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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“Oh, rather!”

Apr 23, 2012 by

The topic of differences between British and American English has already come up several times in this blog. These differences concern pronunciation (“tomejdo”-”tomahto”), word choice (truck vs. lorry), and...

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Aspiration in New Julfa Armenian

Apr 19, 2012 by

A couple of days ago, I attended a very interesting talk by Sebouh Aslanian on New Julfa Armenians and their trade networks, stretching from Amsterdam to Manila in the Philippines. New Julfa is an Armenian settlement in Isfahan, Iran,...

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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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“Hen” said, “hen” said

Apr 15, 2012 by

In many Western countries concerns are raised about gender-specific language. The French hurry to get rid of mademoiselle. The Swedes are not far behind in wanting to get rid of ‘him’ and ‘her’. It has been...

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The Pirahã Controversy: Numbers (part 3)

Apr 8, 2012 by

In the previous post, I discussed a study conducted by Dr Peter Gordon that appears to show that the Pirahã not only lack number words (as has been argued previously by Dan Everett), but also lack the necessary cognitive mechanisms...

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The Pirahã Controversy: Numbers (part 2)

Apr 5, 2012 by

In the previous post, I’ve described one experiment designed to shed some light on the number words in Pirahã and their use. But many more experimental studies add food for thought and fuel to the debate. One such study was...

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