Category Archives: Indo-Hittite

Fala, A Galician-Portuguese Language of Spain

Three videos showcase Fala, a Galician-Portuguese language spoken in the Xalima Valley in Spain in Caceres near the Portuguese border. All evidence indicates that this is a dialect of Galician from a movement of Galicians to the area in the 1300’s.

Subsequently, the group became isolated from the rest of the Galician population and the lect underwent independent development, especially strong influence from Asturian-Leonese in the form of the Extremaduran language. So we have an archaic Galician dialect with strong Extremaduran influence. Presently, Castillian speakers say they are completely lost listening to this language.

Portuguese speakers fare better, but intelligibility is not full even for them. However, there is full intelligibility with the Galician language spoken in the northwest of Spain.

Oddly enough, about 95% of the residents of this rustic valley continue to speak this language, from elders all the way down to young children. Everyone is bilingual in Castillian, which is learned in school. Castillian is used with outsiders; Fala is used with residents among themselves.

Recent attempts were made to adopt the Galician standard for writing Fala but these were rejected by Fala speakers as the Galician standard is not close to what they speak. As far as what protection Fala has, this is uncertain. Certainly it is not an official language of Spain as Galician is, and it is probably not included in the Galician as official standard.

The first video is a very well done documentary on the language. If you cover up the subtitles, it’s almost impossible to make sense of what they are speaking.

In the second video, there are no subtitles, and the language is quite incomprehensible. The narrator appears to be speaking Fala, but he may be speaking a more watered down version of it. I could understand some of what he was saying but certainly not all of it. The Castillian man he interviews is much more intelligible.

The last video is apparently of two Fala-speaking women who are being interviewed. They are apparently responding in Fala. The first time I watched this video I was lost. I have since watched it a few more times, and I can now pick up some of what she is saying. Notice that the language has a strong Portuguese flavor. I am not sure what language the narrator is speaking to them in. Possibly Castillian?

The narrator somehow seems to understand them although he is not a Fala speaker. He says he is a speaker of Bierzo Leonese spoken in the Bierzo region of Leon near the Galician border. This Leonese lect borders on a Galician dialect (Berciano) spoken to the west in the same province.

Bierzo Leonese has strong Galician influence, and Berciano Galician has heavy Leonese influence. Berciano Galician is doing quite well, but Bierzo Leonese is not doing so well, as is the case with the Leonese language across the board.

If you speak Spanish, Portuguese or both, see how well you can understand Fala.

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Filed under Europe, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Leonese, Linguistics, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Spain, Spanish

The Portuguese Language in Spain

Very interesting documentary about a variety of Galician-Portuguese lects spoken in Spain along the border with Portugal.

The first lect is Oliventino, spoken in the town of Olivenza in Bajadoz near the Portuguese border. It is an archaic Alentejan Portuguese dialect that dates back from 1801, when Portugal lost control of the area to Spain. Portugal continues to claim the town, but Spain won’t give it back. In the interim, Oliventino has been heavily influenced by Extremaduran Spanish. Standard Portuguese speakers are typically lost with Oliventino.

The language is now spoken by those older than 60 years old and is apparently not being passed on to children. There are few to no young speakers.

In Alcantara in Caceres and Bajadoz, several archaic Portuguese lects are spoken. They are close to Alentejan Portuguese. If they are close to Alentejan, then they may be difficult to understand for Portuguese speakers, as many Portuguese find the hard Alentejan lect difficult to follow.

In Herrera de Alcántara in Caceres, an ancient Portuguese from the 1200’s called Firrerenho is spoken. This area was made part of what is now Spain in 1297. Intelligibility with Portuguese is unknown.

In Cedillo and Valencia de Alcántara in Caceres, an archaic Portuguese dialect from the 1700’s called Cedilhero is spoken. Cedilhero is spoken here because Portuguese colonists were the first people to settle in the region at that time. Cedilhero is close to Alentejan Portuguese. The youngest speakers are in their 60’s. It may be difficult to understand for Portuguese speakers.

In the Xalima Valley in the towns of San Martín de Trevejo, Eljas and Valverde del Fresno, Fala is still spoken by almost all inhabitants. This is an Galician dialect that has been influenced by the Castillian and Extremaduran languages. Apparently the Galician settlers moved to the region long ago, got cut off from the rest of Galicia, and the lect underwent independent development. It’s fully intelligible with Galician, however, for some reason, the Fala speakers got subtitles in this documentary for Galician-language TV. It is probably not fully intelligible with Portuguese either.

