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267 posts tagged with linguistics.
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The birth of a [sign] language

Experts Study New Sign Language System A new system of sign language developed by deaf children in Nicaragua may hold clues about the evolution of languages. When the country's first school for the deaf was established in 1977, children were not taught sign language but developed a system of signs to communicate. Childhood learning may determine linguistic rules ...They found that older students used hand signals resembling the gestures employed by hearing people, mimicking the entire event physically. But younger pupils - who had interacted with other deaf children from an early age - used a more complex series of signs. They split the scene into component parts and arranged these sequentially to convey the incident. The constructions resemble the way words and sentences are built in verbal languages, using segments structured in a linear fashion. This indicates that way the younger children learnt the sign language helped reshape it according to these linguistic rules.
............... Fascinating... /Mr. Spock
posted by y2karl on Sep 18, 2004 - 20 comments

Native Languages of the Americas

Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and promoting American Indian languages.
posted by Ufez Jones on Sep 2, 2004 - 13 comments

Eggcorn-ucopia

Just a hand-few of eggcorns grows a forest? Among the pursuits of linguistics blog Language Log is the examination of certain quasi-spelling errors appropriately dubbed eggcorns. Not quite results of folk etymology, they nonetheless possess a certain inner logic that invites their recurring use as well as their analysis.

No proper repository exists yet; enter 'eggcorn' into the site's search engine to view the growing harvest.
posted by LinusMines on Aug 26, 2004 - 31 comments

one-ish, two-ish, lots

Sapir/Whorf raises its head again in study of the Piraha tribe. I can't stop thinking about this article which appeared in the Globe and Mail Friday.

A study appearing today in the journal Science reports that the hunter-gatherers seem to be the only group of humans known to have no concept of numbering and counting. Not only that, but adult Piraha apparently can't learn to count or understand the concept of numbers or numerals, even when they asked anthropologists to teach them and have been given basic math lessons for months at a time ... the Piraha are the only people known to have no distinct words for colours.
They have no written language, and no collective memory going back more than two generations. They don't sleep for more than two hours at a time during the night or day. Even when food is available, they frequently starve themselves and their children, Prof. Everett reports.
They communicate almost as much by singing, whistling and humming as by normal speech.
They frequently change their names, because they believe spirits regularly take them over and intrinsically change who they are.
They have no creation myths, tell no fictional stories and have no art.

Can any of our anthropologists or linguists comment? I had thought that narrative was the common link in all human cultures....
posted by jokeefe on Aug 21, 2004 - 61 comments

Sex At Noon Taxes

Palindromes
::shamelessly stolen from plep::
posted by anastasiav on Jul 24, 2004 - 20 comments

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

Oxymorons
posted by anastasiav on Jul 23, 2004 - 36 comments

Blissymbolics ~ Handywrite ~ Teeline ~ Gregg ~ Pitman

A Guide to Alternative Handwriting and Shorthand Systems
posted by anastasiav on Jul 5, 2004 - 8 comments

The Hills Are Alive With The Semantics of Music

Tunes create context like language : "musical notes are strung together in the same patterns as words in a piece of literature". Full paper. On a related note, hone your musical comprehension by playing with Impromptu. Better yet, co-ordinate it with this MIT OpenCourse - Developing Musical Structures.
posted by Gyan on Jun 22, 2004 - 21 comments

One person’s gaffe is another’s peccadillo

Common Errors In English :: an internet guide
posted by anastasiav on Jun 20, 2004 - 117 comments

The Limerick packs jokes anatomical ...

Wordcraft, an on-line community of linguaphiles, best known for its extensive collection of eponyms, has taken on a new and fairly ambitious project -- they're trying to rewrite the entire Oxford English Dictionary -- in limerick form. So far they're only on the a's, but they do seem optimistic.
Shamelessly stolen from languagehat's blog
posted by anastasiav on Jun 18, 2004 - 7 comments

The Web's #1 Axe In My Head Page

"Oh my god! There's an axe in my head"
posted by anastasiav on Jun 15, 2004 - 21 comments

Here's one for Languagehat

Double-Tongued Word Wrester :: Words from the fringes of English
posted by anastasiav on Jun 4, 2004 - 5 comments

Forthright's Phrontistery

Forthright's Phrontistery: English word lists and language resources.
posted by hama7 on May 3, 2004 - 4 comments

Muckle bonnie wirds

Dictionary of the Scots Language. The two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the Scottish National Dictionary (SND), have been combined into one searchable online edition:
Thus, information on the earliest uses of Scots words can be presented alongside examples of the later development and, in some cases, current usage of the same words. In this way, we hope that the DSL will allow users to appreciate the continuity and historical development of the Scots language. By making the DSL freely available on the Internet, we also aim to widen access to the source dictionaries and to open up these rich lexicographic resources to anyone with an interest in Scots language and culture.

posted by languagehat on Apr 2, 2004 - 13 comments

What's in a frame? well........

