A recent study suggests that approximants—sounds such as /l/; /r/; /w/; and /y/—appear less often in swear words than they do in other words. The paper is The sound of swearing: Are there universal patterns in profanity?, by Shiri Lev-Ari and Ryan McKay (2022) published online in December 2022 by the experimental psychology journal Psychonomic…… Continue reading Do swear words contain some sounds more often?
Today (9 October) is Hangul Day. Hangul is the name used in South Korea and most of the world for the writing system used in writing Korean. Origin of Hangul Before the 15th century, most written documents in Korea were in Chinese. When Korean was written, people used Chinese characters, known in Korean as…… Continue reading Hangul Day
Are Mandarin adjectives just a type of verb?
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?
More about Ginkgo
I’ve previously posted my translation of Goethe’s poem Ginkgo Biloba. I’ve recently found more about the history, spelling and pronunciation of the word Ginkgo. I found this in section 8.3 of Sounds Fascinating: Further Investigations on English Phonetics and Phonology (2016), by JC Wells. Wells notes that the Oxford English Dictionary describes the word as…… Continue reading More about Ginkgo
Mandarin has many more sibilant sounds than English does. I have always found it hard to keep them apart, both in listening and in speaking. The following table shows for each sibilant sound first the official romanised (pinyin) spelling and then, in [square brackets], a transcription in the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association. FricativeAffricateAspiratedaffricateDentals…… Continue reading Mandarin sibilants
Test your languages online (2)
I’ve written before about the University of Westminster’s online diagnostic quiz for Norwegian, Swedish and Hungarian. Test your languages online – Language Miscellany I’ve now tried their quiz for some of the other languages. Here are my results for all the ones I took. The results are marked out of 50. German and French For…… Continue reading Test your languages online (2)
A Mandarin tongue twister
The following tongue twister in Mandarin contains 8 instances of the syllable ma, differentiated only by the tone they bear, as well as one similar syllable (man). Māma qí mǎ. Mǎ màn. Māma mà mǎ.Mother rides horse. Horse slow. Mother scolds horse. The above example is written in pinyin, the official transliteration system for Mandarin.…… Continue reading A Mandarin tongue twister
Eat for Germany
A mistranslation, this time from Mandarin. Apparently this means “to eat is a blessing, to save is a virtue”, but the translation says “to eat is a blessing to save Germany”. Source: Language Log » To save Germany (upenn.edu) The reference to Germany isn’t random. The last character means virtue and is pronounced De. (the…… Continue reading Eat for Germany