A Portuguese lect is spoken in Almedilha in Salamanca Province. Little is known about this lect.

In the town of Calabor in Zamora, a Galician dialect with heavy Castillian and especially Senabrese Leonese influences is spoken. Little is known about this lect.

Map of the various lects is here.

If you speak Portuguese or Spanish, you might want to listen to these speakers and see if you can understand them. It’s better to cover up the subtitles though because that will help you understand better. Covering up the subtitles, I understood very little of what these folks were saying. But I only speak Spanish fairly well, and I don’t speak Portuguese at all, though I can read it a bit since I have studied it.

This video shows us that to some extent, categories like “Spanish” and “Portuguese” are more political than linguistic categories, since with a lot of these lects, it is hard to tell where one language ends or the other begins. It is also hard to put some of these lects into linguistic categories like “Spanish” or “Portuguese.”

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Filed under Comparitive, Europe, European, Galician, History, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Classification, Language Families, Leonese, Linguistics, Portugal, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Spain, Spanish

Check Out Isleno Spanish

It will take some time for me to describe the history of this language. The Wikipedia article here is a good start.

The Islenos apparently arrived in from the Canary Islands to Louisiana and eastern Texas in the 1700’s. Over time, they were augmented by other Spanish immigrants from many other parts of Spain speaking a variety of languages including Catalan, Andalusian and Galician. In addition, over time there was a lot of interaction with the French speakers of Louisiana, so many French words went into the language. Somehow some Portuguese also went in. A huge amount of English vocabulary and even grammar has gone into the language, especially with the last generation of speakers. The Islenos retained their archaic Canarian Spanish from the 18th Century, speaking it as a first language up until the 1940’s due to the isolation of its main speech community on St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans. However, roads were built to the parish and in 1915, schools arrived. Repeated hurricanes caused Islenos to flee to New Orleans. A number of them served in World War 2 and Vietnam. The present generation of Isleno first language speakers are all over 60 years old. A few Islenos under 50 speak the language, and more can understand it but not speak it.

Islenos originally started out ranching cattle, but then they moved into planting sugar cane and growing a variety of crops for the New Orleans market. In the last century, many Islenos made their living by fishing, shrimping, crabbing, etc.

A group of them moved to San Antonio, Texas, where they fought in the Alamo and took part in other battles in the Texan War of Independence. Isleno Spanish died in San Antonio around 1950, but Islenos still maintain the culture there in other ways.

They still play songs called decimas and they continue to fix traditional Canarian dishes.

There is another dialect spoken by Islenos in Valenzuela, Louisiana called Brulis. However, this is mostly an Acadian French dialect. Another group of Islenos in Galveztown speak a dialect that is basically Mexican Indian Nahuatl of all things.

It is said that this accent is quite similar to Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish. Many Cubans and Puerto Ricans also came from the Canary Islands around the same time, and Cuban and Louisiana Canarians used to trade with each other a long time ago.

If any of my readers can understand Spanish, I would be curious if you can understand this interesting rustic Spanish lect. I can understand Spanish fairly well, but I had a hard time with a lot of this speech, though some of it did sound something like Cuban Spanish. If you speak Spanish, let us know if you can understand these guys.

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Filed under Americas, Andalucian, Catalan, Culture, French, Galician, History, Immigration, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Louisiana, Modern, North America, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, South, Spanish, Texas, US, USA, West

How Moving Word Stress Changes Meaning in English Sentences

Tulio writes about how stress changes meaning in English sentences. I reprint it below, with some additions by me.

What I think must be even tougher for English learners is the way we use stresses to completely change the meanings of words and entire sentences. They say Mandarin is hard because of the tones changing the meaning of very similar sounds, but English stresses much be just as confusing.

Convictpresent and export are completely different words depending on which syllable is stressed,and if the stress is on the latter, it turns it into a verb. That’s got to be confusing for someone learning.

What will really throw English learners for a loops is when the stresses are used on entire sentences to change the meaning, such as:

*I* didn’t take the test yesterday. (There was a test given yesterday, but other(s) took, and I didn’t.
I *didn’t* take the test yesterday. (You thought I took the test yesterday, but actually I didn’t.)
I didn’t *take* the test yesterday. (I did something else with it, for instance, instead of taking the test, I reviewed what it would be about or studied for it instead.)
I didn’t take *the* test yesterday. (I took a test, but not the one you were thinking of. Instead I took a different one.)
I didn’t take the *test* yesterday. (I took something else, not the test you were thinking of. Maybe I took a little quiz instead.)
I didn’t take the test *yesterday* . (I took the test, but not yesterday. Instead, I took it on some other day.)

