Introduction

Hello!

That’s it. That’s the introduction.

Okay, so, no, I would like to use this first post to set some things out. This is my blog; it’s personal, but I want for it to be, first and foremost, about linguistics and language learning, and for providing interesting and practical information about the languages I enjoy.

I have witnessed and delighted in the many ways that linguistics makes languages easier to understand and learn. It’s such a thrill to explain the superficially illogical, and to witness moments when people, consequently, ‘get’ it. I love that feeling, and so I hope that what I post here will inspire more of these moments. For that reason, I aim to make everything here accessible for everyone, linguists and non-linguists alike. However, I don’t doubt that I will often fail in this effort – so, if ever you don’t understand something, just comment and ask!

With that mind, a couple of points about the way I write posts. I typically follow the standard practice among linguists, and some of these methods may look strange to non-linguists. So:

– I use inverted commas (‘food’, ‘cat’) for translations, almost always into English.

– Italics (fēmina, muž) are for original words in a given language that are at that time under scrutiny – sometimes these will be English words.

– An asterisk before a sound, word or phrase (*weiḱ-, *ad) means that it is unattested, that there is no empirical evidence for its existence. There are two reasons why this might be; either it has been reconstructed, and so is just a hypothesis, or it is a deliberately false word or phrase, created for the purpose of demonstration. Simply to avoid a mess of punctuation, the asterisk usually trumps other forms of notation, such as brackets.

– If a word ends in a hyphen (*dem-, *kuning-), it is to show that the word is incomplete, that it only refers to the meaningful part of the word, without any endings attached, such as case or number endings. Likewise, affixes are written with hyphens in front or at the end, to show that it is meant to be attached to a larger unit. For example, the English past tense suffix is written -ed, while un- refers to the negative prefix.

– Angle brackets are used when talking about written units, call them letters, glyphs or what you will. So, if I am discussing ⟨g⟩ or ⟨cat⟩, my intention is to use the written letter or word as an example.

– Meanwhile, things included between slashes or square brackets, such /kit/ or [kit], refer to sounds and the way things are pronounced. Many of these symbols will be familiar to you, but many will not; they will be the official symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, a system designed by phoneticians to denote sounds independently of any one language’s orthography. If you don’t recognise a symbol, there’s no need to worry; you can either ask me, or use this interactive IPA to match sound to symbol.

And that’s it for the moment!

Danny x

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