I have some questions

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LifeDeath
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-05-19, 20:07

Thanks a lot for your comprehensive analysis. I need such stuff to build up a training program for me. I will work on the things that you mentioned and maybe will record this part again to see if any improvements have been made.
But some of what you said turned out to be unclear to me and I'm afraid I might have misunderstood some things so I want to clarify them:

linguoboy wrote:But speaking of /ʌ/, it's a dead giveaway. Just like most Germans, most Slavic speakers use a quality that is too low, either [ɐ] or [a]. We used to tease one of our German friends by saying "Facking shit!" It's really noticeable in how you say "honey" in the clip (so much so I didn't recognise the word at first). You need to aim for something just a bit closer to <ы> (though of course not quite that high). Interestingly, you're much better at getting it right before /r/.


Oh my God, that is indeed the problem for me! With no other English vowel have I had so much problems and struggling as with this one. I've heard /ae/ is hard for non natives but I think I've nailed it pretty fine. Maybe I occasionally pronounce it incorrectly but at least I know the way to articulate it so everything else if left for merely practice.
The one that is still challenging for me is /ɑ/ vs /ʌ/. The way I have learned to pronounce them, which is I'm sure incorrect but at least people can understand it; is to open my mouth widely at /ɑ/ letting the air to resonate so that the vowel gets a bit longer than others English vowels. Talking in terms of Russian sounds, I'm aiming somewhere in between A and O. But to pronounce the /ʌ/ sound, I do the same with two main differences: I do not open my mouth wide (only leaving a small gap between teeth) and I make the whole sound shorter as if exhaling forcibly (which I actually do).
One little thing I noticed now trying to spell both of them is that my lips remain rather neutral for /ɑ/ but I tend to stretch them forward at /ʌ/ as if trying to kiss the air (not so much as during a real kiss movement).
Here I read /ɑ/ vs /ʌ/ minimal pairs so that you could listen to what it actually sounds like.

"Doll — dull / fond — fund / gosh — gush / got — gut / hobby — hubby / hot — hut / lock — luck / not — nut / pock — puck / pomp — pump / pop — pup / poppy — puppy / rob — rub / rot — rut / shot — shut / slosh— slush / sock — suck / stock —stuck / stomp — stump" and then I also added "custom" and "honey" at the end read with both vowels.

Now as I listen to it, I think only the hot-hut pair sounds more or less correctly.

linguoboy wrote:Another very noticeable feature is how you pronounce /r/. It sounds fully retroflexed instead of just postalveolar, as it is in most varieties of English. There are native varieties of English with [ɻ], but these are chiefly found in Ireland. If you had other features of Irish English in your speech, it wouldn't stand out as much.

Since the R sound in English is probably the key sound to the language I really want to get this correctly. When I pronounce the R I just lift my tongue up to the ridge without touching it and make a kind of roaring sound from the throat. It's a pretty similar sound to one people make when they lazily stretch their bodies in the morning lying in bed after waking up, but more forcible.
Here I found the description of the one you were taking about and I think mine corresponds to almost all features listed in the entry. (I only am not sure about the first one, and the penultimate, or at least it feels now as I try that the air goes around my tongue on the R rather than through the center). Maybe you could explain the principal difference? Or send a link where it's explained.

linguoboy wrote:Actually, shortened vowels are a problem throughout. Rhotic varieties of English have at least five different degrees of phonemic vowel length. From longest to shortest:

* stressed diphthongs/"long" vowels: he, mown, came, whose, roar, smoking
* unstressed diphthongs: studio, window, woodbine
* stressed open vowels before voiced segments: divan, shadows, sullen
* stressed open vowels before unvoiced segments: catch, fantastic, dusty, distant
* reduced vowels: tremulous, immobile, pallid

That is so much information! Do you know any ways to learn it, maybe you've done it yourself with another language or maybe some of who you know have mastered their English pronunciation using some specific technique? Or is constant practice and getting experience the only way to do it?

linguoboy wrote:I hope this isn't too much to absorb! Overall I think you did a very respectable job. There are some words in that passage even I had to look up!

Thanks again. I we put the Russian accent aside, do you think I sound closer to British or American English?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-05-19, 21:57

LifeDeath wrote:I will work on the things that you mentioned and maybe will record this part again to see if any improvements have been made.


