800, Iain
<iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote in
<news:1111433468.8...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>
in sci.lang:

> Ruud Harmsen wrote:

>> Whyever would they not?

Not precisely silly, but certainly indicating almost
complete linguistic naiveté. If there is one universal
characteristic of language, it's that it changes over time
irrespective of circumstances.

Brian

Ruud Harmsen

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Mar 22, 2005, 4:45:54 PM3/22/05
to
22 Mar 2005 03:33:20 -0600:
galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>How naive can you be? Give me a break! Ruud poses seven questions or


>comments regarding my post; none of them very sterling. Each one of
>them can be refuted categorically.

What about just answering them?

Let me state another question:
Is accent change always caused by external factors, or does it also
happen all by itself, for no apparent reason?
I think both can and does occur. Assuming the accent must always be
caused by extrnal factor to me seems somewhat biased. But perhaps I am
wrong.

brennus

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Mar 23, 2005, 4:33:25 AM3/23/05
to
Ruud and Brian (Scott),

I can see right now that I'm not going to get you guys to compose
commentaries with an introduction, a premise and a conclusion. It
doesn't seem to be your style. So, I'll try to tailor my responses
more to your way of thinking and doing things.

Don't get me wrong, however. I'm not saying that you don't have a
right to criticize what I write. In a public internet forum, anyone
can criticize what anyone writes; but the more facts and information
you have when you criticize the better off you are. Part of the
problem, too, is that this is a tough subject to talk about on the
internet for anyone. Were I talking to you about it in a bar (tavern,
pub etc) over a couple of beers it would be different and I think we
might understand each other better.

Now, I'll get of my lecture, my soapbox, and just recap the seven
points where objections were raised and give my responses. I realize
that I can't force you to accept them but they do reflect the truth
as I see it.


1) Iain asks a legitimate question. In most languages accent and
pronunciation changes come about through contact with either another
language or another dialect which has higher political or cultural
status. You have to stop and think a bit to find a language or a
dialect where accent change has occured on its own.

Icelandic and Black American English (i.e. Ebonics) are two languages
that have existed and developed almost in vacuum. They are also two
languages where we have some written records that we can compare. For
instance, the Jivaro Indian language deep in the Ecuadorian
rainforest has probably also undegone some changes in accent and
pronunciation on its own too since the Spanish first encountered
them in 1596 but there are no written records to prove it.


2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse. It is so
close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au,
ð and þ unlike the Continental Scandanavian languages (Norwegian,
Danish Swedish).

3) I point out that Icelanders had little contact with their kinsmen
in northern Europe after about 1150 A.D. when the last colonists from
Sweden and Norway arrived there. This means that no new influences
from Norway & Sweden or from the Low German of the Hanseatic
League reached Iceland. The few changes from Old Norse that Icelandic
did undergo were done so in a virtual vacuum. That's all I'm saying.

4)Black English is a pretty homogeneous dialect replete with southern
inflections regardless of what part of the United States it is spoken
in. Ruud is mistaken in thinking that there is a "New York" form and a
"Chicago"
form etc.

5) External influences do affect accents. Celtic tongues shaped Latin
into French. 1,000 years of Chinese rule in Vietnam transformed
Vietnamese from an Austronesian language into more of a Chinese-like
language. The accent and pronunciation of English changed after the
Norman conquest (1066); the umlaut and gutteral sounds disappeared.
There are Spanish inflections on Chicano English, Afrikaans
inflections on South African English etc.

6) It's true that Blacks can be found through out most parts of the
United States from coast to coast - However, the majority of Amrican
Blacks (or "Afro-Americans") still live in the South; 58.4% according
to the 2000 census. Last year I read an article which said that more
Blacks were actually moving back to the South from the northern and
western states.

7) Although de jure segregation ended in the United States between
1947 and 1964, a form of de facto segregation still exists. Blacks
and Whites still live largely apart from one another in public and
reside in separate communities. Hispanics generally don't get along
with Blacks in the United States either. Mexican inmates killed a
number of Black prisoners in a 1979 prison riot in New Mexico and
even beheaded some of them. Prejudice against Blacks still exists
among non-Black Cubans in both Cuba and the United States where many
have come as refugees. I've seen some of it first hand.

Take care! :)

Jacques Guy

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Mar 23, 2005, 5:52:27 AM3/23/05
to
brennus wrote:

> Now, I'll get of my lecture, my soapbox,


Vas-y, Brennus, on t'écoute, nous autres les gaulois.

> 1) ....You have to stop and think a bit to find a language or a


> dialect where accent change has occured on its own.

Yes... and then you find it. All over the place, too.
Well... no, you can always argue that the changes were
meant to make your language incomprehensible to your
next-door neighbours. And I think there is a lot of
truth in there, in Vanuatu, in Papua New Guinea, and
in the Solomon Islands.

> Icelandic and Black American English (i.e. Ebonics) are two languages
> that have existed and developed almost in vacuum.

You mean dem niggas had no whities across da river?
All right, I'll buy it that Icelanders had no close
neighbours. But American Blacks?


> For
> instance, the Jivaro Indian language deep in the Ecuadorian
> rainforest has probably also undegone some changes in accent and
> pronunciation on its own too since the Spanish first encountered
> them in 1596 but there are no written records to prove it.

That is certain. But, lacking documentary evidence, we'll
never know, until someone turns up with a time-machine. And,
let's face it, with all this stuff about quantum cryptography
I am starting to believe that it might happen in my life time
(*oh joy*)

> 2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse.

Phonetically, it has. The vocabulary, however, has remained
stable. By design, too.

> 5) External influences do affect accents. Celtic tongues shaped Latin
> into French.

