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 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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The Pirahã Controversy — Part 1

Mar 21, 2012 by

Two articles have recently appeared in the popular press addressing the so-called Pirahã controversy, one in The Economist and another in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The authors of these two pieces, especially Tom Bartlett,...

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Bob’s your uncle

Mar 8, 2012 by

In an earlier post, we have discussed how kinship terminology differs from language to language. Where one language may have an umbrella term for several different relations, another language make have a more detailed network of...

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