Mother Tongue One Never Forgets

Jan 7, 2016 by

[Many thanks to Leni Silberman for drawing my attention to the ScienceAlert article that describes the study discussed below!]   A growing body of linguistic literature, to which I have made a modest contribution (cf. Pereltsvaig...

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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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Brittany, Another Independence-Seeking European Region

Nov 18, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: This post was originally published in January 2014.] Brittany in northwestern France is one of several regions in Europe that is seeking increased autonomy, if not complete independence, and instructive parallels...

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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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The Problematic Map of the “Second Most-Spoken Languages”

Jun 19, 2015 by

Recently, I have been contacted by Matt Zajechowski about “an interactive graphic/map that [he] helped develop with Olivet Nazarene University that covers the second most spoken languages around the world”. This interactive map (or...

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Is French a Global Language?

Jun 2, 2015 by

An article by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in Forbes challenged John McWhorter’s view that French is no longer an important global language (see McWhorter’s “Let’s Stop Pretending That French Is an Important Language” in The New Republic)....

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