Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

langmon
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Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 6:05

This is for some Swahili topics that are too in-depth for my Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log.
Now I am not opening a thread like this without a good reason.

It already happened some times in the past that someone had something on his mind that fully was related to Swahili, but still outside the scope of a certain personal learner's log. Or more specifically, the one I just mentioned. It (that log) is about Surface Level Swahili only. I am interested in these other aspects too (i.e. those which are more in-depth and detailed). But they aren't a part of my actual Swahili learning process, instead, I am interested in them because I consider them interesting background knowledge.

So when anyone would have something on his mind about my Swahili log, while what he/she wants to say is in-depth, detailed and beyond Surface Level Swahili, he/she simply could post it in this thread. It is also possible to additionally reply in my log for the purpose of mentioning a direct link to the specific new post. And even in case others wouldn't do it like this when it comes to in-depth matters, but would only post in the log instead, I still think I would reply in this thread (that you are reading right now) while not mentioning much more than a direct link to that reply in the log.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 9:35

Right now starting to write my answers to some of what linguoboy said in the "SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log" thread:

linguoboy wrote:"Suffix means specifically "something that is attached to the end of a word". There's a word for "something that is attached" without specifying where it is attached. That word is affix."


Again, you are right about the meaning of the word "affix".

And I already switched to simply using "affix" for any Swahili Word Building Block for the sake of (even if I wouldn't consider it wrong to still call at least some of them suffixes even if they aren't at the very end of a word) additional clarity.

As for suffix... the Latin term suffigere (related words: suffigo, suffixi, suffixus), one of its meanings basically is about attaching something to something else.

In addition, there also is something else that could be of interest. Just wanted to let you know that whenever I use Wikipedia (and I do not use it very often), this is being done for auxiliary purposes only.

So here is a quote from the German Wikipedia, alongside of a translation of its core meaning (emphasis mine). Also I'd like you to note that this isn't about myself stating that this quote necessarily fully agrees with what I had been using "suffix" for, it is possible that there is a partial agreement only, but I haven't got any reason to ponder on that question (i.e. "did my past usage of that term agree with Wikipedia or not") anyway.

"Suffix (von lat. suffixum; zuweilen auch Postfix und in der traditionellen Grammatik auch Nachsilbe genannt) ist in der Sprachwissenschaft (und zwar genauer in der linguistischen Morphologie) die Bezeichnung für ein Affix, das seiner jeweiligen Basis nachfolgt. Beispiele sind Wortbildungsmorpheme wie -ung und -heit in Bild-ung bzw. Schön-heit oder Flexionsmorpheme wie die Genitivendung -s in der Form (des) Mädchen-s. Der Begriff Suffix besagt hierbei nicht, dass ein solches Element absolut am Wortende stehen muss, denn pro Wort sind auch mehrere aufeinanderfolgende Schritte der Anfügung eines Suffixes möglich, so folgen z. B. in der Form Schönheiten die Suffixe -heit und -en aufeinander; -heit ist ein Suffix zur Basis schön und -en ist ein Suffix zur Basis Schönheit."

It says that suffix is a term being used for an affix that follows its specific base.
The term "suffix" doesn't necessarily mean that this element [i.e. the suffix] would be at the very end of the word. It also is possible to make/build/construct words by appending more than just one suffix. "Schönheiten" (literally: the plural of beauty) contains the suffixes "-heit" and "-en". So "-heit" is a suffix being appended to the base of "schön" (beautiful) and "-en" is a suffix appended to the base of "Schönheit" (beauty).
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 9:57

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:To me, the verb stem (in the meaning I use that term) also contains the ending vowel.


linguoboy wrote:What is that meaning and how does it differ from the definition of "stem" as it is generally used in linguistics?


To me and for my Surface Level Swahili purposes, a stem simply is what I marked as red in those following examples. And I do know that this isn't the same as providing a definition like "stem = ", but I still decided to answer that way.

kulala: to sleep
ninalala: I sleep
atalala: he/she will sleep

I consider all those red letters, including the ending vowel, as the stem.
Because to me, the stem (like a tree's stem, even if you possibly wouldn't like the analogy in this context) is what I attach affixes to (usually before it and not after it).

To me, when one forms the subjunctive by changing the ending vowel to "-e", this simply means a change of one of the stem's letters because of something that requires it.

But if you told me that my own subjunctive example proves that the stem doesn't contain the ending vowel, then I'd simply state that there isn't much difference between what I am saying and what you are saying. It is more of two different ways to express the (almost) same idea.


SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Yes, "-a" is the default verb end suffix, no doubt.

Also I am aware of "ku-" being the infinitive prefix that is kept when the verbs are very short.

To me, the verb stem (in the meaning I use that term) also contains the ending vowel.

And as for the rest, it doesn't matter too much to me if "-kuja" literally would be the verb stem, or if the very stem would be "-ja" only.

