Saturday, February 26, 2011


If someone were to ask you how it is you talk about more than one of the same kind of thing at a time in English, you might tell him a number of things. Most of us would say, "Add an S." A linguist might say, "If the object in question's lexical reference ends in a vowel, add a voiced alveolar fricative. Unless, of course, that reference should end with a non-approximant consonant, in which case you will have to precede the voiced alveolar fricative with a mid-center vowel, excepting of course cases in which the non-approximant consonant is also any manner of unvoiced fricative or plosive, in which case you will have to drop the voicing of your alveolar fricative." One of these will be easier to understand, and one of these will be more accurate.

You probably weren't expecting them to both be the former.

Yes, it's true. You might think the linguist is onto something here, what with all his fancy-talk and such. Truth is, his explanation is a rough approximation of a single convention disguised as fact, and is the reason you shouldn't trust some o' them academic types. What he says is essentially, "Make a 'z' sound unless it ends roughly, in which case make the '一' sound in '한글' and then the 'z'. You might also make a 'normal s' sound now and again." That might be true for him, but I find myself often preceding my voiced alveolar fricatives with a vowel more to the tune of a near-close near-front unrounded (which is the 'i' in 'which'). But that's just me. I know lots of people whose method of pluralizing nouns in English is different entirely, at least when it comes to linguistic jargon. If you are transliterating things into the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) at a university, and they are looking for one answer, do not give that school your money.

The first response, on the other hand, is quite nice. In just three words, they have effectively communicated all the many ways people in English pluralize non-exceptional nouns, by referring to what a linguist, as fate would have it, would call an "allomorph". Essentially, it means that we understand S's to make a variety of sounds, all of which will demand some manner of space in between themselves and certain other consonants, and which will manifest itself in natural and appropriate ways when someone speaks. Here's an example:

  • Beats
  • Beads

Note the difference in the pronunciation of the letter S in each word? The preceding consonants in each case are articulated in the same spot, but the difference is that 'traditional t' sounds are unvoiced and 'traditional d' sounds are. Your following 's' will voice itself or unvoice itself accordingly. Try screwing around with different combinations, see how it works for yourself. Learning neat little nothings like this is what will really put you on your way to realizing a second language.

More to follow!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A renaissance, strictly speaking, is a rebirth. All the world over, there is a way to convey this idea. In English, we rely on beautiful Italian, and I, for one, am glad; A beautiful occasion deserves a beautiful word to match, and this particular rebirth, ladies and gentlemen, is sure to please.

See, a lot of changes have been made to my software and professional approach to this endeavor (which started out initially as a personal project to give myself a decent tool for studying my other languages) since it began a short couple of years ago, and I couldn't be more pleased that so many people have found it as useful as I did, and then challenged me to create something even better! Well, we all have ourselves to thank, really. Good job, everybody!

So, as you are perhaps already aware, there's WriteKana, WriteKanji, WriteChinese, WriteHangeul, WriteRussian, and the two GettingThere series all on the Android Market (for now!), along with a stupid app (Robinisms!) meant more to make you and your kids laugh than anything, and then further still there are the twitter feeds. So why this? Figured I'd give interested parties somewhere to do a couple different of things:
1. Research my software and obtain it if they live outside of a region that supports paid applications or the official Android Market.
2. Read interesting tangents concerning (among other things, I'm sure) etymologies, syntax, slang, and the conceptualization and propagation of lexicons, and maybe even the conceptualization and propagation of a language!
3. GIVE ME MONEY! Haha, no seriously, I'm starving...

Peace on Earth, y'all.