George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics "Why do conservatives appear to be so much better at framing? - Because they've put billions of dollars into it. Over the last 30 years their think tanks have made a heavy investment in ideas and in language. In 1970, [Supreme Court Justice] Lewis Powell wrote a fateful memo to the National Chamber of Commerce....He outlined the whole thing in 1970. They set up the Heritage Foundation in 1973" "So if you go on Fox News....and the question is, 'Are you in favor of the President’s tax relief program or are you against it?' -- it doesn't matter what you say. If you say, 'I’m against tax relief,' you're still evoking that framing. you're still in their frame..."

"George Lakoff, a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California Berkeley, is a specialist in the technique of "framing," a communication tool that creates a "frame" for a message that defines the terms of the debate." (Interview with Lakoff )
posted by troutfishing on Jan 14, 2004 - 75 comments

Here's one for Languagehat!

Ask A Linguist is designed to be a place where anyone interested in language or linguistics can ask a question and get the response of a panel of professional linguists. Be sure to browse their archived questions (with answers, of course).
posted by anastasiav on Jan 12, 2004 - 10 comments

the language boom

Language tree rooted in Turkey.
posted by the fire you left me on Dec 7, 2003 - 28 comments

Linguists Dismissed

Knack for language? Great! Gay? No thanks. Interesting WaPo story of how DoD desparately needs linguists trained in Arabic, but dismisses linguists when it comes out that they are gay.
posted by cpfeifer on Dec 3, 2003 - 34 comments

... Shenanigans ... Antidisestablishmentarianism ... Medulla Oblongata ... Zog ...

Dave's List of Words That Are Fun To Say
posted by anastasiav on Nov 25, 2003 - 141 comments

Semantic web : Lost in Translation

Clay Shirky smacks syllogism around. Nice criticism of the semantic web and the present (and increasing) hype of the "semantic web revolution". The most damning part of the essay is the part about languages and categories being deeply intertwined with worldview and with culture—if there's no good definition for the word "bachelor" (see), how can there be an encoding of "friend", "lover" (see article for the classic AI example of "John loves Mary") or anything else that isn't zipcode?
posted by zpousman on Nov 8, 2003 - 62 comments

I just can't think of a witty title, sorry!

Need an Idiom? Check out The Idiom Connection. Think certain phrases are such cliches that they should be banned? Before you condemn or mock them, take a moment to learn more about the origin of some of these phrases.
::via The Tower of English::
posted by anastasiav on Oct 7, 2003 - 8 comments

All progress depends on the unreasonable man

The Alphabet: Meaningless shapes arbitrarily linked to meaningless sounds. When George Bernard Shaw died in 1950, his will provided for the development of a new alphabet for the English language, an alphabet of at least forty letters that could be used to write English without all the oddities of our traditional spelling. Learn more about the history and origins of The Shaw Alphabet, and look at some of its competitors, including the initial teaching alphabet, Inglish Simplifíd Speling and The Unifon Alphabet - a 40 character alphabet resulting from the Shaw alphabet competition. Or, read what Mark Twain had to say on the subject.
posted by anastasiav on Sep 23, 2003 - 10 comments

The Analytical Language of John Wilkins

The Analytical Language of John Wilkins - the Decimal System post below reminded me of this exquisite essay by Jorge Luis Borges. Famous for its appearance in Michel Foucault's The Order of Things, the essay describes an attempt to create a non-arbitrary language. For fans of Borges' work, this is absolutely classic.
posted by Hjorth on Sep 21, 2003 - 9 comments

Pirates of the Common Media

It's OK to Talk Like a Pirate, Just Don't Pirate Words!
from Dan Gillmor and David Weinberger, found via The Boingers, who disabled comments.
posted by wendell on Sep 18, 2003 - 19 comments

Scrambled Text

Scrambled Text. Tihs jrivascapt let's you puodcre scmbleard txet jsut lkie a ctraien prgpaarah taht kepes ppoipng up all oevr the pclae. "Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."
posted by bobo123 on Sep 14, 2003 - 58 comments

