Title image: Florida governor Rick Scott giving updates on Hurricane Irma. Note the sign language interpreter to the left. I’m sitting high and dry in Durham, North Carolina, living in a hotel, feeling a bit like Eloise all the while acknowledging that my hotel ain’t The Plaza. But that’s not... read more
Title Image is Signs with both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet abound – very helpful! In Astana I met friend and co-author Phillip Carter. Our first job was to find a Kazak language teacher. It’s what we do, and our linguistic adventures certainly played a part in writing:
Title Image: Traditional Romanian dress Last week, a well-known pharmacy in Romania launched a campaign that drew my attention. Farmacia Catena advertised that from June 22 to June 24, if you come into one of their stores wearing a traditional folk blouse, called ie, you will receive a 50% reduction... read more
日 ‘sun’ + 本 ‘origin/tree’ = Japan 日本語= Japanese Language I’m in Japan now. Sure, I can say ohayō gozaimasu ‘good morning’, arigatō gozaimasu ‘thank you very much’ and order basic food items, e.g. I have shōchū rokku ‘(Japanese) vodka on the rocks,’ down. Beyond that, I make no claims... read more
I’m in Geneva to give a talk at a linguistics conference with an Atelier Saussure-Chomsky (atelier = workshop). A good reason such a conference is held in Geneva is because the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) lived and taught here. The American linguist Noam Chomsky is, presumably, included because... read more
Ruxie, one of my dear friends in Romania, shares two of my passions: linguistics and romance novels. About a month ago we went out to dinner, and she admitted she had written a Regency romance. Note: a Regency is a novel set in early 19th-century England. Think Jane Austen’s time... read more
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President (1837-41) of the United States. He is the only President whose first language was not English. It was Dutch.
As regular readers of this blog know, my latest academic book Languages of the World. How History, Culture and Politics Shape Language was published by Wiley-Blackwell in January of this year. Co-author Phillip M. Carter teaches at Florida International University in Miami. For professors who are considering adopting the book for their... read more
In Chapter 12 of Languages in the World we introduce Jean-Louis Calvet’s gravitational model comparing the different “weights” of languages across the world, each language having an attractive power, like stars and planets. The heavier the language, the more likely people are drawn to learn it. The lighter, the less... read more
Johanna Nichols – among her many contributions to the study of language – has identified two types of geographic zones relevant for comparative work in linguistics: residual zones and spread zones.