بحث با مارتن و اینژ: اصوات و تغییر زبان

 
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Hi. In the previous video we have seen
that these phonetic things like place of articulation, or
manner of articulation are not just nice ways to describe the way
in which people produce consonants. But they actually really
play a role in language, they play a role when children
acquire their language, they play a role when people
make speech errors, and they play a role in organizing the set
of consonants in an individual language. Such a set of consonants can typically be
organized in a nice rectangular table. And that's the rows and
columns corresponding to our place and manner of articulation. And I'm going to discuss these issues
more with my students Inge and Marten. >> So
my first question is about this table but then from the perspective
of language change. So we saw in the last module
that all languages change and that maybe we spoke something
very different 10,000 years ago. So if we spoke differently
10,000 years ago, did we also use different
sounds in a certain language? >> Yes, we can be quite sure about that. We can,
it's absolutely sure that we did because many aspects of language
change all the time. And consonants and actually also
vowels are definitely among them. So the particular way in which
consonants are produced or which consonants a language has
definitely changes over time. So 10,000 years ago, our forefathers definitely had
a different set of consonants. >> Okay, now that's something
that's strange, because you've also said earlier that there's no way that
we know how people spoke 10,000 years ago, because there's no record. Because language is fleeting so how do we
know that the consonants have changed? >> Yeah right, well, okay, so
here I admit we don't really know in a sense that of course
we don't have recordings of people speaking 10,000 years or
even 300 years ago. So we don't know how people spoke,
we just know that they must have spoken differently because languages
change all the time. And that cannot have been
different 10,000 years ago either. >> So what sort of evidence do we have for
that? >> So, we can figure out certain
things about how languages sounded. At that time, at some point,
10,000 years ago was too long ago. >> Mm-hm.
>> But some point in the past, we can figure it out. And there are several methodologies for
that. One is by language comparison,
so if you have other languages which are related to our language,
we can see what consonants they have. English is related to German and Dutch, English has a word night,
which has two consonants, an N and a T. But German and Dutch have a third consonant,
they say nacht, both of them say nacht. So there is this consonant chuh, there. Because it's two other languages, which
have that sound, that is an indication that maybe English had that sound as well,
at some point in its inventory. And fortunately in English we have
another kind of dimension for that, other kind of evidence for
that I should say, and it's spelling. The wonderful, beautiful thing about English is that
it has this very conservative spelling. Spelling didn't change or at least didn't change all that much in
the course of the past few centuries. But the sounds probably did. So how do we spell the English word,
night? Well, we spell it with G-H. There's G-H in the middle. A G-H in the middle exactly at
the point where these other languages have a chuh sound. And it's not very strange to
think that maybe G-H was a way to write a chuh kind of
sound in English as well. So by looking at the spelling, and
by comparing to other languages, we can discover that probably English
had at least one more consonant a few hundred years ago. >> Okay, so then we've established
that there is change, in fact? And we established how
we can investigate that, but what I still don't really
understand is why would that change? >> Yeah, right, yeah, it's,
that's an interesting question. It is a difficult question but
we do have an answer or at least a big part of
an answer to that question. And, it's important here to distinguish
between two kinds of factors. The first factor is an internal factor,
internal to the language. It's something which just
happens to a language if you leave it alone long enough. Certain things start changing, in particular also
pronunciation starts changing. We're going to talk much more
about this later on in this MOOC, in the fifth module I'm going to
explain more about how this happens and even why this happens,
but for now I can say one factor which probably plays
a role there is language acquisition. The fact the children have to learn
the language of their parents, and when they do so they don't typically make a completely perfect copy of
the language of their parents. They change it a little bit. But again, we're going to talk much
more about this in the fifth module of this MOOC. >> Okay, so
this was internal change, right? But what about the external change then? >> Yeah, right, so
what do you think external means? >> Yeah, it reminds me of the fact that
languages sometimes borrow words so they come from other languages. >> Exactly.
That's exactly what it means, is that's exactly another, the,
the other important factor. Languages are in contact with each other. I said if we leave a language alone
long enough that sometimes happens. So language might be
spoken on an island and not, there might not be a lot
of contact with other languages. But through the history of mankind people typically have known other people
speaking other kinds of languages. And they might have borrowed words. And integrated them into their language. And interesting thing here is that this
has happened to English as well and actually it has involved the same chuh
sound we were talking about just before. Because sometimes English
speakers want to speak German or at least they want to say
certain German words or they want to say certain German names,
like you might be a music lover, and you might want to speak about the famous
German composer Johann Sebastian Ba-. And then there is something there
which you have to pronounce. A German would say Bach. But English doesn't have
this chuh sound anymore. >> So I guess an English person would then
use the consonant from the consonant table that is closest to this sound? So this, that would be. >> That would be a K, right, yeah. So and actually that's, notice that this
is actually a new piece of evidence, an interesting new piece of evidence for exactly the existence of these features,
for the fact that these dimensions, phonetic dimensions,
play a role in the language system. People have to say a sound and
they take the one which is closest. What does closest mean? Well, it means closest in the table. What does that mean? Well, it means it's the sound where
you have to change the fewest of these parameters, in this particular case,
you have to say chuh, but you don't have it,
you don't have it in your system. You take something which is really close. Well, a chuh you'll make at
the velar place of articulation, you'll make it in the back of your mouth. Just like the kuh,
the only difference between a chuh and a kuh is the manner of articulation,
the particular way which the airstream is modified so kuh is
an explosion chuh is like frication. You make a little bit of noise by making
some obstruction in the same place of your mouth. So what people do is they,
they somehow they can calculate what is the closest what is
the most similar sound, and they do so according to our
phonetically-defined features. >> Okay so, this reminds me of Hawaiian, which we talked about
in the previous video. Because Hawaiian has only a very
small set of consonants, right? >> Right.
>> So that would be very interesting, if they borrow words. They would have to be adjusted. >> Yeah, that's, that's, that's right. So they, they, they have to take
the consonant which is closest, but actually they have very few consonants,
so the thing which is closest might be actually
quite far away sometimes for them. There's a famous example. Hawaii obviously is a part
of the United States. So they borrow a lot in Hawaii. And they borrow a lot of English words
with their little consonant set. Well they don't have a T,
we have seen they don't have a separate T. Their T is actually pronounced like a K. Actually, also their S is
sometimes pronounced like a K. So, it's, it's quite well known that
Hawaiian word for Christmas is Kalikimaka. Well, that is almost unrecognizable for us as Christmas but
Kaliki is Chri- right? So, the K is there, the R of Christmas
is changed into an L, Kali. And then ki, so this ki,
that's the st of Chri-st-mas, right? So st all together is turned into a k. So these changes might
be actually quite big in an individual language if
they don't have a lot of choice. But still, you can calculate
that this is still the closest sound in their particular system. >> Mm-hm, okay. >> I'm quite sure that your language
has borrowed words from some other language as well. If you don't speak English it definitely
has borrowed words from English. If you do speak English, well English has
borrowed words all over the place for instance from French, or from German. What do you do with sounds
in those other languages in your language when
you borrow those words? This is something I invite you
to discuss on our forum, and in the next video we're going to
do some field work, we're going to look into the consonant systems of
the languages of our informants.

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