The Pirahã Controversy — Part 3

Mar 29, 2012 by

In the previous post, I outlined the arguments in the Pirahã controversy. Here, let’s consider more closely one of the most crucial issue of this controversy: whether Pirahã allows recursion. (An interested reader is referred...

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The Pirahã Controversy — Part 2

Mar 23, 2012 by

Let us now move away from the academic politics of the Everett-Chomsky debate and consider the actual controversy surrounding the Pirahã language. The language is spoken by an estimated 360 speakers in the Brazilian state Amazonas,...

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The Pirahã Controversy — Part 1

Mar 21, 2012 by

Two articles have recently appeared in the popular press addressing the so-called Pirahã controversy, one in The Economist and another in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The authors of these two pieces, especially Tom Bartlett,...

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Bob’s your uncle

Mar 8, 2012 by

In an earlier post, we have discussed how kinship terminology differs from language to language. Where one language may have an umbrella term for several different relations, another language make have a more detailed network of...

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3D-landcape, 3D-language?

Dec 27, 2011 by

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that languages of the Northeast Caucasus, such as Avar, Tzes and Tabasaran, are famous for their extremely rich case systems; most of their case distinctions are used to mark various aspects of...

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How To Catch A Russian Spy

Dec 6, 2011 by

One interesting way in which a person’s (native) language reveals itself is the so-called Stroop effect, which can be illustrated with the image below (from Wikipedia). If you look at the first set of words, it’s not that...

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