Are Languages of “Primitive Peoples” Primitive?

Jul 28, 2015 by

A recent discussion of Toki Pona, a conlang dubbed “the world’s smallest language” by Roc Morin on Business Insider Australia website, prompted me to write again on the issue of the so-called “primitive languages” (for my earlier...

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Is Fish “Who” or “What”?

Jun 22, 2015 by

I was asked today whether ryba ‘fish’ in Russian is a “who” or a “what”. Fascinating question, as it turns out! “Who or what?” is a question of animacy, a feature that is both semantic and grammatical (morphological) in Russian. From...

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Some Observations on Morphophonological Adaptation of English-derived ...

Jun 22, 2015 by

As discussed in an earlier post, loanwords (i.e. words borrowed from another language) often bear their foreign origins on their sleeve, so to speak. However, it is not true that loanwords always retain their pristine phonological...

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The Fast-Disappearing Ninilchik Russian of Alaska—And Some of Its Ling...

Apr 6, 2015 by

Several followers of this blog and I have been discussing an article about the work of Andrei Kibrik (Moscow State University) and Mira Bergelson (The Higher School of Economics, Moscow) on “an antiquated dialect of Russian … still...

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The Anatomy of “Touching”

Mar 20, 2015 by

The verb ‘to touch’ in Russian—kasat’sja and its perfective counterpart kosnut’sja—is a very peculiar one, in several respects. To begin with, it is unusual in having the clitic –sja, without any of the meanings typically...

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Simple Verb Tenses in Old Church Slavonic

Feb 4, 2015 by

Verbs in Old Church Slavonic (OCS) are inflected for person (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) and number (singular, dual, or plural). There are three simple tenses (present, imperfect, and aorist) and three compound tenses (perfect, pluperfect, and...

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