Omniglot News (05/09/21)

This week on Omniglot there are details of several new languages from southern Mexico, thanks to Wolfram Siegel:

  • Acazulco Otomi (Ndöö́ngüǘ yühǘ) is an Eastern Otomian language spoken in the town of San Jerónimo Acazulco in the state of Mexico.
  • Sierra Otomi (Yųhų / Ñųhų) is another Eastern Otomian language spoken in the states of Hidalgo, Veracruz and Puebla.
  • Temoaya Otomi (Ñatho) is a Southwestern Otomian language spoken in Temoya and Toluca in the state of Mexico.
  • Misantla Totonac (Laakanaachiwíin) is a Totonacan language spoken in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

I made improvements to the Bassari, Balanta-Kentohe and Balanta-Ganja language pages as well, also thanks to Wolfram Siegel.

There’s a new phrases page in Gwentian Welsh (Gwenhwyseg), a dialect of Welsh spoken in Gwent and Glamorgan in the south east of Wales. I have recordings for most of them which I’ll be adding when I have a spare moment or two.

There’s a new numbers page in Turoyo (ܛܘܪܝܐ / ܣܘܪܝܬ), an Eastern Aramaic language spoken in southeastern Turkey and northeastern Syria.

There are Omniglot blog posts about Dutch words, Climbing Up, and about similarities and differences between Japanese and Chinese, High Costs, as well as the usual language quiz.

The Celtiadur post this week is about words for cells, churches and related things in Celtic languages.

This week’s Adventure in Etymology tells a tale about the origins of the word yarn. Versions of this adventure can be found on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

Meanwhile on Duolingo I recently reached 1,500 days in my current streak (1,506 today). I am currently studying Japanese and Spanish there, and I’ve also completed courses in Swedish, Russian, Danish, Czech, Esperanto and Romanian.

In other news, I was a guest judge for the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge this week. It was nice to catch up with Benny Lewis and Shannon Kennedy, who run it, and to ‘meet’ the finalists, who learnt an impressive amount during their 3-month challenges.

For more Omniglot News see:
https://www.omniglot.com/news/
https://twitter.com/Omniglossia
https://www.facebook.com/groups/omniglot/
https://www.facebook.com/Omniglot-100430558332117

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM or podtail.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 45 – Japanese (日本語)

In this episode I talk about Japanese, giving an overview of the history of the language, its vocabulary and grammar, and how and why I learnt it.

日本語 (nihongo/nippongo) = Japanese

  • 日 (nichi, jitsu, hi, bi, ka) = day, sun, Japan, counter for days. E.g. 日曜日 (nichiyōbi – Sunday), 日々 (hibi / nichinichi – daily), 日陰 (hikage – shade, shadow, sunlight), 日外 (jitsugai – once, some time ago)
  • 本 (moto, hon) = origin, source, base, foundation, root, cause, ingredient, material; book, volume, script; counter for long cylindrical things. e.g. 本木 (motoki – original stock
  • 語 (go) = word, language, speech
  • 語る (kataru) = to talk about, speak of, tell, narate, recite, chant, indicate, show
  • 日本 (nihon/nippon) = Japan (“sun’s origin”) – nippon is used in official uses, such as on banknotes and stamps, while nihon is used in everyday speech.

Japan used to be called 倭 (wa) or 倭國 (wakoku) in Chinese – a name first used in the 3rd century AD. 倭 means “dwarf” or “submissive”. Later the Japanese changed the character 倭 to 和 (peaceful, harmonious) and combined it with 大 (big, great) to form 大和 (yamato) or “Great Wa”, which possibly originally referred to a place in Japan – 山戸 (yamato) or “Mountain Gate”.

絵文字 (emoji) = pictorial symbol, pictograph or pictogram. Also written 絵もじ or エモジ.

  • 絵 (e, kai) = picture, drawing, painting
  • 文 (fumi, aya, bun, mon) = sentence, text, letter
  • 字 (aze, azana, na, ji) = character, letter, written text

More information about Japanese
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Japan
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Japanese_terms_derived_from_Portuguese
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:Japanese_terms_derived_from_Dutch
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_sound_symbolism
https://www.fluentu.com/blog/japanese/interesting-facts-about-japanese-language/

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

幻想的の曲 (gensō-teki no kyoku) – a sort-of Japanese-sounding improvisation played by me on the tenor and descant recorders.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 44 – Emoticons

In this episode I talk about emoticons or “pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation or other keyboard characters”. Emoticon is short for “emotion icon” and first appeared in 1994 [source].

