The sci.lang FAQ: 18 - 20

18 How do I subscribe to the LINGUIST list?

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The LINGUIST list is a mailing list dedicated to linguistics; it's more technical than sci.lang. The easiest way to read and post to it is on the LINGUIST List website (which also has searchable archives, language resources, and more).

19 How can I represent phonetic symbols in ASCII?

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The following table is a summary of Evan Kirshenbaum's IPA/ASCII schema, which a number of posters have been using in sci.lang and alt.usage.english. For more information, see Evan's Web page. If you have Acrobat, there's a PDF version of the specification.

This summary is presented for convenience only, and is not intended to forestall discussion of alternative systems.

blb-- -lbd-- --dnt-- --alv-- -rfx- -pla-- --pal--- --vel-- -----uvl-----

nas m M n[ n n. n^ N n"
stp p b t[ d[ t d t. d. c J k g q G
frc F V f v T D s z s. z. S Z C C<vcd> x Q X g"
apr r<lbd> r[ r r. j j<vel> g"
lat l[ l l. l^ L
trl b<trl> r<trl> r"
flp * *.
ejc p` t[` t` c` k'
clk p! t! c! c! k!
imp b` d` d` J` g` q` G`

---- lbv ---- --phr-- ---glt---

nas n<lbv> alv lat frc: s<lat> z<lat>
stp t<lbv> d<lbv> ? lat flp: *<lat>
frc w<vls> w H H<vcd> h<?> lat clk: l!
apr w h

----- unr ----- unr ----- rnd -----
fnt cnt bck cnt fnt cnt bck
hgh i i" u- y u" u
smh I I. U
umd e @<umd> o- R<umd> Y o
mid @ R @.
lmd E V" V W O" O
low & a A &. a. A.

Vowels: Consonants: + = ad hoc diacritic
~ nasalized velarized [ dental
: long ! click
- unrounded syllabic <H> pharyngealized
. rounded retroflex <h> aspirated
` ejective/implosive <o> unexploded or voiceless
^ palatal <r> rhotacized
; palatalized <w> labialized
" centered uvular <?> murmured

Other symbols:
$ % ad hoc segment
[] phonetic transcription
// phonemic transcription
# syllable or word boundary
space word/segment separator
' , primary and secondary stress
0-9 tones

20 Is English a creole?

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The change from Anglo-Saxon to Modern English (loss of gender and of case inflection, phonological change, acquisition of a huge stock of French and Latin vocabulary) is certainly dramatic, and has led some sci.lang posters, and even some linguists (e.g. Domingue, Bailey & Maroldt, Milroy) to the provocative postulation that English suffered pidginization or creolization at the time of the Norman Conquest (1066) or at the time of the Norse invasions (from 865), or both.

This hypothesis, as Sarah Grey Thomason and Terence Kaufman have shown in Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics (1988), rests on an incomplete understanding of creolization and a shaky grasp on the history of English. There is a wide range of language contact situations, from casual contact to deep structural interference; English is by no means the most striking of these cases. It looks like a creole only if one ignores this range of phenomena and calls any case of moderate structural interference a case of creolization.

For many of the changes in question, the chronology does not work out. For instance, the reduction of unstressed vowels to /@/, largely responsible for the loss of Old English nominal declensions, had taken place before the Conquest, and affected all of England, including areas never settled by the Norse. And English did absorb an immense amount of French and Latin vocabulary, but most of this occurred well after the Conquest-- past 1450, two centuries after the nobility ceased to be French-speaking.

Other points to note: 1) most of the simplifications and foreign borrowings seen in English occurred as well in other Germanic languages, notably Dutch, Low German, and the Scandinavian languages; 2) a particularly striking borrowing from Norse, the pronoun 'they', was probably adopted to avoid what otherwise would have been a merger of 'he/him' with 'they/them'; 3) the total number of French-speaking invaders was not more than 50,000, compared to an English-speaking population of over 1.5m-- nowhere near the proportions that would threaten the normal inheritance of English.

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