Really crazy how we take this for granted that stresses on one word changes the meaning of the sentence even though the word order is unchanged. Sometimes I imagine what I would do if I was an ESL teacher trying to explain this to people. Yikes!

Linguistics is fascinating.

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Filed under Applied, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics

Articles in the English Language

Foreign language learners probably have more problems with articles than with most other aspects of English. This is because the rules of English articles are obscure, if they even exist at all, and because many L2 learners of English come from languages which use no articles at all.

English really has a three way distinction in articles:

Zero article

a, an (indefinite article)

the (definite article)

It is easy to see how a three way distinction like this could be useful for a primitive people. Suppose we are talking about a tiger. Let us observe the noun tiger with all three English articles.

A tiger (What this means really is, “Any old tiger,” “no specific tiger,” just a tiger in the general sense.)

The tiger (This is a lot more specific. In English, when we say, “the tiger” we are usually referring to some certain specific tiger, as in, “that tiger right over there that’s about ready to charge us.”)

Tiger [zero article] (In English, this would have to be capitalized, because when we say, “Tiger” we are referring to something that has the name “Tiger,”  as in a pet cat named Tiger, a man nicknamed Tiger.

Many languages do without articles altogether and seem to do just fine, but one can see where a 3-way distinction like this might just come in handy.

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Filed under Applied, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, English language, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics

How Far Back in History Does the European Race Go?

Etype shares a great many myths about “Aryans,” by which means I am not sure what.

The greatest number of linguistic precursor markers for the Aryan language that is shared throughout the globe and the greatest concentrated number of speakers of that language is German.

However this is not to be discussed, as Nazi anthropology and Germans are to be repudiated as thoroughly as possible…even if this means twisting common sense…which is easy enough these days…witness the small-pox blanket myth, something so simple anyone should have been able to refute it…yet for some reason it ran around loose like a dog no one dared collar…even if the entire idea was completely, spuriously insane.

Anthropology like most science, is filled with many of these myths that are demonstrably insane.

The idea that science is a warehouse of verities and not something the state would notice might be good to bolster various spurious arguments for collective mind control is itself deluded.

If there is any truth to the original findings, and need I remind you it was in Germany where the science of modern anthropology and anthropological linguistics originated and developed… later post-war jury rigged for British propaganda purposes. Then possibly the Aryans originated around the Baltic during a thermocline some 10.000 to 30.000 years ago.

Recently excavations found Lithuanian settlements that contained bronze tools and evidence of textile clothing that were carbon dated to 40,000 years old. However this totally uproots many favorite common theories, so you don’t hear much of it.

But it is more certain than any opposing theory, despite the latter’s currency, that Europeans are older than 10,000 years old, has more consistent evidence than any prevailing idea, whatever sanction our betters lay on it.

On that topic, the evidence for the out-of-Africa theory is actually paper thin, the fossil record to support it could fit on a garden table…and does not account for the fact glaciers swept Europe and N Asia in this time period, and this may be why the oldest fossils are found in Africa to date….

The African genesis theory is mostly supported mostly by group think and the fact that opposing theories sound a lot like Europeans who prefer logic to what the established state says is good for them to think.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone to think that the Aryans were not much the same as today’s European, other than what seems the knee jerk need to conform to common fallacy – such as Europeans evolved in isolation the last 10000 years.

The “Aryan” language is most closely related to Persian or Sanskrit and the other Indian languages, not German.

As far as “Aryans’ originating 10-30,000 YBP in the Baltic region, I do not know what he means by Aryans. He means White people? White people originated around Finland 9-11,000 YBP.

I know nothing of 40,000 YBP Lithuanians, but 35,000 year old Europeans look nothing like Europeans. There’s nothing remotely European about them. They may look a bit like African Hottentots.

The traditional European phenotype only dates back 10,000 years. Before that, Europeans looked very different.

In fact, the African genesis theory is pretty uncontroversial in anthropology today. It is only rejected by nonscientists, mostly White nationalists and White racists with an axe to grind against Black people.

