Oasist Linguistics

Oasist Linguistics is about linguistics and languages.

Keywords of Modern America

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The United States

Greetings

I attended Vital Japan the 169th monthly session on 10 November 2018 which theme was Keywords of Modern America (現代アメリカを読み解くキーワードを学ぶ).
The speaker was Mr. Satoshi Sugita, who have been in charge of the lecturer Practical Business English (実践ビジネス英語).
There I knew the latest PC word which have been widely discussed recently.
Today I would like to share what I learned at the time.
We should at least know such PC Word as common sense and knowledge to avoid conflicts and troubles caused by ignorance.

Contents

  1. Political Correctness 1 - Gender, Sex, Diversity -
  2. Political Correctness 2 - Social Movements -
  3. Products of Digital Age
  4. Others

1. Political Correctness 1 - Gender, Sex, Diversity -

Taboo / Obsolete / Ordinarily Used Word PC Word Notes
Ladies and gentleman Good morning, passengers.
Hello, everyone.
Human are not just men and women.
neuter non-binary Facebook has about 71 diversified gender categories.
gender-free gender-neuter
gender-fluid
-
transgender pansexual
pangender
(Meaning) Those who are attracted by someone else regardless of gender
he
she
s/he
ze
xe
Excluding gender in pronouns.
they singular they (e.g.) He himself violated a taboo. => He themself violated a taboo.
Mr.
Mrs.
Miss
Ms.
Mx. Neutral title.
Mr. / Mrs can be added before the name only if allowed.
foreign international Excluding of a nuance of alien.
(e.g.) foreign students => international students
(Exceptions) foreign minister, foreign exchange, foreign reserve
chairman chairperson
=> chair
-person should be omitted by analogy.
anchorman anchorperson
=> anchor
The same example as chair.
actor
actress
actor Excluding discrimination of job title based on gender.
hero
heroin
hero The same example as actor.
waitress waitperson, waitron
=> waitstaff
The same example as actor.
coed student The same example as actor.

2. Political Correctness 2 - Social Movements -

Taboo / Obsolete / Ordinarily Used Word PC Word Notes
global warming climate change It is argued, particularly the president of America, that raise of global temperature is not caused by human being but physical processes.
slow children slow down Excluding the nuance of lob or gawk.
the disabled, the handicapped [Not Fixed Yet] What is the best politically correct is still under debate.
Negro
=> black
=> Afro-American
=> African American
=> coloured people
people of colour N-word is STRONGLY PROHIBITED.
Words related to people of colour are very sensitive.
In 2018, Megyn Kelly, an American journalist and political commentator, was fired from NBC for Blackface comments.
flip chart easel Political correction of its discriminatory nuance to Filipino.
Christmas party office party Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah as Christians observe Christmas.
Oriental Chinese Political correction of its discriminatory nuance to Chinese people.
Jew Jewish person Political correction of its discriminatory nuance to Jewish people.

3. Products of Digital Age

Word Meaning
friend "befriend" was originally used as the verbal form of friend but it was verbed as the antonym of “unfriend”.
ghosting Getting out of touch all of a sudden
trolling Posting something ridiculous and unpleasant to social networking services in order to pull people's attention.
catfish Identity thief on the internet
always-on Staying active at any time on social networking services
text-neck Distorted neck caused by looking down at smart phones
grammable Attractive on social networking services such as Instagram
FOMO Fear Of Missing Out.
Worries of falling behind of information and opportunities.
JOMO Joy Of Missing Out.
Movements of control in information to receive and get back joy of life.
couch-potato Already obsolete.
Being relaxed watching TV with chips.

4. Others

Word Meaning
go postal
=> Run, Hide, Fight
Mass-shooting.
It used to happen in post offices frequently so it was called go postal of which phrase sounds obsolete.
But if we face such a threatening situation today, we must Run first, Hide secondly and Fight in the worst case.
So we call mass-shooting Run, Hide, Fight nowadays.
senior moment Dementia of the aged.
Elderly couples address each other in sweet ways like "darling", "sweety", "honey" etc.
It looks happy for the third party but they cannot actually remember name of the partner.

Conclusion

We saw a lot of examples of PC Word in English.
Other languages, particularly of Northern Europe, have also such restricted expressions.
Surroundings will go on changing and what we saw today might be useless and must learn the new in some years, and yet it is quite natural because words are living and.

As I sign off, I would like to share the saying Mr. Sugita provided in his speech.

Words are not in the dictionary. They are in minds of people who make use of words.

Reference

The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.5 - Faces of Languages -

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English Language

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

In the last volume, we learned the following things.

  1. Some words went through shift of meanings by Pejoration or Amelioration.
  2. Pejoration - Shift from positive to negative meanings.
  3. Amelioration - Shift from negative to positive meanings.

This is the last volume of The Basic of English Linguistics.
Today we think about Faces of Languages.
Before we get started, let us think about the following question.

What are languages?

We make the most of languages as a communication tool in our daily small talks, business talks, email, conferences, speeches, lectures, discussions, video conferences, restaurants, bars and more.
So "Languages are communication tools" is a very correct answer, of course.
But is that all?

When I was a university student, my professor gave me a saying which is

Those who know one language know no language.

We often detect the essence of things in comparisons of one with another.
In other words, we never know what it is without any objects to compare.
The more we know about another language, and the more we understand what our mother tongues are, the more distinctive differences between them become.

Today we remark 2 faces of languages other than the function as a communication tool.

Contents

  1. Languages Are Cultures
  2. Languages are Dress Codes

1. Languages Are Cultures

1-1. Extract

How we address others depends on our relationships to them.
My friends refer to me as Mike.
However, many students refer to me as Prof. Geis or Dr. Geis or Mr. Geis, even though I usually encourage them to call me Mike.
Some other American professors and encourage this in order to signal a feeling of solidarity with students.
Nevertheless, the power difference between professors and students is large and many students feel more comfortable using a title plus the last name than just the first name.
Oriental students who study in the United States normally feel very uncomfortable using just a professor's first name, at least at the beginning.