Even in the later case, because it is a very short verb, there still would be a "-ku-" affix which comes before "-ja", and the combination of those two still would be "-kuja", so it is treated like a "genuine Swahili verb stem starting with -ku", leading to the same result.


linguoboy wrote:This is false. The -ku- is retained only in some inflectional forms (e.g. definite present, past and future indicative), not across the board.


You are speaking of very short verbs only, right?

And can you cite another example of the -ku- being dropped, other than the imperative?

linguoboy wrote:One of the forms that lacks it (the imperative) is right there in your post! If you consider ku- and -a both "part of the stem" of kuja, then you have to account for what happens to them in njoo (beyong just calling it "irregular").


When learning a language, I focus on rules more than on exceptions.

The imperative of "kuja" (to come) is "njoo", but this is related to a certain reason other than being a very short verb only.

The imperative of "kula" (to eat) for example simply is "kula".

When someone, like me, considers all of "kuja" the verb's stem, then his explanation for what is happening in the case of "njoo" simply is: there is some stem change occurring, just as the stem also is changed from -a to -e when forming the subjunctive of a verb ending in -a.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 16:05

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:This is false. The -ku- is retained only in some inflectional forms (e.g. definite present, past and future indicative), not across the board.

You are speaking of very short verbs only, right?

I am.

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:And can you cite another example of the -ku- being dropped, other than the imperative?

I can cite several.

The reason I specified "indicative" above is that all subjunctive forms lack it:

nije "I should come"
nisije "I shouldn't come"

And the reason I specified "definite present" is that other present forms lack it. For instance, the habitual present (huja "I/you/she/he/it/we/y'all/they come [as a rule]") and the indefinite present [a.k.a. "gnomic"] (naja "I come" [time not specified]).

Other forms without the prefix:

Situational: nikija "if I come"
Narrative: nikaja "then I came"
Expiditous: nikaje "that I then come"
Relative: nijao "I who come"

You can find a pretty comprehensive (but not complete) conjugation of the verb here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ja#Swahili. It includes the ku- in some forms where it is optional in Standard Swahili (e.g. the negative perfect).

The reason for the insertion of ku- is that certain verbal prefixes are unable to bear stress. With regular multisyllabic verbs, this is not a problem because the penultimate stress of Swahili falls on the stem or the syllable after it. But with short verbs, the verbal stem may be only a single consonant, which throws the stress onto the preceding syllable. The -ku- intervenes to bear the stress that an unstressed prefix (e.g. (-na-, -me-, -li-, -ta-, etc.) is unable to bear.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 16:13

Now that was a rather verbose answer, and I always like to read things like these.
(But this only applies when someone himself/herself hasn't got any issue writing them. This is just my usual "disclaimer" of, whenever I can, avoiding asking other people for help, no matter how big or how small).

As for me, I do also take a look at irregular verbs and nouns in the languages I am learning.
But if I am not aware of an irregularity, or even if I am aware of it but still would need to use a verb/a noun while not having the time to look it up first because of needing it in conversation right now, I would intentionally use it "as if it was regular". This is like saying "er backte" (German past tense of "baking"), expect that this one already became a part of everyday usage anyway. Now "buk" commonly is considered semi-antique.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 16:27

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Now that was a rather verbose answer

It wasn't. It was very concise.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 16:32

Well, I for one would tend to state that both of it can be said in a certain way.
Also I called it "rather" verbose :).
In case you don't mind asking, where exactly does your (to a certain extent which is unknown to me) degree of familiarity with Swahili, as well as your interest in it, come from?
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 16:47

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Well, I for one would tend to state that both of it can be said in a certain way.

"Both of" what? I'm afraid I can't parse the meaning of this sentence at all.

This is an example of verbosity:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:In case you don't mind asking, where exactly does your (to a certain extent which is unknown to me) degree of familiarity with Swahili, as well as your interest in it, come from?
I could ask the same question in half as many words.

My interest in Swahili comes from being a linguist. It has some interesting characteristics from the point of view of grammar (e.g. noun classes and concord) and sociolinguistics (e.g. its origins as a lingua franca spread by Arab traders and, later, European colonialism). It's also much easier to find resources for than other languages with similar grammar and history.

I tried teaching myself the language at one point but I never reached the point of using it actively.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 16:53

linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Well, I for one would tend to state that both of it can be said in a certain way.

"Both of" what? I'm afraid I can't parse the meaning of this sentence at all.


Both of "this was rather verbose" and "it wasn't verbose at all". So by "it", I was referring to an idea known through the context rather than an explicit word I would have written.

linguoboy wrote:This is an example of verbosity:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:In case you don't mind asking, where exactly does your (to a certain extent which is unknown to me) degree of familiarity with Swahili, as well as your interest in it, come from?
I could ask the same question in half as many words.


