Does Universal Grammar Theory Imply that Language Are All the Same?—Re...

Nov 29, 2015 by

In the previous post, I began laying out a response to Vyvyan Evans’ article in Aeon and more generally in his book, The Language Myth: Why Language Is Not an Instinct. That earlier post focuses on whether language is in instinct. In...

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Why Did Yiddish Survive in Eastern Europe (for as Long as It Did)?

Nov 23, 2015 by

[Thanks to Martin Lewis, Michael Nosonovsky, Katya Shilova, and Elena Zusmanovich for insightful conversations that led to certain points in this post.]   In his essay “Yiddish? Why Don’t We Speak Judeo-French?”, George...

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Reconstructing the Lifestyles of Three Pre-Historic Amazonian Tribes

Oct 7, 2015 by

[Note: this post is aimed mostly at the students in my current class, “The Science of the Deep Human Past: Linguistics, Genetics and Archeology”, but comments from other readers are very welcome as well. The post draws heavily on...

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Is It Spanish Pronunciation “As It Is Meant To Be”?

Sep 4, 2015 by

[Thanks to David Benkof for bringing this issue to my attention and for the great discussion that ensued.]   A recent New York Times article titled “Arizona News Anchor Is Drawn Into Debate on Her Accent and the Use of Spanish”...

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Mohawk’s Challenging Grammar

Aug 4, 2015 by

As mentioned in the previous post, an article by Judith Thurman, titled “A loss for words”, published in the March 30, 2015 issue of The New Yorker, does a good job discussing issues of language endangerment and revitalization....

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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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