Quoted from Language and Communication

1-2. Exposition

We change modes of address based on the following 4 factors.

How we address others depends on our relationships to them.

  • Familiarity
  • Age
  • Social Class
  • Respect

In western society, signalling familiarities to others is seen as a courtesy.
Probably there people know solidarity helps them to realise high performance in team plays and the whole society.
That must be because they encourage others to call them in such a first name or nickname as Mike instead of using a title plus the last name based on mutual agreements and understandings.
It is a culture.

On the other hands, what about Asian society?
Please allow me to mention Japanese culture as an example.

Oriental students who study in the United States normally feel very uncomfortable using just a professor's first name, at least at the beginning.

Let us pick up Japanese society as an example.
We Japanese people must appropriately keep psychological distance using 3 forms, Honorific Form, Humble Form and Polite Form instead of signalling solidarity.
In Japanese society, we rarely see someone superior talking others into calling them in the first name or a nickname instead of calling them with the last name plus neutral title "-san".
It is another culture.

Then, why Asian student feel very uncomfortable using just a professor's first name, at least at the beginning?
Because we embrace our own cultures via our mother tongues.
Native English speakers values solidarity while Asian people think highly of respects to the superior.
When we live in another culture, there is a conflict between our own cultures and another one we are in.
Asian people are unwilling to address professors because of a huge gap between the western culture and theirs.
Once they melt into the culture, they will not just use English naturally but call professors in a nickname or the first name without any title if they may.

So we conclude Languages Are Cultures.

2. Languages are Dress Codes

2-1. Extract

How we talk, just as how we dress, varies with the social context we are in.
A young person will talk very differently when with his or her grandparents than with close friends.
Although one can make finer distinctions, it is useful to distinguish four basic speech styles: formal, consultative, casual, and intimate.
Formal speech style is used in social gatherings that are themselves formal, where people feel they must behave in an especially correct way ― perhaps at a formal banquet, at a funeral of an important person, at a ceremony honoring someone who is very important, at a White House reception, etc.
Consultative speech style is the style used in business meetings, in university lectures, at a meeting of strangers, etc.
Casual speech style is used by persons who are friendly with each other in informal settings. Intimate style is used by very close friends in private settings.

Quoted from Language and Communication

2-2. Exposition

We use the following 4 speech style according to the social situation we find ourselves in.

Speech Style When & Where to Use
Formal Social gatherings as formal banquets, funerals, formal ceremonies where people must behave in a polite way
Consultative Business meetings, university lectures, meetings of strangers etc.
Casual Among people who are familiar to each other in formal settings
Intimate Among Very close friends in private settings

In formal situations, we must pay more attention to exact pronunciations, correct grammar and appropriate usage in order to make it easier and more comfortable for listeners to understand what we mean, which stands for our respects to others..
So we necessarily are nervous and stressful in such a circumstance.
In contrast, we pay less attention to them, which makes both speakers and listers more relaxed and casual in informal situations, which shows friendliness.
If we talked politely in informal situations or casually in formal ones, it sounds very strange because of lack in agreement with time, place and occasions.

It also applies to our clothes.
In formal situations, we must pay more attention to winkles, spots, colours, sizes and what we are dressed in so as to make others comfortable, which represents our respects to others.
So we necessarily are nervous and stressful in such a circumstance.
On the other hands, we may wear T-shirts or such casual clothes paying least attention to appearance, which suggests intimacy.
If we talked politely in formal situations or casually in informal ones, it sounds very strange because of lack in agreement with time, place and occasions.
If we worn well-tailored tuxedo in in such informal situations as private drinking party with our close friends or T-shirts in such formal ones as funerals, it looks quite weird.

We change speech styles according to surroundings we are in as we wear clothes in accordance with them.
So we conclude Languages are Dress Codes.

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. Languages play a role in communication tools but we can recognise others too.
  2. languages reflect the culture because it is the very environment where we formed our cultural identities.
  3. languages are dress codes because we adjust them to the surroundings we find ourselves in.

As I sign off, thank you very much for sparing your time to read my article.
I am still thinking of what to share in the next series but I hope to see you soon in the next blog article.

Till then, take care!

Reference

  • Michal L. Geis argues, Language and Communication, unknown where and when to have been published

The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.4 - English Vocabulary Ⅱ (Pejoration and Amelioration) -

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English Language

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

In the last volume, we learned the following things.

  1. Compounds - Combine more than 2 independent words together
  2. Derivations - Add affix to independent words so as to cause functional shifts
  3. Borrowings - Borrow vocabulary from languages all over the world

English language has the history and each word of English vocabulary we use in daily lives consciously or unconsciously does as well, of course.
In this volume, we focus on historical changes of words, Pejoration and Amelioration.
The knowledge we learn here will enable us to deepen understandings of English vocabulary and tell the nuances between similar words, which will make English learning more interesting.

Contents

  1. Pejoration
  2. Amelioration

1. Pejoration

Pejoration means historical shift from negative to positive meanings in a word.
We refer to silly as an example.
First, let us see the meanings and origin on Oxford English Dictionary.

1-1. Meaning

1 Having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.
   1.1 Ridiculously trivial or frivolous.
   1.2 [as complement] Used to convey that an activity or process has been engaged in to such a degree that someone is no longer capable of thinking or acting sensibly.
2 archaic (especially of a woman, child, or animal) helpless; defenceless.
3 Cricket [attributive] Denoting fielding positions very close to the batsman.

Quoted from Oxford English Dictionary

1-2. Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘deserving of pity or sympathy’): alteration of dialect seely ‘happy’, later ‘innocent, feeble’, from a West Germanic base meaning ‘luck, happiness’.
The sense ‘foolish’ developed via the stages ‘feeble’ and ‘unsophisticated, ignorant’.

