Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shirrey jeirk

Va mee 'sy vrastyl Sheenish noght, agh gyn jargaght geill y chur. Ta shin gynsaghey ayns thie ooree son y chooid smoo (cha nel agh jees jin as y ven-ynsee), as mish goll stiagh, va dooinney Big Issue ny hassoo çheumooie jeh'n thie ooree as shirrey jeirk er sleih. Wahll, hug my ner çhelleeragh nagh nee feer chreckeyder BI v'ayn: cha row eh ceau y perree oikoil, as ga dy row kaart enney ennagh echey, v'eh er streng cadjin (lhisagh eh ve ayns poagey tarhoilshan) mygeayrt e wannal. Chammah's shen, cha row agh un earishlioar echey as cha row eh shirrey eh y chreck noadyr, agh jeirk (agh, dy olk, ta mee er nyannoo feer chreckeyderyn shen y yannoo ny keayrtyn). As mish as y ven-ynsee goll stiagh 'sy thie ooree as feddyn my charrey ny hoie rish y dorrys, haink y far-chreckeyder nyn yei, as lesh shinyn nyn shassoo eddyr eshyn as y skimmee, hie eh dys coyr rioee faggys da'n dorrys as cur stiagh eh laue. Eisht ren eh red ennagh quaagh lesh y wuinneel echey, as çhyndaa as goll magh. Nagh quaagh shen! Wahll, cha dod mee smooinaghtyn dy baghtal rish minnid, agh eisht va mee shickyr dy row eh er ngeid red ennagh - boteil dy choke, er lhiam. Gowym rish, s'cosoylagh eh nagh row eh agh feayraghey e veir rish thullagh ynrican, agh... cha row, noadyr. As eisht v'eh çheumooie reesht as shirrey jeirk. Wahll, lurg minnid dooyrt mee rish my chaarjyn ny honnick mee, as v'ad fud-y-cheilley myrgeddin. Fy yerrey, hie mee as gra rish y skimmee, as ghow ad yindys, agh cha dod ad jannoo monney agh cur coontey çhellvane da'n vainshter assaaragh. As cur bwooise dou, myrçhaagh.

Hie shin seose ny greeishyn as goaill toshiaght, agh eisht haink ny ner dy dod shin y marliagh y 'akin trooid yn uinniag, as eh foast shirrey jeirk. Loayrt shin er y chooish nish as reesht, as va mee boirey er ny lhisin jannoo. Veg? Fys er ny meoiryn-shee y chur? Fy yerrey, erreish da feed minnid, foddee, dooyrt my charrey, my t'ou uss jeeley 101 (ayn Sostyn er y chooid sloo) t'eh uss y chiangley rish y skimmee meoir-shee s'niessey. As mish craa, ren mee shen er y çhellvane laue aym (cha nel eh aym dy cadjin, ta mee eh y 'aagail thie). Dreggyr ad y çhellvane dy tappee as v'ad cooyrtoil dy liooar, as gra dy darragh meoir-shee ennagh, foddee. Honnick mee gleashtan claare feeal lurg lieh-oor, agh va'n dooinney ersooyl (fy yerrey) as cha scuirr eh.

Aghterbee, ta'n chooish er chur ram boirey orrym. Quoi ec ta fys er, agh t'eh rieau cur aggle (boirey, er y chooid sloo) orrym dellal rish ny shirveishyn, ga dy vel fa mie aym. Haghyr y red cheddin tra va gleashtan er aile çheu chooyloo y thie rish mean-oie as v'eh orrym y brigaid aile y hellvaney. Foddee er y fa dy ren ad cur wheesh trimmid 'sy scoill er nagh lhisagh oo ad y hellvaney er son cooish jeh beggan scansh. Dooyrt ad dy row ram paitçhyn jummal traa ny shirveishyn as va sleih geddyn baase ny keayrtyn kyndagh rish. Foddee er y fa dy nee taghyrt doaltattym as quaagh t'ayn, as ta kimmeeys boirey er cagh? Foddee er y fa nagh nhione dou ny lhisin jannoo. Cha dod mee cur geill mie 'sy vrastyl, as cha ren shen cooney nyn ynsaghey. S'treih lhiam gra nagh row mee my studeyr mie noght.