LifeDeath wrote:Oh my God, that is indeed thea problem for me! With no other English vowel have I had so much problemstrouble and struggling as with this one. I've heard /ae/ is hard for non natives but I think I've nailed it pretty fine. Maybe I occasionally pronounce it incorrectly but at least I know the way to articulate it so everything else is left for merely practice.

I think English /æ/ is pretty close to the sound of Russian я without an onglide. So if you can remember to leave that off, you've pretty much got it.

LifeDeath wrote:The one that is still challenging for me is /ɑ/ vs /ʌ/. The way I have learned to pronounce them, which is I'm sure incorrect but at least people can understand it, is to open my mouth widely at /ɑ/ letting the air to resonate so that the vowel gets a bit longer than others English vowels. Talking in terms of Russian sounds, I'm aiming somewhere inbetween A and O. But to pronounce the /ʌ/ sound, I do the same with two main differences: I do not open my mouth wide (only leaving a small gap between teeth) and I make the whole sound shorter as if exhaling forcibly (which I actually do).

That's not actually going to get you there. /ə/ is a shorter sound than /ɑ/ because /ə/ is always unstressed whereas /ɑ/ is always stressed. But /ʌ/ is also always stressed and will be shortened or lengthened according to the usual rules of English prosody. For instance, I can say a drawn-out "Whaaaaaaat?" to denote surprise and the vowel never gets any closer to /ɑ/.

There's also no real difference in the position of your lips. In both cases, they're in a neutral "slack" position (as opposed to fully spread, as they are for /iː/ or fully rounded as they are for /uː/). No, the key difference between these vowels is height. For /ʌ/, the centre of your tongue is raised.

You might have more success coming at this from another angle: Start with /ɔ/, which is the right height, and fully spread your lips instead of rounding them. Then all you need to work is moving the sound a little further forward in you mouth. (And maybe not even that: in many varieties of English, /ʌ/ is pronounced further back. In fact, unrounded [ɔ] is the standard value of this character in IPA.)

LifeDeath wrote:One little thing I noticed now trying to spell both of them is that my lips remain rather neutral for /ɑ/ but I tend to stretch them forward at /ʌ/ as if trying to kiss the air (not so much as during a real kiss movement).

You shouldn't be puckering your lips. That's apt to result in something close to [ɒ].

LifeDeath wrote:Now as I listen to it, I think only the hot-hut pair sounds more or less correctly.


LifeDeath wrote:Since the R sound in English is probably the key sound to the language I really want to get this correctly. When I pronounce the R I just lift my tongue up to the ridge without touching it and make a kind of roaring sound from the throat. It's a pretty similar sound to one people make when they lazily stretch their bodies in the morning lying in bed after waking up, but more forcible.

Here I found the description of the one you were taking about and I think mine corresponds to almost all features listed in the entry. (I only am not sure about the first one, and the penultimate, or at least it feels now as I try that the air goes around my tongue on the R rather than through the center). Maybe you could explain the principal difference?

I think your /ɹ/ is both approximant and central. What I think you're missing is the point of articulation: I think your realisation isn't alveoar but postalveolar, which is makes it retroflex. It's hard to explain how to change this except to say relax your mouth a bit. A true retroflex r feels tenser to me than an alveolar approximant, so maybe if you speak with a little less vocal tension you'll get closer. At the end of the day, though, this isn't as big a deal as getting the vowels right.

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Actually, shortened vowels are a problem throughout. Rhotic varieties of English have at least five different degrees of phonemic vowel length. From longest to shortest:

* stressed diphthongs/"long" vowels: he, mown, came, whose, roar, smoking
* unstressed diphthongs: studio, window, woodbine
* stressed open vowels before voiced segments: divan, shadows, sullen
* stressed open vowels before unvoiced segments: catch, fantastic, dusty, distant
* reduced vowels: tremulous, immobile, pallid

That is so much information! Do you know any ways to learn it, maybe you've done it yourself with another language or maybe someof whoone you know havehas mastered their English pronunciation using some specific technique? Or is constant practice and getting experience the only way to do it?

I don't know anyone who's focused on this particular detail. As I said, most native speakers aren't really aware of it and, as a result, teachers don't teach it.

I think it's a little less confusing if you keep in mind that phonetic length is basically a combination of three factors:

* whether the vowel is inherently long (i.e. a diphthong) or short (i.e. the open vowels)
* whether the following segment[*] is voiced or unvoiced
* whether the environment is stressed or unstressed.