Quoted from Oxford English Dictionary

1-3. Exposition

silly is used in negative ways in Present-Day English but it was originally of positive meanings.
We can chronologically organise its historical changes as follows.

lucky, happy, blessed
=> pious, innocent
=> unworldly
=> pitiable, miserable, feeble
=> foolish

Then, how did these seemingly huge shifts of the meanings occur?

In Old English age, this word used to refer to the noble such as a king who was lucky and happy. Those people came to be seen as happy and blessed by the God.
The happy were generally pious and innocent.
Such people began to be thought of as unworldly and they were troubled by those around all the more for such personality.
People viewed it as pitiable, miserable and feeble.
Someone miserable tended to be thoughtless, which people finally came to consider as foolish.

We can recognise the same phenomenon in the following words.

Word Original Meaning Current Meaning
knave Old English cnafa ‘boy, servant’, of West Germanic origin; related to German Knabe ‘boy’ A dishonest or unscrupulous man
villain The person or thing responsible for all of the trouble or harm in a particular situation (in a film, novel, or play) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot
cunning Middle English: perhaps from Old Norse kunnandi ‘knowledge’, from kunna ‘know’ (related to can), or perhaps from Middle English cunne, an obsolete variant of can. The original sense was ‘(possessing) erudition or skill’ and had no implication of deceit; the sense ‘deceitfulness’ dates from late Middle English Having or showing skill in achieving one's ends by deceit or evasion

2. Amelioration

Pejoration means historical shift from positive to negative meanings in a word, which is completely opposite to pejoration.
We mention nice as an example.
First, let us see the meanings and origin on Oxford English Dictionary.

2-1. Meaning

1 Giving pleasure or satisfaction; pleasant or attractive.
   1.1 (of a person) good-natured; kind.
   1.2 ironic Not good; unpleasant.
2 (especially of a difference) slight or subtle.
   2.1 Requiring careful consideration.
3 archaic Fastidious; scrupulous.

Quoted from Oxford English Dictionary

2-2. Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘stupid’): from Old French, from Latin nescius ‘ignorant’, from nescire ‘not know’.
Other early senses included ‘coy, reserved’, giving rise to ‘fastidious, scrupulous’: this led both to the sense ‘fine, subtle’ (regarded by some as the ‘correct’ sense), and to the main current senses.

Quoted from Oxford English Dictionary

2-3. Exposition

nice is used in positive ways in Present-Day English but it was originally of negative meanings.
We can chronologically organise its historical changes as follows.

foolish, stupid
=> wanton
=> fastidious, fussy
=> difficult to manage
=> minute and subtle
=> precise, critical
=> minutely accurate
=> pleasant, attractive

Originally, it meant foolish and stupid and changed to wanton later on.
Wanton people were fastidious, fussy and difficult to manage.
Such people were minute and subtle and seen as minutely accurate.
Since 17th - 18th century, it has been of current meaning of pleasant and attractive.

We can recognise the same phenomenon in the following words.

Word Original Meaning Current Meaning
boy Middle English (denoting a male servant): of unknown origin A male child or youth
fame Middle English (also in the sense ‘reputation’, which survives in house of ill fame): via Old French from Latin fama The state of being known or talked about by many people, especially on account of notable achievements
pretty Old English prættig; related to Middle Dutch pertich ‘brisk, clever’, obsolete Dutch prettig ‘humorous, sporty’, from a West Germanic base meaning ‘trick’. The sense development ‘deceitful, cunning, clever, skilful, admirable, pleasing, nice’ has parallels in adjectives such as canny, fine, nice, etc.. (of a person, especially a woman or child) attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. Some words went through shift of meanings by Pejoration or Amelioration.
  2. Pejoration - Shift from positive to negative meanings.
  3. Amelioration - Shift from negative to positive meanings.

Next one is going to be The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.5 -Faces of Languages-.
Please look forward to it.

Till then, take care!

Reference

The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.3 - English Vocabulary Ⅰ (Compounds, Derivations and Borrowings) -

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English Language

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

In the last volume, we learned the following things.

  1. English is not a single language but has diversity all over the world.
  2. British / American English refer to the same objects in different spellings or words and different objects in the same words.

Oxford English Dictionary contains no less than 500,000 "official" words.
As we know, new words are born in social networking tools, mass media or even our small talks.
We have the astronomical number of English vocabulary including slang and new-born idioms.

How English language coins brand new vocabulary?
It can be divided into the following 3 ways.

  • Compounds - Combination of an existing word with anther / others
  • Derivations - Conversion of word class into another (e.g. verb → adjective)
  • Borrowings - Absorption of words in foreign languages

On the one hand, English vocabulary provides us with rich expressions.
On the other hand, it is too rich vocabulary particularly for non-native speakers to use it appropriately and we fail to make the most without understanding the basic scheme of compounds, derivations and borrowings.
Let us make our learnings more easier and interesting with scaffold of them built in us.

Contents

  1. Compounds
  2. Derivations
  3. Borrowings

1. Compounds

1-1. What Are Compounds?

One of the ways to make create words is to combine more than 2 independent words together.
This word forming used to be traditional in Germanic languages, such as English, German, Dutch etc. but this style is disappearing in Present=day English.

1-2. Compounds Vocabulary

1-2-1. Noun

Word Original Word 1 Original Word 2 Meanings
yellow jacket yellow jacket A wasp or hornet
redneck red neck A working-class white person from the southern US, especially a politically reactionary one
butterfingers butter fingers A person who regularly drops or fails to keep hold of things
greenhouse green house A glass building in which plants that need protection from cold weather are grown
airport air port A complex of runways and buildings for the take-off, landing, and maintenance of civil aircraft, with facilities for passengers
warehouse ware house A large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored prior to their distribution for sale

1-2-2. Adjective

Word Original Word 1 Original Word 2 Meanings
easygoing easy going Relaxed and tolerant in attitude or manner
eye-catching eye catching Immediately appealing or noticeable; striking
diehard die hard A person who strongly opposes change or who continues to support something in spite of opposition
old-fashioned old fashioned In or according to styles or types no longer current; not modern
self-employed self employed Working for oneself as a freelance or the owner of a business rather than for an employer
open-minded open minded Willing to consider new ideas; unprejudiced

1-2-3. Verb

Word Original Word 1 Original Word 2 Meanings
underestimate under estimate Estimate (something) to be smaller or less important than it really is
handwash hand wash Wash (something) by hand rather than in a washing machine
spoon-feed spoon feed Provide (someone) with so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves
sweet talk sweet talk Insincerely praise (someone) in order to persuade them to do something

2. Derivations

2-1. What Are Derivations?