The “Aryans” only date back to 5,000 YBP. That’s it. If you are talking White people, well, White skin and blue eyes go back 9-11,000 YBP. Before that, European skulls and genes look more Arab than anything else. Going back ~20,000 YBP, European skulls look most like the skulls of the Indian tribes of NW America such as the Makah of Washington state. Going back 35,000 YBP, the oldest Europeans do not look like any known race. They may look more like a Bushman than anything else.

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Filed under Anthropology, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Europe, Europeans, German, Germanic, History, Indic, Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Irano-Armenian, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Language Families, Linguistics, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Sanskrit, Science, Whites

Observation of an Age Effect in English Language Learning Among Filipinos

I talk to quite a few Filipinos on the Net, mostly women. I have noticed an age effect for English language skills among those that I talk to.

Over 50: I didn’t talk to any, but other people told that this group has in general poor English skills, with many of them speaking little to no English at all.

40-50: Worst English skills of all. All had high school degree and no college.

30-40: English skills in this group were much better but were still quite variable. Some in this group had some college. A few had even graduated from college. College did not seem to have much effect on English skills.

21-30: English skills in this group were generally better than in the 30-40 group, and some with some college had excellent English skills. One with a couple years of college had near perfect English.

20-under: This group uniformly had excellent English skills, the best of all of the groups so far. Some had some university education.

There could be a couple of explanations for better skills amongst the younger.

It’s possible that it could be an effect of how recently they left school. Education in the Philippines is heavily in English, but Tagalog and other languages are also used. The group that has most recently left school or is still in school would be expected to have the best English.

The longer they are out of school, the more their English skills would be expected to deteriorate, as most Filipinos use Tagalog and or another Filipino language much of the time. The 40+ group with no college had been out of school for 25-30 years.

On the other hand, it’s possible that English language instruction or teaching in English in the Philippines and has improved markedly in the past 25-30 years. The reasons how this has occurred would be worth examining. Why is easy. In the past 25-30 years, Filipino society has put an increasing premium on English skills.

However, even now there are problems with English medium instruction in the Philippines. Filipinos tell me that quite a few teachers have English skills that are poor at best, so kids are not getting proper input.

Recent articles in the Filipino press have lamented the poor English skills of the average Filipino, odd considering that the Philippines is a country where English is one of the official languages.

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Filed under Applied, Asia, Asians, Education, English language, Filipinos, Language Learning, Linguistics, Philippines, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, SE Asia, SE Asians

The Proto-Hellenic Homeland

The proto-Greek homeland prior to 4000 YBP.

From Indo-European linguist V. I. Georgiev:

The Proto-Greek region included Epirus, approximately up to Αυλών in the north including Paravaia, Tymphaia, Athamania, Dolopia, Amphilochia, and Acarnania), west and north Thessaly (Hestiaiotis,, Perrhaibia, Tripolis, and Pieria), i.e. more or less the territory of contemporary northwestern Greece)

So prior to 4000 YBP, the proto-Greeks were already in Greece. When did they come there? Sometime between 4800 YBP and 4000 YBP. Who was already there? Probably some sort of non-Indo-European group that that existed in Greece prior to the Greeks. There are many non-IE words in the Greek language and placenames in Greece and the surrounding area.

These people are generally called Pelgasians, but no one quite knows who they were. A relationship with the Etruscans of Italy is possible. They may also have been a non-IE group from Anatolia or from the Caucasus. At any rate, the Greeks moved in over 4000 years ago and intermingled with the people already there, creating the Greek people who created Classical Greece 1,500 years later.

Where did the proto-Greeks come from? No one seems to know, but it’s generally thought that they came from somewhere to the north.

References

Georgiev, Vladimir Ivanov. 1981. Introduction to the History of the Indo-European Languages. Publishing House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. pp. 156.

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Filed under Ancient Greece, Antiquity, Europe, Greece, Greek, Hellenic, History, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional

The Linguistic Isolation of Brazilians

From the comments section, a comment from a Brazilian physician, of all people:

Brazilians do not understand anything in Spanish.

A lot of Brazilians think they can understand Spanish due to the affinity of the languages, but when we try to communicate, we discover it’s quite different.
.
When I traveled to Europe saying that I was Brazilian, people tried to talk to me in Spanish, but I had always to ask to speak in English.

I was born, grew up and live in the Northeast of Brazil, and I’m pretty sure to say that Brazilians understand better English than Spanish, although in the extreme South it’s the opposite.
.
Brazilian people are monolingual. I’d say that only 10% of Brazilians know a second language. We are such a big country, and our economy is local. We barely interact with Spanish Latin America, unfortunately.