[*] I say "segment" because you can think of a vowel without anything following as being followed by a silent voiced sound. That is, the /iː/ in bee and the /iː/ bead are almost identical in length. So you don't really need to worry about "open" vs "closed" syllables, like you do in some languages.

The five categories I gave you are really just combinations of three factors. Inherent vowel length is the most important factor: a diphthong is generally about half again as long as a monophthong in the same environment. That is, if it takes you half a second to pronounce the vowel in bid, it should take you three-quarters of a second to say the one in bead. Both sounds will be slightly shorter before /t/, which is the unvoiced counterpart to /d/. So the vowel in beat may end up being just as long as the vowel in bid (The quality will still be different, however.)

Stress is the most variable factor. If you're strongly emphasising a stressed word, you will reeeeeeeeally draw out the stressed vowel. But normally, the most important thing about stress is that, when it's not there, the vowel gets slightly shortened. So, no matter what, the "y" in "really" is always going to be shorter than the "ea", even though they're basically the same sound.

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:I hope this isn't too much to absorb! Overall I think you did a very respectable job. There are some words in that passage even I had to look up!

Thanks again. If we put the Russian accent aside, do you think I sound closer to British or American English?

British English, because I can hear all the sounds you're trying to make. :D
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-05-19, 22:01

LifeDeath wrote:"Doll — dull / fond — fund / gosh — gush / got — gut / hobby — hubby / hot — hut / lock — luck / not — nut / pock — puck / pomp — pump / pop — pup / poppy — puppy / rob — rub / rot — rut / shot — shut / slosh— slush / sock — suck / stock —stuck / stomp — stump" and then I also added "custom" and "honey" at the end read with both vowels.

Now as I listen to it, I think only the hot-hut pair sounds more or less correctly.

Sad to say, having listened to the list, I don't think that's the case. It's just a bit less noticeable there because both vowels are shortened before /t/. (It really stands out in "fond" vs "fund" because--in accordance with rules for vowel length I gave you--the /˄/ in "fund" should be medium length. But the way you say it, it sounds ultra short.)
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-06-11, 15:03

Thanks for the answers.
I've been rereading them sometimes recently and want to clarify some seemingly insignificant details:
linguoboy wrote:A diphthong is generally about half again as long as a monophthong in the same environment. That is, if it takes you half a second to pronounce the vowel in bid, it should take you three-quarters of a second to say the one in bead.

I thought a diphthong was a combinations of two vowels as if when you start with one vowel and then gradually but fast transform it into the other. But I guess the word "bead" reads /bi:d/ so there's only one long "ee" sound. Or is it called a diphthong, too, when it's written in two different vowels regardless of it actual pronunciation?



linguoboy wrote:British English, because I can hear all the sounds you're trying to make. :D

That's funny, because I was going for an American accent, at least I was trying to, haha.



linguoboy wrote:Sad to say, having listened to the list, I don't think that's the case. It's just a bit less noticeable there because both vowels are shortened before /t/. (It really stands out in "fond" vs "fund" because--in accordance with rules for vowel length I gave you--the /˄/ in "fund" should be medium length. But the way you say it, it sounds ultra short.)

Sad indeed, at least I thought I grasped the right quality of the /ɑ/ :D



I have a couple of new questions:
I noticed that some sounds that are marked differently in dictionaries I pronounce in the same way, for example, I would pronounce all these words with the same vowel: "Father, got, hot, top, brother, all, lost, mold, dog, thought, long, moNOTonous, caught, bought, brought, not, stop, lock, frost". Of course there's much much more, these are the ones that came to mind instantly. I would use the /ɑ/ in each one. But I've heard that some of them are pronounced with a vowel I'm not familiar with, which is more deep and rounded. Even you in your penultimate post you said:
linguoboy wrote:One word in the passage where I really noticed this was monotonous. Every vowel sounded the same length to me. But they aren't; the stressed /ɔ/ should sound noticeably longer than all the unstressed /ə/'s.

So I guess the /ɔ/ is this new sound. But is the way I always use /ɑ/ incorrect or are there American speakers who do this?
I'm now noticing that, for example, in "short" I make a very deep and rounded "o" sound, is this the same one that's supposed to be in some of the words in the list I wrote above? In this case, it would be correct to say /Shɑrt/ but it absolutely sounds weird and wrong to me.
To put it simple: are the vowels in "stop", "moNOTonous" and "short" three different sounds? And can I use just /ɑ/ in the first two words?