Sure, and so could I. :) But since someone told me that on UniLang, people don't seem to have an issue with long sentences, I wrote it that way. And I also wrote it that way because even if some words can be omitted or replaced, I feel as if it still can be easier at times to understand something when it isn't too compact.

linguoboy wrote:My interest in Swahili comes from being a linguist. It has some interesting characteristics from the point of view of grammar (e.g. noun classes and concord) and sociolinguistics (e.g. its origins as a lingua franca spread by Arab traders and, later, European colonialism). It's also much easier to find resources for than other languages with similar grammar and history.

I tried teaching myself the language at one point but I never reached the point of using it actively.


As for the first paragraph, now that explains rather a lot.

And as for the second, I wouldn't say "same here", but it is a bit "similar here" :) too. It is what I would call the number one genuine ethnical African lingua franca, but also there are many, many Africans who don't speak it.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 17:05

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:Well, I for one would tend to state that both of it can be said in a certain way.

"Both of" what? I'm afraid I can't parse the meaning of this sentence at all.

Both of "this was rather verbose" and "it wasn't verbose at all". So by "it", I was referring to an idea known through the context rather than an explicit word I would have written.

The sentence still doesn't make any sense to me. Everything "can be said in a certain way". It's like saying "Sentences have words in them".

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:I feel as if it still can be easier at times to understand something when it isn't too compact.

Sure, but the opposite is also true. There's a golden mean most of us are aiming for here, with a bias toward concision. Including a lot of long sentences with low information value is a great way to lose readers.

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:It is what I would call the number one genuine ethnical African lingua franca, but also there are many, many Africans who don't speak it.

I'm not sure what "genuine ethnical African" is supposed to mean. You could call it the most widely-spoken lingua franca of African origin (depending on how you classify Arabic), but there are far more Africans who don't speak it than Africans who do.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 18:13

linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:I feel as if it still can be easier at times to understand something when it isn't too compact.

Sure, but the opposite is also true. There's a golden mean most of us are aiming for here, with a bias toward concision. Including a lot of long sentences with low information value is a great way to lose readers.


If someone would include a lot of long sentences with low information value, then yes, a loss of readers really can happen. But I am not doing that anyway. Although there sometimes can be some sentences that I realize being able to shorten them by removing three words or replacing some :). However, not aiming for the Maximum of Possible Optimization. Instead, I write in a way that is in accordance with my writing flow. Not a salesman who always is wondering how to always Achieve the Maximal Possible Effects :). Writing a log, especially the one which my #1 project, is a lot of work. (You possibly would say now that the Swahili log isn't that big yet, and you are right. But not speaking of it specifically). And if some people prefer not to read it because I could shorten a few phrases, I'd just say without intending any offense as usual that this is their business, not mine.

linguoboy wrote:I'm not sure what "genuine ethnical African" is supposed to mean. You could call it the most widely-spoken lingua franca of African origin (depending on how you classify Arabic), but there are far more Africans who don't speak it than Africans who do.


I used that wording because, for example, Arabic also is a wide-spread African language, geographically speaking.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 18:30

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I'm not sure what "genuine ethnical African" is supposed to mean. You could call it the most widely-spoken lingua franca of African origin (depending on how you classify Arabic), but there are far more Africans who don't speak it than Africans who do.

I used that wording because, for example, Arabic also is a wide-spread African language, geographically speaking.

So what makes Arabic not "genuine" or "ethnical" [sic] or "African", or some combination of those three things?
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby langmon » 2018-11-08, 18:36

linguoboy wrote:
SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I'm not sure what "genuine ethnical African" is supposed to mean. You could call it the most widely-spoken lingua franca of African origin (depending on how you classify Arabic), but there are far more Africans who don't speak it than Africans who do.

I used that wording because, for example, Arabic also is a wide-spread African language, geographically speaking.

So what makes Arabic not "genuine" or "ethnical" [sic] or "African", or some combination of those three things?


To me, some words have multiple meanings (and I know that you don't disagree either). Among the possible meanings of "genuine ethnic African language" is: something that originated in Africa, or something that originally is African, as opposed to something that also became African at a later point because of the history.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby linguoboy » 2018-11-08, 18:40

SomehowGeekyPolyglot wrote:To me, some words have multiple meanings (and I know that you don't disagree either). Among the possible meanings of "genuine ethnic African language" is: something that originated in Africa, or something that originally is African, as opposed to something that also became African at a later point because of the history.

Both of those definitions ("something that originated in Africa, or something that originally is African") could apply to Arabic depending on where you believe the Afro-Asiatic urheimat was located.
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Re: Swahili topics that are too in-depth for SGP's Beyond Beginner's Swahili Log

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-10, 0:06

Afroasiatic is problematic enough as a language family that I don't think there necessarily is an urheimat for it. Edward Lipiński argues for a Semitic urheimat in North Africa, but idk that I buy that, either.


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