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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Was Proto-Human an SOV language?

Oct 17, 2011 by

Most scholars agree that all of today’s languages descend from a common ancestral language, Proto-Human, which was spoken by behaviourally modern humans (BMHs) some time between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago. (Some theories...

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Burushaski, an un-exotic "orphan" language

Aug 19, 2011 by

Burushaski’s claim to fame is its isolate status. Put simply, it is not related to any other human language on the planet. It is spoken by some 55,000-60,000 people (called Burusho) in the Hunza-Nagar area and the Yasin area in...

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On the Nostratic hypothesis

Jul 6, 2011 by

The Nostratic hypothesis has received much attention not only in professional academic circles but in the popular press as well and have been featured in Atlantic Monthly, Nature, Science, Scientific American, US News and World...

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