One non-related to phonetics question: just out of curiosity, can "must" become (demodalized?) and be used in a way all regular verbs are used? With the meaning "to say the word MUST", for example:
"You must do this! You must do that! And you also must..."
"...Stop musting at me! I won't let you talk to me like this!".

Or
"You have to must every now and then lest you want all those people to think that you're a weak leader so that they would start thinking of planning a rebellion against you!"
I know this isn't used much even if it's possible hypothetically, I just want to check my understanding of English.
(To the point where it's even possible to say "You must must..." in my second example).

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-11, 16:07

LifeDeath wrote:I thought a diphthong was a combinations of two vowels as if when you start with one vowel and then gradually but fast transform it into the other. But I guess the word "bead" reads /bi:d/ so there's only one long "ee" sound. Or is it called a diphthong, too, when it's written in two different vowels regardless of it actual pronunciation?

Spelling is immaterial. "Long" vowels are diphthongised in most varieties of English. Remember, /bi:d/ is not a phonetic transcription, it's phonemic. Phonetically, it's [biɪ̯d] for most North American English speakers. Many BE and Australian speakers have [ɪi] here, but the starting point can be as low as [ə] (a feature associated with Cockney dialect and broad colloquial "Strine").

LifeDeath wrote:
linguoboy wrote:British English, because I can hear all the sounds you're trying to make. :D

That's funny, because I was going for an American accent, at least I was trying to, haha.

That was a joke. I can tell from the rhoticity that you're aiming for NAE (since very few people ever try to learn a rhotic British accent).

LifeDeath wrote:I noticed that some sounds that are marked differently in dictionaries I pronounce in the same way, for example, I would pronounce all these words with the same vowel: "Father, got, hot, top, brother, all, lost, mold, dog, thought, long, moNOTonous, caught, bought, brought, not, stop, lock, frost". Of course there's much much more, these are the ones that came to mind instantly. I would use the /ɑ/ in each one. But I've heard that some of them are pronounced with a vowel I'm not familiar with, which is more deep and rounded. Even you in your penultimate post you said:
linguoboy wrote:One word in the passage where I really noticed this was monotonous. Every vowel sounded the same length to me. But they aren't; the stressed /ɔ/ should sound noticeably longer than all the unstressed /ə/'s.

So I guess the /ɔ/ is this new sound. But is the way I always use /ɑ/ incorrect or are there American speakers who do this?

Congratulations! You've discovered the cot-caught merger! (My speech, unlike that of many North Americans, is not cot-caught merged.)
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-06-11, 18:29

LifeDeath wrote:I'm now noticing that, for example, in "short" I make a very deep and rounded "o" sound, is this the same one that's supposed to be in some of the words in the list I wrote above? In this case, it would be correct to say /Shɑrt/ but it absolutely sounds weird and wrong to me.

The rules on vowel mergers work differently before /r/. You can find a summary of them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_vowel_changes_before_historic_/r/. (There are varieties that have [ɑ] in short, but they're relatively rare. Most NAE-speakers have [ɔ] here, even if they merge /ɑ/ and /ɔ/ as /ɑ/ otherwise.)

LifeDeath wrote:To put it simple: are the vowels in "stop", "moNOTonous" and "short" three different sounds? And can I use just /ɑ/ in the first two words?

How they are distinguished will depend on the dialect. It's very common in NAE to have [ɑ] for the first two but [ɔ] before /r/.

LifeDeath wrote:One non-related to phonetics question: just out of curiosity, can "must" become (demodalized?) and be used in a way all regular verbs are used? With the meaning "to say the word MUST", for example:
"You must do this! You must do that! And you also must..."
"...Stop musting at me! I won't let you talk to me like this!".

Or
"You have to must every now and then lest you want all those people to think that you're a weak leader so that they would start thinking of planning a rebellion against you!"
I know this isn't used much even if it's possible hypothetically, I just want to check my understanding of English.
(To the point where it's even possible to say "You must must..." in my second example).