Another way is to add affix to independent words so as to make functional shift happen.
Affix is classifies into prefix and postfix.

2-2. Derivations Vocabulary

2-2-1. Prefix

Word Prefix Meaning of Prefix Meanings of Word
antivirus anti- Opposed to; against (of software) designed to detect and destroy computer viruses
exceed ex- Upward Be greater in number or size than (a quantity, number, or other measurable thing)
incomplete in- (added to adjectives) not Not having all the necessary or appropriate parts
unhappy un- (added to adjectives) denoting the absence of a quality or state; not (unhappy at/about/with) Not satisfied or pleased with (a situation)
prepare pre- Before (in time, place, order, degree, or importance) Make (something) ready for use or consideration; Make (someone) ready or able to do or deal with something
reply re- Once more; afresh; anew Say something in response to something someone has said
despair de- (forming verbs and their derivatives) down; away The complete loss or absence of hope
misunderstand mis- (added to verbs and their derivatives) wrongly Fail to interpret or understand (something) correctly

2-2-2. Postfix

Word Postfix Meaning of Prefix Functional Shift
washable -able able to be Verb → Adjective
protection -ion Forming nouns denoting verbal action Verb → Noun
singer -er Denoting a person or thing that performs a specified action or activity Verb → Noun
impressive -ive (forming adjectives, also nouns derived from them) tending to; having the nature of Verb → Adjective
beautiful -ful (forming adjectives from nouns) full of Noun → Adjective
hopeless -less (forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns) not having; free from Adjective → Adverb
slowly -ly Forming adverbs from adjectives, chiefly denoting manner or degree Adjective → Adverb
happiness -ness (forming nouns chiefly from adjectives) denoting a state or condition Adjective → Noun

3. Borrowings

3-1. What Are Borrowings?

English language has borrowed vocabulary from languages all over the world.
Those words are technically called borrowing / loan word.
Historically speaking, English experienced conflicts with a lot of foreign languages when various peoples invaded Great Britain and the British Empire globally expanded its power, where English absorbed a number of new vocabulary.
Especially, words of more than 2 syllables are borrowed from Latin and French ad they accounts for over 50% of English vocabulary.
Those borrowings are used in daily various scenes and rooted in a part of English-speaking countries.

3-2. Derivations Vocabulary

Origin Features Word
Latin Technical, religious and literal terms
minister
priest
clerk
consecrate
anthem
fact
fragile
separate
estimate
chest
spend
French From daily to technical terms
country
fruit
poor
peace
nice
safe
dress
Scandinavia Rooted in core of English vocabulary
they
their
them
law
take
get
sky
window
die
call
cast
want
Dutch - yacht
Greek - melon
Chinese - tea
Arabic - orange
Spanish - cigarette
Japanese - hara-kiri

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
English has been bearing new vocabulary in the following 3 ways.

  1. Compounds - Combine more than 2 independent words together
  2. Derivations - Add affix to independent words so as to cause functional shifts
  3. Borrowings - Borrow vocabulary from languages all over the world

Next one is going to be The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.4 -English Vocabulary Ⅱ (Pejoration and Amelioration) -.
Please look forward to it.

Till then, take care!

Reference

  • Kiyoaki Kikuchi, Takeshi Kioke, Kazutomo Karasawa, Ryuichi Hotta, Kazuki Fukuda, Yasuyuki Kaizuka, Takeshi Matsuzaki,『英語学:現代英語をより深く知るために-現代英語の諸相と英語学術語解説-』, Osaka, Roban Shobo Publishing Co.,Ltd., 2008
  • Oxford English Dictionary - Last Accessed: 10 January 2019

The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.2 - English as a Global Language -

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English Language

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

In the last volume, we learned the following things.

  1. English belongs to the Germanic language family.
  2. English has 4 historical periods, Old English, Middle English, Modern English (Early Modern English) and Present-Day English (Late modern English).
  3. Present-Day English has 3 assets (affluent vocabulary / loss of grammatical gender / loss of inflections) and 2 liabilities (huge gaps between spellings and actual pronunciations / too many idioms).

Do you know English?
You might say "Yes!" but do you really know it?

English is never a single language any more because a lot of people speak it as the mother tongue, the second language or a foreign language.
So we have a variety of English in the world.

Also, British and American English are the most widely known.
Do you know about any difference between them?

So we will see what kind of English there are in the world and what differences exist between British and American English today.

Contents

  1. Diverse English in the World
  2. British English VS American English

1. Diverse English in the World

As we saw the last volume, English is widely spoken around 30 countries / areas.
So it necessarily owns diversity all over the world.
Here are examples of them.

1-1. British English (Queen's English)

Its development is deeply related to the history of invasion by Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian and French whose languages influenced the essence if English, which made it largely changed.

1-2. American English (President's English)

The form of that English language which came into the north America in the 17th century and developed that comes from the one spoken by Shakespeare and Milton.
There was patriotism as a background where American wanted to be independent of the U.K. in terms of not just politics but the language they spoke soon after they got independent in the late 18th century.

1-3. Canadian English

It has the same origin as American English because it comes from the English language spoken by royalists who escaped from American Revolution and came into Canada between 1776 - 1793.
Later on, a number of immigrants were sent to it by the U.K., which caused collisions of American accent and British accent.
It is said that Canadian English sounds like mix of American English with British one because of the historical context mention above.