Who knows? The only evidence I see is diphthonguization and
triphthonguization. But that evidence is subject to our
analysis of modern Gaelic languages. We really don't know
what Gaulish sounded like 2000 years ago.

> 1,000 years of Chinese rule in Vietnam transformed
> Vietnamese from an Austronesian language

Another moot point. The Vietnamese-Austronesian linkage
is very, very flimsy. I have been through Benedikt's
Thai-Kadai evidence, together with Don Laycock, and
all we saw was chance resemblances. Laycock thought
Benedikt might have something. I thought he had nothing.

"cá" (fish) vs "ikan" is just not enough. You need hundreds
upon hundreds more such cognate candidates to make a
case when such phonological decay may have taken place.

Ekkehard Dengler

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 6:11:34 AM3/23/05
to

"brennus" <galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> schrieb im
Newsbeitrag news:424137e5$1...@127.0.0.1...

> 2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse. It is so
> close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au,

> ğ and ş unlike the Continental Scandanavian languages (Norwegian,
> Danish Swedish).

I understand that the first element of this diphthong is now a mid-open
front rounded vowel, though, while the second is [i] (or perhaps [y]). Can
you confirm this?

Regards,
Ekkehard


Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 8:04:32 AM3/23/05
to
23 Mar 2005 03:33:25 -0600:
galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>Ruud and Brian (Scott),


>
>I can see right now that I'm not going to get you guys to compose
>commentaries with an introduction, a premise and a conclusion. It
>doesn't seem to be your style.

It sometimes is when I am writing web pages, but I don't have time for
that in usenet.

Peter T. Daniels

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 7:52:58 AM3/23/05
to
brennus wrote:
>
> Ruud and Brian (Scott),
>
> I can see right now that I'm not going to get you guys to compose
> commentaries with an introduction, a premise and a conclusion. It
> doesn't seem to be your style. So, I'll try to tailor my responses
> more to your way of thinking and doing things.
>
> Don't get me wrong, however. I'm not saying that you don't have a
> right to criticize what I write. In a public internet forum, anyone
> can criticize what anyone writes; but the more facts and information
> you have when you criticize the better off you are. Part of the
> problem, too, is that this is a tough subject to talk about on the
> internet for anyone. Were I talking to you about it in a bar (tavern,
> pub etc) over a couple of beers it would be different and I think we
> might understand each other better.
>
> Now, I'll get of my lecture, my soapbox, and just recap the seven
> points where objections were raised and give my responses. I realize
> that I can't force you to accept them but they do reflect the truth
> as I see it.
>
> 1) Iain asks a legitimate question. In most languages accent and
> pronunciation changes come about through contact with either another
> language or another dialect which has higher political or cultural
> status.

factually incorrect

> You have to stop and think a bit to find a language or a
> dialect where accent change has occured on its own.

factually incorrect

> Icelandic and Black American English (i.e. Ebonics) are two languages
> that have existed and developed almost in vacuum.

factually incorrect

> They are also two
> languages where we have some written records that we can compare. For
> instance, the Jivaro Indian language deep in the Ecuadorian
> rainforest has probably also undegone some changes in accent and
> pronunciation on its own too since the Spanish first encountered
> them in 1596 but there are no written records to prove it.

<skipping Icelandic>

> 4)Black English is a pretty homogeneous dialect replete with southern
> inflections regardless of what part of the United States it is spoken
> in. Ruud is mistaken in thinking that there is a "New York" form and a
> "Chicago" form etc.

factually incorrect

> 5) External influences do affect accents. Celtic tongues shaped Latin
> into French.

factually incorrect

> 1,000 years of Chinese rule in Vietnam transformed
> Vietnamese from an Austronesian language into more of a Chinese-like

factually incorrect

> language. The accent and pronunciation of English changed after the
> Norman conquest (1066); the umlaut and gutteral sounds disappeared.
> There are Spanish inflections on Chicano English, Afrikaans
> inflections on South African English etc.
>
> 6) It's true that Blacks can be found through out most parts of the
> United States from coast to coast - However, the majority of Amrican
> Blacks (or "Afro-Americans") still live in the South; 58.4% according
> to the 2000 census. Last year I read an article which said that more
> Blacks were actually moving back to the South from the northern and
> western states.
>
> 7) Although de jure segregation ended in the United States between
> 1947 and 1964, a form of de facto segregation still exists. Blacks
> and Whites still live largely apart from one another in public and
> reside in separate communities. Hispanics generally don't get along
> with Blacks in the United States either. Mexican inmates killed a
> number of Black prisoners in a 1979 prison riot in New Mexico and
> even beheaded some of them. Prejudice against Blacks still exists
> among non-Black Cubans in both Cuba and the United States where many
> have come as refugees. I've seen some of it first hand.

irrelevant

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 8:13:04 AM3/23/05
to
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 20:52:27 +1000: Jacques Guy <jg...@alphalink.com.au>:
in sci.lang:

>> 1) ....You have to stop and think a bit to find a language or a
>> dialect where accent change has occured on its own.
>
>Yes... and then you find it. All over the place, too.
>Well... no, you can always argue that the changes were
>meant to make your language incomprehensible to your
>next-door neighbours.

I think a lot if not all language change arises from adoloescents who,
in the process of developing from children to adults, have a strong
desire to sound differennt from people younger and older than
themselves, and like each others, but also different from rivalling
same age groups.
Some of those changes survive into adulthood, though most don't. It
will happen regardless of contact with other languages. It affects
accent, vocabulary, and even grammar.

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 8:17:09 AM3/23/05
to
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 12:11:34 +0100: "Ekkehard Dengler"
<ED...@t-online.de>: in sci.lang:

>"brennus" <galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> schrieb im
>Newsbeitrag news:424137e5$1...@127.0.0.1...
>
>> 2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse. It is so

>> close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au, /

>I understand that the first element of this diphthong is now a mid-open
>front rounded vowel, though, while the second is [i] (or perhaps [y]). Can
>you confirm this?

