Random language thread 5

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Aurinĭa
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Random language thread 5

Postby Aurinĭa » 2017-06-11, 15:11

Continuation of the Random language thread 4, which can now be found in the Forum Archives. If you want to continue a conversation or a discussion from the old thread, post a quote and/or a link to the relevant post here.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Luís » 2017-06-11, 19:27

What's up with Malagasy spelling?

The current writing system (using the Latin alphabet) was developed in the 19th century, which makes it relatively new. Still, there are mute consonants and vowels everywhere. Has the language changed that much in 150 years? Is it a compromise between different dialects? Is it based on the previous spelling (using the Arabic script)? I can't seem to find an answer...

Some examples:

miteny /mten/
olona /uln/
hanina /an/
vola /vul/
aho /a/
izaho /za/
Quot linguas calles, tot homines vales

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby eskandar » 2017-06-12, 0:26

I wonder if the Latin orthography was ever phonetic. If not, that might be a more plausible answer than significant language change in recent years. I found someone else musing on the subject here.
Please correct my mistakes in any language.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-12, 2:44

Luís wrote:What's up with Malagasy spelling?

OH MY GOD THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS!!!!!1 :lol:

So, Malagasy spelling makes etymological sense FWIR, and it's technically possible to pronounce every letter in it or something (and which ones you pronounce varies by dialect, and there are a whole bunch of dialects out there), but at least Merina dialect (which is probably also the one you'll encounter the most often since it's also the prestige dialect IIRC) is still so crazy because it's like you can reduce as many words as you fucking like to one syllable (or not, depending on how you're feeling today :silly:). I've always wanted to try dividing up the lyrics for this song into syllable boundaries and showing it to somebody. This is an R&B-ish(?) song in Malagasy (with a few English words and I think one French word) I posted a couple of times already, and I've included the lyrics below, but with hyphens to indicate syllable boundaries and | to indicate word boundaries within the same syllable (Malagasy has a lot of this!):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oz0NrlVp-g
(Be-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao ty, yeah!)
A-nao maha-lefa-ka zaho
Nefa ma-gniagna la-lahy tsy me-ty
O-lo lany fa-gnahy,
A-nao ze-gny ka-ra tsy ma-nai-try
Ne-fa zaho ma-hi-ta|a-nao, a-faka jia-by a-sa loha, fa tsy hani-nao na-gnino zaho ka-ra io
Mou-v-nao jia-by|è-fa haiko, nata|a-na-o tsy mi-raiky, tia-ko|ho hai-nao fa-o zaho mba|a-keo

[Chorus]:
Tsy|a-ry mba no-za-ha-va-nao
Ma-le-try ma-ré fo-nao ba-by|è
Tsy|hai-ko|e-ky|i-no raha a-tao
Ty hi-ra avy am-po-na la-dy|è
Koa misy zaho mba|a-mè-za|a-mè-za love, zaho mba|a-mè-za|a-mè-za love zaho (X3)
Oh ba-by|è !
Bè-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao 'ty, bè-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao
Koa misy zaho mba|a-mè-za|a-mè-za love, zaho mba|a-mè-za|a-mè-za love zaho
Oh ba-by|è !
Bè-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao 'ty, bè-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao

Ma-fy a-di-nahy fa zaho tsy ki-vy
Ve-ry a-min-da-lahy, yeah!
Ve-ry je-ry a-min'ilay te-gna i-zy [yes, "min'ilay" is all one syllable!]
Nè-fa zaho koa hi-ta-nao, tsy|hai-ko na ho ki-fe-nao, fa ten-te-gny fo ma-loha sao mba ho
Ba-by te-gna|a-nao raiky, a-mi-na-hy te-gna mec, a-faka a-mpi-do-bo-ko fo-nahy
[Chorus]

