Dante Alighieri and the Italian Language

Jul 15, 2015 by

My recent trip to Italy has taken me to several places associated with the country’s leading cultural hero—Dante Alighieri. I have visited Florence, where he was born and spent his early years, and Verona, where he stayed for some...

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Jerusalem artichokes and Jordan almonds: are they from the Middle East...

Feb 13, 2012 by

  Despite what their names suggest neither Jerusalem artichokes nor Jordan almonds are from the Middle East. Both expressions are examples of folk etymology, a process by which the form (and sometimes the meaning) of a word is...

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The plural of virus? Latinate plurals reconsidered

Jan 19, 2012 by

[Thanks to Cynthia Typaldos for bringing this topic to my attention! The cartoon to the left is from this site] A recent article on paidContent.org by Robert Andrews states:   “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) already operates its own...

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On geographic determinism and nasal vowels in French

Dec 30, 2011 by

In a recent post, I discussed one example of geographic determinism applied to linguistic typology. The thinking behind geographic determinism is as follows: certain kinds of terrain or weather favor certain structural features in...

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Making my case

Dec 26, 2011 by

In the last couple of posts, I’ve discussed the issue of grammatical complexity and have shown that even if an objective measure of such complexity is absent, languages clearly differ as to which grammatical distinctions they...

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