Saim's log 2017-2019

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-05-14, 15:32

Saim wrote:Are you talking about Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian – A Grammar with Sociolinguistic Commentary?

Yes.
Do have it on you, by any chance?

Yes. That plus the textbook accompanying it and LP Croatian and TY Croatian are all I have for BCS (unless you count like "Berlitz Eastern European Languages" or whatever EDIT: and a bilingual Croatia Airlines in-flight magazine lol).
I'd like to know what he said specifically.

*she
Ronelle Alexander wrote:Many feel the four-accent system is needlessly complex and out of touch with reality. Part of this dissatisfaction is with the opacity of the traditional Vukovian accentual marks.

In most instances, however, the reason speakers are dissatisfied with the system of marks is because they believe it does not accurately reflect the way they actually speak. In some cases this non-congruence (between prescriptive statements of accentuation and descriptive statements of actual usage) is due to language change: the accentuation of the modern language is simply no longer the same as it was when Vuk and Daničić made their coficiations. More frequently, however, it is due to the great diversity of speech types over the broader BCS area and to specific facts connected with the history of modification processes. For a variety of reasons, the modern language is based almost completely upon the speech of Vuk Karadžić's native East Herzegovina[...] That is, when linguists sat down to compile the dictionaries and the grammars which became the core of BCS prescriptive grammar, they took the East Herzegovinian neo-štokavian dialect as their model, believing it to be the purest and most representative speech type. All elements of grammar were codified to follow that dialectal pattern, including the specific accentual characteristics of each individual word. The speech of eastern Herzegovina was especially rich in accentual distinctions - as it is still today - and those speakers of BCS whose native speech is similar to it have no trouble hearing and producing all four "accents" in all positions, according to the now-canonical system.

Those whose native speech is quite different from Vuk's, however, must learn the standard form of the language in school. Learning the endings of words is relatively easy, but learning the accents is quite another matter. In particular, it is almost impossible to make a consistent distinction between short rising and short falling accents unless one is accustomed to hearing these accents since childhood. Most Bosnians make all the standard distinctions naturally, and they are quite proud of the fully melodic (not to say traditional Vukovian) character of Bosnian. The majority of Serbs and Croats, however, do not make the full set of distinctions. Some attempt to learn them, and experience a fair degree of success. Others - even if they are not completely successful in learning the accents - believe that this system is part of their heritage and that the language should continue to maintain all the codified distinctions, if only as an ideal to strive for. Yet others, however, believe that the codified forms of Serbian and Croatian should be revised in order to reflect more accurately the way Serbs and Croats actually speak. They do not feel that educators should need to work so hard to force students to learn something which is both very difficult to learn, and (in their view) unnaturally artificial. They believe the current language should be revised according to the very principle which governed its original codification, and that the idealized standard should represent actual speech as it is today. The great majority of Serbs or Croats who cannot distinguish short falling from short rising accents feel there should be only a single "short" accent; they also feel that the language should codify only those long unaccented vowels which are consistently spoken as long (such as the [genitive plural] endings).
[...]

But although there is considerable discussion among linguists on all aspects of this issue, feelings run especially high on the issue of non-initial falling accents. The dictum of the Vukovian system is that falling accents are allowed only in initial position. This is because all non-initial accents historically represent retractions, and all retracted accents are rising[...] It follows from this, therefore, that words with a falling accent on a non-initial syllable are being pronounced incorrectly and should be adapted to the Vukovian system. Since a number of speakers of BCS come from areas where the neo-štokavian retraction was not fully carried out, schoolteachers regularly teach these speakers these speakers [sic] to pronounce the words in question with consistently retracted accents. This general pedagogical experience has strengthened the belief of prescriptive grammarians that any non-initial accent must be scrutinized. If it is pronounced as falling, then it has not been properly retracted and this must be corrected.

Now, however, linguists and educated speakers are beginning to realize that their speech does indeed include words with non-initial falling accents, and that these falling accents are not in error. Rather, they represent the natural pronunciation of a number of words, a pronunciation which need not (and should not) be corrected according to some abstract principle. For Bosnian linguists (and others who look to Bosnian as a model of accentual "purity"), the most convincing evidence is that Bosnians also pronounce these words with non-initial falling accents. The number of these words is not large, but it is significant enough to make the point. Many of the words are foreign borrowings, a number of which end in -ent (such as absolvent "fifth year university student"). Others are native words which are relatively long, often consisting of a number of morphemes (such as poljoprivreda "agriculture").

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-18, 9:51

That's quite interesting, thanks!

I find it kind of strange that the author conflates the situation in Serbia with that of Croatia. Most people in Croatia don't maintain any sort of tonal distinction, whereas most people in Serbia will generally have some sort of tonal system that is different to the standard. I would argue that that's quite a different phenomenon.