It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic
word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant, but
possible) Dutch word "uige".

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 8:13:45 AM3/23/05
to
23 Mar 2005 03:33:25 -0600:
galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in sci.lang:

>7) Although de jure segregation ended in the United States between


>1947 and 1964, a form of de facto segregation still exists. Blacks
>and Whites still live largely apart from one another in public and
>reside in separate communities. Hispanics generally don't get along
>with Blacks in the United States either. Mexican inmates killed a
>number of Black prisoners in a 1979 prison riot in New Mexico and
>even beheaded some of them. Prejudice against Blacks still exists
>among non-Black Cubans in both Cuba and the United States where many
>have come as refugees. I've seen some of it first hand.

That they hate and kill each doesn't mean they don't talk.

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 9:49:33 AM3/23/05
to
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 14:13:04 +0100: Ruud Harmsen
<realemail...@rudhar.com.invalid>: in sci.lang:

>I think a lot if not all language change arises from adolescents who,


>in the process of developing from children to adults, have a strong

>desire to sound different from people both younger AND older than
>themselves, and like each other, but also different from rivalling


>same age groups.
>Some of those changes survive into adulthood, though most don't. It
>will happen regardless of contact with other languages. It affects
>accent, vocabulary, and even grammar.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring group nl.taal, someone posted a fragment
from "De vier heemkinderen", in the Dutch of over 500 years ago. Most
of it is still readily comprehensible for present-day Dutch speakers.
Language change seems quick short-term, but is slow in the long run,
because very many innovations are undone again later on, when young
people grow older and more conservative. My 20-year old son is now
often correcting his 16-year old sister, and it isn't even a joke any
more, he almost means it. We parents taught him those corrections, and
he wouldn't accept them when younger either. When 30 they'll talk
almost exactly like we do.

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 12:08:40 PM3/23/05
to
On 23 Mar 2005 03:33:25 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in sci.lang:

[...]

> 1) Iain asks a legitimate question. In most languages accent and
> pronunciation changes come about through contact with either another
> language or another dialect which has higher political or cultural
> status. You have to stop and think a bit to find a language or a
> dialect where accent change has occured on its own.

You may; I don't. It happens constantly in all languages.

> Icelandic and Black American English (i.e. Ebonics) are two languages
> that have existed and developed almost in vacuum.

Neither statement is true.

[...]

> 2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse.

You don't know what you're talking about, I'm afraid. The
pronunciation of the modern language differs greatly from that
of, say, the 12th century; read any side by side comparison of
the two. There are also less obvious changes in morphology and
syntax, never mind the changes in the lexicon -- and this
*despite* conscious efforts to minimize those changes.

> It is so
> close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au,
> ð and þ unlike the Continental Scandanavian languages (Norwegian,
> Danish Swedish).

For instance, <au> in Old Icelandic was something reasonably
close to [Au]; in modern Icelandic <au> represents something
closer to [öy]. OIc <á> was apparently [A:]; in the modern
language it's [aU] or thereabouts. Similarly, <æ> was something
like [E]; it's now [aI].

> 3) I point out that Icelanders had little contact with their kinsmen
> in northern Europe after about 1150 A.D. when the last colonists from
> Sweden and Norway arrived there. This means that no new influences
> from Norway & Sweden or from the Low German of the Hanseatic
> League reached Iceland. The few changes from Old Norse that Icelandic
> did undergo were done so in a virtual vacuum. That's all I'm saying.

And you're wrong. There was quite noticeable Middle Low German
influence on the Icelandic lexicon up to about 1600 or so. In
the 17th century, however, the loans began to be replaced by
native constructs. Some still survive, e.g., <riddari> 'knight',
<hertogi> 'duke', and <sykur> 'sugar', along with a few, like
<spegill> 'mirror', that entered via Danish.

> 4)Black English is a pretty homogeneous dialect replete with southern
> inflections regardless of what part of the United States it is spoken
> in. Ruud is mistaken in thinking that there is a "New York" form and a
> "Chicago" form etc.

Ruud is not mistaken.

> 5) External influences do affect accents. Celtic tongues shaped Latin
> into French. 1,000 years of Chinese rule in Vietnam transformed
> Vietnamese from an Austronesian language into more of a Chinese-like
> language.

False.

> The accent and pronunciation of English changed after the
> Norman conquest (1066); the umlaut and gutteral sounds disappeared.

1. OE /y(:)/ unrounded to /i(:)/ *before* the Conquest in some
dialects.

2. Some dialects of ME -- those in the south and southwest, as I
recall -- retained /y(:)/ for quite a while after the Conquest.

3. In any case, OFr had /y(:)/ (and modern French still has it),
so blaming the Conquest for the eventual loss of the phoneme from
English is plain silly.

I don't know what 'gutteral' sounds you think disappeared.
Palatal /g/ had weakened to /j/ before the Conquest, and /x/
persisted *long* after it.

[...]

> 7) Although de jure segregation ended in the United States
> between 1947 and 1964, a form of de facto segregation still
> exists. Blacks and Whites still live largely apart from one
> another in public and reside in separate communities.

This does not, however, mean that they aren't exposed to one
another and to different speech varieties. (Before you dig
yourself any deeper into that hole: I live in an inner-ring
suburb of Cleveland, and I teach at an urban university in
downtown Cleveland.)

[...]

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 12:10:55 PM3/23/05
to
On Wed, 23 Mar 2005 12:11:34 +0100, Ekkehard Dengler
<ED...@t-online.de> wrote in sci.lang:

Yes. A German reading Icelandic <au> as if it were spelled <öü>
would produce a pretty decent approximation.

