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Post by spiritus » Mon Jun 06, 2005 2:47 am

gambit,

"It's the "little" words that matter".

I cannot recall at this moment where I read the above or the name of the author. I do renember it was expressed by a mathematician referencing the essential significance of every word and letter used in a mathematical formula.

This comes to mind as I consider Eric's introduction of the Vulgar Latin's curiously persistent ille. As only Erik and certain other WW members are capable of doing; we are moved to actually research the larger significance of that little word. Well, maybe not research----but we did make the effort of reading some of the research results of others.

If you wish to further your research, the following may prove useful.

Richard Epstein is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Stockholm. He specializes in the study of evolutionary language appropriations of grammatical articles in late Latin and Indo-European languages. His papers may be accessed in an online data base maintained on the New York Public Library's main web site.


Epstein, Richard. 2001. The meaning of definite articles in cross-linguistic perspective. In: Eniko Németh
(ed.); Cognition in Language Use: Selected Papers from the 7 th International Pragmatics
Conference,
Vol 1. Antwerp: International Pragmatics Association, 174-189.

Here there is compelling research that traces the developmental and linguistical cross-over of the Vulgar Latin demonstrative ille into the French definite article and its restructured appropriation into Old English.

Bybee, Joan. 2003. Phonology and Language Use.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bybee's work considers and explores how ille, the Latin demonstrative, underwent a shift from its referential ‘pointing’ meaning, which is traditionally defined in terms of distance from the speaker and/or the hearer, to a more subjective or expressive meaning. Moreover, he provides a reasonable argument for the usage of "ille" in more diverse types of contexts, asserting that it is type frequency and generalization, rather than meaning, that explains why "the" was eventually the progeny of ille and was grammaticalized.
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Post by spiritus » Thu Jun 09, 2005 3:23 am

Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.
--- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
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Post by sandx » Thu Jun 09, 2005 9:02 am

pingpong fan wrote: It always struck me when toiling to learn French that the need to learn the correct gender of inanimate objects was daft and would be better eradicated. But this could not even be considered of course by the inflexible French were it ever suggested. Revolution and guillotine spring to mind at the very thought. It may be inate laziness but that single thing put me off learning their language beyond compulsory study.

Then,who in their right mind would attempt to learn english?
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Post by pingpong fan » Sat Jun 11, 2005 12:42 pm

Re:"Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows (sic) nothing of their own" as quoted in previous post. Nice one Goethe but not strictly true.
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Post by sandx » Sat Jun 11, 2005 1:29 pm

pingpong fan wrote: To Spiritus who quoted Goethe's bon mots to wit: "Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own" why not in the original German I ask? Mon repos c'est suivant:
Je ne comprend pas : Francois. Naturellement la langue Francois est difficile. In which way was there not a point? Doors are not feminine they are inanimate objects. When at school that was what struck me did no-one other than I ever pense about that fact. My remarks are not anti-French just an observation why get bolshy and imply I know nothing of English quoting that absolutist generality anyway not your man's best work as it does not stand up to scrutiny whilst sounding very clever and a real non-sequiter. We all would acknowledge the cross-pollination of languages and the heritage our tongue owes to French etc. etc. and to answer another don't think we British think English is easy for non-natives to learn? We have other linguistic idiosyncrasies too obvious to cite which er.. sounds like sight for example. It must be torture and they all deserve a medal. Sorry I wrote what I did you lot ain't half touchy as a raw recruit to your exclusive club.The reason other people bother to learn English is it's hold on the world because of American world domination hence less need for us to learn other tongues, laziness maybe or pragmatism.

Don`t get upset,PF,I`m sure no harm was intended. In any event quotations are,in general, pointless,since they tend to contradict one another. Walpole was once asked by his wife,if she and their daughter, had his permission to learn french. He refused,on the grounds that, one tongue was sufficient for any woman.
I would be amazed, if some of the pompous people who pride themselves in speaking several languages, have truly mastered ours.
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Post by pingpong fan » Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:10 pm

Doors are not feminine they are inanimate objects and would have said the same to DeGaulle himself
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Post by pingpong fan » Sat Jun 11, 2005 3:35 pm

[/quote:
Don`t get upset,PF,I`m sure no harm was intended. In any event quotations are,in general, pointless
Thanks Sandx nice funny quote.
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Post by spiritus » Sun Jun 12, 2005 12:21 am

Frank,

Please accept my sincere apologies. The quote was not posted to demean. As Sandy suggested, no harm was intended.


Here are more pointless quotes by the world-renowned --- Anonymous.
Each in its way supports your comments and Sandy's.

"We defend our opinions by citing the opinions of others and tame the world by generalizing."

"The learned fool may write and speak his nonsense in more languages than the unlearned fool whom speaks but one language, but it is still nonsense"

"Those who quote the points of others, lack the ability to make their own."

This last one inspires audience participation:

"To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse--German."
--- Jason Chamberlain
University of Vermont, 1811

Fill in the blanks with your own ideas of mono-cultural language elitism.


To____I speak_____, to _____, to ______, and to my_____--______.

Here's my entry:

To God I speak truth, to women equality, to men honesty, and to my therapist--I repeat the lies I have spoken to God, women, and men.(:-)
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:54 am

And never a truer word was said! :-D

I notice that the Jason Chamberlain quote is in English... Whom was he addressing, I wonder? Dolphins? Gnomes? His diary?
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Post by spiritus » Sun Jun 12, 2005 5:37 am

My, my, Erik, you certainly do keep us minding our p's and q's.

The quote is taken from Chamberlain's inaugural address on the occasion of his appointment as Dean of the University of Vermont, in 1811

I can not say with any degree of certainty that his audience was composed of gnomes or dolphins, nor if that audience was a conbination of these two 'species'.

But of dolphins, this has been said:

"It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English - up to fifty words used in correct context - no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese."
--- Carl Sagan

I have no idea as to which mammals Sagan's remarks were addressed.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jun 13, 2005 3:14 pm

Mammals, you say? Do you have any proof they were mammals? *G*

As for Jason Chamberlain, I cannot help feeling that his linguistic litany is deficient. He should have said, "To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, to my horse German, and to you lot -- English."
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Post by spiritus » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:50 am

Erik_Kowal wrote: Mammals, you say? Do you have any proof they were mammals? *G*

As for Jason Chamberlain, I cannot help feeling that his linguistic litany is deficient. He should have said, "To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, to my horse German, and to you lot -- English."
Sagan, as compared with other scientists of his era, may safely be viewed as having been a 'conservative scientific philosopher'. Though he did not dismiss completely the probablity of extraterrestrial life; he did often state that the possibilty of carbon based life on planets other then ours was relatively slim. Though he is not known to have expressed a belief in the ability of aliens, insects, reptiles, birds, rocks, or gnomes to speak English; I think it is reasonable to assume he gave these possibilies, a zero probability.

Now, since his comments referenced English speaking humans and dolphins ( both species are mammals ) we may assume, by way of elimination and deductive reasoning, his statements were directed to either one or both of the above mentioned mammalian species.

Erik, with all due respect; if we accept the premise that Chamberlain was speaking in English to his audience; then your addition to his quote must be dismissed as an unnecessary stating of the obvious.

( Feel free to compliment, rather then question, my ability to mind my p's and q's. Erik, at the first opportunity, I'm taking you out for dinner and drink. ) (;-)
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