Further, the author contradicts herself when she says that short falling accents on final syllables are an issue in Serbia. If speakers in Serbia don't differentiate tone in short syllables, why is it an issue to find short falling accents outside of the first syllable? If it was true that speakers in Serbia don't maintain tonal distinctions in short syllables, the widespread non-standard pronunciation absolvȅnt mentioned by the author would be impossible. It wouldn't be an issue of a falling tone outside of the stressed syllable, but of non-standard stress, because the stressed syllable in absolvent is short. The same is true of poljoprivreda, and there there isn't even non-standard stress (short rising poljoprìvreda vs. short falling poljoprȉvreda both have the same stressed syllable).

"Since a number of speakers of BCS come from areas where the neo-štokavian retraction was not fully carried out"; as far as I know this would specifically apply for kosovsko-resavski (so Kragujevac, Jagodina, Zaječar, Kruševac, northern Kosovo) speakers, so not the vojvođansko-šumadijski bloc that includes the prestige dialect.

I'd also like to know if there are any major differences in the pitch accent systems of the two major dialects in Bosnia, Eastern Bosnian and Eastern Herzegovinian. I can't find any sort of real descriptions of Eastern Bosnian on the internet so I'll have to find some print sources in Serbia. Things may be changing now due to the influence of each country's respective prestige dialect and all the population displacement in the '90s, but I find it rather strange to hear talk of "Serbian", "Croatian" and "Bosnian" as if they were the most salient linguistic categories when there are massive regional differences in all three countries.

In any case, she's obviously right in that the way people speak in Serbia is quite different from the standard accent system (although the way it's different varies a lot by region), but I'm still somewhat skeptical of the idea that people in Serbia, at least in the traditional vojvođansko-šumadijski area, don't maintain tonal distinctions on short syllables (it may not be a particularly salient phonemic distinction, since stress and length are much more important, and may be hard to consciously perceive for the uninitiated, but that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't pronouncing it). I guess now that I can fairly reliably perceive lexical tone in careful, standard speech I'll have to keep my ears primed to notice what it's like in Novi Sad.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby OldBoring » 2019-05-18, 10:28

Saim wrote:In any case, she's obviously right in that the way people speak in Serbia is quite different from the standard accent system

Serbians speak a dialect of Croatian.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-18, 11:53

OldBoring wrote:
Saim wrote:In any case, she's obviously right in that the way people speak in Serbia is quite different from the standard accent system

Serbians speak a dialect of Croatian.


No they don't. They speak four completely different dialects of Croatian. :P

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-19, 10:59

Mandarin

I'm on Lesson 24 of Assimil: Le chinois sans peine. I've come to the conclusion that it's just too hard for the absolute beginner. You can brute-force the whole thing in Anki, but there are too many jumps in difficulty. In every dialogue there is at least one sentence that will have two or even three new words and up to three new characters, which is just too much for someone without a base in characters. Maybe that would've been manageable had I gone through the whole Heisig book before tackling Assimil, but that's just too boring for me, I prefer studying the characters along with the actual language.

There's a shared deck on Anki's website called Spoon-fed Chinese that takes a more progressive approach, with "i+1" sentences. I think I'll spend some time with this and then go back to Assimil once I've gone through a couple of hundred cards.
Last edited by Saim on 2019-05-20, 18:52, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-19, 17:40

Another Turkish series with audiodescription and subtitles (not hard-coded, so the transcript is also available with a click!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCkpcetMaU0

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-05-20, 17:23

Le chinois sans peine, c'est trop de peine, oh là là :P
Saim wrote:I find it kind of strange that the author conflates the situation in Serbia with that of Croatia.

For whatever it's worth, I find that what people (who speak BCS) say about BCS doesn't really match up with what she writes.

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Re: Saim's log 2017-2019

Postby Saim » 2019-05-23, 8:31

Mandarin

I stopped doing character production cards a while ago and I think it's severely impacted my ability to remember characters, so I'm going to get back to into it. I've realised that the way I was approaching my production deck was wrong -- although I'll have the pronunciation and the meaning there, what I need to practice is stroke order. And if I come across a character first in a bisyllabic word I'll practice that word rather than the character on its own.

It sounds really obviously now that I think about it. I don't know why I ever did it the other way. Before my production cards were like this:

Front: character, stroke order, audio
Back: one meaning, pinyin

Now they're like this:

Front: character(s), pinyin, one meaning
Back: stroke order(s)

I guess I just thought that stroke order would be too hard to practice, so I didn't even try. But it's actually not that hard, it's much harder to remember the pronunciation and one meaning of every single character I want to learn without the sentence providing context. Sentences are a good prompt for meaning and pronunciation, whereas individual characters/words are a good prompt for stroke order (but not for meaning and pronunciation).


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