Brian

Jacques Guy

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 12:36:14 PM3/23/05
to
Ruud Harmsen wrote:

>>>2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse. It is so
>>>close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au, /

>>I understand that the first element of this diphthong is now a mid-open
>>front rounded vowel, though, while the second is [i] (or perhaps [y]). Can
>>you confirm this?


> It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic
> word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant, but
> possible) Dutch word "uige".

Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil" (eye)!

(Bon, d'accord, mais on peut rigoler un peu quand même, non?)

Peter T. Daniels

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 1:10:43 PM3/23/05
to

Actually they'll talk like their own cohort -- their own generation.

Torsten Poulin

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 2:27:16 PM3/23/05
to
Brian M. Scott wrote:
> brennus wrote:

>> It is so close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds

>> like au, ğ and ş unlike the Continental Scandanavian languages
>> (Norwegian, Danish, Swedish).

It is certainly true that the Danish writing system doesn't use the letters
Ğ/ğ and Ş/ş, but I can assure you, brennus, that Danish as it is spoken has
plenty of [ğ]'s. They just happen to be represented in writing as t's and
d's.

>> 3) I point out that Icelanders had little contact with their kinsmen
>> in northern Europe after about 1150 A.D. when the last colonists from
>> Sweden and Norway arrived there. This means that no new influences
>> from Norway & Sweden or from the Low German of the Hanseatic
>> League reached Iceland. The few changes from Old Norse that Icelandic
>> did undergo were done so in a virtual vacuum. That's all I'm saying.

> And you're wrong. There was quite noticeable Middle Low German
> influence on the Icelandic lexicon up to about 1600 or so. In
> the 17th century, however, the loans began to be replaced by
> native constructs. Some still survive, e.g., <riddari> 'knight',
> <hertogi> 'duke', and <sykur> 'sugar', along with a few, like
> <spegill> 'mirror', that entered via Danish.

Modern Danish <spejl> (neuter); from older Danish <speyel>, <speghel>,
<spegel>, <spegiill>, etc. (common gender). It, of course, goes back to
Latin <speculum> via Low German.

--
Torsten

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 4:28:29 PM3/23/05
to
Thu, 24 Mar 2005 03:36:14 +1000: Jacques Guy <jg...@alphalink.com.au>:
in sci.lang:

>> It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic


>> word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant, but
>> possible) Dutch word "uige".
>
>Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil" (eye)!

Almost exactly, yes. The Dutch diphthong ends (and begins) rounded and
not fully front, the French diphthong ends unrounded and front.

ranjit_...@yahoo.com

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Mar 23, 2005, 4:53:38 PM3/23/05
to
Ruud Harmsen wrote:
> Jacques Guy <jg...@alphalink.com.au>: in sci.lang:
>
> >> It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic
> >> word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant,
but
> >> possible) Dutch word "uige".
> >
> >Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil"
(eye)!
>
> Almost exactly, yes. The Dutch diphthong ends (and begins) rounded
and
> not fully front, the French diphthong ends unrounded and front.

>From the description, the best guesses that come to mind are [u"y] for
the Dutch and [Yi] for the French.
http://www.blahedo.org/ascii-ipa.html

Ekkehard Dengler

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 5:32:51 PM3/23/05
to

"Ruud Harmsen" <realemail...@rudhar.com.invalid> schrieb im
Newsbeitrag news:mpn34151hsh7j6pc2...@4ax.com...

Hi Ruud.

The "town" diphthong in Belfast English is very similar, too.

Regards,
Ekkehard


Aidan Kehoe

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Mar 23, 2005, 5:53:51 PM3/23/05
to

Ar an tríú lá is fiche de mí Márta, scríobh Ekkehard Dengler:

> > >> It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic
> > >> word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant, but
> > >> possible) Dutch word "uige".
> > >
> > >Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil" (eye)!
> >
> > Almost exactly, yes. The Dutch diphthong ends (and begins) rounded and
> > not fully front, the French diphthong ends unrounded and front.
>

> The "town" diphthong in Belfast English is very similar, too.

Wow, yes, indeed it is. I had been asking myself how to describe it, since
it’s a relatively effective way to caricature a Northern Irish accent.

--
“I, for instance, am gung-ho about open source because my family is being
held hostage in Rob Malda’s basement. But who fact-checks me, or Enderle,
when we say something in public? No-one!” -- Danny O’Brien

Ekkehard Dengler

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 6:13:56 PM3/23/05
to

"Aidan Kehoe" <keh...@parhasard.net> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:16961.62335....@parhasard.net...

>
> Ar an tríú lá is fiche de mí Márta, scríobh Ekkehard Dengler:
>
> > > >> It is, judging from the few instances I heard of it. The Icelandic
> > > >> word augu (meaning eye) sounded very much like a (non-existant,
but
> > > >> possible) Dutch word "uige".
> > > >
> > > >Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil"
(eye)!
> > >
> > > Almost exactly, yes. The Dutch diphthong ends (and begins) rounded
and
> > > not fully front, the French diphthong ends unrounded and front.
> >
> > The "town" diphthong in Belfast English is very similar, too.
>
> Wow, yes, indeed it is. I had been asking myself how to describe it, since
> it's a relatively effective way to caricature a Northern Irish accent.

Hi.

Actually, it's one of my favourite diphthongs, although I slightly prefer
the Donegal version. Then again, Azorean Portuguese has lots to offer in the
exotic diphthongs department.

