Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Twelve Days of Linguistics

To be sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." I wrote this while simultaneously studying for exams, sitting in a coffee shop, listening to Christmas carols, staring at my textbook, and desperately trying to figure out a way to retain basic information about the sound system of Spanish that is so basic I am liable to forget it. The song was relatively easy to write until I got to day seven. Finding something for nine in the distinctive feature values table in the textbook was an absolute nightmare.

The meter gets a bit weird sometimes, but oh well — this is a study aid, not something I'm going to record! I figure that typing the song will help me remember it come test day, and if I'm going to put the effort into typing it, I may as well post it on my blog.

By the first day of linguistics, this phoneme came to me:
there's one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the second day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the third day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the fourth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are four to two liquids*,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the fifth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the sixth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the seventh day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are seven [-consonantal] phonemes**,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the eighth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are eight fricatives in all***,
seven [-consonantal] phonemes,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the ninth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are nine to seven non-obstruent [-syllabic] phonemes****,
eight fricatives in all,
seven [-consonantal] phonemes,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the tenth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are ten voiceless phonemes,
nine to seven non-obstruent [-syllabic] phonemes,
eight fricatives in all,
seven [-consonantal] phonemes,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the eleventh day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are eleven [+high] phonemes,
ten voiceless phonemes,
nine to seven non-obstruent [-syllabic] phonemes,
eight fricatives in all,
seven [-consonantal] phonemes,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.

By the twelfth day of linguistics, these phonemes came to me:
there are twelve [+continuant] phonemes,
eleven [+high] phonemes,
ten voiceless phonemes,
nine to seven non-obstruent [-syllabic] phonemes,
eight fricatives in all,
seven [-consonantal] phonemes,
six stops a-stopping the air stream,
five vowel phonemes,
four to two liquids,
three nasals,
two glides,
and one affricate in Spanish phonology.




*The number depends on the dialect and on if you think there is only one vibrant (instead of two) in Spanish.
**The [-consonantal] trait is shared by vowels and glides.
***However, a given dialect will only possess five or six of them.
****The number of nasals + liquids + glides.

As far as rewritten Christmas songs go, I like the version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" that Shur'tugal, a website devoted to Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy, is displaying in the header of its main page a lot better than my version. Sorry, I can't find a permalink to the post that is keeping track of each day's new addition. So far, it's "four Feldunost, three dragon eggs, two books complete, and CP (Christopher Paolini) in a pear tree." The graphics are quite amusing. To me, at least.