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things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

- "he's terrible at his own language"

- "I don't speak a dialect"

- "ruining the language"

- "this word doesn't exist"

- "in this city people have no accent"

- "kanji etymology"

- "so many people are using word X *wrong*! the actual meaning is this!"

- "English is irregular"

- "primitive language"

- "drawl"

- "eliminate the passive voice from your writing"

- "German is logical/aggressive/ugly" etc., "French is romantic/sophisticated" "Japanese is mysterious" etc.

- "phonetic language"

- "L'Académie française"

- "grammar error"

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla ok I laughed at the penultimate point :')

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla oh, yeah, that's a very common mistake, French is a Romance language, not a romantic language

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla@transmom.love Okay, I'll bite...

What's wrong with "phonetic language"?

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@privateger @elilla it's phonetic spelling?

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@privateger all languages are phonetic, by definition. the things we call "languages" are things made of phonemes. "this language is phonetic" makes as much sense as saying "this herbivore eats plants".

(sign languages aren't made of sound-sets, but they're made of sets of basic gestural primitives that do the same job as sound phonemes, recombining into larger meaning-bearing units that recombine again into a syntax. linguists drive the point home by calling the gesture-atoms "phonemes" too, even though that's etymologically incorrect. that's because the notion of "etymologically correct" is nonsensical.)

what people seem to mean when they say a language is "phonetic" is that the *writing system* is phonetic, or to be more precise, that it's a closer refection of the phonemes than English orthography, or some other reference orthography. but writing systems aren't language! They're an indirect, second-order system to record and represent language, like maps are to land, or music scores are to music. For ideological reasons literate people are taught to think of writing as superior to the thing it imperfectly records, and associate the properties of a language's customary writing system with the language itself.

For example, English is a language therefore it's made of phonemes. It's a language used by a culture that adopted Latin writing as an orthography. But for a variety of historical and social reasons, this culture was unusually reluctant to update the orthography to keep pace with the language.

(phonemes change constantly but updating the transcription is a bother, so all writing systems grow outdated in relation to their target languages. but English orthography let it go to an extreme degree; it records words the way they were pronounced as much as five centuries ago, including whole phonemes it doesn't even have anymore like the "gh" in "though").

but then people look at that state of things, and at the much less outdated orthography of Italian, and say "unlike English, Italian is phonetic". which to a linguist sounds like "unlike guitar music, flute music is made of notes" because flutists favour music sheets while guitarists use tablatures.

the orthography of English isn't English; it can't be a language, it's writing, language is a social human ability that exists before and independently from its notations. You can write English with a more up-to-date phonetic orthography if you want, like IPA, or make up a new one (and countless people have done so), or write English with Japanese kana or Cyrilic or the Elvish Alphabet of Feänor from the First Age of Arda—it's still the exact same language, and as phonetic as it always was.

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla @privateger
"so many people are using word X *wrong*! the actual meaning is this!" 😆

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@Anke @elilla @privateger yesterday I said "chivalry isn't dead" and my gf said something abt horses; after I was confused for a bit I said "oh you're using the other definition of the word" and she said "I'm using the *only* definition of the word"
Very clearly not lol

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla @privateger This reminds me of something I expressed earlier today: If you're referring to a programming language as compiled, JIT'd, or interpreted you're really talking about the dominant implementation of that programming language.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla @privateger
> sign languages aren't made of sound-sets, but they're made of sets of basic gestural primitives that do the same job as sound phonemes, recombining into larger meaning-bearing units that recombine again into a syntax. linguists drive the point home by calling the gesture-atoms "phonemes" too, even though that's etymologically incorrect. that's because the notion of "etymologically correct" is nonsensical.

Eeeh, it is very different to how phonemes works for spoken languages.
Signs used for concepts like "house", "dog", "mom", … and so on are quite atomic, only reason you would try to subdivide them is to try to create a dictionary, and those are arbitrary enough that different dictionaries tend to do things differently or associate signs with different radicals or duplicate them as signs aren't a linear mix of radicals.
It's enough of a mess that most online dictionaries just piggyback on the national spoken language and only provide the ability to look for vocabulary without the ability to look up what a given sign means.
It's close to kanji dictionaries (hence why I'm abusing the term radical here, more technically-correct word is welcome) but I would say the way they work is much less arbitrary or at least it's more consistent.

Rest of the post about orthography I completely agree on by the way even if well…what most people mean about "language X is more phonetic than language Y" is about the complexity of the mapping between the language and it's official orthography is.

sign language phonology 

@lanodan @privateger

you're thinking of signs, which are the parallel to words/morphemes. I'm talking about sign language phonemes, based on features such as handshape, orientation, or place of articulation, which work like spoken language phonetic features such as lip shape, voicedness, or place of articulation. see here for details: oxfordre.com/linguistics/view/

For a quick peek: The first image below (from Sandler 2017) illustrates some phonetic processes in ASL phonology, in every aspect parallel to the equivalent spoken language phonetic processes: a-c shows truncation in SLEEP+DRESS=NIGHTGOWN (with some shape feature assimilation of the left hand), while the second shows full assimilation in THINK+MARRY=BELIEVE. Many other phonological commonplaces also have parallels in sign, like the syllable, phonotactics, and prosody.