Ta mee cur dwoaie er lheid ny deiney. Chammah's boirey er sleih, t'ad jannoo assee da ny feer chreckeyderyn as jummal co-ennaghtyn y theay. Ta mee er ngeddyn wheesh boirey ayns Aah yn Ollee veih sleih "Big Issue" shirrey jeirk, ny "shen y coip s'jerree aym, lhig dou eh y 'reaylley... (agh lhig dou yn argid y 'reaylley myrgeddin)", s'goan mee kionnaghey yn earishlioar nish. She braddeeys t'ayn, dy jarroo. As ta mee goaill yindys, cre'n aght t'ad geddyn stoo Big Issue dys jannoo yn arrish? Vel ad roostey ny feer chreckeyderyn?

S'cosoylagh nagh vow ad y fer-chreckeyder mollaghtagh, as dy voghe ad, cre'n feeu? Nee ad eh y lhiettal veih shirrey jeirk? Ny jeh milley ennym ny feer chreckeyderyn? S'cosoylagh nagh noddagh ad taishbyney kimmeeys erbee. Cha nel freggyrt baghtal da shirrey jeirk (as un fa dy vel eh ayn foast). As ta mee foast smooinaghtyn, lhisin er aawoalley dy s'tappee? Dod mee er ny ghoaill, foddee, as eisht..? Ta'n lane chooish er my anveaghey dy mooar. S'treisht lhiam nagh gaillym cadley er e son.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Reading "What is morphology?"

One of the things I studied while at University was linguistics, and I'm still interested in the subject. I also find it useful in learning languages. However, as I was on combined honours, there are areas that are still largely unexplored territory for me, which I've been trying to catch up on. Recently, I picked up a promising morphology textbook designed for beginners: “What is Morphology?”. It explicitly states:

This little book is meant to introduce fundamental aspects of morphology to students with only a minimal background in linguistics. It presupposes only the very basic knowledge of phonetics, phonology, syntax and semantics that an introductory course in linguistics provides...

Exactly what I was looking for.

Unfortunately, as I've read through it, I've considently found myself getting frustrated or bemused, to the point where I can't really be bothered to finish it. Now to be fair, my situation is unusual, in that I'm not a current student. The textbook basically assumes that it'll be the main book for a course, and includes sections for in-class discussion, exercises for homework, and so on, none of which I can really use in the intended way. However, if your textbook relies on the teaching staff to cover its weaknesses, I feel that it has room for improvement. I don't necessarily disagree with the overall points they are trying to make, but the specifics sometimes seem distinctly weak or questionable.

After a fair amount of thought, I've decided there are two broad problems with the book and its writing. The first one is their teaching style, and the second one is their approach to problems, though they're often interrelated.

Illustrating vs. Demonstrating

Linguistics makes considerable use of examples to demonstrate rules or principles in operation, and morphology is no exception. However, Aronoff and Fudeman's approach to examples is one that (coming from a scientific background) I find deeply flawed. Their view of examples seems to be that they illustrate a point being made. Most of the time, though, these examples crop up in when someone is trying to argue a point of view, or make a claim about rules or properties. In those situations, I expect examples to demonstrate. Broadly speaking, this means that the example should:

  • Show the property or rule under discussion (when does it apply, and what does it do?).

  • Show the limits of that rule (where does it not apply?).

  • If making a causal claim, show causation, not just correlation.

Obviously a general textbook covering a broad range of topics doesn't want to devote lots of space to precisely delineating every rule and its details, but I think it's reasonable to expect some evidence, not just accepting authority. After all, anyone who's read “Eskimo words for snow?” knows what a mistake that is.

Unfortunately, Anofoff and Fudeman don't fulfil those basic requirements. Their examples are often lacking in detail, and they often resort to 'tests' without explaining why they think those tests are valid. For example, in Chapter 4 (p.106), they say:

There is evidence that high voltage electricity grid systems supervisor is a single noun... second, high voltage electricity grid systems supervisor behaves as a single unit for the purposes of wh-movement. Question-answer pairs that break it up are at the very least awkward. In chapter 2 we related this characteristic of words to the notion of lexical integrity.

This is the first mention of wh-movement. Nowhere do they explain what it is; the reader must either know in advance, research it separately, or work it out from the following paragraphs. More importantly, nowhere do they give any reason to believe that wh-movement is a valid test for noun status. This sort of thing is important, and particularly so when you are making a claim that's counterintuitive (that “high voltage electricity grid systems supervisor is a single noun”, or as they say on the next page, “a single word”). People, even linguists, have ideas about what a noun is, and while I'd cheerfully accept it as a noun phrase, I want a bit of convincing here.

Their examples are similarly flawed. Here is an example from Chapter 2, where they discuss empirical tests for wordhood.

