Kusunda, a language like no other?

May 25, 2012 by

Kusunda is a dying isolate language. Gyani Maiya Sen, a 75-year-old woman from western Nepal, is its last known speaker. There are some 100-160 people in the Kusunda tribe, and some of them know a few words of the language, but nobody...

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The Pirahã Controversy — Part 1

Mar 21, 2012 by

Two articles have recently appeared in the popular press addressing the so-called Pirahã controversy, one in The Economist and another in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The authors of these two pieces, especially Tom Bartlett,...

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Bob’s your uncle

Mar 8, 2012 by

In an earlier post, we have discussed how kinship terminology differs from language to language. Where one language may have an umbrella term for several different relations, another language make have a more detailed network of term....

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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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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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3D-landcape, 3D-language?

Dec 27, 2011 by

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that languages of the Northeast Caucasus, such as Avar, Tzes and Tabasaran, are famous for their extremely rich case systems; most of their case distinctions are used to mark various aspects of...

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