Sobre el español paraguayo

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Mientras hago el curso de guaraní de Duolingo, estoy participando en el foro, y entre otras cosas, escribí dos posts sobre el castellano en Paraguay. Como el tema tiene mucho que ver con este blog, voy a compartir el contenido de esos posts con ustedes a continuación.

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Primeras impresiones del guaraní paraguayo

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Duolingo acaba de abrir al público el curso de guaraní paraguayo para hablantes de español en versión beta. Es la primera vez que pruebo una versión beta, y es claro que al curso todavía le hacen falta bastantes mejoras. Sin embargo, es claro que me ha picado el bichito, y ya tengo hechas las primeras 10 unidades. Siendo que hace rato que no escribo algo nuevo, y que el curso prácticamente no tiene notas explicativas, voy a contarles un poco mis impresiones sobre el curso y sobre lo poco que se sobre la estructura del guaraní.

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Thoughts on the Swedish sound system and orthography

The orthography of Swedish is pretty similar to that of German. Swedish uses your basic 26-letter Latin alphabet like English, with the addition of the letters å, ä and ö. The latter two have values close to German, and it also shares with German the practice of using double consonants to show the preceding vowel is short and only one consonant to show the preceding vowel is long. Like in German, and unlike in Dutch, in Swedish a word can end with two consonant letters and vowel letters are not doubled to show length; and because of this a word like bok has a long O, while a word like mitt has a short I. Swedish spelling also shares with English and German the use of CK as the doubled version of K; and with German and Dutch the use of J for / j.

W, Q, Z, the digraph CH and C are rarely used outside of proper names and loanwords, except for the word och – more on C later. The pronunciations of the letters b d f h l m n p s t v x and the digraph ng are pretty self explanatory if you already know English. Swedish, like English and unlike German and Dutch, does not have syllable final devoicing of consonants, and like English and German but unlike standard Dutch, aspirates p t k in certain environments.

The pronunciation of R should not be difficult to anyone who can already pronounce Spanish – it can either be pronounced r or ɾ depending on its position in the word. The distribution of these realizations is very reminiscent of Spanish. Like in Spanish, they are only contrastive intervocalically. One of the interesting things about R in Swedish is that the clusters rd rl rn rs rt, in which you’d expect ɾd ɾl ɾn ɾs ɾt, simplify to the retroflex consonants ɖ ɭ ɳ ʂ ʈ. If you’re learning Swedish and the thought of this is already giving you a headache, you could always learn the Scanian accent instead, which pronounces R as ʁ, otherwise known as the French R.

Let’s move on to the really interesting part as far as I’m concerned: vowels.

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“Leísmo” and “laísmo”: a basic introduction

I don’t often get to speak to non-native speakers of Spanish that learned the language in Spain (hi Daniel). The other day, I was speaking to a woman who learned Spanish in her teens while living for nine months in Zaragoza. In the middle of our conversation she said:

Tienes que decirla de casarte con ella ahí

Initially I thought it to be a non-native speaker mistake, since I would say decirle in that context. Moments later, though, I realized it was not a mistake, but an example of what some linguists call laísmo. This post will try to explain how it works, along with the phenomenon called leísmo.

First, let’s do a quick introduction of the pronoun system of Spanish by way of comparing it with the pronoun system of English.

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A concession to the i(s)le

In the first proof of concept draft of my reformed spelling proposal I ended up changing new -> noo to nu instead, because of a collision with traditional no. Later, when writing about the FOOT set, I thought about whether nuke should be spelled nook or nuuk.

This got me thinking about how to best represent in a reformed spelling the differences between American (and Canadian) English and British English as regards yod-dropping. Yod-dropping is a process where a word originally pronounced with a CUTE vowel comes to be pronounced with a GOOSE vowel instead. For example, suit used to be pronounced /sjut/ by most people (like saying the word you between the S and the T), but now the majority pronunciation is /sut/, and it is possible that the more conservative pronunciation will in time disappear entirely. It has happened with many other words before.

Going into a little more detail, yod-dropping is a historical process that has gone further in North America than in the the UK. So, while in the British isles yod-dropping happens in many accents after /tʃ dʒ j r Cl/ in every case, and after /s l z θ/ provided the j is in the same syllable as the preceding consonant (chew, juice, yew, rude, blue; suit, lute, Zeus, enthusiasm), in America and Canada it also happens after /t d n/ if the same condition applies regarding the j (tune, dune, new). There is some variation here, and it might depend on the specific word, but this largely applies.

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