I was reading yesterday about a football club that has 2 ‘co-sporting directors’. That is an odd place to put the hyphen. People do often put a hyphen after the prefix co. Indeed, I often do that myself, to make it easier for readers to see the structure of the word. But in this case,…… Continue reading Not-the best place for-a hyphen
Similarities and differences within Scandinavian languages
The Scandinavian languages are similar to each other, but also differ from each other. Here is an example that illustrates nicely some of the similarities and differences. I came across it in The Syntax of Icelandic, Höskuldur Thráinson (2007). Although Höskuldur Thráinson uses the example to make one specific point about word order, I use…… Continue reading Similarities and differences within Scandinavian languages
Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian
Here is a summary of some things I learnt about the Mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian) a couple of years ago, when I was carrying out a self-imposed language challenge. http://languagemiscellany.com/2021/09/scandinavian-challenge-how-did-it-go/ I am commenting here only on those 3 languages, not their relatives, the insular Scandinavian Languages (Icelandic and Faroese). For an…… Continue reading Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian
Unsocially distanced: a bracketing paradox?
Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson allegedly told a staff meeting in 10 Downing Street that they were at ‘probably the most unsocially distanced gathering in the UK right now’. That comment not only raises political questions but also illustrates an interesting linguistic point. What does the prefix [un-] negate in that phrase? The spelling…… Continue reading Unsocially distanced: a bracketing paradox?
2,000 year old Sanskrit puzzle solved?
A PhD student may have found a way to simplify the analysis of Sanskrit grammar, overturning a time-honoured way of reading a classic grammatical description. In his PhD thesis, Dr Rishi Rajpopat (of St John’s College, Cambridge) analysed the oldest surviving descriptive grammar of any language. This is Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī, a comprehensive grammar of Sanskrit,…… Continue reading 2,000 year old Sanskrit puzzle solved?
Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic
For someone who knows some Russian, the 3rd person possessive adjectives in Croatian look odd. But looking at it more closely, I’ve realised that their Russian counterparts are just as odd, though in a different way. Russian Table 1 shows some of the possessive adjectives in Russian. The adjective’s stem depends on the person (1st,…… Continue reading Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic
I found this week an odd blend of English pronunciation and spelling with French pronunciation and spelling. Writing about last Saturday’s Football World Cup match between England and France, a journalist wrote the following: Philippe Auclair, the French writer, calls him Les Bleus’ “beat-giver”. The Times, 12 December 2022(‘him’ refers to the French footballer…… Continue reading Cross-language blues’
Krill: only plural?
A reader wrote in to The Times complaining about one the newspaper’s word games. The game involves making as many English words as you can from a fixed set of letters. The reader complained that the permitted words did not include krill. In its weekly Feedback column on 19 November, The Times, reported the complaint.…… Continue reading Krill: only plural?
How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish (3)?
I have written before about: the major cases in Finnish and Hungarian. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnishthe local / spatial cases in those languages https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/05/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnish-2 In this post, I cover the minor cases in those languages. Overview Both Finnish and Hungarian have minor cases expressing: accompaniment (comitative)—though in Hungarian, the case expressing accompaniment is more often the instrumental case…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish (3)?
Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?
The past tense of verbs in Russian looks very odd. It marks the gender and number of the verb’s subject, but does not mark whether the subject is 1st person (I / we), 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (she / he / it / they). In this respect, the Russian past tense differs from…… Continue reading Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?