Is “Huh?” a Universal Word?—And Why Is It Important?

Sep 2, 2015 by

[This post was originally published in November 2013] Last week I was contacted by the producers of the AirTalk radio based in Los Angeles and asked to discuss the article on the universality of “Huh?” recently published by Mark...

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Are We “At the Origin of Language Structure”?—Another Blooper-Riddled ...

Aug 31, 2015 by

[Thanks to George Walkden for drawing my attention to the article discussed below and for a helpful discussion of some of its shortcomings.]   A recent article in Science Daily describes the research conducted by “a team from...

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Sounds and Sound Systems Around the World: An Brief Overview

Apr 7, 2015 by

Human languages use great many different speech sounds, but no single language uses them all. To hear various speech sounds and to see International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols that represent them, visit here. Each language...

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Just How Weird Are the World’s Weirdest—and least Weird—Languages?...

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in September 2013] In a recent post on idibon.com Tyler Schnoebelen asked which language is the “weirdest of all”. The most intuitive definition of the concept of language weirdness involves...

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Evidential markers in Yukaghir languages

Oct 10, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in April 2012] When a character in an English-language mystery novel says “The butler did it!”, we do not know if this person witnessed the crime, heard someone else make the accusation, or infers...

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Kusunda, a language like no other?

May 25, 2012 by

Kusunda is a dying isolate language. Gyani Maiya Sen, a 75-year-old woman from western Nepal, is its last known speaker. There are some 100-160 people in the Kusunda tribe, and some of them know a few words of the language, but...

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