Universal Grammar, Neanderthals, and the Evolution of Language—Respons...

Dec 1, 2015 by

[Many thanks to Martin W. Lewis and Matthew Jobin for insightful discussions of some of the issues considered in this post.]   The next set of objections to the Universal Grammar (UG) theory raised by Vyvyan Evans concerns its...

read more

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...

read more

Is Language an Instinct?—Response to Vyvyan Evans (part 1)

Nov 27, 2015 by

About a year ago, Aeon published an article by Vyvyan Evans, titled “Real talk”, which was recently brought to my attention by Polish linguist Piotr Gąsiorowski. Evans’s article in Aeon summarizes some of the key ideas in his book,...

read more

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...

read more

The Disappearance of Yiddish in Russia and Elsewhere in the FSU

Nov 22, 2015 by

A century ago Yiddish was the predominant language of Jews in the Russian Empire; three of my four grandparents, born in 1900s-1920s spoke Yiddish as their mother tongue. Yet according to the 2010 population census, only about 30,000...

read more

Ekaterina Lyutikova on the Architecture of Grammar

Nov 19, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: the following is my translation from Russian of Ekaterina Lyutikova’s video lecture posted on PostNauka.ru, posted here with her permission. Some Russian examples have been replaced by corresponding English...

read more

What Is Linguistic Complexity and How to Measure It?

Nov 19, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: the following is my translation from Russian of Alexander Piperski’s lecture posted on PostNauka.ru, posted here with his permission.]   We all have some ideas about what languages ​​are simpler and,...

read more