You can verb virtually any English word. Whether it will be understood properly depends crucially on the context. "Must" as an ordinary non-modal verb could also mean "to make must [fermented fruit juice]" or "to make musty". Of your two examples, the first sounds more natural (though I think I prefer it without "at"); in the second case, I don't think I'd have any idea what you were going for if you hadn't explained it beforehand.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Antea » 2020-08-29, 16:02

Hi! Is it correct to say "Here is John's and my asignment"? :hmm:

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-08-29, 16:20

Antea wrote:Hi! Is it correct to say "Here is John's and my asignment"? :hmm:

It is. This seems to be the most common choice for formal writing. In my own casual language use, this is a point of confusion, and I use and/or accept a few different constructions.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Antea » 2020-08-29, 18:26

Dormouse559 wrote:
Antea wrote:Hi! Is it correct to say "Here is John's and my asignment"? :hmm:

It is. This seems to be the most common choice for formal writing. In my own casual language use, this is a point of confusion, and I use and/or accept a few different constructions.


Thanks! :D

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-08-29, 20:22

Dormouse559 wrote:
Antea wrote:Hi! Is it correct to say "Here is John's and my asignment"? :hmm:

It is. This seems to be the most common choice for formal writing. In my own casual language use, this is a point of confusion, and I use and/or accept a few different constructions.

Yeah, this bedevils even educated native speakers. "X's and my" sounds so stilted to me I would never use it except in formal writing (and even there I might try to avoid it, e.g. "this was the assignment given to John and me"). It was so pounded into my head in grade school to say "John and I" that I used to say "John and I's", but now I've switched to the more natural-sounding "me and John's".
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Re: I have some questions

Postby Antea » 2020-08-30, 6:28

linguoboy wrote:
Dormouse559 wrote:
Antea wrote:Hi! Is it correct to say "Here is John's and my asignment"? :hmm:

It is. This seems to be the most common choice for formal writing. In my own casual language use, this is a point of confusion, and I use and/or accept a few different constructions.

Yeah, this bedevils even educated native speakers. "X's and my" sounds so stilted to me I would never use it except in formal writing (and even there I might try to avoid it, e.g. "this was the assignment given to John and me"). It was so pounded into my head in grade school to say "John and I" that I used to say "John and I's", but now I've switched to the more natural-sounding "me and John's".


Thanks! Yes, I also think it sounds more natural :yep:
In English, both formal and informal way are kind of mixed for me :roll:

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-09-11, 11:42

Hello. Is the starting vowel in /ai/ and /au/ diphthongs closer to /ɑ/ or /ʌ/ in American English? I've heard the starting point in those is neither of the two, but I need your opinion to develep an intuitive understanding. If you were to choose between the two, which one do you think is closer? (I understand it widely varies, yet any opinion would be useful).

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-09-11, 14:15

LifeDeath wrote:Hello. Is the starting vowel in /ai/ and /au/ diphthongs closer to /ɑ/ or /ʌ/ in American English? I've heard the starting point in those is neither of the two, but I need your opinion to develep an intuitive understanding. If you were to choose between the two, which one do you think is closer? (I understand it widely varies, yet any opinion would be useful).

In general, it's closer to /ɑ/. A starting point of /ʌ/ on the /ai/ diphthong sounds Irish to most USAmericans and on the /au/ diphthong is sounds Canadian.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-11-05, 14:32

Thank you!
Can the word "brain" be used as a mass noun when talking about brains in general? Which one of these two would be correct:
"They use the artificial neurological network to find out how human's brain operates".
"They use the artificial neurological network to find out how a human's brain operates".

And also some other typically countable nouns in such generalized contexts?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-11-05, 17:35

LifeDeath wrote:Can the word "brain" be used as a mass noun when talking about brains in general? Which one of these two would be correct:
"They use the artificial neurological network to find out how human's brain operates".
"They use the artificial neurological network to find out how a human's brain operates".

Neither sounds natural to me. I would say "They use the artificial neurological network to find out how human brains operate." "...the human brain operates" would also be possible here.

LifeDeath wrote:And also some other typically countable nouns in such generalized contexts?

This is sometimes possible in colloquial contexts, e.g. "Those who are easily distracted from the task in hand may have 'too much brain'." But I wouldn't expect it in a more formal context like this one.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-11-09, 12:50

Okay.

About a month ago I read a book calles "The Sorrows of Satan" by Marie Corelli. I took out some notes that I wanted to ask about, here's some of them:

In this pictire, in the middle, you can see the usage of "I feel myself". We have already discussed it here several times and I figured that it could be used when talking about a literal feeling oneself, or in experssions like "I feel myself flush" (same grammar as in "I hear her come"). But in this case I see just an adjective used after the word "mylelf" and it makes me wonder why I can't substitute it with, let's say, "good" without sounding incorrect or meaning "to masturbate" instead of just "to feel good". Or put in other words, why wouldn't he just say "I feel old"?



