Are the Black Jews Jewish?

Sep 4, 2015 by

[A recent discussion of the “Lost Tribes” prompted me to repost this piece below, originally published on GeoCurrents in July 2012] The South African University of KwaZulu-Natal has recently hosted a conference on black...

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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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Does Basque Descend from Dogon?

Nov 28, 2014 by

I was recently asked to comment on media reports about the work of Basque linguist Jaime Martín Martín that purports to show that Basque descended from a West African language, Dogon. The Ethnologue classifies Dogon as 19 distinct...

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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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Linguistic diversity in Africa and Europe

Jun 16, 2011 by

As can be seen from the map below, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world’s hotbeds of linguistic diversity. Indeed, the Niger-Congo language family, spoken in the largest part of Sub-Saharan Africa, is the largest language...

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Which language is the oldest?

Apr 22, 2011 by

I hear this question a lot, or claims that this or that language is “the oldest”. Recently, this question has come up again in connection with the research on the birthplace of human language, published recently in...

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