Archive for the Category: Linguistics

The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics

The good people at the Speculative Grammarian, the premier scholarly journal in field of satirical linguistics, sent me a review copy of their book, The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics, and asked me if I could write a review. This is what they said: “Of course, we think the book is quite funny, though […]

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I learned a new word today – apocope [əˈpɒkəpiː], which is the loss of phonemes from the ends of words, particularly unstressed vowels. It comes from the Greek word ἀποκόπτω (apokoptein), which means ‘cutting off’ and comes from ἀπό (apo-), ‘away’ and κόπτω (koptein), ‘to cut’. Apocope is a mechanism which erodes some inflections and […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Greek, Language 12 Comments

Tlingit revitalisation

I came across an interesting article today about efforts to revitalise Tlingit in Alaska. It mentions how some Tlingit speakers are unwilling to speak their language to their children and grandchildren because they were punished for speaking it when were at school. This resulted in feelings of shame for the Tlingit language and culture which […]

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Linguistic landscape

Last Saturday I went to a study day about the Isle of Man put on by the Centre for North-West Regional Studies at Lancaster University. One of the talks was about the Manx language and used quotes from my dissertation – it was great to be recognised like that, and the speaker was quite surprised […]

Also posted in Language 13 Comments

Spoken language is a special type of music

According to an article I came across yesterday music might be what enables us to acquire language, and spoken language could be thought of as a special type of music. When acquiring language babies first hear speech as “an intentional and often repetitive vocal performance” and they learn to hear and mimic its emotional and […]

Also posted in Language, Language acquisition, Language learning, Music 4 Comments


I came across an interesting article today about the Wiradjuri language and how it is being revived. In 1981 only three people spoke Wiradjuri and by 2009 no native speakers remained, however since 1988 the language has been revived, thanks particularly to the efforts of Stan Grant Senior, a Wiradjuri elder, who worked with a […]

Also posted in Endangered languages, Language, Language revival 2 Comments

Aramaic revival with help from Sweden

I found an interesting article today about efforts to revive the Aramaic language in Israel. The Syriac variety of Aramaic is used in the Maronite Christian and Syrian Orthodox churches, where prayers are chanted in the language, though few understand them. Only the elderly members of the community still speak the language, which is the […]

Also posted in Language, Language revival 4 Comments

Dialect, vernacular, patois?

The other I found quite an interesting article about Shanghainese which suggest that’s it has become a bit more popular recently, and is being used for some announcements in public transport and on planes, and that children are allowed to speak it at one school, at least during breaks. The article says that about 10 […]

Also posted in Chinese, Language, Language revival 1 Comment

By hook or by crook

I went to two talks by David Crystal at Bangor University yesterday – one was entitled “By Hook or by Crook” and the other was on Shakespeare’s English, focusing particularly on original pronunciation (OP) – a reconstruction of the way people spoke in Shakepeare’s day. Both talks were fascinating and full of information and anecdotes. […]

Also posted in English, Language 3 Comments

Monolingual USA?

The other day I found an interesting article in the New York Times about monolingualism and multilingualism in the USA and elsewhere. There’s a widespread belief that most Americans are monolingual in English, and that elsewhere it’s common for people to know two or more languages. The article asks whether this belief is true. The […]

Also posted in Bilingualism, Language 4 Comments
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