1-4. Australian English (Aussie English)

It was uniquely developed by immigrants from the South-East part of the U.K later than the 18 century.
Its grammar and pronunciation basically inherit those of British English and it has specific accent particularly recognised in rural areas.
Also Aussie English has a variety of slang (e.g. G'day as Casual "Hello", sunnies as sunglasses, Ta as casual "Thank you").

1-5. New Zealand English (Kiwi English)

Its grammar and pronunciation basically inherit those of British English as Australian English but it has a specific features in pronunciation and slang.

1-6. English as an Official / the Second Languages

It is spoken among countries which were historically colonised by the U.K, such as India, Sri Lanka, Kenia, Tanzania, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong etc.

1-7. Pidgin English

It is spoken in commerce and brief communications among Africa, areas along the South Pacific and the Caribbean Sea which have traditionally traded with the U.K.
It is mixed with native languages of those countries and areas.
pidgin means business pronounced in Chinese accent.
Chinese language hardly tell /p/ from /b/, which changed /b/ sound into /p/, dropped /s/ in the last syllable and turned pidgin.

1-8. Creole English

It is Pidgin English as the mother tongue for people in areas which have historically traded with the U.K.
People speak it in various scenes in everyday life.
It has richer vocabulary and complicated grammar.

1-9. English Spoken among Specific Communities

e.g.) English spoken by people of colour.

2. British English VS American English

In the previous chapter, we had a look at what diverse English exists all over the world.
Here we focus on vocabulary of British English and American one.
It might help us to recognise what is British or American English.

2-1. Same Words but Different Meanings

Word British English American English
corn grain Indian corn
first floor the floor of a building above the ground floor the ground floor of a building
rubber eraser condom
pants underwear trousers
chips fried potato crisps

2-2. Different Words to Mention the Same Objects

British English American English
lift elevator
luggage baggage
lorry truck
trousers pants
biscuit cookie
mobile cell (celluar)
petrol gasoline
single ticket one-way ticket
return ticket round-trip ticket
sweet(s) candy
CV (curriculum vitae) Resume
shop store
flat ]apartment
tube / underground subway
pavement sidewalk
wash basin sink
film / cinema movie
fun fair amusement park
graduation ceremony commencement
queue line
wireless radio
gaol jail

2-3. The Same Words but Different Spellings

British English American English
colour color
cheque check
centre center
theatre theater
organise organize
omelette omelet
grey gray

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. English is not a single language but has diversity all over the world.
  2. British / American English refer to the same objects in different spellings or words and different objects in the same words.

Next one is The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.3 -English Vocabulary Ⅰ (Compounds, Derivations and Borrowings) -.

Till then, take care!

Reference

  • Kiyoaki Kikuchi, Kazutomo Karasawa, Ryuichi Hotta, Yasuyuki Kaizuka,『英語史:現代英語の特質を求めて-多文化性と国際性-』, Osaka, Kansai Humanities Publishing, 2009
  • Kiyoaki Kikuchi, Takeshi Kioke, Kazutomo Karasawa, Ryuichi Hotta, Kazuki Fukuda, Yasuyuki Kaizuka, Takeshi Matsuzaki,『英語学:現代英語をより深く知るために-現代英語の諸相と英語学術語解説-』, Osaka, Roban Shobo Publishing Co.,Ltd., 2008

The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.1 - What Is English Language? -

f:id:oasist:20190104220808j:plain
English Language

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

I majored in English linguistics when I was a university student and stayed in Australia, which made me interested in English and languages themselves.
I make use of English every day mainly for my current job as an engineer in reading documents and composing tech blog articles.
In my days off, I enjoy networking with people in different backgrounds of working fields in English.
These experiences make English more and more attractive and intriguing so that I cannot help pursuing fun to study it more deeply.

Here I will have some knowledge in common which I think is interesting enough to be worth being shared.
I wish you could enjoy them and discover something new for you all.

Contents

  1. Families of Languages
  2. The Periods of English Languages
  3. The Features of Present-Day English

1. The Indo-European Languages Families

1-1. Languages Families Chart

Languages are divided into some families based on their historical derivations as follows.
* Not all languages are listed because of limited space.

f:id:oasist:20190104224134p:plain
The Indo-European Languages (borrowed from "The Roots of English")

Language Family Language
Germanic
English
German
Dutch
Flemish
Danish
Swedish
Norwegian
Romance Languages
Portuguese
Spanish
Catalan
Provençal (Occitan)
French
Celtic
Welsh
Breton
Irish
Scottish Gaelic

1-2. Why Language Families Are Mentioned Here?

How mastering a language largely depends on which family the language belongs to.
For example, native Dutch or German speakers take less efforts because these languages belong to the same family as English, Germanic language.
In fact, learners of these speakers need as less as 480 hours till they achieve the daily conversational level, whereas native Japanese speakers take minimum 2,500 hours according to an article published on 29 October 2017 by The Japan Times, Why do Japanese have trouble learning English?

www.japantimes.co.jp

2. The Periods of English Languages

English language has 4 historical periods.

f:id:oasist:20190104224326p:plain
Old English (borrowed from "A HISTORY OF ENGLISH LANGAUGE sixth edition")

3. The Features of Present-Day English

Category Number Feature Details
Assets
1 Affluent vocabulary Provide us with a variety of expressions and familiarity, thanks to borrowings from other languages all over the world
2 Loss of grammatical gender Natural gender where some nouns are basically neutral and others agree with its gender (e.g. boy as male, lady as female)
3 Loss of inflections Occur only in pronouns (e.g. I-my-me, they-their-them)
Liabilities
1 Huge gaps between spellings and actual pronunciations English is famous for its the biggest difference between spellings and actual pronunciations among European languages, which make it quite difficult for us to pronounce words in accurate ways (e.g. name, foreign, archive, bouquet, draught, indict etc.)
2 Too many idioms Lack of inflections and development of propositions have born a lot of idioms which enriches English expressions such that even native English speakers take a lot of pains at knowing and use all.
Others
1 The number of native speakers 400 millions
2 The number of those who speak English as the second / a foreign language 1.2 billions
3 The number of countries and areas where English language is dominant and prevailing 30
4 Market share in post industry 75%
5 Market share in tech industry 80%
6 The number of words in The Oxford English Dictionary 500 thousands
7 The number of borrowings 3.5 millions
8 French and Latin origin in the whole of English vocabulary 50%
9 The history of English language 1,500 years

