Languages group

SnakI Survived the Great Vowel Shift

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Languages group

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Redigeret: dec 30, 2009, 12:27pm

Can anyone explain to me the difference between the Languages group ( and this group?

It looks to me like they're about the same size. They appear to be split mostly by how people found them. This group, while slightly larger, has a name that violates the "Don't make me think" principle. ('t_Make_Me_Think)

Anyway, I posted something about American Indian languages there. I never thought to post it here too. I should have. Indeed, I should be a member of this group too. But I'm not, because of the redundant group problem...

dec 30, 2009, 12:37pm

I don't have an answer to the difference between the two groups, but the Don't Make Me Think principle makes me sad. The name of this group tickles my brain in just the right spot. I like thinking.

Redigeret: dec 30, 2009, 12:48pm

That groups says it is about languages. This group is about linguistics. Languages, per se, don't interest me that much. Linguistics - what makes languages work - does.

And the name of it will catch the eye of anyone who knows any (historical) linguistics. Sort of like having the Harry Potter group called 'Hogwart's Express'.

Redigeret: dec 30, 2009, 12:50pm

>2 DaynaRT:

I hear you, but isn't the presence of two such groups--with debate split--proof that it's not working? Social phenomena are commonly said to be valuable by the square of their participants—so splitting a group into two does great damage.

>3 MarthaJeanne:

I don't think the topics people post support this very well. I suppose there's a slight difference created by using a term of art from English historical linguistics. We could accomplish the same effect by creating an alternative to the Ancient History group by calling it "meta de tauta" or "ktema es aiei."

dec 30, 2009, 12:50pm

I think the topics in the two look very different. I'm in the right one for me.

dec 30, 2009, 1:07pm

I think, after a brief perusal of the Languages group, that this group focuses more on linguistics, where that one's concerned with aspects of specific foreign languages. Hence the "Great Vowel Shift" reference.

dec 30, 2009, 2:45pm

Social phenomena are commonly said to be valuable by the square of their participants—so splitting a group into two does great damage.

So by that logic, we should get rid of groups entirely and turn Talk into one big free-for-all? ;)

I agree with fleela that the Don't Make Me Think principle is sad. Have you considered that people might come to LT because they want to think? Even suggestions for improved navigation (like a search box on every page) are frequently met with protests about "dumbing it down".

dec 30, 2009, 3:17pm

Thinking is for content. The labeling of content should not require thinking.

dec 30, 2009, 3:22pm

For boring, thought-free labelling, we now have tags :)

dec 30, 2009, 3:29pm

At the other extreme, since thinking is fun, shall we keep it in Pirate speak all the time?

dec 30, 2009, 3:44pm

Thinking is for content. The labeling of content should not require thinking. (#8)

But what about searching for content? How do you actually find what you're looking for in talk search without being superhumanly clever?

dec 30, 2009, 3:48pm

Tim, I keep my facebook profile in Pirate speak full-time. I'm that cool.

dec 30, 2009, 4:17pm

>10 timspalding: If that's the kind of image you want to present, sure. There are certain people who'd appreciate it, just as there are certain people who appreciate wittier names over banality.

I'd like to point out that the most active language group is far smaller than either of these and has an arguably more obscure name. This is because there's more to what constitutes a successful group than "Does it have a lot of members and a blindingly obvious name?". Social forces are more subtle than that.

I really hope you don't now go to that third group and complain that it's redundant and badly-named.

dec 30, 2009, 4:32pm

Social phenomena are commonly said to be valuable by the square of their participants—so splitting a groupthe humor and humour tags into two does great damage.


dec 30, 2009, 4:33pm


dec 30, 2009, 4:37pm

This group has the feeling of being a bit more accessible to the layperson. I'm not saying the other group is snobbish or exclusive, I watch that one as well, but to me they both have a distinct 'vibe' about them.

dec 30, 2009, 4:38pm

IIRC, while it was still possible to propose group combinations there was a proposal to combine Languages into I Survived the Great Vowel Shift. BTW, "I Survived the Great Vowel Shift" is a great name for a group.

Be that as it may, although I am a member of both groups, I see the difference that #6: ambushedbyasnail saw; "I think, after a brief perusal of the Languages group, that this group focuses more on linguistics, where that one's concerned with aspects of specific foreign languages".

#13: _Zoe_
What group is that?

dec 30, 2009, 4:46pm

I also watch Pendant's Corner and am a member of Words and Phrases, but the latter seems to be defunct.

dec 30, 2009, 4:47pm

Jim, I left you a profile comment--I don't want to make it too easy for Tim's zealous over-combining ;)

Redigeret: dec 30, 2009, 4:52pm

You know, I can find hidden comments! At least, when I have my "L" on.

dec 30, 2009, 5:02pm

Oh, I know. And you can easily find the group from the main group page, if you want. I just don't want to be wholly responsible for the outcome!

dec 30, 2009, 5:16pm

I'm too preoccupied changing everything else about groups tonight to attend to looking for le group you're speaking of.

dec 30, 2009, 5:18pm


I'm looking forward to seeing the changes... I think.

dec 30, 2009, 5:20pm

Also, I think you've just inspired me to start my own collection of Tim quotes.

dec 30, 2009, 5:46pm


dec 30, 2009, 5:57pm

Based on the group descriptions, they should be very different. Linguists are allowed to hate language (or just not find them individually fascinating), and most people who self-describe as being language lovers generally have very little to say of interest to linguists (no offense intended).

If the groups actually followed the descriptions, I'd only be a member of this one. However, actual topics in this group stray incredibly far from the description. It seems have become an outlet for nitpickers and would-be mavens.