Introducing the work of user 1747

Luciferous Logolepsy: Dragging obscure words into the light of day.
::with thanks to Madamjujujive
posted by anastasiav on Sep 10, 2003 - 3 comments

Compendium of lost words

Compendium of lost words You may have been wondering what "triclavianism" means. You may have been disappointed when dictionary.com couldn't help. Look no further.
posted by adamrice on Aug 16, 2003 - 19 comments

Calling all Grammar Schoolmarms

"Even a brilliant piece of writing will have difficulty finding a publisher if the author has neglected to dress his manuscript decently." 'The Chicago Manual of Style' enters the 21st century. Calling all MeFi Schoolmarms! (Also: CSM New Questions & Answers)
posted by ColdChef on Jul 24, 2003 - 26 comments

Googlewash

42 days to a Googlewash. The Register comes out all guns firing at the blogging community's apparent "redefinition" of a term, calling it Orwellian doublespeak. Is it true that a small coterie of A-list bloggers is able to change the way we (for we: read Google users) define a phrase? Or is there really something bigger going on?
posted by cbrody on Apr 3, 2003 - 65 comments

world languages

The World has at least 6,800 active languages and countless more dialects ranging from Alacatlatzala to Zoque Tabasco. These are the Top 10 languages.
posted by stbalbach on Apr 2, 2003 - 21 comments

Click, Pop and Whistle

Khoisan languages of southern Africa [NY Times link]
Do some of today's languages still hold a whisper of an ancient ancestral tongue spoken by the first modern humans? [more inside]
posted by Irontom on Mar 24, 2003 - 11 comments

Why They're Talking as Fast as They Can

Did You Catch That? Linguistics expert Deborah Tannen looks at perceptions and realities surrounding the speed at which we intercommunicate (washingtonpost.com).
posted by LinusMines on Jan 5, 2003 - 23 comments

Snoop

Shizzolate dat sh*t, homey! Snoop can help funkify and shizzolate yo' site, B. That's his word, dogg. (This is amusing for a solid 40 seconds...)
posted by adamms222 on Dec 19, 2002 - 7 comments

Violent metaphors

Caution: Violent metaphors can blow up in your face. This one (see paragraph two)—which I discovered a day or so before the D.C. snipers were apprehended—struck me at the time as a particularly unfortunate demonstration as to why, especially considering this ad agency is based just outside Washington. George Lakoff, an undisputed Heavyweight Metaphorician of the World, turns the tables and uses human metaphors rather neatly to think about 9/11. And apparently, there are workshops that teach how to make nonviolent metaphors more vivid and, the logic goes, make violence less attractive. So, the explosive question: does hostile language encourage conflict or reflect it? Peace out.
posted by micropublishery on Nov 30, 2002 - 10 comments

Bashkortostan.

Linguistics in Bashkortostan. Russian philology within the Republic of Bashkortostan.
posted by plexi on Nov 26, 2002 - 5 comments

GeoNative.

GeoNative. Placenames in minority and indigenous languages.
posted by plep on Nov 16, 2002 - 7 comments

Worthless Word for the Day.

Worthless Word for the Day. Ever feel as if an "obscure, abstruse and/or recondite word" was forced into a newspaper/magazine/quote? Now there's a site that finally finds and provides wwftd! Impress your friends.
posted by geoff. on Oct 21, 2002 - 13 comments

Lost in Translation translates any bit of text you submit back and forth between another language (French, then German, Italian, Portuguese, and finally Spanish) and English ten times - the results are a cross between the results of a game of telephone and a Nostradamus prophecy. The best part (for me) is that it shows you the de-evolution of your phrase as it gets translated back and forth.
posted by anastasiav on Oct 12, 2002 - 81 comments

God Save the Subjunctive.

God Save the Subjunctive. Because if he doesn't, who will? And there's more, oh so much more, to this intricate thing we call language. What does it mean?, where did it come from? And how would ancient Babylonians write your name, anyway?
posted by headspace on Sep 16, 2002 - 26 comments

This pidgin bible translation

This pidgin bible translation gives me the creeps. What happened to promoting literacy by example? Sure, it's important to use language that your readers are comfortable with, but come on already. Is it any wonder that education in Hawaii stinks?
posted by flestrin on Sep 15, 2002 - 37 comments

Mutated genes account for speech.

