Friday, 18 April 2014

The promised amuse-bouche

(... which has grown into a bit of a mouthful).

Some time ago I was asked at 
Quote Originally Posted by daisy1352 View Post
We may easily adopt and adjust them to our own patterns of language and intonation.
What is the meaning of "pattern" here?
I thought for a while. OK, it was 7 years ago and I'm not saying I have perfect recall, but I think I'm safe in saying that it wasn't too clear what the questioner wanted. As my answer wasn't responded to in any way, I'm still not sure. But I am sure I made a mistake (marked here in red) when I answered
More or less anything! It could refer to a grammatical pattern (SVO vs SOV, for example) or a phonological one or a semantic one ... or just about any other predisposition one language can have for recognizing a regular pattern in a group of sounds. Here are a few examples:

ausgezeichnet [German, = 'excellent'] => outtasight (street talk = 'extraordinarily good') (Purely a phonological pattern; the idea of 'sight' is entirely irrelevant)

La Casa Alta (Spanish, ='the high and/or important house') => The Case is Altered - popular English pub name (a phonological origin, but with some new and irrelevant English syntax thrown in.)

And here's a very old one: the fashionable thing to have in the early Roman empire was a Greek chef. The Greek σύκωτον (with stress on the first syllable) is thought to be the reason why in Romance languages words derived from the Latin ficatum (with stress on the second syllable) have the 'Greek' stress: hígado (Spanish), fegato (Italian)... The stress-pattern is hard to distinguish in the French foie, but the 'oi' would not have been formed if the stress hadn't been on the first syllable of FICATUM.

(I've only seen the ausgezeichnet one in one published text, which I can't place right now, but it sounds likely to me.)
Here's the extract from Elcock's The Romance Languages that I had misremembered:
...FICATUM is in fact a translation  of the Greek word συκωτόν... [BK: giving us] Fr.  foie, Prov. fege, Gasc.  hidge,  Span. hígado, Ital. fégato. Possibly, in attempting to produce the oxytonic accent [BK i.e. with stress on the FINAL syllable] of the Greek word, they put a heavy secondary stress on the first syllable, which thereafter became primary. In limited areas of Romania [BK: i.e. bits of the Roman world, not NECESSARILY the country (although one of the languages given IS 'Rum.')] the modern derivatives point to the FICÁTUM which one would expect to have been the normal form, cf. southern Sard. figáu ... Rheto-Rom. (Engadine) fió, Rum. ficát.
I misremembered because I hadn't understood the mechanism described. I don't now. But it's clear from the evidence that two positions for the stress existed.

Time to go.


 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 40.000 views  and nearly 5,600 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with over 2,000 views and nearly 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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