Can language slow down time?

What if the language you spoke caused you to perceive time differently? Does that sound like magic realism? Close: it’s economics. Some recent research papers published in economics journals – notably a 2013 paper by Keith Chen of Yale and a 2018 paper by three Australian economists – have proposed that languages that grammatically distinguish [...]

By | 2018-08-06T17:16:16+00:00 August 6th, 2018|Language, Linguistics, Time|0 Comments

When Genetics and Linguistics Challenge the Winners’ Version of History

Two conquering empires and more than 500 years of colonial rule failed to erase the cultural and genetic traces of indigenous Peruvians, a new study finds. This runs contrary to historical accounts that depict a complete devastation of northern Peru’s ancient Chachapoya people by the Inca Empire. The Chachapoyas—sometimes referred to as “Warriors of the [...]

By | 2018-03-29T12:50:15+00:00 March 29th, 2018|Linguistics, Peru|0 Comments

Linguistic time capsule in South America sheds light on human migration

Tiny Suriname, the smallest country in South America, punches far above its weight in linguistic diversity. Many people speak Dutch, but if you visit, you're also likely to hear Hindi, Javanese, a variety of indigenous languages, Portuguese, Cantonese, and possibly others. This real-world Babel, in a country of fewer than 600,000 people, is a relic [...]

By | 2018-03-26T20:46:31+00:00 March 26th, 2018|Language, Linguistics, South America, Suriname|0 Comments

Carrying On His Great Grandfather’s Work, A Kansas Professor Helps Keep Their Language Alive

As a kid, Andrew McKenzie had an unusual affinity for languages. He took French in high school (because everyone else was taking Spanish). But that wasn't enough. "I started to teach myself different languages, like Latin and Greek and Basque and Turkish," he remembers. "I would drive into the city to a bookstore, and they’d [...]

Evolutionary biology can help us understand how language works

As a linguist I dread the question, “what do you do?”, because when I answer “I’m a linguist” the inevitable follow-up question is: “How many languages do you speak?” That, of course, is not the point. While learning languages is a wonderful thing to do, academic linguistics is the scientific study of language. What I [...]

By | 2018-02-22T00:21:45+00:00 October 10th, 2017|Evolutionary biology, Language, Linguistics|0 Comments

When Did Colonial America Gain Linguistic Independence?

When did Americans start sounding funny to English ears? By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, carefully composed in the richly-worded language of the day, did colonial Americans—who after all were British before they decided to switch to become American—really sound all that different from their counterparts in the mother country? [...]

By | 2017-07-05T10:34:20+00:00 July 5th, 2017|America, England, English language, Language, Linguistics|0 Comments

After Years Of Restraint, A Linguist Says ‘Yes!’ To The Exclamation Point

The only literary work about punctuation I'm aware of is an odd early story by Anton Chekhov called "The Exclamation Mark." After getting into an argument with a colleague about punctuation, a school inspector named Yefim Perekladin asks his wife what an exclamation point is for. She tells him it signifies delight, indignation, joy and [...]

By | 2017-06-20T14:51:16+00:00 June 20th, 2017|Grammar, Language, Linguistics|0 Comments

Elon Musk and linguists say that AI is forcing us to confront the limits of human language

In analytic philosophy, any meaning can be expressed in language. In his book Expression and Meaning (1979), UC Berkeley philosopher John Searle calls this idea “the principle of expressibility, the principle that whatever can be meant can be said”. Moreover, in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests that “the limits of my language mean [...]

Language alters our experience of time

It turns out, Hollywood got it half right. In the film Arrival, Amy Adams plays linguist Louise Banks who is trying to decipher an alien language. She discovers the way the aliens talk about time gives them the power to see into the future – so as Banks learns their language, she also begins to [...]

By | 2017-06-13T19:30:56+00:00 June 14th, 2017|Language, Linguistics, Time|0 Comments

Understanding Languages with Physics and Math

A husband and wife scientist duo from Poland has developed a computer model that simulates how vocabulary exchanges occur between settlers and nomads. According to their results, published in the journal Physical Review E, the nomadic groups are more likely to adopt words from settlers than the other way around. The new model provides a [...]

By | 2017-05-20T13:39:29+00:00 May 20th, 2017|Language, Linguistics, Math, Physics|0 Comments