The second image, from the phonology intro linked above, is a featural analysis of the minimum pair "gay" and "unsure" in British Sign Language. The model they're using distinguishes phonetic features between intrinsic and prosodic, the latter category being based on movement; illustrated is an overview of the intrinsic ones. Despite ASL and BSL being unrelated languages from different families (ASL is in the French Sign family, BSL is an isolate), they have similar phonotactics in that place of articulation and finger features do not change within a morpheme, but aperture and setting features can. Other sign languages will have different phonotactics, just like voice languages.

(I'm mostly using this one as an example because I wanted to point out that "gay" and "unsure" are a minimum pair in BSL.)

sign language phonology 

@elilla @lanodan@queer.hacktivis.me @privateger just adding here that the models mentioned above are based on the generative tradition in linguistics and thus, like all generative linguistics, is not very good at describing what languages actually are.

that said, phonetics and phonetical components are of course an important part of the cognitive-functional tradition of sign language linguistics, too.

re: sign language phonology 

@elilla @privateger Oh right, yeah I see how that works, also thanks a lot for the link to the paper it's a very interesting read.

Things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla @privateger Don't the written language and the spoken language in a modern, text-intensive culture have a circular relationship? Can they really be viewed as separate?

This is the first time I hear someone say that the written language isn't a language.

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla@transmom.love wow this arbitrary sequence of sounds sure does have an intrinsic, correct meaning

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla accent shit is usually just classism

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla "skill issue"

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla

French people, in their hubris, attempted to challenge the gods of linguistic shifts themselves.

@elilla@transmom.love people can use words wrong, when it comes to incomprehensibility or things that personally annoy me like using "reactionary" to mean "someone who reacts to things"

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla I agree but I have to mention a few things because of course I have to. Sorry. Not trying to argue, these are kind of questions phrased as opinions. Does this make any sense?

The no prescriptivism thing can turn around to bite you because most of these words have gained secondary meanings in daily vernacular. ‘Dialect’ can refer to a dialect that is not the most common one in a given language.

I’d still say grammar errors are a thing, people just don’t understand what they are. I think when a person makes an unintentional slip up (i.e. something that they themselves think is a mistake), it could count as an error. Like if I wrote ‘on’ two times when I should’ve written it once (as in ‘he was standing on on the table’), I’d think that’s an error. But if it’s something that was done intentionally, it by definition can’t be an error, it’s just not.

And yes, I know I just pulled a ‘you’re using this word wrong’ on the word ‘error’. Or maybe not? We all agree what an error is, so I’m just saying that something that people commonly think is an error is in fact not? (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA)

Sorry again. First time I see anybody who cares about linguistics at all here.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@ae yeah of course, that's the inevitable switcheroo: hey if you say there are no errors then how can you complain when people use the words "passive voice" wrong? checkmate linguists!!

which, fair, but illustrates what goes up with the notion of "wrong": it's wrong relative to something. in the case of technical words, they acquire common-usage meanings that can be quite far from what technicians do with them. in the contexts of doing physics calculations your weight is the thing you measure in newtons, in any other context it's the thing you measure in kilograms. similarly, in the context of doing linguistic analysis the sentence "the trauma was directly caused by John" is passive voice, while "violence devatastes the protest" is active voice; but in Twitter discourse it's the opposite, "passive voice" now means "weasel phrasing to obscure the agent". this isn't so much an error but a development that we linguists will be baffled at, then amused by, then start poking around the edges to measure its shapes, then write papers about it on Glossa.

the thing with the notions around "error" is that they're not just a matter of technical terms vs. common use, but they're based on ideology. the things that get called "error", "wrong", "dialect" or "accent" are the speech variations of the oppressed; the things that get called "correct", "normal", "standard" are the shibolleths of the oppressor. it's not so much that the dominating dialect isn't called a "dialect" because it's widespread; rather it gets widespread *because* it's invisibilised by virtue of feeling natural to the dominant class, whose point of view is forced down everybody's throats, and eventually language, too.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla Yeah, that’s why I think that the most important thing about errors is intention: if you mess up, that’s an error, if you intended to say or write that, than it’s not. And everybody can then complain about it.

One thing I observed is that in most cases, nobody really speaks the ‘standard’ dialect besides those who are either from the ‘ruling class’ (here including the rich who only indirectly rule) and those who are trying to appear as though they are from the ruling class. Some people speak dialects which are close to standard, but nobody really speaks the standard. I’m in that situation, in both Hungarian and English I use a standard-ish dialect, but it’s still far from the standard.