(Be-ra mi-la love avy ami-nao ty, ba-by|è!)
Zaho mia-kiky a-nao, zaho mba mi-la fi-ti-a-va-gna|a-mi-nao rô ngiah-y|èè
A-ma-rè a-nao mbo-la|a-hay zaho koa voa-do-gno a-vy a-ka-gny|èè
Hiam-bi-gny a-nao fao za-ho, ze-gny hai-nao , hai-nao
Zaho tsy|a-hoa-nao nia-ny mbo-la a-ni-gne-na-nao, ze-gny hai-nao
[Chorus]
Last edited by vijayjohn on 2017-06-13, 0:33, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Luís » 2017-06-12, 7:03

eskandar wrote:I wonder if the Latin orthography was ever phonetic. If not, that might be a more plausible answer than significant language change in recent years. I found someone else musing on the subject here.


Yes, but why? Considering it was developed by a French missionary in the 19th century, I would expect it to be relatively phonetic. Even if we don't consider all the mute vowels and unpredictable diphthongs, what's the point of having an <h>? It's always mute in French as well, but at least there's an etymological reason going back to Latin. Also, there are two different ways of writing the vowel /i/ (<i> and <y>). I'm guessing these things were probably inherited from the previous Arabico-Malagasy script somehow, but I can't find any info on that.

vijayjohn wrote:This is an R&B-ish(?) song in Malagasy (with a few English words and I think one French word) I posted a couple of times already, and I've included the lyrics below, but with hyphens to indicate syllable boundaries and | to indicate word boundaries within the same syllable (Malagasy has a lot of this!):


That's actually a neat song!
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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-12, 7:07

Luís wrote:
eskandar wrote:I wonder if the Latin orthography was ever phonetic. If not, that might be a more plausible answer than significant language change in recent years. I found someone else musing on the subject here.


Yes, but why?

Again, from what I've been told (by someone else who speaks some), it's mostly just dialect variation.
That's actually a neat song!

It's probably my least favorite song in Malagasy, but yes and I've listened to it tons of times. :lol:

EDIT: I just found a lyric video of this Mauritian Creole song I posted on this thread once. It's very interesting to read the lyrics (in the annotations of this video):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Q2RrlF_Pe4

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-06-12, 22:01

I don't find it that implausible that it had a more or less phonetic orthography when it was created but several small changes since then have had a cascading effect. It seems the main culprit is the reduction of /a, i, u/ in a lot of places. That would leave behind a schwa (which is easy to elide) plus palatalization and labialization, which are hard to hear. Couple that with the dropping of /h/ (again, a very common change) and you have a shitshow as far as the vowels are concerned. As a Portugee, all of this should be somewhat relatable. After all, your countrymen basically took Old Spanish phonology and made it sound like Russian.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby linguoboy » 2017-06-12, 22:40

Luís wrote:Even if we don't consider all the mute vowels and unpredictable diphthongs, what's the point of having an <h>?

Even French occasionally uses <h> to show hiatus, e.g. envahir.

I don't know much about Malagasy orthography or historical phonology, but I can totally see a recently-written language choosing to use it in this way.
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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-13, 0:08

Luís wrote: Even if we don't consider all the mute vowels and unpredictable diphthongs, what's the point of having an <h>?

Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties. It's also the only thing that distinguishes a lot of future tense verbs from their present and past tense counterparts.

Actually, in that song I posted, you can clearly hear an [h] in the word ahay towards the end of the song (Amarè anao mbola ahay zaho koa voadogno avy akagny èè). I wasn't sure whether I heard one in the word hiambigny. (To be fair, you can also hear one between mbola and anignenanao :P).

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-06-13, 4:32

vijayjohn wrote:Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties.
Could you give some examples?

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-13, 4:47

mōdgethanc wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties.
Could you give some examples?

Some more besides what I pointed out in that song? Well, Wikipedia says that the word for 'skin' in Sakalava (one of the two main dialects of Malagasy) is [ˈhulitse] whereas in Merina (the other one, and the prestige dialect), it's hoditra [ˈhudiʈʂə̥], both with [h].