Regards,
Ekkehard


Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 6:34:34 PM3/23/05
to
23 Mar 2005 13:53:38 -0800: "ranjit_...@yahoo.com"
<ranjit_...@yahoo.com>: in sci.lang:

No. The Dutch sound is rounded, between central and front, and goes
from half-open (=open-mid) to close (sometimes without reaching it).
The French sound is between central and front, and goes from half-open
ronded to close unrounded, and usually really reaches that point.
Disregarding the not-quite-frontness, they are [9y] and [9j] in Sampa,
and [&.y] and [&.j] in Kirshenbaum. (judging from this list, but I
always thought the Kirshenbaum symbol was different).

Ruud Harmsen

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 6:39:22 PM3/23/05
to
Wed, 23 Mar 2005 23:32:51 +0100: "Ekkehard Dengler"
<ED...@t-online.de>: in sci.lang:

>> >Why, that Icelandic "au", Dutch "ui", is exactly French "oeil" (eye)!


>>
>> Almost exactly, yes. The Dutch diphthong ends (and begins) rounded and
>> not fully front, the French diphthong ends unrounded and front.
>

>The "town" diphthong in Belfast English is very similar, too.

No, I think that one is different yet again, very similar to the
Australian and New-Zealand sound in "tone":
From mid central unrounded to close central rounded.
http://rudhar.com/fonetics/ooo.htm

brennus

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 8:34:07 PM3/23/05
to
Jacques,

Hello,

I subscribe to the Celtic substratum theory in French (and even Dutch
for that matter) even though it would be nice if the Romans had left
us records of how Gaulish actually sounded. Thanks to archeology,
however, we know a lot more about Gaulish (Gallic) now than we did
250 years ago or even 40 years ago. A whole bunch of new inscriptions
were found in the 1970's and 80's, some of them from the Seine River,
I understand.
Diphthongization is rare in Latin and usually only in Greek
borrowings. On the other hand, the Celtic languages, especially the
Brythonic Celtic languages are full of them. While the nasal sounds
in French could have come from some hayseed dialect of Vulgar Latin,
a Celtic origin is much more probable for them too. Welsh and Gaelic
both have nasals. So, nasals are not extraneous to the Celtic
languages.

When it gets right down to it, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Malayan,
Indonesian, Malagasy, Samoan, Maori, Hawaiian etc. all appear to be
part of a larger Malayo-Polynesian superfamily. I think that the fish
example you gave is valid, but an even better word is the words for
"eye" which are usually something like m@t or mata in these languages
as in the name Mata Hari which means "Eye of the sun" in Indonesian.
Of course, you won't find one-on-one correspondences for every word
in all of these languages. Just random ones here and there throughout
the whole language superfamily just like Indo-European where English
'wasp', French guêpe and Latin 'vespa' can all be traced back to a
Proto-Indo-European *Ueps- or something like that. Anyhow, that's my
take on it.

Take care! Prennez garde!

Bye! Au revoir!

Brennus :)

Jacques Guy

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 9:32:18 PM3/23/05
to
brennus wrote:

> A whole bunch of new inscriptions
> were found in the 1970's and 80's, some of them from the Seine River,
> I understand.

I have only Lambert's "La langue gauloise" to go by (1995 edition)
and I was struck by how little inscriptions there are.

> On the other hand, the Celtic languages, especially the
> Brythonic Celtic languages are full of them.

The modern languages. We do not really know what their
ancestors sounded like 2000 years ago. I vaguely
remember having read about Old Irish having three
consonant "colours": palatal (i-colour), neutral
(a-colour), velar (u-colour). I am not even sure about
the terms (palatal, neutral, velar). Such a phonological
substratum might nicely explain how 'bellus/m' -> [bjOw]
(still attested in Norman patois) -> modern Fr. [bo]

But that it could have happened that way is not
evidence that it did.


> While the nasal sounds
> in French could have come from some hayseed dialect of Vulgar Latin

I don't know what specialist in Latin say, but I have long
suspected that final -m was not [m], but marked the nasalization
of the preceding vowel, since in poetry ...Vm V... count for
one syllable only. But that is an opinion which I won't defend
until death, not even until death *exclusively*.

> When it gets right down to it, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Malayan,
> Indonesian, Malagasy, Samoan, Maori, Hawaiian etc. all appear to be
> part of a larger Malayo-Polynesian superfamily.

Malagasy, Indonesian and Malaysian languages and dialects, Philipino,
Taiwanese (aboriginal Taiwanese), Fijian, [snip, snip snip snip],
Hawaiian are demonstrably members of a clear language family. Cambodian
less transparently so (it's full of diphthongs, BTW). Vietnamese I
wouldn't know. Thai, I am sure not. I have been through those
comparative word lists and I saw nothing demonstrable.

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 9:37:58 PM3/23/05
to
On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 12:32:18 +1000, Jacques Guy
<jg...@alphalink.com.au> wrote in
<news:4242...@news.alphalink.com.au> in sci.lang:

[...]

> I vaguely
> remember having read about Old Irish having three
> consonant "colours": palatal (i-colour), neutral
> (a-colour), velar (u-colour). I am not even sure about
> the terms (palatal, neutral, velar).

Yes, that's the standard description, e.g., à la Thurneysen.
They're basically the remains of lost vowels.

[...]

Brian

Brian M. Scott

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Mar 23, 2005, 9:46:28 PM3/23/05
to
On 23 Mar 2005 19:34:07 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in
<news:4242190f$3...@127.0.0.1> in sci.lang:

[...]

> Diphthongization is rare in Latin and usually only in
> Greek borrowings. On the other hand, the Celtic
> languages, especially the Brythonic Celtic languages are
> full of them. While the nasal sounds in French could have
> come from some hayseed dialect of Vulgar Latin, a Celtic
> origin is much more probable for them too.

