IJ, EI, Y.

Nico Muhly is an American composer (the biography section of his blog won me over by announcing “His name is pronounced [ˈni ko] [ˈmju: li]“) currently resident in the Netherlands, whose language he is learning, and this post describes his response to it (“what I get is a sort of childlike pornography: hoog, sneeuwt, poesje, standplaats”) and mentions the “old school diagraph” IJ/ij, adding that he asked a Dutch woman “if it was one letter or two and she couldn’t really answer. It’s fascinating.” So it is; check out that link to the Wikipedia article for the gory details. Thanks for another excellent link, Martin!

Comments

  1. /ɛi/?!
    Damn. I thought it was /ai/ like German <ei>.
    ÿ – heh, it works. Yet, I can’t do ^g, properly.

  2. Do you mean ǧ or ĝ?

  3. He’s worked with Gavin Bryars, the arranger of “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”! I didn’t know he was still around. And with Glass etc.
    Muhly is involved with just the kinds of music I like – when I can bear to listen to music at all.

  4. There’s an ongoing sound change to move [eI] to [aI] in the Netherlands; probably in 100 years they’ll all be saying [aI]. This tracks what already happened in German (as in Wein), and is the reverse of what happened in English (where vain long ago merged with vein).
    This is a fine example of why the Stammbaum is a lousy model for the development of West Germanic, a region of Indo-European simply rife with borrowings, reborrowings, and parallel developments. If we didn’t have older versions of the languages extant, we would know they were related but not have a clue exactly how.

  5. komfo,amonan says:

    I knew a Muhly as a child. He was part Russian, part Greek, but I don’t know which side the name came from.

  6. ĝ (see also).

  7. I wonder if he knos Des.

  8. Well, I don’t know him. (I don’t like Umsterdum and haven’t been back there since the first time.)
    Personally I like it a lot when “ij” is written as “ÿ”, which is certainly how I often (non-natively) think of it when no one is looking. And I like the name “IJsland” for the country very much.
    (It seems to me that there is no such thing as a “native writer” anyway, although I suppose there is such a thing as “locally primary-schooled”, which I am also not. But anyone who thinks primary school teachers anywhere are a reliable source of linguistic insight has an opinion about primary school teachers that I am very far from sharing.)

  9. Roger Depledge says:

    I had always supposed that the survival of ij alongside ei for the same diphthong through so many Dutch spelling reforms was a sign of latent Germanophobia (or Narzissmus der kleinen Unterschiede). I was often moved to say “Maar ik ben geen Duitser, ik ben en Engelsman” and speakers of all ages and backgrounds would shift to noticeably friendlier behaviour.

  10. Give us back our bicycles !

  11. mollijmuhly says:

    I knew a Muhly as a child. He was part Russian, part Greek, but I don’t know which side the name came from.
    We’re very proud of cousin Nico.

  12. There’s an ongoing sound change to move [eI] to [aI] in the Netherlands; probably in 100 years they’ll all be saying [aI].

    This is also characteristic, in English, of broad Australian. (Though I’m sure the two are independent developments.)

  13. In 1982, I paid a typist friend to type up my dissertation on New Guinea languages. She used a daisy wheel printer with a wheel that had the Dutch ij digraph at one position. That served as my eng character after I went through the final printout and whited out all the dots above them. (I also whited out the dots below the question marks that stood for glottal stops. I don’t pine for those days.)
    Fortunately, she input the whole thing on an early Apple IIe with a CPM card that could run WordStar, and years later gave me the digital files on disk. I later imported the whole thing into PC-Write, and then into MS-Word, so I’ve retained a digital copy of my whole dissertation, except for some funny symbols where some of the special characters were.

  14. “The ligature does exist in Unicode in the Latin Extended-A range as the uppercase character IJ (U+0132) and lowercase character ij (U+0133).” – Well that’s solved it – IJ has been preserved for posterity in Unicode.
    “This is also characteristic, in English, of broad Australian.” Broad Australian is now archaic in the cities, but still vibrant in the bush, and in Australians overseas. Backpackers from affluent suburbs who never would have used “G’day Maaayt” at home tend to adopt that way of speaking as soon as they leave the country
    In the younger generation, now going through school, there is a shift from the traditional Australian open [æı] to a very close [eı].

  15. zyxt, is Tim Minchin (warning, Donnie Darko spoilers, one particularly hilarious rhyme at the very end) representative of that, or is he more idiosyncratic?

  16. There’s an ongoing sound change to move [eI] to [aI] in the Netherlands; probably in 100 years they’ll all be saying [aI].
    Yes yes, I do it to. And I hate it, for no rational reason- at this moment it just sounds vaguely lowbrow. (Shame colours my cheek.)

  17. David Marjanović says:

    /ɛi/?!
    Damn. I thought it was /ai/ like German <ei>.

    Austrian Standard German ei is [ɛ̞ɪ̯], too. (Also in my dialect but not others.)

    If we didn’t have older versions of the languages extant, we would know they were related but not have a clue exactly how.

    And you don’t think the dialect continuum would help?
    (Low German and Yorkshire English are said to be close to mutually intelligible. So, if Frisian is factored in, we might still be dealing with one dialect continuum instead of two.)

    I had always supposed that the survival of ij alongside ei for the same diphthong through so many Dutch spelling reforms was a sign of latent Germanophobia (or Narzissmus der kleinen Unterschiede).

    Standard German and Dutch are pretty much unique in having merged the sounds of Middle High/Low German ei and long i. They’re kept separate (in very different ways) in apparently every German dialect.

  18. Dave Lizard: Low German and Yorkshire English are said to be close to mutually intelligible.
    I’ve mentioned before that my spoken German greatly improved when I assumed a fake Yorkshire accent. That was in Hamburg, of course.

  19. David Marjanović says:

    Lizard!?! I’m not a herpetologist.

  20. Aidan, Sorry – no access to Youtube. I’ll have to keep a look out for Tim Minchin on the news.

  21. Aidan, Sorry – no access to Youtube. I’ll have to keep a look out for Tim Minchin on the TV.

  22. D-Liz: I’m not a herpetologist.
    That’s too bad. If you had been, you might have enjoyed the rio Wang dragons.

  23. Or the dragons of…
    http://www.blackhillsphotogalleryDOT.com/rapidcity/dpark.html
    …the lover’s lane at Rapid City’s Skyline Drive
    Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: gallery[DOT]com
    or the Kunstformen dragons of Haeckel.

Speak Your Mind

*