In the only other song I've ever posted in Malagasy (one of my favorite ones!), Rajery pronounces the [h] in the word manahirana at 0:52 (but not in the next word, mampisahotaka):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGm4vr3rNA4
This lady speaking Malagasy seems to pronounce more [h]s than in either of those songs (although she also has [ʁ] or something for <r> most of the time):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8t_snz8B5A
This video teaching a few phrases of Malagasy has [h] pronounced in miarahaba and izahay 'we (exclusive)':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9cKT_cCsGE
I think whether or not [h] is pronounced is almost as idiosyncratic as whether or not vowels are pronounced. It's pretty much like people pronounce them if they feel like it, if it's better for the rhythm of a song, or something like that.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Serafín » 2017-06-13, 5:22

mōdgethanc wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties.
Could you give some examples?

Latin dico is [diho] in many northern "dialects" of Italy, including Tuscan. La porta [la 'forta].

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-06-13, 5:33

I meant examples of where /k/ > [h] in Romance languages. I did know about Tuscan. What about other languages?

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-13, 7:06

Okay, yeah, I was thinking of Tuscan. I'm not sure what others there are.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Luís » 2017-06-13, 10:32

vijayjohn wrote:
Luís wrote: Even if we don't consider all the mute vowels and unpredictable diphthongs, what's the point of having an <h>?

Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties. It's also the only thing that distinguishes a lot of future tense verbs from their present and past tense counterparts.


That's interesting. I was basing myself on Assimil's Malgache de poche pronunciation guide, where they clearly state <h> is always mute. But I guess there's nothing straightforward about Malagasy... :lol:
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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby IpseDixit » 2017-06-13, 10:38

Serafín wrote:La porta [la 'fɔrta].


Wut. Where did you get this? I don't think /p/ ever becomes [f]. In certain Tuscan dialects (mainly Florentine I think) it becomes [ɸ] (hence [la 'ɸɔrta]), but [f]? I'd be really surprised about that.

Latin dico is [diho] in many northern "dialects" of Italy, including Tuscan


Actually I'm pretty sure that Tuscan is the only one which has that feature. And not even all Tuscan dialects, to be precise.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-06-13, 12:29

Luís wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
Luís wrote: Even if we don't consider all the mute vowels and unpredictable diphthongs, what's the point of having an <h>?

Because it has [h]. It's not always mute, though it frequently is in colloquial speech (and songs), and it comes from lenition of /k/ IIRC, like some words in (some) Romance language varieties. It's also the only thing that distinguishes a lot of future tense verbs from their present and past tense counterparts.


That's interesting. I was basing myself on Assimil's Malgache de poche pronunciation guide, where they clearly state <h> is always mute. But I guess there's nothing straightforward about Malagasy... :lol:

Yeah, the phonology is kind of all over the place. The syntax seems much more straightforward, although even then, while I know there's a clear distinction between two syntactic phenomena in Malagasy, I'm not sure what they are. I think they might be topicalization and focus. (If it's what I think is topicalization, you change the form of the verb and the order of the arguments it takes. If it's what I think is focus, you just kick the focused element to the beginning of the sentence and add no immediately after it).

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Serafín » 2017-06-13, 15:30

IpseDixit wrote:
Serafín wrote:La porta [la 'fɔrta].


Wut. Where did you get this? I don't think /p/ ever becomes [f]. In certain Tuscan dialects (mainly Florentine I think) it becomes [ɸ] (hence [la 'ɸɔrta]), but [f]? I'd be really surprised about that.

Latin dico is [diho] in many northern "dialects" of Italy, including Tuscan


Actually I'm pretty sure that Tuscan is the only one which has that feature. And not even all Tuscan dialects, to be precise.

Thanks for the corrections.

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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby Osias » 2017-06-15, 21:32

Do the languages that call cats "meow" have a general name for other felines, like lions and lynxes? Do they use that word for cats when speaking in higher register?
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Re: Random language thread 5

Postby linguoboy » 2017-06-15, 22:22

Osias wrote:Do the languages that call cats "meow" have a general name for other felines, like lions and lynxes? Do they use that word for cats when speaking in higher register?

Seems to me like they mostly use the same word: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cat#Noun.
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