Breaking Down Sranan Tongo To Understand Linguistic & Cultural Heritage

Creole languages are unique. They are a hodgepodge of languages which arise in situations where people exist without a shared common language. People end up using bits of different languages. Over generations, these admixed languages become fully fledged natural human languages, known as creoles. André Sherriah and Hubert Devonish, two linguists at the University of... Continue Reading →

The Yamnaya Horsemen & Root of Proto-Indo-European Language

Proto-Indo-European or PIE is the term coined for a ancestral language to the group of languages from Europe and parts of Asia, like English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Persian. No written record of PIE exists. We infer PIE because many of these languages have similar words, like mother, indicating they share a common root language.... Continue Reading →

Linking Early Human Language & Cave Art

Human language is thought to emerge around 100,000 years ago as an abstract symbolic system. It is very likely that humans spoke long before it they wrote. Because the nature of language is largely spoken, it has been hard to find physical evidence of when and how humans began speaking...  Some argue early evidence of... Continue Reading →

Untangling The Ancient Khipu Code Of Strings

Last week in Current Anthropology, University of St. Andrews anthropologist Sabine Hyland, published, "Writing with Twisted Cords: The Inscriptive Capacity of Andean Khipus," which is her study of khipus. Khipus are twisted, tied cords left behind by Andean peoples. The best known understanding thru the archaeological record are the use of khipus in the Inca Empire.... Continue Reading →

Have you ever wondered what language sounded like in the past? In the mid-19th century, actually 1868, German linguist,  August Schleicher, published his Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European Languages. Schleicher attempted to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-European language, or PIE, in the form of a fable, an auditory experiment, called “The Sheep and the Horses," or... Continue Reading →

Jolyana Begay-Kroupa (@jolyanab), a Stanford language lecturer, hopes to digitize 300 reels of tape, holding thousands of hours of Navajo oral history. These tapes were likely recorded in the '60's, on reels, perhaps 1968, when funding from the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity – was used to begin recording oral histories. Misplaced and never cataloged, only to... Continue Reading →

Using Technology to Save Endangered Languages

There are many endangered languages in our collective linguistic radar. Some of them have been covered here before and some haven't. In 2007, Joshua Hinson of Chickasaw heritage, identified that his language was one the brink of extinction. Rather than blaming technology as contributing source to language loss, Hinson embraced the opportunity to use technology to help save his... Continue Reading →

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