Here's another picture. And my question again is going to be about tenses. In the upper part you can see the sentence "I can never make out what I did to be asked at all, and what I have done never to be asked anymore". I don't understand why as a person who's saying it refers twice to the moment in the past (about being asked and not being asked) uses completely different tenses ("did" and "have done") for what seems to be equal occasions. Why can't "did" be used in both parts? Or "have done" if he's reffering to the result?



Side question: In Eminem song "Brainless" there's this passage "In this gourd there's a Ford engine, door hinge, syringe, an orange, an extension cord, and a ninja sword. Not to mention four linchpins, an astringent stored ironin' board, a bench, a wrench, a ore winch, an attention whore."
I know this is rather a rhymeplay but there must be at least the slightest meaning to it. I particularly don't undertand this sentence "an astringent stored ironin' board". I thought maybe I missed a comma and "Ironing board" is just a separate part. In this case, what does "an astringent stored" mean? I've learned that an astringent is a kind of special cream but what is the word "stored" supposed to mean which follows? And whatever it means here, wouldn't it be more natural to shift it forward like "A stored astringent"?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-11-10, 2:48

LifeDeath wrote:About a month ago I read a book called "The Sorrows of Satan" by Marie Corelli. I took outdown some notes about things that I wanted to ask about, here's some of them:

In this picture, in the middle, you can see the usage of "I feel myself". We have already discussed it here several times and I figured that it could be used when talking about a literal feeling oneself, or in expressions like "I feel myself flush" (same grammar as in "I hear her come"). But in this case I see just an adjective used after the word "myself" and it makes me wonder why I can't substitute it with, let's say, "good" without sounding incorrect or meaning "to masturbate" instead of just "to feel good". Or put in other words, why wouldn't he just say "I feel old"?

Because characterisation. I don't know much about how this character was introduced, but it seems evident that the author is presenting them as someone incredibly ancient (or at least someone trying present the impression of being incredibly ancient). To that end, they give the character some grammatical and lexical quirks, such as "eld" (which is archaic in contemporary English) and "dare not" (which is somewhat stilted). "I feel myself" is one of these quirks; it was common in earlier usage (e.g. "Feelest thou thy selfe well?") but is archaic today.

LifeDeath wrote:Here's another picture. And my question again is going to be about tenses. In the upper part you can see the sentence "I can never make out what I did to be asked at all, and what I have done never to be asked anymore". I don't understand why as a the person who's saying it refers twice to the moment in the past (about being asked and not being asked) usesusing completely different tenses ("did" and "have done") for what seems to be equalidentical occasions. Why can't "did" be used in both parts? Or "have done" if he's referring to the result?

It's not a question of tense but of aspect. In the first case you have a simple past form ("did") and the second a present perfect ("have done"). Both sets of events happened in the past, but the former is viewed as closed and completely in the past while the latter extends into the present.

At some fixed time in the past, the speaker did something. Whatever this was, it resulted in them being "asked" (presumably to visit whatever family the other speaker goes on to call "parvenus"). These are both fixed events in the past, occurring in a period of time viewed as disconnected to the moment of speaking. It's not the same with whatever the speaker "has done" since the moment of being "asked". This may have been a singular event or it may have been several. Regardless, the effects extend to the present moment. Unless the people in question are dead or missing or whatever, there still exists the possibility that they could ask the speaker to visit them again. It's not a completed situation in the same way as being asked or doing whatever it took to be asked are.

LifeDeath wrote:Side question: In the Eminem song "Brainless" there's this passage: "In this gourd there's a Ford engine, door hinge, syringe, an orange, an extension cord, and a ninja sword. Not to mention four linchpins, an astringent stored ironin' board, a bench, a wrench, a ore winch, an attention whore."
I know this is rather a rhymeplay but there must be at least the slightest meaning to it. I particularly don't undertand this sentence "an astringent stored ironin' board". I thought maybe I missed a comma and "Ironing board" is just a separate part. In this case, what does "an astringent stored" mean? I've learned that an astringent is a kind of special cream but what is the word "stored" supposed to mean which follows? And whatever it means here, wouldn't it be more natural to shift it forward like "A stored astringent"?

