I’ve heard of taking your pooper scooper to clear up after your domestic animal, but this is taking a good idea to extremes.“Pferdemist” = horse manure. Arosa, Switzerland, 2018
In Japanese, the second component of a compound word undergoes a process called known as rendaku (sequential voicing). Tsujimura (1996) summarises the main principles of rendaku: If an independent word starts with an unvoiced consonant, that initial consonant becomes voiced if the word is the 2nd component of a compound word.nevertheless, if the 2nd component…… Continue reading Sequential voicing (rendaku) in Japanese
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision describes itself as the primary global standard setter for bank regulation. It is based in Basel, Switzerland. When I first started work, the usual English name for the Committee contained the spelling Basle, rather than the German spelling Basel. Pronunciation Oddly, though, although the English spelling contains an <s>,…… Continue reading Is the Committee in Basel or Basle?
In Mandarin, adjectives behave like verbs in some respects. As a result, some analysts suggest that adjectives are just a subset of verbs in Mandarin. This post summarises evidence that adjectives are in fact separate from verbs. The evidence comes from Chinese Syntax, by C-T James Huang, Y-H Audrey Li and Yafei Li (2009). The…… Continue reading Are Mandarin adjectives just a type of verb?
Periodically, a debate breaks out in the British press about whether schools in England teach too much English grammar or too little English grammar. The trigger for the latest outpouring was an academic study suggesting that teaching grammar does not improve children’s writing. For some commentators, the phrase ‘fronted adverbials’ now exemplifies excessive focus on…… Continue reading Fronted adverbials
In the last few years, I’ve heard my daughter saying in restaurants things like: Can I get the pasta? That usage of get still sounds very odd to me. If I said that, I would mean: Can I bring the pasta to you? not Can I receive the pasta from you? Intending the latter meaning,…… Continue reading Can I get this change?
In English and many other languages, many verbs may be in either an active form or a passive form. Most descriptions of the passive treat the active as a more basic form, with the passive derived from it. The easiest way—perhaps the only way—to describe active or passive is by the relationship between them: the…… Continue reading What is the passive?
What is the title of this post? Is it a short story by Jose Luis Borges? Well, as you may have worked out, it’s about computer keyboards. qwerty is not a word but the first 6 characters on an English keyboard. Keyboards for different languages have a different set of 6 characters first. When I…… Continue reading Qwerty, Azerty, Qwertz
In cricketing circles, there has been a trend recently to using the term batter instead of the traditional term batsman. I often side with (bat for?) the dinosaurs on this sort of terminology question, but on this one I’m now batting for the innovators. Here’s why. In the past, when I heard someone talk about…… Continue reading Time for batters to join the bowlers and fielders
The Uralic languages are well known for having a large number of grammatical cases. The two Uralic languages with the most speakers are Hungarian and Finnish. Finnish has 15 cases and Hungarian has between 17 and 27 grammatical cases, depending on how some items are analysed. In contrast, looking only at some examples in languages…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish?