Syntactic feature or scribal convention?

Apr 18, 2012 by

In an earlier post, discussing the birch bark document 607/562 (see image on the left), I mentioned a peculiarity of word order in this brief crime report: the appositive phrase (=extra description) NOVGORODSKE SMЬRDE appears not...

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The Pirahã Controversy — Part 3

Mar 29, 2012 by

In the previous post, I outlined the arguments in the Pirahã controversy. Here, let’s consider more closely one of the most crucial issue of this controversy: whether Pirahã allows recursion. (An interested reader is referred...

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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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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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More on concealing the truth: intransitives, passives and …anti-...

Nov 16, 2011 by

[Thanks to Dave Howard for bringing up some of the issues discussed in this post] To continue with the earlier theme of telling the truth, telling lies and concealing the truth, I’d like to address the issue of potentially...

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More on word order, morphological types and historical change

Oct 24, 2011 by

In a comment to the previous posting, Venelina Dimitrova raised a number of interesting issues, which I thought it would be best to address in a separate posting rather than in the comment section. 1. Is there a correlation between...

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