Words and phrases are often displaced to the beginning of a sentence or qualified, but not morphemes.

(7) a. That girl, I saw her sneaking around yesterday.

Which girl did you see sneaking around?

b. Possible, it’s im-.

Which school- did you see bus? (i.e. which school’s school bus did you see?).

Ignoring standard practice, they haven’t marked any of these as ungrammatical (I also feel that the bus example should have been 7c, as it's unrelated to the first phrase). I am forced to draw my own inference on what I think they want to claim, which is that the examples in 7b are ungrammatical. I do in fact agree with this.

However, when trying to prove a contrast between things, the usual way of doing things is to have parallel examples where one is grammatical and the other isn’t; you could consider this a kind of minimal pair, though it's not quite the same thing. Aronoff and Fudeman have not used parallel examples, or at least if they have, they haven't explained why we should consider them to be parallel.

In this example, we are looking for a situation where something ungrammatical for morphemes (like 7b) is grammatical for words. Let’s try it, with the non-morphemic versions slightly blue and smelly bus.

(7) c. *Blue, it’s slightly.

d. *Which smelly did you see bus?

Oops! Those aren’t valid for words either. Your example fails at the first hurdle of demonstrating your point.

The example in 7a is made less useful because they leap straight to an example of displacing part of a phrase, without including the unmodified version. It would be more useful like this:

(7) a. That girl, I saw her sneaking around yesterday.

Which girl did you see sneaking around?

aa. I saw that girl sneaking around yesterday.

Which girl did you see sneaking around?

ab. I saw that tall girl sneaking around yesterday.

?Which tall girl did you see sneaking around?

ac. I saw that tall platinum blonde girl sneaking around yesterday.

?Which tall platinum blonde girl did you see sneaking around?

ad. I saw that undertaker sneaking around yesterday.

*Which under- did you see -taker sneaking around?

ae. I saw that tall blonde girl sneaking around yesterday.

*Which tall did you see blonde girl sneaking around?

af. That tall girl, I saw her sneaking around yesterday.

Which tall girl did you see sneaking around?

ag. That tall platinum blonde girl, I saw her sneaking around yesterday.

?Which tall platinum blonde girl did you see sneaking around?

ah. That undertaker, I saw her sneaking around yesterday.

Which undertaker did you see sneaking around?

This example starts with the unmodified version, and moves from there. It incorporates examples with modifying adjectives (ab and ac), demonstrates that neither modifiers nor parts of the original noun can be moved separately (ad and ae), includes Aronoff and Fudeman's inverted example (a) and other versions of it (af-ah).

Although 7ad is clearly ungrammatical, a quick check in 7ae (cross-referenced with 7b and 7d) shows that the same problem would apply to any displacement which doesn’t move the whole object, be it a single word or a phrase. Whether the object consists of a set of connected morphemes, or a set of connected words, is apparently irrelevant.

Let’s see that statement again:

Words and phrases are often displaced to the beginning of a sentence or qualified, but not morphemes.

Their example does not demonstrate anything about qualifying. It does not demonstrate that words can be displaced in situations where morphemes cannot. It does not demonstrate that morphemes cannot be displaced in situations where words or phrases can. It is entirely pointless.

I'll look at the other problem in a second post.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Asathoth, liorish Lovecraft


Tra haink shenn-eash er y teihll, as skeill yindys magh ass aigney deiney; tra ren caayryn lheeah sheeyney seose da’n speyr yaaghagh nyn dooryn graney groamagh, as ad mooghey dagh ashlish ny greiney ny jeh lheeantyn arree my vlaa; tra ren ynsagh skilley breidey aalinid ny cruinney j’ee, as nagh ghow bardyn arragh arrane agh er conrieught chassit er ny fakin liorish sooillyn goorlagh çhyndaait çheusthie; erreish da ny reddyn shoh çeheet gy-kione, as doghys lambaanagh lheie ersooyl er son dy bragh, ren dooinney dy row jurnaa magh ass bea dys ronsaghey yn ‘eaynid raad va ashlishyn deiney er ngeddyn fastee.