There is the small problem that the low vowels, which are
the first to nasalize, begin to show nasalization only in
the 10th century.

> Welsh and Gaelic both have nasals. So, nasals are not
> extraneous to the Celtic languages.

Quite apart from the fact that the modern languages are
irrelevant to the question of a possible Celtic substrate in
French, the standard Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic
languages do not have nasal vowels.

[...]

Brian

sig...@binet.is

unread,
Mar 23, 2005, 10:02:14 PM3/23/05
to

brennus wrote:


> 2) Icelandic has NOT changed considerably form Old Norse. It is so
> close to Old Norse that it still preserves Old Norse sounds like au,
> ð and þ unlike the Continental Scandanavian languages (Norwegian,
> Danish Swedish).
>
> 3) I point out that Icelanders had little contact with their kinsmen
> in northern Europe after about 1150 A.D. when the last colonists from
> Sweden and Norway arrived there. This means that no new influences
> from Norway & Sweden or from the Low German of the Hanseatic
> League reached Iceland. The few changes from Old Norse that Icelandic
> did undergo were done so in a virtual vacuum. That's all I'm saying.

Iceland was in steady and continous contact with mainland Europe after
1150 and the language was greatly influenced by and recieved many loan
words from both the Scandinavian languages and, via Hanseatic commerce,
Low German and other European languages. The language was so greatly
under foreign influence that it took a great effort by Icelandic
writers and others to clean up the language in the 19th century.
Also note that the majority of the Icelandic settlers did not come from
Norway/Sweden but from the British isles and Icelandic was also
influenced from the languages there.

brennus

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 2:33:26 AM3/24/05
to
Brian,

Just a couple of comments but don't take them too personally. My
intent is not to irritate you but just to defend my academic views
on the subject.

First:

Re: <<Quite apart from the fact that the modern languages are

irrelevant to the question of a possible Celtic substrate in
French,>>

How did you arrive at this conclusion? Most words in French of Celtic
(Gaulish) origin have cognates in the modern Celtic languages: e.g
French boue 'mud' Welsh bawa; French ruche "beehive", Irish rusc
'bark'
Brton ruskenn "beehive"; blaireau "badger, 'Scots Gaelic blair "gray"
etc.

Secondly,

>>the standard Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic
languages do not have nasal vowels.>>

Maybe not vowels but consonants, yes. I know that nasal n's exist in
Gaelic and Breton. I still remember a statement by Richard Burton
about Welsh made in 1970 that "it can out nasalize French and
outgutteralize German."

Good day!

brennus

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 4:33:38 AM3/24/05
to
Guest,

With all due respect, it is only a tiny fraction of words in Icelandic
that are foreign or foreign-influenced like penisillin "penicillin",
lamadyr "llama" and limonaði "lemonade". By and large it has remained
Old Norse. There are no traces of Irish, Saami or Finnish on the
Icelandic language even though some of the early Icelandic slave
population must have come from these nationalities. The Low-German of
the Hansa changed the texture and the lexicon of Danish, Swedish and
Norwegian radically, it even had a strong impact on Estonian and
Polabian (a Slavic language. However, its effects on Icelandic were
indeed minute and would have come by way of Danish.

I have read several histories on Iceland by Icelandic authors. While
there were some settlers from the Danish settlements in Ireland and
the Hebrides who came there, the bulk of the colonists appear to have
come from western Norway and the Swedish provinces of Skona and
Norland. They also appear to have been more peasant than Viking . The
port of Tronheim is where most of the Swedish colonists disembarked
for Iceland. While it is part of Norway today, it was kind of in
no-man's land until 1658 and both Swedes and Norwegians lived there.

Peter T. Daniels

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 7:18:42 AM3/24/05
to
Jacques Guy wrote:
>
> brennus wrote:
>
> > A whole bunch of new inscriptions
> > were found in the 1970's and 80's, some of them from the Seine River,
> > I understand.
>
> I have only Lambert's "La langue gauloise" to go by (1995 edition)
> and I was struck by how little inscriptions there are.

YOu also have Eska's extensive chapter in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of
the World's Ancient Languages, but we know you didn't bother to read it
before publishing a scurrilous and inaccurate review of the book.

Peter T. Daniels

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 7:24:07 AM3/24/05
to
brennus wrote:
>
> Jacques,
>
> Hello,
>
> I subscribe to the Celtic substratum theory in French (and even Dutch
> for that matter) even though it would be nice if the Romans had left
> us records of how Gaulish actually sounded. Thanks to archeology,
> however, we know a lot more about Gaulish (Gallic) now than we did
> 250 years ago or even 40 years ago. A whole bunch of new inscriptions
> were found in the 1970's and 80's, some of them from the Seine River,
> I understand.
> Diphthongization is rare in Latin and usually only in Greek
> borrowings. On the other hand, the Celtic languages, especially the
> Brythonic Celtic languages are full of them. While the nasal sounds
> in French could have come from some hayseed dialect of Vulgar Latin,
> a Celtic origin is much more probable for them too. Welsh and Gaelic
> both have nasals. So, nasals are not extraneous to the Celtic
> languages.
>
> When it gets right down to it, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Malayan,
> Indonesian, Malagasy, Samoan, Maori, Hawaiian etc. all appear to be
> part of a larger Malayo-Polynesian superfamily.

Malayo-Polynesian is the family that includes Malay (= Indonesian),
Malagasy, Samoan, Maori, and Hawaiian. It is the principal component of
Austronesian. Cambodian and Vietnamese are in the Mon-Khmer family,
which is one of the two components of Austroasiatic. Thai is in the
Tai-Kadai family. No one has satisfactorily demonstrated a historic
relationship among those three phyla, though there have been many
proposals linking them and others in various ways.

