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Showing posts from April, 2015

List of Open Access publishing in linguistics

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We're big fans of open access publishing and other ways of distributing knowledge in a fair and accessible way. We're also big fans of lists: we've got a list of resources on linguistic terminology, free online linguistic databases and now also one for open access publishing in linguistics.

If we're missing something in our lists, let us know.

Also: check out our posts tagged with "free PDF" for tips on interesting articles in linguistics that are freely available.

What's the deal with Open Access you ask?
Commonly, tax payers pay for universities and other institutions to do research through funding bodies like the NSF or DFG . Researchers partially communicate with each other and document their research through scholarly publications. These publications are often edited and distributed through large commercial publishing houses. These publications are later bought by university libraries so that other researchers might read it. University libraries are p…

A linguist as a parent writing about language inateness

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While we're on the topic of language innateness (which is what much/most of the "war" is/was about),

Annabelle Lukin, a linguist at Macquarie University in Australia, just wrote a very good article on a site called "The Conversation" about language innateness and being a parent. You should tots go read it now. Not only does it contain videos of cute babies but also summaries of different schools of thought and implications of these philosophies on actual parenting. 
It also contains this cute and interesting video from Colwyn Trevarthen's research in the 70's.

Can we get to the post-generativist-vs-functionalist-war generation yet? - gif reaction post

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In recent days, old flames from the great generativist-vs-functionalist-war have flared up again with this post and reactions to it (and it's not the first time this author creates this kind of debate). I'll refrain from writing a longer serious post right now, but in the meantime I can recommend this more sensible and interesting post here by another generativist and this more functionalist paper here comparing different schools of thought.
Needless to say, I'm very tired of these kinds of debates (particularly when they derail into ad hominem, inaccessible and very theory-internal arguments). I grew up functionalist/typologist, but I've also had generative teachers and I can see the point of that kind of theory building and testing (and I think non-generativists need to discuss how to produce testable hypothesis more) - while at the same time, I see how it can pollute the primary data I need for my cross-linguistic comparisons. I have young researcher friends who ar…

USA census of languages only has 382 language categories

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I like digging around in censuses, especially of language use. I was just poking through the one from the US of A. I've just learned that in their census they collapse all the languages of the world into 382 categories. I thought this was rather interesting and that maybe you would be interested too.

In the census of citizens and residents of the USA they basically ask:

Do you speak a language other than English at home?Which?How well do you speak English?
I'm guessing the 382 language categories is due to practical purposes, it seems that interviewers mostly have been using and probably still are using pen and paper. I tried to figure out if it still is the case and will be for 2020, but I couldn't find that information on census.gov. I could find out that you can answer by mail, phone or interview, probably meaning that it's all still on paper.

Collapsing the 7,000 plus languages of the world into 382 categories makes sense if you have limited resources, i.e. not a s…

More language evolution lecture videos - this time from Stockholm 2011

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Earlier, I blogged about the Nijmegen Lectures by Russell Gray on language evolution. If you want even more lectures on language evolution, then why not watch the lectures from the Symposium on Language Acquisition and Language Evolution at The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Stockholm University form 2011? They're all up and freely available here!

If you're keen on these things, I recommend having a look through these videos and proceedings.

I quote from the preface of the proceedings for the symposium:


The symposium was intended as an opportunity for scientists from different research areas to interact and discuss complex dynamic systems in relation to the general theme of “Language Acquisition and Language Evolution”. Complex dynamic systems are characterised by hierarchical and combinatorial structures that can be found in quite different scientific domains. From a broad perspective, there are general parallels in the way human language, biological organisms and ecol…

Linguistic heads in profile

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I happen to have a little collection of human heads in profile that are interesting linguistically. I don't have that much to say about them, but I think they're very nice so I'd like to share them with y'all.
1) Illustration of conversation in Ferdinand de Saussure's Cours de linguistique générale. This book was not written by Saussure and was published after his death.It was compiled by his students Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye from lecture notes. This image is from the English edition, but I think it's the same in the French original. It's basically getting at the core of language, having an idea in one brain and then trying to transmit that same idea to another brain whilst lacking telepathy. There are more things language does, and most conversations are not only about transmission of information, but it is still at the core and this is one of the first illustrations of it.

2) The cover of Tage Danielsson's book Grallimmatik. This is a comedy …

Listen to the world's languages - part 3: Algonquian!

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We've posted here before about sites online where you can listen to audio samples from the worlds languages, see part 1 and part 2 (or check the tag listentotheworldslanguages). Go have a look, there are plenty of exciting sites where you can have a listen to the diversity of our planet!

This time: The Algonquian Linguistic Atlas!

On the site of the Algonquian Linguistic Atlas you can listen to audio samples from different categories (greetings, feelings, at the store, etc) from many different algonquian languages. The idea is similar to the Sound Comparisons site that we covered before where you can listen to European languages.

What is so great about this site is that you can pick a word or phrase, say "I'm Lazy", and listen to how it sounds in the different languages and see how they are similar and different. You can see the chains of contact and shared genealogy and what changes and what is more stable.

Each audio sample is accompanied with a transliteration into…

Humans-Hedvig on Speculative Grammarian-Podcast

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Did you know that the brilliant journal of satirical linguistics - The Speculative Grammarian also features a very entertaining podcast (iTunes link here)?  The podcast includes readings of articles (my current fav is the one on vampire linguistics, listen to mp3 here), the occasional musical number or dramatical piece and also a talk show called "Language Made Difficult". The talk show is hosted by the LingNerds (and editors of SpecGram): Trey Jones (whom I "cyber-stalked" once), Keith W Slater, William Spruiell and Sheri Wells-Jensen. It's a fun show, you should tots start listening.

Also.. I'll be appearing in future episodes of that show in a segment called "Lies, Damned Lies and Linguistics". All the way from Australia you can hear me trying to tease apart which one out of three facts is a lie. Won't tell you how I did, you'll have to tune in.

It's all free and online, start up your fav web browser and/or podcast client and start…