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...

read more

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...

read more

Uzbek, “the penguin of Turkic languages”

Feb 25, 2011 by

A quick clarification about an earlier posting on Turkic languages. There I said that of the four major Turkic languages in Central Asia — Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Turkmen — Turkmen is the real “odd man...

read more

Internal classification of Turkic languages

Feb 22, 2011 by

To wrap up our recent discussion of Turkic languages, let’s consider another quote from Bernard Lewis’ book The Middle East. A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. He writes: “…Azerbaijan and the five...

read more

The Altaic family controversy

Feb 16, 2011 by

So now that we’ve been introduced to the three language groupings that are hypothesized to constitute the core of the proposed Altaic language family — Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages — we can consider the...

read more

Altaic family: introducing Mongolian and Tungusic languages

Feb 16, 2011 by

In several recent postings, I’ve given some attention to Turkic languages. As I’ve mentioned before, some scholars believe that Turkic languages are part of a larger language family called “Altaic”. Fig.1: The...

read more