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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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,...

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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 Jochnowitz...

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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...

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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, posted here with her permission. Some Russian examples have been replaced by corresponding English...

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