26 May 2017

"Ablaut reduplication" explained


I can't find the original, so* I'll embed this screencap of a ?newspaper article for a quick summary.  More details are available in the Wikipedia article on apophony.  Via the discussion thread at the Interestingasfuck subreddit.
"It's a terrible thing to teach language learners, they'll try to agonizingly remember and apply a rule that is complete and totally instinctive even for natives. Same goes for most grammar "rules", which imho are not rules handed down by grammarians so much as patterns they have noticed."
*A tip of the blogging cap to an anonymous reader and to Paul Parkinson, whose comments led me to the source in a BBC Culture column.  And the book from which the cited text was excerpted is "The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase," which I've requested from our library.

18 comments:

  1. I would have assumed since we all learn AEIOU since kindergarten we become accustomed to those sounds in that order. Since "I" precedes "O" in that list we naturally say ding dong, ping pong etc.

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  2. Looks like a clipping from the Radio Times.

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    Replies
    1. Adding "Radio Times" to my search terms led me to the source. Thank you.

      Delete
  3. The book this all comes from is "The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase" by Mark Forsyth. Fascinating read.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Paul. I've requested the book from our library.

      Delete
  4. I'm struggling with the change of irregular past tense. I don't think "shined" sounds right. It should be "shone", for one example.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are both right, depending on the circumstance. Here you go -

      https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wc/is-shined-or-shone-the-past-tense-of-shine/

      Delete
  5. Stan why is your computer fooled
    Filled with illegal images?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Huh. I wonder if this also happens in Arabic? There's a song called "Shik Shak Shok". The title is all nonsense sounds, not actual words.

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  7. That "absolutely" claim is untenable. There's a rather withering takedown at Language Log (http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=27890), which remarks that "of course people like that [Forsyth] don’t actually check their predictions."

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  8. But, but, the article doesn't explain anything! It only describes.

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    Replies
    1. Try the BBC Culture link, not the apophony one.

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    2. "Why this should be is a subject of endless debate among linguists, it might be to do with the movement of your tongue or an ancient language of the Caucasus. It doesn’t matter. It’s the law"

      Now there's a prime example of an inquisitive mindset! Daddy, why is the sky blue? Doesn't matter, son. It's the law. ;)

      Delete
  9. Interesting, Futility Closet just turned a similar article recently, the two play nicely off each other :

    https://www.futilitycloset.com/2017/05/25/fire-and-fog/

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  10. It can be changed sometimes, but only in the hands of a true master: “But I do know this clock does one very slick trick. It doesn’t tick tock. How it goes, is tock tick.”Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book.

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    Replies
    1. A true master for sure. Thanks, Pearse.

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  11. Enjoyed the BBC Article, especially the order of verbs. I came back to it, thinking it might help me with a sentence, but it didnt really work that way. Still, I've saved it for future use.

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