The passive in 2 Bantu languages

In an earlier post, I explained 3 features of the passive construction, focusing on English. This post summarises how 2 Bantu languages (Swahili and Chichewa) implement those 3 features. It also mentions the stative, a construction that is somewhat similar. Background: Bantu languages The Bantu group of languages has many members, spoken in the southern…… Continue reading The passive in 2 Bantu languages

How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish?

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?

The English verbal ending -s

It is often said that English verbs inflect in the present tense for the person (1st / 2nd / 3rd) and number (singular / plural) of their grammatical subject. In Notes on English Agreement, Richard Kayne provides a different analysis. He suggests that English verbs inflect only for number, not for person. Background Almost all…… Continue reading The English verbal ending -s

Can English words start with th?

I am delighted that my grandchildren have learnt the word digraph in the reception class in their primary schools. A digraph is a sequence of two letters that together represent a single sound. One English digraph is <th>. This digraph is, in fact, used to spell two different consonants: a voiceless consonant, as in the…… Continue reading Can English words start with th?

So-Called “Pronouns” in English

Pronouns include forms such as I, we, you, he, she, it, they, as well as their inflected forms such as me, him, her, them and reflexives, such as myself, yourself. It is traditional to think of pronouns as replacing phrases containing a noun (noun phrases). For example, consider sentence (1) I ate the red apple.…… Continue reading So-Called “Pronouns” in English

Words showing their history

Some Japanese words are compounds of a verb and a noun. The noun is typically one that undergoes the action denoted by verb—the object of a transitive verb or the ‘patient’ of an intransitive verb. Japanese components Some of these compounds have native Japanese components elements. In these cases the compound contains the noun followed…… Continue reading Words showing their history

Acquiring English past tense

My grandson (aged 3 years 9 months) has recently started producing the past tense in a surprising way. I first noticed it with the form liked. He is now pronouncing this as likèd [laɪkɛd] , rather than [laɪkt]. I soon discovered he was using this form consistently not only in all weak verbs but even…… Continue reading Acquiring English past tense

Fleeting vowels in Abrdn

The asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen has struggled to establish its brand ever since it was formed by a merger in 2017 between the insurer Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management. Have they now found an answer? The company announced in April 2021 that it would rebrand itself as Abrdn and that the name would…… Continue reading Fleeting vowels in Abrdn