The Altaic Family Controversy

Oct 16, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in March 2012] An earlier post described the less commonly spoken indigenous Siberian languages and suggested that they elude easy familial classification. The other languages of Siberia fall into...

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Indigenous Languages of Siberia: An Overview

Oct 9, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in March 2012] On the map of the 6,909 living languages listed in the Ethnologue database (see map on the left), Siberia is mostly empty, with fewer dots than European Russia or the United States....

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Peoples, languages and genes in the Caucasus: An Introduction

May 15, 2014 by

The Caucasus region, dominated by the imposing Great Caucasus mountain range and stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, has long been known as one of the world’s ethnically and linguistically most diverse areas....

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On conservativity

May 4, 2012 by

Some words, like fashion fads, appear in the language and disappear without a trace soon thereafter. Other words (and morphemes) are much more conservative. In this brief post, I will cite just two examples of highly conservative...

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More on geographic determinism and language

Jan 5, 2012 by

In a recent post, I’ve discussed the issue of geographic determinism, that is the hypothesis that certain kinds of terrain or weather favor certain structural features in languages. As I have shown there, this simple-minded version...

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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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