March 2010 Archives

Plains Indians Sign Language (PISL)


I just ran across a site about the Plains Indians Sign Language (PISL) on one of my Listservs. This was a gestural language used by a variety of tribes as a common language. Surprisingly, there are speakers of PISL today, but not many.

This Web site from the University of Tennessee documents efforts to document and preserve the language. The site already includes some archival illustrations, photos and informitional timeline. Interesting stuff.

And the Productive Welsh Verb-Noun Ending is....-io


If you've seen my CV, you'll know that I did my research in Celtic linguistics. I just downloaded a new dissertation on The Integration of English-origin Verbs in Welsh from J.R. Stammers.

I'm still processing it, but one question that comes up is what the "default" marker for Welsh verb-nouns (basically an infinitive) is...because Welsh has a lot of options. I would have guessed -u because it is very frequent in native verbal roots, but it may be -io. Stammers (2009) has this list of English verbs with the -io ending on the verb noun.

Note: Forms with hypenated endings are more recent borrowings.

  • activate-io
  • babysit-io
  • carfio (carve)
  • download-io
  • enjoio
  • email-io
  • ffonio (phone)
  • ffordio (afford)
  • ffotocop├»o (photocopy)
  • insult-io
  • iwsio
  • marcio
  • panic-io
  • sincio (sink)
  • stare-io
  • stopio
  • text-io
  • twrio (tour)
  • whine-io

No Ending

  • fancy (-/i/ (i.e. -y) is a valid verb-noun ending)
  • name-dropping (this uses English gerund ending instead)
  • taking (with gerund)

A few exceptions?

  • canslo (how old?)
  • helpu (may be older)
  • freak-o (definitely an recent borrowing)

Interesting stuff. I do wonder if -u was originally the default ending as in helpu and older Latinate verbs like cymharu 'compare'. But these days, it appears that -io is the clear winner, at least in this data.

Blackwell Compass Articles on Linguist List


FYI - Blackwell is providing access to a selection of articles on their sponsored Blackwell Language and Linguistics Compass page on Linguist List.

These appear to be a series of overviews designed for the linguistics or language scholar who may need an introduction to another specialty. This issue, the selection includes an introduction to Corpus Linguistics, Prosody and Sentence Comprehension, Ancient Greek Accentuation, and a typology of conversational humor. Definitely worth downloading.