> I think that the fish
> example you gave is valid, but an even better word is the words for
> "eye" which are usually something like m@t or mata in these languages
> as in the name Mata Hari which means "Eye of the sun" in Indonesian.
> Of course, you won't find one-on-one correspondences for every word
> in all of these languages. Just random ones here and there throughout
> the whole language superfamily just like Indo-European where English

> 'wasp', French guępe and Latin 'vespa' can all be traced back to a


> Proto-Indo-European *Ueps- or something like that. Anyhow, that's my
> take on it.

Superficial similarity between words with similar meaning is a good
reason to suspect they are _not_ related by descent, but rather by
borrowing (or by chance).

Is 'wasp' a parallel to "war," which is not a cognate of "guerre," but
represents an early borrowing?

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 10:42:39 AM3/24/05
to
On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 12:24:07 GMT, "Peter T. Daniels"
<gram...@worldnet.att.net> wrote in
<news:4242B1...@worldnet.att.net> in sci.lang:

> brennus wrote:

[...]

>> Of course, you won't find one-on-one correspondences for every word
>> in all of these languages. Just random ones here and there throughout
>> the whole language superfamily just like Indo-European where English

>> 'wasp', French guêpe and Latin 'vespa' can all be traced back to a


>> Proto-Indo-European *Ueps- or something like that. Anyhow, that's my
>> take on it.

> Superficial similarity between words with similar meaning is a good
> reason to suspect they are _not_ related by descent, but rather by
> borrowing (or by chance).

> Is 'wasp' a parallel to "war," which is not a cognate of "guerre," but
> represents an early borrowing?

<Wasp> is native, from OE <wæfs>, <wæps>, <wæsp>, with WGmc
cognates: OSax <uuepsia>, OHG <wafsa>, <wefsa> (though these
are feminine rather than masc. as in OE). It's not attested
in Gothic or in NGmc (except as a loan from Low German).
OFr <guespe> is from Latin <vespa>, but the <gu> looks like
the result of influence from Gmc.

Pokorny has Avestan <vawz^aka-> 'scorpion', MPers <vaBz>
'wasp', Baluchi <gwabz> 'bee, wasp'; OCorn <guhi-en> glossed
'vespa', MWelsh <gw(y)chi>, OBret <guohi> glossed 'fucos';
Lith <vapsvà>, OPruss <wobse> 'wasp'; OCS <osa> 'wasp'.

Brian

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 11:54:52 AM3/24/05
to
On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 12:24:07 GMT, "Peter T. Daniels"
<gram...@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

>Is 'wasp' a parallel to "war," which is not a cognate of "guerre," but
>represents an early borrowing?

The cases are slightly different. English wasp, and the
Germanic word (*wab-it-, *wab-is- > *wäps-, *wäpt-) in
general, are cognate with Latin vespa (*wobh-sa:). In
French, guępe shows confusion between the native term (which
should have given *vępe) and the Frankish word (*wäps-,
*wäsp-).

English "war" is a native word meaning "confusion, turmoil"
(which is still the meaning of <war>, <ver-warr-ing> in e.g.
Dutch). It was borrowed in the technical meaning of
"battle, war" (as presumbaly used by German mercenaries)
into Vulgar Latin (g)werra > French guerre (= Norman werre).
Under the influence of the semantics of the Norman word, the
native English word shifted its meaning to mean "war".

=======================
Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
m...@wxs.nl

sig...@binet.is

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 11:55:03 AM3/24/05
to

brennus wrote:
> Guest,
>
> With all due respect, it is only a tiny fraction of words in
Icelandic
> that are foreign or foreign-influenced like penisillin "penicillin",
> lamadyr "llama" and limonaði "lemonade". By and large it has
remained
> Old Norse. There are no traces of Irish, Saami or Finnish on the
> Icelandic language even though some of the early Icelandic slave
> population must have come from these nationalities. The Low-German of
> the Hansa changed the texture and the lexicon of Danish, Swedish and
> Norwegian radically, it even had a strong impact on Estonian and
> Polabian (a Slavic language. However, its effects on Icelandic were
> indeed minute and would have come by way of Danish.

Foreign or foreign influenced words in Icelandic runs in thousands and
many of them are of Low-German origin, brought to Iceland by traders
that traded with Iceland in the middle ages.
There is a number of words and place names in Iceland of
Gaelic(Irish/Scottish) origin reflecting the fact that a majority of
the settlers of Iceland came from the British isles.

> I have read several histories on Iceland by Icelandic authors. While
> there were some settlers from the Danish settlements in Ireland and
> the Hebrides who came there, the bulk of the colonists appear to have
> come from western Norway and the Swedish provinces of Skona and
> Norland. They also appear to have been more peasant than Viking . The
> port of Tronheim is where most of the Swedish colonists disembarked
> for Iceland. While it is part of Norway today, it was kind of in
> no-man's land until 1658 and both Swedes and Norwegians lived there.
> :)

I would advise you to take these accounts with whole bagfuls of salt,
most of the settlers of Iceland came from the British isles, some were
of Norwegian origin but had mixed with the population of the western
isles, northern Scotland or Ireland, others were totally of
Irish/Scottish origin.
The slaves were only a small part of the settlers and a number of them
were of Wendic and Finnish origin, further adding to the Icelandic
genetic mix.
The Trondheim region was Norwegian before the Swedish expansion in the
1600´s, indeed the Jämtland territory, nowadays part of Sweden was
Norwegian before 1600.