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. English belongs to the Germanic language family.
  2. English has 4 historical periods, Old English, Middle English, Modern English (Early Modern English) and Present-Day English (Late modern English).
  3. Present-Day English has 3 assets (affluent vocabulary / loss of grammatical gender / loss of inflections) and 2 liabilities (huge gaps between spellings and actual pronunciations / too many idioms).

Next one is The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.2 -English as a Global Language-.

Till then, take care!

Reference

The Population, Dominance and Death Vol.2 - Programming Languages -

f:id:oasist:20181213155146j:plain
Programming Languages

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

In the last volume, The Population, Dominance and Death Vol.1 -Programming Languages-, we learned the things below.

  1. There are 7,097 living natural languages in the world.
  2. Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken in terms of the number of native speakers, whereas English the most prevailing in terms of that of all speakers.
  3. A natural language can dominate the world because of not just features / assets of the language but political / economic power.
  4. A natural language dies when it has under 2 speakers.
  5. We no more have ways to do social and mental activities when our language dies

We will see what are Programming Languages this time.

Contents

  1. The Number of Programming Languages in the World
  2. Top 10 of the Most Spoken Programming Languages
  3. What Makes a Programming Language Dominant
  4. Death of a Programming Language

1. The Number of Programming Languages in the World

How many programming languages on earth are there in the world?
It is a much deeper question to answer than we expect because it depends on how we decide the range and definition as a programming language.
In fact, CodeLani tells us sources below show different number because each has its own perspective.

TIOBE - 250
The TIOBE index is one of the best lists of popular programming languages and monitors ~250 popular programming languages.
TIOBE tracks a programming language if it passes 3 tests: it must have its own Wikipedia page, it must be Turing complete, and a Google search for it must return over 5,000 search results.

Wikipedia - 700
Wikipedia has a list whose goal is to include “all notable programming languages in existence”, that currently lists over 700 programming languages.
Wikipedia’s list excludes certain types of languages such as markup languages.

FOLDOC - 1,000
FOLDOC, a 90’s era online dictionary of computing, lists over 1,000 programming languages, though that includes aliases.

The Language List - 2,500
The Language List–started in 1991–tracks ~2,500 computer languages.
The Language List includes popular languages as well as many “published languages”.
If a language was published in a journal it may be on the list, regardless of its implementation history or popularity.

HOPL - 8,945
HOPL is a collection curated by Diarmuid Pigott.
It lists 8,945 programming languages!

J.E. Sammet - ~165 (In 1971)
Jean Sammet was an early computer pioneer, helping developer the COBOL language.
She also was one of the first to start tracking programming languages and as early as 1971 tracked ~165 languages.

Quoted from CodeLani


CodeLani estimates that active general purpose programming languages are between 500 and 2,000 by large.

Yet TIOBE's index seems the most trustworthy because it defines programming languages in the evident criteria which are:

  • Having its own Wikipedia - Popular enough to obtain citizenship
  • Being Turing complete - Computers can process the code
  • Returning over 5,000 search results in Google search - Enough reference

Here we would like to conclude that there exists 250 programming languages in the world.

2. Top 10 of the Most Spoken Programming Languages

The next question we might have is "what are the most popular programming languages?".
TIOBE released Top 50 Ranking in 2018. I extracted the Top 10 and added the Usage column to make it easier to recognise what is for what.
* "Usage" column is added to the chart with reference to usersnap, hackr-blog, techpedia and styleguide.

Position Language Rating Usage
1 Java 15.932% Server-side apps, Video games, Android apps etc.
2 C 14.282% Loe-level apps, Firmware of TVs, OS of Windows and airplanes etc.
3 Python 8.376% Web apps, Data analysis etc.
4 C++ 7.562% OS, Browsers, Banking apps, Cloud/Distributed systems, Embedded systems, Telephone switches etc.
5 Visual Basic .NET 7.127% Development of consoles, GUIs, Windows forms, Web services, Web apps
6 C# 3.455% Microsoft apps etc.
7 Javascript 3.963% Interactive elements to and from websites etc.
8 PHP 2.442% Data-heavy websites, apps development, WordPress, Facebook etc.
9 SQL 2.184% Interaction with sweet data etc.
10 Objective-C 1.477% Apps on OS X and iOS

f:id:oasist:20181213155657p:plain
TIOBE Programming Community Index

3. What Makes a Programming Language Dominant

According to the Top 10 ranking chart in the previous chapter, Java is the most popular programming language in the programming market.
What makes Java that dominant?
The biggest factor is likely to be Job Demand.

CODING DOJO refers to a measure of popularity in programming languages.

There are many ways to measure a programming language’s popularity, but we believe examining job demand is most useful because it shows developers the skills to learn to improve their career prospects.

Quoted from CODING DOJO


If the language is on demand, tech people with its skill are all the more precious because system developments are definitely thirsty for them.
Needless to say, engineers would like to be as valuable as possible so they take a lot of pains at acquiring such skills demanded, which gets the programming languages popular.
Java is this dominant, for it is widely used for developments of Server-side apps, Video games, Android apps, which requires a number of Java engineers and people apply to the demand.

Also, when we carry out Google search with tech skill on demand, it absolutely returns Machine Learning and AI on the top result.
BusinessLine informs us of demand for data analytics as follows with the title 50,000 open data analytics jobs currently expected to double to 100,000 in 2018.

