Status update

You might have noticed that I hadn’t posted on this blog for about two months before yesterday. This is partly because I’ve been trying not to slack off too much at university, and partly because I’ve been posting a lot of stuff on my Tumblr. My writing there is generally more short-form and of less lasting value, but some of it might be of interest to readers of this blog—I’ve made a list of some of the past posts that I consider more worthwhile here. I’d also add to that list the following more recent posts (all linguistics-related):

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3 responses to “Status update

  1. David Marjanović

    on the semantically-based assignment of gender in German

    From there:

    Why does the “dimunitive [sic] implies neuter” rule take precedence over the “female implies feminine” rule?

    The latter rule already had an exception: a few hundred years ago, Frau meant “lady” rather than “woman”, and the word for “woman” was das Weib. The neuter gender of diminutives has no exceptions, and is probably attached directly to the two suffixes (-chen, -lein) than to semantics, even though the semantics are probably the reason why these suffixes make neuter nouns – or at least I don’t have a better idea; it’s very confusing.

    on the English words ‘dog’ and ‘pig’

    Yes, obviously nicknames, but it’s hard to tell what they’re derived from. For dog, see the link and the discussion in this post.

    on how far sound changes determine phonology

    Roman Italian appears to have mercilessly voiced all previously voiceless stops. Curiously, the affricate /ts/ remains voiceless.

    • I wonder why ‘wife’ is neuter. There’s the possible connection with Toch. B kwīpe, A. kip ‘shame; modesty’; Adams finds it phonologically problematic, I can’t really judge because Tocharian sound changes are confusing. But besides that, the ‘vulva’ > ‘woman’ semantic change also seems implausible (are there any attested examples of such a shift?).

      A plausible way for a neuter to end up as a word meaning ‘woman’ is by a ‘child’ > ‘girl’ > ‘woman’ shift. But I don’t know if there is any evidence that this is what happened with ‘wife’. Perhaps somebody needs to study how the word is used in the early Germanic languages, with this hypothesis in mind. Of course, for all I know such a study may already have been done 🙂

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