Just How Weird Are the World’s Weirdest—and least Weird—Languages?...

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in September 2013] In a recent post on idibon.com Tyler Schnoebelen asked which language is the “weirdest of all”. The most intuitive definition of the concept of language weirdness involves...

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Iran Tourism Booming Despite Sanctions—Or Perhaps Because of Them?

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in November 2012] International efforts to isolate Iran and force it to halt its uranium enrichment program have seriously damaged the country’s economy: entire industries have been paralyzed,...

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The Geography of Detective Fiction

Oct 26, 2014 by

  [This post was originally published in September 2013] Detective fiction is an increasingly popular genre with global appeal that tends to evokes a certain geographical sensibility. In exploring the geography of this genre, it...

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Madagascar: Cartoon Comedy vs. Reality Drama

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in July 2012] The word “Madagascar” evokes in many people’s minds the animated comedy series, whose latest chapter, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, stays atop the box office,...

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Islamic Fatwas, Grammatical Gender, and Translation—Or Beware of Those...

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally posted in December 2013] A recent report in India Today mentions a fatwa (Muslim religious decree) issued by a cleric associated with the Muslim Brotherhood to prohibit women from swimming in the sea. The...

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What Gender is Your Country?

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in November 2013] I am often asked by my students why countries receive masculine or feminine names in languages that make a grammatical gender distinction. For example, why is Portugal masculine in...

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Do “Native Americans and Russians share the same language”?

Oct 26, 2014 by

[This post was originally published in March 2014] I have often criticized the mainstream media for its gross misrepresentations of current linguistic research, with headlines such as “English Language ‘Originated in Turkey’”,...

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