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Re: [ontolog-forum] 15,000-year-old ancestral language

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 08 May 2013 11:28:23 -0400
Message-id: <518A6F17.6000603@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat C, Matthew, Ed,    (01)

> The word "bark" (or "barking") is not included in the Longman
> defining vocabulary.    (02)

I believe that they meant 'bark' in the sense of the outer covering
of trees.  Its survival in northern Eurasia is probably due to the
importance of birch bark in pre-industrial societies.  For examples,
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birch_bark    (03)

> the notion of animal sounds being very basic had not occurred to me,
> nor appeared in the works I have seen.    (04)

But the way animal sounds are represented as words in any language
is extremely variable.  It depends on which sounds are considered
important, how they're interpreted, and what patterns of phonology
match those interpretations.  Just consider all the word forms
that mimic the sounds of animals in English and other languages.    (05)

> Did water and tea really not make the list? Tea especially.    (06)

The word for tea in most languages is borrowed from Chinese.
Traders who went by sea to southern China adopted words like
'tea' from Cantonese.  Those that traded with the north,
borrowed words like 'cha' or 'chai' from Mandarin.    (07)

There are exceptions, such as 'herbata' in Polish.  Poland is
on the border between Russian 'chai' and German 'Tee'.    (08)

As for water, it is so common that it appears in many different
forms with different words.  Which one becomes the generic term
is accidental.  The English 'water' is cognate with the Greek
'hydor' and the Latin 'unda' (wave) -- not Latin 'aqua'.    (09)

> And in the latter half of the 20th century it became commonplace in our
> trade to re-invent the same old wheels every 5-10 years with a whole new
> set of terms to suggest that there was a "new" technology.    (010)

That's true, but the core vocabulary changes much more slowly.
Japanese, for example, has a huge number of words borrowed from
Chinese, but they still have a strong native core.  Now they're
borrowing so many words from English that the older generation
of Japanese can't read their daily newspapers.    (011)

By the way, their words for tea and rice are borrowed from Chinese,
but they are also using the word 'raisu', which was first borrowed
in the phrase 'kari raisu'.    (012)

John    (013)

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