lunes, 25 de enero de 2010

Irrelevante? Quizá.

I should seriously be writing a paper right now.
Or taking a nap.
It's pretty sad that I'm even too lazy to take a nap.

Ah well.
Let's instead go on a journey through English orthography.
Primero, tengo un enlace interesante para los que saben algo de ingles. Or have at least heard of English:

I wish I could take the credit for finding this; nevertheless, it was actually brought to my attention by not-really-syntax professor. It's quite tricky, even for a native English-sprecher like mahself.
Especially since some of the words are apparently archaic Britishisms...
Pero todavía es bastante divertido.

Nonetheless, I would like to clarify once and for all that English pronunciation is NOT chaotic.
There is logic involved, even if 85% of those who speak the language don't even realize it.
For example, this business of -gh/ gh- words such as:

and the like.

Iterestingly enough (<--ha...), the gh- in "ghost" is hanging around because apparently, quite a while back, a Danish printer wasn't fully versed in the actual English "conventions" (as lax as they were at the time) and brought over a few of his own.
Thanks, douche.

As for the words which end in -gh; here is the reason.
(So you can stop writing off English as a crapload of illogical conventions. (...Because that's only partially true.))

So. What would have been the original pronunciation of a word like enough [ənʌf]? Something along the lines of (and forget the vowels, they're not important here) [ɛnɔx]. (The [x] of Scottish or perhaps German --> Bach. That type of thing.)
So. What do phonology and human nature say about this sound?
It's hard to produce. Humans are lazy. Speech is rapid.
Por lo tanto:
[x] -- fronts and becomes --> [f]. Another voiceless fricative.
And there you have the reasoning behind that change.

"But Beccaniles," you might ask, "what about the silent ones?! And what about laughter versus daughter?"
Well. Those are a bit more difficult.
First of all, I'm fairly certain that "daugh" does not exist as a word. At least in modern English. That said, the silent
-gh- in "daughter" can be explained away by some sort of fricative elimination in front of another voiceless obstruent ([t]). Or, it could be that if "daugh" DID exist, the -gh perhaps became silent before combining with -ter or the word dropped away quickly. I don't blame it.
Can't imagine what it would possibly mean.

That said, the little guys like "bough," "through" and "though" can (if another pronunciation or rule didn't apply at some point) be explained away as merely entering English at a different time than "laugh" or "cough." Maybe. This is all just speculation right now. I'm just saying, historical linguistics will always provide an answer similar to this one.
Language is a logical tool.
Why would humans invent something so difficult that is so frequently used?

Oh God. That was such a loaded question.

Point is, through (<--- eeeeey) various miscommunications (thank you, once again, Mr. Danish printer) and spikes of prescriptivism versus descriptivism throughout the history of English orthography, the language has become a nice little catch-all of historical scripts and modern pronunciations.

Shout-out to Noah Webster for instilling a great sense of rebellious nationalist perscriptivism in the American people.

I would also like to apologize (or "apologise," if you're one of the islanders) to all foreign speakers who have undertaken the task of learning this cluster-eff of a language.
Nevertheless, I hope that one day, you can learn to love as I do the historical content present in our seemingly illogical orthography.
Makes reading excedingly boring assignments that much more interesting.
Screw the content.
Especially if it's Thomas Hardy.

Czech ow-t the phun things won can due with Ing-lish letrs.

This is probably why I'm always unprepared with my class readings.


2 comentarios:

  1. That's a cool link. You may like the following:

    A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed, houghed, and hiccoughed.

    When I was there, they offered a course called Dialectología. For the first few weeks, the professor was a pretty smart guy-- really mastered a number of different languages-- but I can't remember his name for the life of me. Anyway, smart guy, taught us a ton, but a very difficult course. Most people wanted a push-over easy A, so they complained and got him tossed. They replaced him with someone else and they class sure enough became a push-over and I learned pretty much nothing, but everyone else was happy. He's the reason I speak more than just Spanish and English now. Ask Mamen about him.

    Sintaxis was, and probably still is, a total joke. Caters to the lowest common denominator, and most guys took it because Marta was smoking hot. Brings back memories though, I could go on all night

  2. Ah! You're kidding me.
    But that makes complete sense.
    The Reunidas classes are an absolute waste of time.
    But likewise, I can't blame it on the teachers.
    This whole democratic process of students electing which teachers stay or go is really starting to get to me.
    Nevertheless, I suppose it has its place...
    I have some friends who are taking Fonetica with some professor who is apparently bat-shit crazy.
    And I've seen their notes from class. What she covers is 1) not phonetics
    and 2) contradictory to itself.
    Though, I think she'll probably be staying around.
    Seems to be some sort of tenured-ish type.

    HAHA, and as for not-really-syntax, Yeah...
    There are a few guys in that class who obviously took it for just that reason and when they try to participate, it's

    ...just embarrassing.