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Blog Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

New Australian program pledges millions towards endangered aboriginal languages

by Laura Welcher on August 14th, 02009

In a new announcement by the Australian government, the equivalent of $7.8 million US dollars will go towards programs that work to save endangered aboriginal languages.

Australia is one of the linguistically rich regions of the world, in recent history having upwards of 275 distinct languages.  These languages also contain some fascinating linguistic features. . .   Read More

In teh beginz is teh meow [Lolcat Bible]

by Laura Welcher on August 14th, 02009

Here is an interesting example of a linguistic game, a crowdsourced translation, and a potential Rosetta Genesis Text to boot — The Lolcat Bible (or, translated into Lolcat by yours truly:  “teh Ceiling Cat goodmeow accordingz to teh kitteh”):

“At start, no has lyte. An Ceiling Cat sayz, i can haz lite? An lite wuz.  An. . .   Read More

Endangered languages, endangered documentation

by Tex Pasley on August 4th, 02009

A recent article in the New York Times describes the endangered language research of Tucker Childs, a linguist at Portland State University, who is in Sierra Leone studying the nearly extinct Kim language.  The death of the Kim language is attributed to the decision of younger speakers to learn the Mende language, spoken by 1. . .   Read More

Putting the World’s Languages on the Map

by Tex Pasley on July 23rd, 02009

Estimates of the number of the world’s languages are hard to nail down precisely.  Our best estimate comes from the current edition of the Ethnologue, which puts the number at 6,909…  6,909 languages. For a challenge, try naming a hundred.  Fifty.  Ten?  The notion of living in a world with almost 7. . .   Read More

Picturing the Pirahã

by Robin Ward on July 18th, 02009

Martin Schoeller’s portraiture reveals an unexpected familiarity with his subjects, who range from the well-known to the anonymous. The photographer’s portraits of Pirahã tribesmen serve as a compelling follow-up to the work of Daniel Everett, who recounted his experience living with the Amazonian community at one of our seminars in March. . .   Read More

Ese… Esselen… Esperanto!

by Tex Pasley on July 15th, 02009

Over at The Rosetta Project, we have been busy uploading new materials to our collection at the Internet Archive (which you can also follow by RSS feed). This week, we uploaded this grammar of Esperanto — a language invented by a single man, now used as a means of regular communication by thousands, if not millions. . .   Read More

The Long Book

by Kevin Kelly on July 14th, 02009

Good things can be done over long times. Oxford University, with its multi-century history and perspective, is one of the few institutions to support very long-term projects. Oxford University Press will this year release a book that has taken almost 45 years to finish. It’s the world’s largest thesaurus — and includes. . .   Read More

Death of tribal elder brings California language closer to extinction

by Tex Pasley on July 14th, 02009

With the passing of Cahuilla elder Alvino Siva on June 26, the language of the Cahuilla of Southern California moved one step closer to being lost forever.   Silva was one of just a handful of fluent Cahuilla speakers left.  A 1994 estimate placed the total number of speakers between 7 and 20, all elderly.  Cahuilla. . .   Read More

Monkeys to replace human linguists!

by Tex Pasley on July 9th, 02009

This recent study has found that monkeys are able to discern the prefixes and suffixes of human language.  These word parts are essential to the grammars of many languages — including English, where verbs are changed by the addition of suffixes to mark things like tense, aspect, person and number (hear-d, hear-s, hear-ing. . .   Read More

Does language affect thought? A new look at an old debate.

by Laura Welcher on June 16th, 02009

Whether the language you speak fundamentally shapes your thinking (sometimes referred to as “linguistic relativity”) is a question that usually comes up in Linguistics 101, along with a set of well known examples — Hopi time, Eskimo words for snow — that would seem, a priori, to indicate the answer is “yes”.  Recent research, however, conducted by. . .   Read More