I’ve been insulted by the Prescriptivists many times. It does feel oppressing, fortunately, I’m a teenager so if somebody complains about the way I speak, I’ll just exaggerate the things that annoyed them. I used to feel bad because of the little… unusal way that I speak, but as any teenager I started to embrace it in a ‘if you don’t like it you’re free to fuck off’ way.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@ae @sng imagine you make an algorithm to recognise all U.S. coins from photos. then someone shows it a photo of a penny and the algorithm doesn't recognise it. you can't say the photo is wrong and pennies are incorrect coins. that doesn't make sense. the algorithm is an artifact, designed to recognised all photos of all coins. if it doesn't recognise something it's a limitation of the algorithm, not a problem with the coin.

a grammar is a model of how native speakers speak. it's an attempt at representing succintly what speakers put out there, and maybe understand it better (like predicting). by definition a speaker can't produce wrong data, because the data is what you were attempting to model in the first place in your fancy grammar book. if there's a mismatch between grammar and utterance, it's the grammar that failed. a scientific model that can't be verified against data has to be corrected.

it is possible for people to say things that a native speaker never would, if they're not native. this is in a sense "wrong grammar", because for all native speakers that form will sound off or odd. but that's just because your grammar (your model) was a grammar of native speakers. nonnatives are generating forms that would be captured by some other grammar; they're outside of the scope. that's why linguists will call a form that no native speaker says "agrammatical" rather than "wrong"; they're just not in the grammar.

it's possible even for native speakers to produce agrammatical sentences. like an English speaker saying "I fan can it" rather than "I can fan it" by a tongue slip. but this is of course not what most people mean by the idea of "grammar error". rather than a model of how a language is, they imagine a grammar as a rulebook of how that language *should be*. but that leads to the question: who are you to dictate how I speak, and why should I care about your commandments? people who talk about "grammar mistakes" are looking at data from native speakers, and saying that some forms pass and some shouldn't exist. if as an exercise we look at what kind of people uses the "correct" language and what kind uses the "wrong" forms, invariably the "wrong" grammar is that of the oppressed. if you advance the (factually wrong) thesis that their forms are a result of unintelligence, laziness, or carelessness, you implicitly reinforce that they're inferior and therefore we deserve our privileges over them.

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla if linguists have taught me one thing it's that you can just write/talk however the fuck you want if the person in front of you understood what you just said then the sentence is correct and valid

Since I realized that I completely reappropriated the language, I have a way to write french unlike any other person on this planet

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla Could you explain the thinking behind this one?

- "eliminate the passive voice from your writing"

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@meena @elilla Ah, got it. Thanks.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla All these points make sense, except one. I find English to be highly irregular, at least compared to more regular languages. I'm sure I misunderstood that statement though, and the intent was something else?

@loke @elilla from my perspective, it only makes sense to call English orthography irregular. And that's only a small aspect of the language

@schratze @elilla Sure. The orthography is just insane in English. But the language itself is also very irregular, at least when compared to something like Malay.

I do agree that with that definition most (all?) of the Indo-European languages are irregular.

@schratze @loke @elilla I think you can count some verb conjugation and noun plural forms as irregular

@xarvos @loke @schratze yes, but if that's what's meant by "irregular" then calling English "irregular' is like calling Germany "a hot country" because there's a handful of days over 30º. Typologically it would be a weird thing to highlight in English of all languages (Portuguese has 315+ irregular verbs, and that's still nothing compared to the fun small languages).

What people usually mean when they say "English is irregular" is the writing system, which as I explained in other comments, just sounds amusing, like saying Vivaldi is an off-key composer because the orchestra I go to listen to Vivaldi music is bad at tuning their instruments.

@schratze @loke
English orthography is irregular -> yes, a lot
English orthography is an aspect of English -> that's like if someone took a blurry photo of me and said I'm a blurry person

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@loke @elilla I'd like to respond to this, but could you give an example of what you mean? (As a linguist, it does indeed make no sense)

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@KamareDrache @elilla I mean, the list makes sense in that its content make no sense. Poor choice of words on my part. I agreed with OP.

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@loke @elilla Ah, gotcha

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla "this word doesn't exist" reminds me how at home we developed our own micro-dialect, and incorporated the word "Geschnellschaft" in out vocabulary. It is a mix between Gesellschaft (company) and "schnell" (fast), which means quick or short company. It's what you need when you feel lonely, but don't want to have some company for too long.

What also annoys me a lot is the too widespread belief that some languages are superior to others, and if you speak a language seen as inferior, it is because you are proud of it and in extreme cases, you must be an extremist. Yep, there are people out there who believe this bullshit. Nexg German who tells me this, I will ask them if they are proud of being german, because they are speaking German. According to their "logic" they wouldn't speak (like at all) if they weren't proud, right?

re: things normal people say that make no sense at all to linguists 

@elilla Another one I have heard is "X language has no grammar" or "X language had no grammar until [insert some time reference, including 'we gave it a grammar'].

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