“We expect a 60% increase in demand for AI and machine learning specialists in 2018,” said BN Thammaiah, Managing Director at Kelly Services India.

Quoted from BusinessLine


Python ranks at the 3rd best in the Top 10 ranking chart in the former chapter because demand for AI and machine learning specialists is growing more and more, the fact of which is reflected on job demand.

4. Death of a Programming Language

Same as natural languages, programming languages also need to be used by people for their changes, developments and evolution.

Codementer define valueless programming languages as follows.

Be it because nobody is using it, nobody is hiring for it, or nobody is talking about it — based on the level of community engagement, the job market, and overall growth — some languages just aren’t worth your time anymore.

Quoted from Codementer


It also published Top 20 Ranking of the worst programming languages to learn.
* Please go to the original website for reference to the detailed reasons why each of them is not worth our time any more.
This kind of argument tends to be quite arbitrary and dogmatic and this source also seems so.
But it tries to make evidence as convincing as possible with data based on comparison of community engagement, growth and job market in one with those in the others so that it must be worth a look.

f:id:oasist:20181230122303p:plain
Worst Programming Languages to Learn in 2018 Rankings

Bjarne Stroustrup mentions programming languages as follow.

There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.

Quoted from Bjarne Stroustrup


The former means they clearly requires committers, developers and users to discuss and execute their update to enhance their values.
Foe instance, Ruby released as many as 12 versions in 2018 according to Ruby Releases.

Release Version Release Date Note, Features
Ruby 2.6.0-rc1 2018-12-07 [Page Not Found]
Ruby 2.6.0-preview3 2018-11-06 JIT (Just-in-time) compiler, RubyVM::AST, A new alias, Endless range etc.
Ruby 2.5.3 2018-10-18 Complements of some missing files in the release packages of 2.5.2
Ruby 2.5.2 2018-10-17 Some bug fixes and some security fixes
Ruby 2.4.5 2018-10-17 About 40 bug fixes after the previous release, and also includes several security fixes.
Ruby 2.3.8 2018-10-17 Several security fixes
Ruby 2.6.0-preview2 2018-05-31 JIT (Just-in-time) compiler, RubyVM::AST, A new alias, Endless range etc.
Ruby 2.5.1 2018-03-28 Some bug fixes and some security fixes
Ruby 2.4.4 2018-03-28 Some bug fixes and some security fixes
Ruby 2.3.7 2018-03-28 70 bug fixes after the previous release, and also includes several security fixes
Ruby 2.2.10 2018-03-28 Several security fixes
Ruby 2.6.0-preview1 2018-02-24 rescue/else/ensure inside do/end blocks, yield_self etc.

As shown above, Ruby has repeatedly been updated to enhance its value with additional new features, patches on bugs and security issues.
Was it not for committers, developers and users, would it be possible to achieve these?
Of course, the answer is 100% NO!
To accomplish it, programming languages need feedback from users, discussion among committers and developers and actual implementation. Otherwise, they would remain full of bugs, vulnerable to cyber attacks and poorly user-friendly, which means they are already dead.

We have arrived at the conclusion that a programming language dies when it has under 2 people, 1 user and 1 committer / developer.

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. There are 250 living languages in the world, according to the most reliable source TIOBE.
  2. Java has the biggest population of its programmers.
  3. Job demand conditions what programming language is popular or not.
  4. A language dies when it has under 2 people, 1 user and 1 committer / developer.

To cut a long story short, both languages were created by people, developed by people and valued by people.

As I sign off, thank you very much for sparing your time to read my article.
When something interesting comes up to my mind, I will absolutely open my laptop and compose another.

Till then, take care!

Reference

The Population, Dominance and Death Vol.1 - Natural Languages -

natural-languages
Natural Languages

Greetings

Hello, this is Oasist.
How is life treating you?

One day, I wondered what if I compared Natural Languages with Programming Languages.
We rarely care about what are natural languages in our daily lives.
Likewise, programmers seldom pay attention to what are programming languages themselves.
Of course, fewer people are interested in what exists between them.
Yet actually I am!

I finally published 2 articles about it in Japanese for the blog powered by my company the other day.

techracho.bpsinc.jp techracho.bpsinc.jp

I needed to omit some detailed descriptions due to its limited space and time I could spare so I wanted to publish them in this personal blog in more brilliant and sophisticated form.
At last, here I am today.
Thank you very much.

As we may know, languages are very too deep and profound to comprehend all. So I would like to focus on just a few factors and split this blog into 2 volumes, The Population, Popularity and Death Vol.1 -Natural Languages- (this article) and The Population, Popularity and Death Vol.2 -Programming Languages-.

Contents

  1. The Number of Natural Languages in the World
  2. Top 10 of the Most Spoken Natural Languages
  3. What Makes a Natural Language Dominant
  4. Death of a Natural Language

1. The Number of the living Natural Languages in the World

As of 2018, there exist as many as 195 countries on this planet according to worldometers.
Then, how many natural languages on earth there are in the world?
Ethnologue tells us we have 7,097 living natural languages in the world as of 2018.
* Dead languages, such as Latin, are excluded here.

Also, The Intrepid Guide estimates distribution of spoken languages as:

Area Language Distribution
Asia 2,296
Africa 2,139
America 1,062
the Pacific 1,313
Europe 287

2. Top 10 of the Most Spoken Natural Languages

The next question we might have is "what are the most spoken natural languages today?".
World Economic Forum released the Top 10 Rankings on 22 Feb 2018.
* "Main Area" column is added to the chart with reference to Wikipedia and Babbel Magazine.

