Winter Offering: Why Do Languages Change?

Nov 21, 2011 by

Jane Austen employed the word intercourse in her novels in the genteel sense of ‘dealings between people’; today, it means ‘copulation’ and nothing else. Shakespeare used holp alongside the modern form helped...

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Buried treasures of Cairo Genizah

Nov 14, 2011 by

In earlier posts I’ve discussed a number of ancient manuscripts, including the Dead Sea Scrolls and Novgorod birch bark documents. But it is scholars of Semitic languages that have been particularly blessed with a cornucopia of...

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Birch Bark Letters and the Second Slavic Palatalization, part 3

Sep 14, 2011 by

At the end of the previous posting, we’ve reached a conundrum: the Old Novgorod dialect must have diverged from the rest of the Slavic family early enough to avoid the application of the Second Slavic Palatalization, yet not too...

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Birch Bark Letters and the Second Slavic Palatalization, part 2

Sep 13, 2011 by

At the end of the previous posting, I said that the Old Novgorod KѢLЪ, the Modern Russian CELYJ and the English whole are all cognates, but how are they related to each other? This is where the Second Slavic Palatalization comes...

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Birch Bark Letters and the Second Slavic Palatalization, part 1

Sep 13, 2011 by

While the second part of this posting’s title may sound scary to some of you, bear with me and you will discover one of the most fascinating puzzles of Slavic historical linguistics. But let’s concern ourselves with the...

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