Mutated genes account for speech. Evidence now suggest that our ability to speak is based on a slight mutation in a particular gene. The mutation is only slightly off from other animals. What genetic discovery thus far do you think will have the most rewarding results?
posted by mhaw on Aug 14, 2002 - 22 comments

"The Druids of the ancient Celtic world have a startling kinship with the brahmins of the Hindu religion,"

"The Druids of the ancient Celtic world have a startling kinship with the brahmins of the Hindu religion," according to popular historian Peter Berresford Ellis. Another author examines the parallels between Celtic and Vedic culture in the article The Celtic Vedic Connection, and a particular diety is analyzed in The Horned God in India and Europe. This may not be very conservative scholarship, but I found it intriguing and fun to contemplate.
posted by homunculus on Jul 31, 2002 - 6 comments

The Linguistic Fun Page. If you're stuck on a cube-farm somewhere, I especially recommend the Hellatine Dictionary of Bureaucratese. The remote links are much better than the local ones, although I did especially enjoy The Collective Nouns Page (An anthology of prostitutes, a smuth of jellyfish)
posted by anastasiav on Jul 29, 2002 - 9 comments

Out of all the groups of people

Out of all the groups of people that annoy the heck out of me (telemarketers, ricers and scientologists to name a few) I still cannot help but crack up when I read something written in 1337 hacker talk. Thank God they don't rule the world.
posted by hidely on Jul 27, 2002 - 14 comments

God,

God, you our Fadda. You stay in da sky. We like all da peopo know fo shua how you stay, an dat you good an spesho inside, an we like dem give you plenny respeck. We like you come king ova hea now. We like everybody make jalike you like, ova hea inside da world, jalike da angel guys up inside da sky make jalike you like. Give us da food we need fo every day. Let us go, an throw out our shame fo all da kine bad stuff we do to you, jalike us guys let da odda guys go awready, an we no stay huhu wit dem fo all da kine bad stuff dey do to us. No let us get chance fo do bad kine stuff, But take us outa dea, so da Bad Guy no can hurt us. Cuz you our king, you get da real power, an you stay awesome fo eva. Dass it!

Hawaii Creole English, from the Language Museum, which lists examples of 2000 languges.
posted by swift on Jul 18, 2002 - 14 comments

They might actually be, you know, be useful.

They might actually be, you know, be useful. This year, a student in Nebraska won $1000 for finding the worst example of overuse of the phrase 'you know,' by an athlete who said it 30 times in a 135 second interview. But are they really that terrible? Known as discourse markers, phrases such as 'you know' and 'I mean' are thought to be essential in conveying information in conversation and helping us understand each other. Discourse markers also exist in many other languages and possibly even ancient languages.
posted by adrianhon on May 15, 2002 - 25 comments

A Glossary of HardBoiled Slang

A Glossary of HardBoiled Slang will allow you to understand such wonderful, alliterative phrases as:

"You dumb mug, get your mitts off the marbles before I stuff that mud-pipe down your mush - and tell your moll to hand over the mazuma."

Welcome to the world of HardBoiled Fiction. Take some time to brush up on the classics.
posted by vacapinta on Apr 27, 2002 - 18 comments

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, & Body Language Cues.

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, & Body Language Cues. Items in this Dictionary have been researched by anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who have studied human communication from a scientific point of view. What exactly does it mean when someone touches their face, licks their lips, or dodges their eyes? You'll find the answers in this huge compendium. I spent a whole summer reading through this whole thing, and it's helped to give me a new lens with which to view human nature. The most complete collection of body language you'll ever come across.
posted by Mach3avelli on Apr 12, 2002 - 10 comments

I was talking to my wife this morning about one of the kids "bombing" a test at school, and she asked me, "Is that good or bad?" I said, "Bad, of course. You know, you bomb a test, that means either flunking it or close to it." She said, "No, not any more, like 'it's the bomb' or 'we bombed that hill' on skateboards. Bombing is a good thing." Certain words and phrases are changing their meanings. Have you found yourself tongue-tied?
posted by JParker on Oct 11, 2001 - 18 comments

Linguistic competency

Linguistic competency Do you speak Arabic or Farsi? If you meet certain other qualifications, you can now spy for the FBI, whose homepage takes more care than news reports did and specifically lists Pashto, spoken in Afghanistan, as one of the desired language proficiencies.
posted by joeclark on Sep 17, 2001 - 1 comment

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