Position Language Population (unit: millions) Main Areas
1 Chinese(mandarin) 1,284 China, Singapore, Taiwan
2 Spanish 437 Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia
3 English 372 United States, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Philippines, Bangladesh, United Kingdom
4 Arabic 295 Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia
5 Hindi 260 Fiji, India, Pakistan
6 Bengali 242 Bangladesh, India
7 Portuguese 219 Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, Angola
8 Russian 154 Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan
9 Japanese 128 Japan
10 Lahnda 119 India, Pakistan

Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken one because China has the hugest population in the world.
By the way, we may be surprised English ranks at the 3rd best although it is becoming a global language.
It is because the chart above counts in only the number of native speakers of those languages.
Once we squeeze English speakers as the second language and a foreign one into it, the number soars up to as many as 1.5 billion speakers as of 2017.
The fact partly contributes to it that a number of Chinese people learn English more then English speakers learn Chinese.

Still, English occupies 75% of post items and 80% of email and internet market share.
It is dominant enough without doubt.

3. What Makes a Natural Language Dominant

As we know, English is establishing its position as a universal language.
But what on earth make it this much spoken? These 2 factors will come up with our minds.

3-1. Features and Assets

English has its 4 periods: Old English, Middle English, Modern English and Present-Day English. What we speak is the very last one. Present-Day English has the following 3 assets.

Number Asset Details
1 Affluent vocabulary Provide us with a variety of expressions and familiarity, thanks to borrowings from other languages all over the world
2 Loss of grammatical gender Natural gender where some nouns are basically neutral and others agree with its gender (e.g. boy as male, lady as female)
3 Loss of inflections Occur only in pronouns (e.g. I-my-me, they-their-them)

3-2. Political and Economic Power

When a country politically and economically dominates the world, its language also does. The History of English informs us of the history as follows.

f:id:oasist:20181228174740j:plain
Countries where English is an official language

As we have seen, a global language arises mainly due to the political and economic power of its native speakers.
It was British imperial and industrial power that sent English around the globe between the 17th and 20th Century.
The legacy of British imperialism has left many counties with the language thoroughly institutionalized in their courts, parliament, civil service, schools and higher education establishments.
In other counties, English provides a neutral means of communication between different ethnic groups.

But it has been largely American economic and cultural supremacy - in music, film and television; business and finance; computing, information technology and the Internet; even drugs and pornography - that has consolidated the position of the English language and continues to maintain it today.
American dominance and influence worldwide makes English crucially important for developing international markets, especially in the areas of tourism and advertising, and mastery of English also provides access to scientific, technological and academic resources which would otherwise be denied developing countries.

Quoted from The History of English


The British Empire used to be the most powerful in the medieval period especially because of Industrial Revolution, when the United States took over its position.
The fact means the baton of power was passed from an English speaking country to another English speaking country, which reveals why English has been prevailing.

Personally speaking, I am for having a global language because it provides wider conversation.
But I am against using it as a barrier.
Some native English speakers make a fool of those who do not speak it so well.
Is it so praiseworthy to naturally pick up their native language?
I strongly wondered it when I knew the news below.
www.bbc.com
They are privileged in terms of it, of course, but it will be violent once they make the best of it to look down on non-native speakers.
What do you think about it?

4. Death of a Natural Language

4-1. When a Natural Languages Dies?

Latin is a dead language.
Such languages have ceased their changes, developments and evolution.
What causes it and when does it happens?
This can be induced to the answer to this simple question which is:

"How many people, at least, are needed for communication?"

The answer is 2 people, a speaker and listener.
Natural languages are just like living creatures because they reflect human beings themselves and agree with life and death of people.
They can be alive just when they are used between at least 2 people for communication.

Alpha Omega Translations defines the definition of dead languages as below.

The true definition of a dead language is one that has no native speakers left.
There are several different ways that it can happen, but the bottom line is that if there is only one person left who speaks the language as their native tongue and fluently, then the language has died.

Quoted from Alpha Omega Translations


We have arrived at the conclusion that a natural language dies when it has under 2 speakers.

4-2. What Happens When Natural Languages Die?

Michal L. Geis argues, in his publication Language and Communication, We human beings make the most of the following functions of natural languages.

Category Sub-Category Action
Social Activities Exchange of information
Asking questions
Making assertions
Regulation and coordination of human behaviour
Making requests
Giving orders
Making offers
Making promises
Mental Activities Organizing knowledge of the world
Examining how our languages classify the things we talk about
Reasoning and inference-drawing
-

He also points out an interesting thing about George Orwell, the author of Nineteen Eight-Four as follows.

f:id:oasist:20181229005749j:plain
George Orwell

Orwell believed that if something is not sayable, it will not be thinkable.
In his novel, he told of a society that tried to limit language by getting rid of certain words (e.g. freedom or justice) and restricting the meaning of others.
The purpose was to make certain political ideas unsayable in the hope that they would become unthinkable.

Quoted from Language and Communication


In the novel, Nineteen Eight-Four, the party of Big Brother restricted political thoughts with Newspeak, which decreased its vocabulary every year.
It actually helped to stop the public from having anti-party ideology and thoughts and people could not resist Big Brother.

Suppose we lost words related to affection, hatred or appreciation, how could we express them?
It is too tough for to image such cases and scene so the theory is convincing enough.

What will others be likely to happen?
Smithsonian.com refers to 4 things which will occur when a language dies.
Particularly, the last one is the most important one.

Some people lose their mother tongue.

Quoted from Smithsonian.com


Our mother tongue defines what we are so if we lost it, we would also lose our own identity and fail to verify who we are.

Conclusion

How do you like this article?
I sincerely hope it provided a chance to think about our languages, you enjoyed it and discover something new however trivial it is.
Here is the conclusion of this volume below.

  1. There are 7,097 living natural languages in the world.
  2. Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken in terms of the number of native speakers, whereas English the most prevailing in terms of that of all speakers.
  3. A natural language can dominate the world because of not just features / assets of the language but political / economic power.
  4. A natural language dies when it has under 2 speakers.
  5. We no more have ways to do social and mental activities when our language dies.

The next volume is The Population, Popularity and Death Vol.2 -Programming Languages-.
We are going to take the same approach, which will clear the contrast between natural languages and programming languages.

Enjoy the next one as well!

Reference