Mychione ennym as oayll y dooinney, s’goan ny ta screeuit; venn adsyn rish y teihll doostee ynrican; agh t’ad gra dy row ad imlagh. S’liooar eh toiggal dy chum eh ayns caayr ard-woallit fo cheeiraght hiast, as tooilleil er fud y laa mastey scaa as corvaal, as çheet thie ‘syn oie da shamyr raad nagh doshil yn uinniag lomarcan er magheryn as keyjlyn, agh er close dullyr fo vlakey dooagh uinniagyn sheer-hreih elley. Trooid yn uinniag shid cha vaik oo agh boallaghyn as uinniagyn, mannagh chroymm magh oo foddey ny keayrtyn as jeeaghyn seose er ny rollageyn beggey hiauill harryd. As er y fa dy nhegin da boallaghyn as uinniagyn lhomey cur dooinney ashlishyn as lioaryn ass e cheayll dy leah, boallagh baghagh ny shamyr shid croymmey magh oie er oie as blakey seose dys geddyn shilley beg er sleig erbee jeh reddyn erskyn y teihll doostee as lheeaghys caayryn ardey. Erreish da bleeantyn ghow eh toshiaght enmyn er ny rollageyn shiaullee y chur, as eiyrt orroo liorish sheiltynys tra snaue ad dy arryssagh ass e hilley; derrey fy-yerrey lheeadee e hastid da ymmodee reayrtyssyn follit harrish oayllys sooilley cadjin. As oie dy row hie çharvaal vooar er tarcheimnaghey, as lhieen y speyr ashlishagh neose da uinniag yn arreyder lomarcan dys covestey marish aer breen ny shamyr as eshyn y ghoaill stiagh ‘sy yindys thanvaneagh echey.

Da’n çhamyr shid haink awinyn feie ny mean-oie phlooreenagh as joan airhey glistral ayndaue; eeiraghyn ooirey as ailey chass magh ass ny h-ard-eaynidyn as ad trome lesh coorane harrish oayllys ny seihill. Gheayrt faarkaghyn cadleenag ayns shid, fo hoilshey greiney nagh vel rieau ny arragh ry-akin ec y tooill, as shimmey doraid whaagh as shee-varrey ny diunidyn do-chooinaghtyn v’ayns ny puill sluggee oc. Ren neuyerrinaght hostagh y dreamyder y hoailley as y heidey ersooyl dy meein, gyn eer bentyn rish y chorp ghob magh dy creoi ass yn uinniag lomarcan; as rish laghyn ass towse imbee deiney ren tidaghyn cruinnaghyn foddey eh y ymmyrkey dy meein da quaiyl ny h-ashlishyn v’eh yeearree orroo; ashlishyn caillt deiney. As rish ymmodee lhingyn daag ad eh, dy meiyghagh, ny chadley er traie ghlass ec irree ny greiney; traie ghlass mastey soar millish blaaghyn-lotus as breck lesh lossreeyn ny folley jiargey.


When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities reared to smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or of spring’s flowering meads; when learning stripped earth of her mantle of beauty, and poets sang no more save of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward-looking eyes; when these things had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone away forever, there was a man who travelled out of life on a quest into the spaces whither the world’s dreams had fled.

Of the name and abode of this man but little is written, for they were of the waking world only; yet it is said that both were obscure. It is enough to know that he dwelt in a city of high walls where sterile twilight reigned, and that he toiled all day among shadow and turmoil, coming home at evening to a room whose one window opened not on the fields and groves but on a dim court where other windows stared in dull despair. From that casement one might see only walls and windows, except sometimes when one leaned far out and peered aloft at the small stars that passed. And because mere walls and windows must soon drive to madness a man who dreams and reads much, the dweller in that room used night after night to lean out and peer aloft to glimpse some fragment of things beyond the waking world and the greyness of tall cities. After years he began to call the slow-sailing stars by name, and to follow them in fancy when they glided regretfully out of sight; till at length his vision opened to many secret vistas whose existence no common eye suspects. And one night a mighty gulf was bridged, and the dream-haunted skies swelled down to the lonely watcher’s window to merge with the close air of his room and make him a part of their fabulous wonder.

There came to that room wild streams of violet midnight glittering with dust of gold; vortices of dust and fire, swirling out of the ultimate spaces and heavy with perfumes from beyond the worlds. Opiate oceans poured there, litten by suns that the eye may never behold and having in their whirlpools strange dolphins and sea-nymphs of unrememberable deeps. Noiseless infinity eddied around the dreamer and wafted him away without even touching the body that leaned stiffly from the lonely window; and for days not counted in men’s calendars the tides of far spheres bare him gently to join the dreams for which he longed; the dreams that men have lost. And in the course of many cycles they tenderly left him sleeping on a green sunrise shore; a green shore fragrant with lotus-blossoms and starred by red camalotes.

Ta'n skeealeen shoh çhyndaait ass Azathoth liorish H P Lovecraft.