Earlier sightings of possible emoticons in the wild include a possibly smiley face in 1648 in To Fortune, a poem by Robert Herrick, an English poet, that appears in The Hesperides & Noble Numbers, a collection of his poems. This appears in only one of the online editions of his work though:

Tumble me down, and I will sit / Upon my ruins, (smiling yet:)

In a transcription of a speech by Abraham Lincoln published in The New York Times on 7th August 1862, a possible wink emoticon appears: (applause and laughter ;), although it is debated whether this was an emoticon or just punctuation.

In 1881 the satirical magazine Puck published examples of typographical art using puncutation marks to express joy, melancholy, indifference or astonishment.

Examples of early emoticons by Scott Fahlman

In 1912 Ambrose Bierce, an American writer and journalist, suggested uses a bracket ‿ to represent a smile, and called it the snigger point or note of cachination [kakɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n] (loud, convulsive laughter).

Other writers proposed ways to use punctuation marks to represent faces, including Alan Gregg, who wrote in a 1936 article in the Harvard Lampoon that (-) could represent a smile, (—) a laughing smile, (#) a frown and (*) a wink.

First smiley emoticons created by Scott Fahlman, Professor Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute and Computer Science Department, in 19th September 1982:

Examples of early emoticons by Scott Fahlman

In Japan, for example, a type of emoticon known as kaomoji (顔文字) or ‘face characters’ developed in the 1980s combining punctuation marks and Japanese katakana glyphs to make horizontal faces, such ass (*_*), (^.^), {^_^} (T_T) & (^ム^).

In Korean combinations of hangeul letters (jamo) and punctuation marks are used: ㅇㅅㅇ, ㅇㅂㅇ, ㅇㅁㅇ, ^오^.

More information about punctuation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon
http://scihi.org/scott-fahlman-emoticons/

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Whirlwind / Y Troellwynt

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 43 – Punctuation

In this episode I talk about punctuation, focusing particularly on the history and development of punctuation, and some of the people involved.

Here is Victor Borge demonstrating his Phonetic Punctuation:

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Frolicing Ferrets / Ffuredau sy’n Prancio

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 42 – Instant Language

Today I have some exciting news from the world of language learning for you. Technology that will amaze and astound you. What is it? You’ll have to listen to this episode to find out.

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

lambs

The Gamboling Lambs / Yr Ŵyn sy’n Campio

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 37 – The Hardest Languages

In this episode I discuss which languages are hardest to learn, and what makes some languages more difficult to learn than others. It’s not possible to provide a definitive list of the most challenging languages as it depends on a variety of factors. This hasn’t stopped people from doing this anyway. Here are some examples:

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/hardest-languages-to-learn/
https://www.languagedrops.com/blog/10-hardest-languages-to-learn
https://www.lingholic.com/hardest-languages-learn/
https://effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty/
https://bestlifeonline.com/most-difficult-languages/

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 36 – The Easiest Languages

In this episode I discuss which languages are easiest to learn for native speakers of English, and what factors make languages easy or difficult to learn, including grammar, spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, the availablity of resources, and so on.

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

The Happy Hedgehog / Y Draenog Hapus

You can also listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Podchaser, PlayerFM, podtail and or via this RSS feed.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation via PayPal or Patreon, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Epsiode 30 – Gibberish

In this episode I talk about, and in, Gibberish – what it is, where it comes from, how I learnt it, and possible reasons why some people find it difficult to learn.

How to speak Gibberish:

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

Dancing on Custard / Dawnsio ar Gwstard – a tune I wrote on the harp in 2016.

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Blubrry podcast hosting

Episode 22 – Numbers

In this episode I discuss numbers, counting, and some of the other ways to refer to numbers and amounts in English – there are a lot more than you probably realise.

Links

Information about numbers and numerals
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_numerals
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeral_prefix
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indefinite_and_fictitious_numbers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_large_numbers
https://www.omniglot.com/language/numbers/
https://www.omniglot.com/language/numerals.htm

Origins of hat-trick
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hat-trick

Numbers

Tunes features in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this piece

Climbing the Stairs / Dringo’r Grisiau

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.

Episode 20 – Language Families

In this episode I talk about language families – what they are, and how they develop, and I introduce some major and minor language families.

According to Wikipedia, a language family is “a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family”.

According to Ethnologue there are currently 142 different language families and 7,111 living languages. The ten largest languages families account for about 88% of the world’s population, and 74% of the world’s languages.

[table id=1 /]

Here’s an illustration a the family tree of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages:

Elvish language family

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvish_languages_(Middle-earth)

More information about language families
https://www.omniglot.com/writing/langfam.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_family
https://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/family
https://www.mustgo.com/worldlanguages/language-families/

The tune featured in this episode

Dancing Donkeys / Asynnod sy’n Dawnsio

See the score for this tune

Costa Pacifica

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.