Thursday, August 02, 2007

Miscellaneous linguistics news

I've been keeping busy lately, looking at some rather interesting grammatical facts about the Berber dialect of Ngousa (Ingusa) which I plan to talk about (among other things) at Paris in September. The vocabulary is also interesting; tiḥemẓin "couscous", for example, presumably somehow from timẓin "barley". However, a casual trawl of the news today revealed a surprising number of linguistics-related stories, which I thought I'd share:

Orangutans Play Charades When Misunderstood: For extra points, outline a scenario for the development of a fixed learned vocabulary from sufficiently frequent efforts in a small population to play this sort of charades.

Brain Responses in 4-Month-Old Infants Are Already Language Specific: 4-month-old German and French babies deal better with words stressed in accordance with the the laws of their soon-to-be-native language.

Parts, Wholes, and Context in Reading: A Triple Dissociation: "Do fast readers rely most on letter-by-letter decoding (i.e., recognition by parts), whole word shape, or sentence context? We manipulated the text to selectively knock out each source of information while sparing the others. Surprisingly, the effects of the knockouts on reading rate reveal a triple dissociation. Each reading process always contributes the same number of words per minute, regardless of whether the other processes are operating." I wonder whether this applies in other written languages or is a peculiarity of English.

And a little multimedia on an English regional dialect from the BBC: Pitmatic.


bulbul said...

which I plan to talk about (among other things) at Paris in September.
So is it at a conference or will you just be standing at a random street corner? ;) In any case, I'd like to be there.

SimplyMoroccan said...
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Lameen Souag said...

It is a conference - the Association for Linguistic Typology's biennial meeting in Paris. I'll be talking about "The Decay of Clitic Attraction across Berber: A Typological Overview". If you're going, we should definitely meet up. Linguistics speeches on random street corners I can do here in London; that's what Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park is for, innit?

Tamazight maççi d tutlayt n yemma (baba d a3rab, yemma d tamarikanit), lame3na bγiγ a-tt lemdeγ. Nekk si Ddelles, tamdint yeqriben i tmurt n leqbayel. Keçç/mm tessneḍ tamaziγt? Ansi-k/m di Lmerruk?

bulbul said...

Dammit, I needz me to learn some Berber... Which dialect should I pick?

Lameen Souag said...

If you want to be able to practice it, go for a big northern one, like Kabyle (you could use Tizi-Wwuccen) or Moroccan Tamazight ("A Course in Spoken Tamazight"); if you want a really conservative dialect, try Tamashek (David Sudlow).

SimplyMoroccan said...
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Lameen Souag said...

I haven't got any Tashelhit dictionaries around right now, but I'll give it a try...

"I understand some of what you say, but the rest I can't.

If your father is Arab, and your mother American, how do you know Tashelhit? (Or Kabyle).

I speak Tashelhit, from the Souss in Morocco."

I decided to try to learn Kabyle a few years ago, since I was interested in comparative linguistics, since it's a fairly major language near my hometown, and since Tamazight is an essential part of Algerian (and Maghrebi in general) heritage and culture that I thought I should acquaint myself with. I'm still a long way from mastering it. I'd like to learn more about Tashelhit; I've heard that it contains far fewer Arabic words and more original Berber ones. If you start a Tashelhit Word A Day blog I would definitely read it :)

SimplyMoroccan said...
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Anonymous said...

This sounds very interesting!

"The Decay of Clitic Attraction across Berber: A Typological Overview".

Can you elaborate a bit more what you precisely address in this paper? Thanks

A Berber linguist-N

Lameen Souag said...

Well, I'll talk more about it after the conference, but in brief, close examination reveals quite a lot of intermediate stages between the extensive attraction observed in Tashelhit and the total absence of attraction in Siwi, and many of these appear to represent intermediate stages in the gradual loss of attraction (possibly under Arabic influence). Who am I speaking to, by the way?

Athena said...

I am traveling to Morocco in April, and will be spending some time in the mountains south of Marrakesh. Do you know where I could find a Tashelhit lexicon or dictionary, either Tash./english or /French?

Kazin said...

Salam and Hallo all of you

When on holiday in Morocco in December I have been "abandoned" by my travelling"partner" with his 4x4 in the midde of nowhere in the desert. Somewhere south between Zagora and Rissani...

Finally this was a good thing because I got adopted by a local family and had the chance to come to know Tashelhid (Tishlheijd) - which I think is a fascinating language.

I did my best to learn as much as possible in 4 Weeks... Now I have about 600 Words ( lots of Substantives) - but I am far from making phrases or speaking.

Back in Germany I am trying to continue learning - but it seems that there is "only" Tamazight-Material available. The Tamazight words are mostly different from the ones I learned. :-(

I am very happy about everybody and everything who/that can help me!

Also I look for somebody who can explane to me the miracle of the numers in the written words... Because:

Nikin urfenémr authâ!!
(I don´t understand anything!!)

Saha bsâv & al doriadn :-)
(Thanks a lot and a la prochaine)


Samy said...

Dear Lameen, I have been looking for the kabyle method "Tizi Wwuccen" for a long time, which you mentioned in a comment to this article in 2007. Would you know where I could get it? Many thanks for the interesting blog! Samy