Also, I too love the group name. I don't even feel like that needs to be justified.

dec 31, 2009, 5:21am


A bold statement considering you were so fond of "You and no other". Even "Vous et nul autre" (as it is now) makes people think.

dec 31, 2009, 1:15pm

I love the group name, and I agree that this is a linguistics group and not a languages group, but I think that main difference if I see more fractured English on the Languages group. ;)

dec 31, 2009, 2:02pm

I was so delighted by the name of this group when I joined LT three years ago that I knew I had to join right away! As a newby, I just browsed through the list of group names to see what sort of groups were out there and would strike my fancy. Not knowing there would be any on linguistics or language, it never occurred to me to *search* for one of those terms, and I didn't know there was a Languages group until I read this thread. I'm still mulling over the suggestion that more members makes a group better--couldn't you have a successful group with let's say three people who really "clicked" and had interesting things to say?

dec 31, 2009, 4:29pm

>27 andyl:

Acceptable on a very minor, obscure feature.

dec 31, 2009, 4:35pm

So it's only when, against all odds, groups with these horribly obscure names actually become big and successful that the names are deemed problematic and off-putting?

dec 31, 2009, 5:51pm

Starting with "Be that as it may, although I am a member of both groups, I see the difference that #6: ambushedbyasnail saw; "I think, after a brief perusal of the Languages group, that this group focuses more on linguistics, where that one's concerned with aspects of specific foreign languages".
so I remember what I'm replying to, more or less,
I guess I'm going to have to look for this other group, because I'm interested in more than one language, but the name of this one caught my eye because I'm a philologist, which is not exactly the same as a linguist, which in turn has more than one usage. . . WHAT run-on sentence? I DID rather lose track of where I intended to go with that. 8-)
I enjoy discussions of linguistic concerns, but not necessarily just English ones.

dec 31, 2009, 6:40pm

Now that we have tags, the names of the groups can be as obscure as the creator wants them to be and they can still be found.

dec 31, 2009, 6:54pm

Coming late to this discussion, I'd just like to say that "I Survived the Great Vowel Shift" sounded interesting, so I looked into it, but "Languages" sounded dull, so I didn't.

jan 6, 2010, 12:35pm

#34: Ditto here. Still, here I am! I should introduce myself, and will, but haven't the time now.

jan 13, 2010, 5:54pm

I must agree with sfaffordcastle. "I Survived the Great Vowel Shift" seemed interesting but I have no comment for "Languages."

Redigeret: jan 14, 2010, 7:11am

Well, one thing that was alluded to above and might be a problem is that the Great Vowel Shift is specifically English (although interestingly enough it can also be found in earlier stages in North Germanic dialects in South Scandinavia).

So if the idea is to catch the attention also of linguistically inclined people who did *not* take English linguistics at university, it's a bad name.

jan 14, 2010, 8:39am

Not necessarily, it lured me in and I was a history major.

jan 14, 2010, 9:00am

Perhaps native English-speakers encounter the term in school?

jan 14, 2010, 10:55am

To the best of my knowledge, it's the best known vowel shift, maybe even the best known chain shift, and fairly well documented for a historical change. I'd hope non-English historical linguistics or phonology texts cover at least the concept. I know it comes up often enough in English language introductory texts that aren't specifically about English. But maybe someone else has some insight?

jan 14, 2010, 10:58am

Most of my historical linguistics is German - we have two consonant shifts. Close enough that I recognized it when I saw it.

jan 14, 2010, 11:12am

In Germanic historical lingustics I'd say Grimm's Law and Verner's Law are better known, since they apply to all Germanic languages. I had certainly never heard of the Great Vowel Shift before taking English at university. I doubt many if any non-English phonology texts mention the shift at all, although some non-English historical linguistics texts probably do.

jan 14, 2010, 3:07pm

Ok, I definitely spaced out in claiming it might be the best known chain shift. How one forgets Grimm's Law, even on only one cup of coffee, is beyond me. :)

jan 14, 2010, 3:27pm

Many bizarre things can happen to a caffeine-deprived brain...

jan 14, 2010, 7:16pm

My linguistics education has been in the United States, and Grimm's law was part of several courses. K versus S was too. I'm surprised that the Great Vowel Shift wouldn't be mentioned in European linguistics courses.


jan 14, 2010, 8:57pm

Hasn't Greek had a 'great vowel shift'?

jan 15, 2010, 4:27am

For me, one of the good things about the 'Vowel Shift' title is that I feel it attracts a more knowledgeable kind of visitor/contributor. Those who hate elites and elitism may not like this!

As well as those people who know of the concept from 'doing a course', it surely also attracts those who are just broadly educated, whether formally or informally. As a science major, most of my broader education needed to be self-started, and although it may well be patchy and error-prone as a result, it has been undertaken for pleasure rather than obligation. I suspect I'm not alone in this, in this group.

Factors such as this have ensured a refreshingly higher level of literacy here than most other groups in LT.

jan 15, 2010, 10:42am

I agree with #47 - plus, I want to point out that I think this discussion is getting a little silly with the English vs. FL/NL stuff. This is a linguistics group. I'll admit I muddy it with grammar and word questions because I don't know much about linguistics. But I figure the people who do know about linguistics also know the answers my (usually advanced or existential) grammar questions.

A language group isn't where I'd go for that. I come here with questions about the English language, or questions about language structures in relation to English.

The people in this group know their stuff and are an invaluable resource to me. I wouldn't want it clogged up by people who didn't know what the Great Vowel Shift was.

Yeah, Clifford's right, it's elitism. But it works!