The Ket from the Lake Munduiskoye
(2008, 30 min.) The Ket people
are an indigenous group in central Siberia whose population has numbered less than two thousand during the past century. Although mostly assimilated into the dominant Russian culture at this point, a couple hundred of them are still able to speak the Ket language
, the last remaining member of the Yeniseian language group. Recent scholarship
has proposed a link between Ket and some Native American language groups.
posted by XMLicious
on Apr 16, 2014 -
We may not speak with the butter-toned exchanges of the characters on “Downton Abbey,” but in substance our speech is in many ways more civilized....
We are taught to celebrate the idea that Inuit languages reveal a unique relationship to snow, or that the Russian language’s separate words for dark and light blue mean that a Russian sees blueberries and robin’s eggs as more vibrantly different in color than the rest of us do. Isn’t it welcome, then, that good old-fashioned American is saying something cool about us for once?
- John McWhorter on colloquial American English
(SLNYTIMES) [more inside]
posted by beisny
on Apr 6, 2014 -
This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in Ireland. As the Life of a people—according to our motto—is pictured in their speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were concerned in it—Irish and English. ... Here for the first time—in this little volume of mine—our Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic classification.
P.W. Joyce's 1910 work, "English as We Speak it in Ireland,"
is a fascinating chronicle of a language's life, and no mistake. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes
on Mar 6, 2014 -
English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody
on Nov 19, 2013 -
For several years now, Tom Scott, a young man in Britain, has mostly done silly, entertaining things on YouTube, things like, "Two Drums and a Cymbal Fall off a Cliff
," "The Matt Gray High Five Face Off
," "Robocoaster Challenge: Reciting Shakespeare while attached to a giant robot arm
," "Google Glasses: A New Way to Hurt Yourself
," and "Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers
. But recently, he's done a series of videos that are interesting
more than they're silly: eight videos
which introduce linguistic concepts like phonotactics
, clusivity & evidentiality
, and the contrast between descriptivism and prescriptivism
(he's decidedly the former, fyi).
posted by ocherdraco
on Jul 17, 2013 -
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk
on Apr 26, 2013 -
In 2005, Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks produced a 6 episode miniseries that spanned the period of expansion of the United States into the American West, from 1825 to 1890. Through fictional and historical characters, the series used two primary symbols--the wagon wheel and the Lakota medicine wheel -- to join the story of two families: one Native American, one White settlers, as they witnessed many of the 19th century's pivotal historical milestones. The award-winning Into The West
can now be seen in its entirety on YouTube
. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Sep 20, 2012 -
The Corpus of American Historical English
is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour
posted by Miko
on Jan 7, 2012 -
Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program
traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
posted by cthuljew
on Nov 15, 2011 -
"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality
Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics
in the NY Times. [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam
on Aug 2, 2011 -
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
is "Crikey’s very own language blog for discerning word nerds. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Australian linguists getting all hot and bothered about the way we communicate." It's the Aussie equivalent of Language Log
, frequently linked here on the Blue. To get you started, Does Moomba really mean ‘up your bum’?
(Answer: Nobody knows for sure, but the search is lots of fun.)
posted by languagehat
on Mar 21, 2011 -
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films
distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing
Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International
, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully
re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree
(while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention
The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic
gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog
, debuted in more than forty tongues
Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes
and one-line comparisons
, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights:
"One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali,"
and "A Whole New World"
) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata,"
(The Lion King
) - "Under the Sea"
and "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
(The Little Mermaid
) - "Belle"
and "Be Our Guest"
(Beauty and the Beast
) - "Just Around the Riverbend"
) - "One Song"
) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"
) - Medley
) - "When She Loved Me"
(Toy Story 2
) - Intro
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 12, 2010 -
"Voice of San Diego
reporter Adrian Florido set out to find a family, he writes
, "whose experience could illustrate the day-to-day challenge for Burmese refugees
" in San Diego, since "more than 200 Burmese families have arrived [in that city] since 2006." In the process, Florido met a 24-year-old man named Har Sin" who was unable to hear, speak, read, write or use sign language, and wound up writing a two-part story about him: In a New Land, Hoping to Hear
and Breaking Free of a Life Without Language
. The story is available as a downloadable pdf: A Silent Journey Series. / Via The Kicker, the daily blog of the Columbia Journalism Review [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 13, 2010 -