Afonso Xavier Canosa Rodriguez

On philology, potatoes and construction.
Well, this is just my first approach to blog-writing. I want it to be the way to keep in touch with colleagues and friends.

info at canosarodriguez dotnet

Mutation and lenition
I have just read my last article on the geminates again. Obviously I have mentioned the main patterns within Romance and Celtic languages.

In a more detailed explanation I should mention (all evidence supporting the Celtic thesis):

* there is mutation in word-medial context in Celtic. The main example is when adding a prefix to a stem.

* mutation can be just syntactic (syntactic phonetics as it is lenition in Romance) whith no grammatical value at all in Celtic. For instance after particles or prepositions, regardless of function or word type coming next.

* Grammatical mutation following Celtic pattern can be found in Western Romance. For instance to mark gender: the name Urraca (/g/ > 0 ) meaning, as in Britton Celtic, the woman or the wife.

Subject: philology - Published 12-01-2009 20:06
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The Journal of the International Phonetic Association (Vol. 37, N.2) published an article by PhD Rachid Ridouane discussing gemination. It has drawn my attention particularly for the good description of the contrast singleton / geminate not only in word-medial context but also in initial and word-final positions. The study is made for Tashlhiyt Berber ( Korean and Swiss German, particularly the dialect of Bern, appear in the bibliography as other languages for understanding the nature of geminates).

My approach to geminates comes from lenition in Western Romance languages. In comparative terms with Latin, the distinction geminate / singleton is lost, thus producing a readjustment of the plosives: voiceless are voiced and former voiced plosives are lost. The fact that the series of phonemes readjusted follow soft mutation in Celtic languages has been used as a statement to explain lenition in terms of substract. Hence sound change would be not accidental, even less random, but due to language contact.

I must point out something else: in Portuguese lenition reaches the series of nasals and approximants, much as does in Celtic languages. This is a point that I have never found when lenition is discussed.

The main argument against the Celtic explanation would be that lenition in Romance happens within intervocalic context (word-medial) while in Celtic languages mutation is word-initial. To make things more difficult mutation is grammatical in Celtic: it marks gender, for instance.

After reading the article mentioned supra on the Journal of the IPA I consider north-western areas of Africa (with geminates not only intervocalic but also word-initial and final) as I had already noticed for Swiss dialects (I have detected lenition in nasal and approximant series in the dialect of Bern although I could not systematize it) as zones where comparative studies with Celtic could be useful for the better understanding of lenition.

Again, although I do admit it looks like a harder and more difficult way to the finding of universals, I do keep language contact as the best way to explain sound-change.
Subject: philology - Published 06-01-2009 17:15
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On the roof
I am building the (concrete) structure of a house. It is quite advanced, at the roof stage now. Later on I'll be back to brick laying.

I keep my training and follow a course I should devote more time to? but I can not say what am I going to do in some months time. I would like to go on in the construction sector, but I am making up my mind whether or not I should look for another position.

Subject: construction - Published 06-01-2009 17:10
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As a means of a balance of the year, the main issue has been mechanization. New tools to carry out the same tasks, parameters to measure efficiency. I must admit, although perhaps I shouldn't make it explicit, that there is some kind of emotional attachment from my side towards farming and forestry activity. Hence, sometimes my views are too much traditional, and rely on a priori statements. Of course I try to avoid them but that doesn?t mean I am able to do so all the time.

When I talk about mechanization I refer mainly to tractor driven tools.

I support innovation, of course. Particularly with the approach of Mr.why-don?t-we robotize-it-all whatever task is to be done, my brother, Adrian. This is the way I regard with more possibilities of bringing new and more efficient solutions in terms of farming as a whole.

Meanwhile, this year, if everything goes as expected, I?ll drive some even bigger and stronger machines to perform the same tasks the small ones were, in my humble opinion, doing quite efficiently.
Subject: potatoes - Published 06-01-2009 16:58
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