Monday, May 30, 2011

Snail Mail

The Nepali postal system has set a new benchmark in tardiness and inefficiency. A postcard that I sent to the Handsome Penpal arrived on Friday. Which is quite impressive considering that I sent it in early October last year... good thing it didn't say anything too important!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My IPA craft project

I don't normally cross-post content here and over at Superlinguo but I'm so excited that I've finally finished my Easter craft project that I want to share it with everyone.

I cross stitched the pulmonic consonants of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). It ended up taking so long not because of the individual characters but because it took forever to grey out the areas that aren't physiologically possible.

If you're not familiar with the IPA I'll give you my patented 30 second lesson. The vertical categories vary by the place of articulation - that is where in the mouth they are made. The first are 'bi-labial', made with the lips. The 'p' and 'b' are more or less exactly as you make them in English, by time you get to the question-marky think you're at your glottis, where you make sounds. If you say 'uh-oh' that gap in the middle is a glottal stop. See, you make them without even knowing! Good work you! On the horizontal the difference is manner of articulation - that is how you make the sounds. The first ones are 'stops', which you make by closing your mouth fully at some point and releasing it. below that are nasals, such as 'm' and 'n' and 'ng' in English. And so on. A chart with all those labels can be found here. Linguists, and especially phoneticians, use these symbols to accurately represent the same sounds across many different languages.

Next I'll have to start on the vowels!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Negative failures and other post-trip data holes

One of the most stressful things about field work is that you have a limited amount of time and an unlimited number of things you want to ask. Often you end up with so much more data than you can ever analyse, but sometimes it's not until you get home that you realise that no matter how comprehensive you've tried to be there are things you've forgotten to get.

One of the things I seem to generally forget is to make sure that I get the negative equivalent for some constructions. so while I have lots of 'let's do X' and 'I want Y' I don't have a lot of 'let's not do x' and 'I don't want Y.' I also can;t find a decently set out di-trasitive paradigm (X gave Y Z).

I'm sure that all these things are possibly buried deep in notebooks, especially from some of the older sessions when I wasn't as up to speed on databasing all the utterances I collected. Still, it's learning these things that make me more competent every trip. It's just annoying on a Friday when I just want to finish writing this chapter section.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This post is a post of milestones.

Today I hit 30,000 words in my mini-grammar of Tam. It's still unfinished, and I'm sure it'll grow and be pruned back before it's finished, but that's a heck of a lot of words and it has become quite an unwieldy thing.

Secondly, this is the 200th post on this site. Not bad for something I thought would last one trip. Of course, now I'm blogging over at Superlinguo I probably won't keep posting here quite so frequently.

And thirdly, since my last post this site has clocked up 4,000 visits. So thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meet Superlinguo: new blog project

The other day I mentioned that there was an exciting new project bubbling away in the background, and now I'd like to formally introduce you like you're two friends I've known for ages but who never show up to the same parties - I know you'll like each other.

Superlinguo is a radio segment presented by my good friend and fellow linguistics freak Georgia Webser at RRR fm in Melbourne. We've teamed up and now offer you Superlinguo the blog, over at Tumblr. It's your one stop fun shop for quirkiry from the world of languages and linguistics. You can also catch us @superlinguo over at Twitter.

I'll still be blogging here of course, so don't despair! But Lozguistics will go back to focusing largely on my work, and I guess be a little more technical than Superlinguo. Hopefully I'll see you over at Superlinguo some time!