Whether it would be more natural to have it come before or after depends upon the context. In this case, if we take out the rest of the items, we're left with "In this gourd there's an astringent stored." This isn't that odd a sentence, really. I would parse it as a variation of "There's an astringent stored in this gourd" with the locative phrase "in this gourd" fronted for reasons of emphasis or topicalisation. As I believe I've said before, this kind of fronting isn't unusual in written or spoken English. Compare "On this table there are four places laid" or "In the fridge there are four beers left," both of which are utterly unremarkable things to say.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: I have some questions

Postby LifeDeath » 2020-11-14, 17:48

linguoboy wrote:"I feel myself" is one of these quirks; it was common in earlier usage (e.g. "Feelest thou thy selfe well?") but is archaic today.

Thanks. This is a very interesting usage. I'd never know it myself.


Youtube suggested me a song by Billie Eilish called "Therefore I am" today. I decided to give it a listen and the lyrics were "I'm not your friend. Or anything, damn. You think that you're the man. I think therefore I am."
So, I don't really understand the last sentence here. I think we have a pretty accurate equivalent of the word "therefore" in Russian, so I know what it means and I think that it generally has the same meaning as "that's why". That's why "Therefore I am" sounds to me like an incomplete phrasing. I think it'd be fine if it went "Therefore I am the one who doesn't have friends" or "Therefore I am not your friend" (I'm not taking proper rhyming into account here, just examples) or something like this. But not just plain "Therefore I am". I mean, there's gotta be something added to that phrase to complete it and add some meaning to it. What do you think is this?

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Re: I have some questions

Postby Dormouse559 » 2020-11-14, 18:35

LifeDeath wrote:Youtube suggested me a song by Billie Eilish called "Therefore I am" today. I decided to give it a listen and the lyrics were "I'm not your friend. Or anything, damn. You think that you're the man. I think therefore I am."
So, I don't really understand the last sentence here. I think we have a pretty accurate equivalent of the word "therefore" in Russian, so I know what it means and I think that it generally has the same meaning as "that's why". That's why "Therefore I am" sounds to me like an incomplete phrasing. I think it'd be fine if it went "Therefore I am the one who doesn't have friends" or "Therefore I am not your friend" (I'm not taking proper rhyming into account here, just examples) or something like this. But not just plain "Therefore I am". I mean, there's gotta be something added to that phrase to complete it and add some meaning to it. What do you think is this?

To start off, "I think, therefore I am" is the English translation of Cogito, ergo sum. Like "ergo", "therefore" means "consequently", "as a result", "because of that". The sentence is complete on its own, so nothing needs to be added.

The other thing to note is that Billie Eilish adjusts the meaning of the sentence with the other song lyrics. In English, a repeated element, like the complement of "to be", can be dropped in certain contexts. For example, I can say, "You are happy, and I am, too." In the second part of the sentence, "I am" implicitly refers back to "happy". In "Therefore I am", there is no complement after "am". A listener can interpret this absence with the usual "Cogito, ergo sum" meaning. But they can also take it to mean that there is an implicit complement; the most obvious choice for that complement is "the man" from "You think you're the man" (used with the third meaning listed here). With that interpretation, Eilish is saying, "You think that you're the man. I think, therefore I am the man."
Last edited by Dormouse559 on 2020-11-14, 18:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I have some questions

Postby linguoboy » 2020-11-14, 18:36

LifeDeath wrote:Youtube suggested for me a song

Remember that suggest is not ditransitive in English. You can "suggest" something to or for somebody and you can "suggest" someone do something, but you can't just *"suggest someone something", not in the standard language.

LifeDeath wrote:"I'm not your friend. Or anything, damn. You think that you're the man. I think therefore I am."[/i]
So, I don't really understand the last sentence here. I think we have a pretty accurate equivalent of the word "therefore" in Russian, so I know what it means and I think that it generally has the same meaning as "that's why". That's why "Therefore I am" sounds to me like an incomplete phrasing. I think it'd be fine if it went "Therefore I am the one who doesn't have friends" or "Therefore I am not your friend" (I'm not taking proper rhyming into account here, just examples) or something like this. But not just plain "Therefore I am". I mean, there's gotta be something added to that phrase to complete it and add some meaning to it. What do you think is this?

She's quoting a very well-known phrase in English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito%2C_ergo_sum. I don't know that there's much going on here besides wordplay, but you can interpret it as a statement of autonomy, i.e. "I exist independent of you (therefore I have no need of you)".
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons


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