We understand better English cause we consume a lot of American and British culture, but only a very few Brazilians care to learn a second language. Mostly because for a lot of professions it’s not necessary.

You see, even me, a physician who depends on the English language to keep updated in my field, have a hard time with English. I took half an hour to write this simple opinion which I bet is full of mistakes.

This rings true with what I have found. I have met some Brazilians, mostly women. They often thought they spoke Spanish pretty well, but when you started speaking it with them, they were pretty lost. One had better English than Spanish. Quite a few others had such good English, that I didn’t even bother speaking Spanish with them. Another one knew some Spanish and English. I spoke to her in Spanish and English and she responded to me in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Within a few hours, I was already speaking some Portuguese. With another one, we tried to speak something called Portunol, which is some Spanish-Portuguese mixed language spoken on the Argentine-Brazilian border. It didn’t work very well.

I would agree with this guy on one thing: Brazilians think they speak and understand Spanish better than they really do. And English-speaking Brazilians are not uncommon.

Brazil has about 190 million people. You really don’t need to learn any other language to do just fine in Brazil, and most don’t.

It is similar in Hispanophone Latin America. I meet South Americans all the time who range in age from 26-46, and many of them can barely speak a single word of English. I have to communicate with them exclusively in Spanish. When you think about it, they are on a continent with hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers. Why bother to learn another language? Why bother to learn English? What for?

I can also affirm that South Americans definitely do not bother to learn Portuguese. Portuguese know more Spanish than South Americans know Portuguese. The typical South American attitude towards Portuguese is, “Why should I learn that?”

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How To Divide Languages from Dialects – Structure or Intelligibility?

There are many ways of dividing languages from dialects. The three general methods are:

1. Historical

2. Structural

3. Intelligibility

The traditional method has tended to utilize structural and sometimes historical, but intelligibility is also often used. For an example of historical, let us look at some lects in France and Spain.

The various “patois” of French, incorrectly called dialects of French, are more properly called the langues d’oil. It is often said that they are not dialtects of French for historical reasons. Each of the major langues d’oil, instead of breaking off from French Proper (really the Parisien langue d’oil) had a separate genesis.

This is what happened. France was originally Celtic speaking. Around 700-800, the Celtic languages began being replaced by vulgar Latin. People didn’t travel around in those days, so a separate form of vulgar Latin + Celtic evolved in each region of France: Gallo and Angevin in the northwest, Poitevin and Saintongeais in the west, Norman and Picard in the north, Champenois, Franche-Compte and Lorrain in the east, Berrichon, Tourangeau and Orleanais in the center. None of these split off from French (Parisien)!

Each one of them evolved independently straight up from vulgar Latin on top of  a Celtic base in their region from 700-1200 or so. The distance between the langues d’oil and French is almost as deep as between English and Frisian.

After French was made the official language of France in 1539, the langues d’oil came under French influence, but that was just borrowing, not genetics.

In addition, in Spain, there are various languages that are not historically related to Spanish. Aragonese is straight up from vulgar Latin on a Basque base, later influenced by Mozarabic. Catalan started evolving around 700 or so. Murcian evolved from vulgar Latin later influenced by Mozarabic, Catalan and Aragonese. Extremaduran, Leonese and Asturian also broke off very early. None of these are historically Spanish dialects because none of them broke away from Spanish!

Of course it follows that langues d’oil, Catalan and Aragonese, evolving independently of French and Spanish from 700-1200 to present, will have deep structural differences between themselves and French and Spanish.

So you can see that the historical way of splitting languages ties in well with the structural method. Where languages have a deep historical split and a millenia or so of independent development, it follows logically that some deep structural differences would have evolved in a thousand years or so. So these two methods are really wrapping around each other.

Now we get to intelligibility. Intelligibility actually ties in well to structural analyses. Linguists who say we divide on structure and not on intelligibility are being silly. Where you have deep structural differences between Lect A and Lect B, it logically follows that you have intelligibility problems. Profound structural differences between two lects makes it hard for one to understand the other. The differential structure really gets in the way of understanding. So once again, one method is wrapping around the other.

As we can see, historical, structural and intelligibility analyses of splitting languages all tend to be part of the same process, that is, they are all talking about the same thing. And they will tend to reach similar conclusions when it comes to splitting languages.

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