Sigvaldi Eggertsson

Iain

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 12:22:20 PM3/24/05
to

Brian M. Scott wrote:
> On 21 Mar 2005 11:31:08 -0800, Iain
> <iain_i...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> <news:1111433468.8...@g14g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>

> in sci.lang:
>
> > Ruud Harmsen wrote:
>
> >> 18 Mar 2005 03:33:15 -0600:
> >> galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (brennus): in
sci.lang:
>
> >>>There is some evidence that accents in human languages can still
> >>>change without external influences.
>
> >> Whyever would they not?
>
> > Natural hi-fi imitation, of course. My question is about
> > *whether* accent change is about lo-fi imitation. Your
> > statement suggests someone is asking a silly question.
>
> Not precisely silly, but certainly indicating almost
> complete linguistic naiveté.

Linguistic naiveté? Horror upon horrors! Now is a good time to tell me
how you ken I'm wrang instead of claiming obviousness and argument by
authority (assuming you're some sort of professional linguist, as you
connote).

> If there is one universal
> characteristic of language, it's that it changes over time
> irrespective of circumstances.

How do we ken that when we have never indentified the innate dynamic
nature of language against circumstances -- or have we?

~Iain

Des Small

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 12:27:00 PM3/24/05
to
"Iain" <iain_i...@hotmail.com> writes:

> Brian M. Scott wrote:

> > If there is one universal characteristic of language, it's that it
> > changes over time irrespective of circumstances.
>
> How do we ken that when we have never indentified the innate dynamic
> nature of language against circumstances -- or have we?

What is "indentified"?

The procedure Brian refers to is simple enough, though: take a bunch
of langwidges in a bunch of circumstances, and wait.

So far, all the ones with native speakers and documented histories
have changed.

Des
suspects a conspiracy

Peter T. Daniels

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 1:06:34 PM3/24/05
to
Iain wrote:

> How do we ken that when we have never indentified the innate dynamic
> nature of language against circumstances -- or have we?

Could you try writing in English?

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 1:16:52 PM3/24/05
to
On 24 Mar 2005 01:33:26 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in
<news:42426d46$1...@127.0.0.1> in sci.lang:

[...]

> Re: <<Quite apart from the fact that the modern languages are
> irrelevant to the question of a possible Celtic substrate in
> French,>>

> How did you arrive at this conclusion? Most words in
> French of Celtic (Gaulish) origin have cognates in the
> modern Celtic languages:

Not in the usual sense of 'cognate'. What you mean is that
the Gaulish words that were borrowed have cognates in the
modern Celtic languages. Of course. What does that have to
do with the suggestion that Celtic substrate influence is
responsible for French nasalized vowels? (The lexical
influence, though rather small, is not in doubt.)

> e.g French boue 'mud' Welsh bawa;

The Welsh is <baw>.

>French ruche "beehive", Irish rusc 'bark'

Irish <rúsc>, actually. In this case *both* words go back
to borrowings: Old French <rusche> is from Low Latin
<rusca>, which in turn was borrowed from Gaulish, and the
Irish word is a borrowing from British (cf. Welsh <rhisg>),
according to the Dictionary of the Irish Language Based
Mainly on Old and Middle Irish Materials, RIA, 1983.

> Brton ruskenn "beehive"; blaireau
> "badger, 'Scots Gaelic blair "gray" etc.

French <blaireau>, OFr <blarel>, is from OFr <bler>,
<blaire> 'spotted, having a white spot on the head', and
there seems to be quite general agreement that this is a
borrowing of Frankish <bla:ri> (which I presume is cognate
with MLG <bla:re> 'paleness, pallor; pale cow'), possibly
confounded with a similar Gaulish word. I don't know of a
Sc. Gaelic word <blair>; are you sure that you don't mean
<blàr> 'having a white spot on the forehead', or perhaps
Welsh <blawr> 'grey'?

> Secondly,

>>>the standard Welsh, Irish, and Scottish Gaelic
> languages do not have nasal vowels.>>

> Maybe not vowels but consonants, yes.

So? The claim was to do with nasal *vowels*.

> I know that nasal n's exist in Gaelic and Breton.

What other kind of /n/ is there? And why look to the Celtic
languages for nasal consonants when Latin already had them?

[...]

brennus

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 6:33:19 PM3/24/05
to
Brian,

Re:<blàr> 'having a white spot on the forehead', or perhaps
Welsh <blawr> 'grey'?

That's it. Blair is an alternate spelling. Maybe more of an anglicized
one also found in the present British prime minister's last name.

Brian M. Scott

unread,
Mar 24, 2005, 7:36:25 PM3/24/05
to
On 24 Mar 2005 17:33:19 -0600, brennus
<galaxy...@yahoo-dot-com.no-spam.invalid> wrote in
<news:42434e3f$1...@127.0.0.1> in sci.lang:

> Brian,

> Re:<blàr> 'having a white spot on the forehead', or perhaps
> Welsh <blawr> 'grey'?

> That's it. Blair is an alternate spelling.

No, it isn't, but <blàire> is an inflected form of it.

> Maybe more of an anglicized one also found in the present
> British prime minister's last name.

Only very indirectly. The surname is most probably locative
in origin, from one of the various places <Blair->, though
that place-name element does appear to be from <blàr>.

Brian

brennus

unread,
Mar 25, 2005, 6:33:23 PM3/25/05
to
Brian,

A diacritical mark like an accent accute or accent grave usually
indicates that there was an i in the spelling at one time. In some
languages, scholars would later write it as a tiny diagonal line
above the preceding vowel. The same is true for the tilde ~ in
Spanish. It was once a letter j (maybe a y) but later it came to be
written over the n hence senjor>señor .

Scotland was allied with France in the hundered years war against
England. The Scottish court at that time even adopted a lot of French
customs. It is quite possible that French orthography influenced
Scottish Gaelic spelling shortly thereafter, although I'm not sure
.. just a hunch.

--- Brennus
Posted at: http://www.groupsrv.com