Tag Archives | Linguistics

The Dictionary Is a Sci-fi Novel (and We’re All Trapped Inside It)

The Dark Meaning Research Institute has published its most mind-blowing paper yet. It reveals that we live in a linguistic simulation of the universe, and it suggests ways we can escape from it…

DMRI escape

Figure 1: A diagram showing the escape route of a Shakespearean escape artist from an Elizabethan playhouse. All the words ever written form a passage through which the player must pass.

The vast majority of people never learn the big secrets about their existence due to the huge amount of work done by the authorities to keep certain things hidden (and then to make a secret of their secrecy). Fortunately, the DMRI has spent many years trying to undo that work with its undercover research and is now in a position to begin the Big Reveal.

One of the biggest secrets you will ever learn is this: The universe we live in is a simulation.

This may seem like an idea that can only exist in science fiction, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

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Esperanto — continuing where the Babylon Empire left off

Tour_de_babel

Something to look into for those who love to spend hours in front of a computer.

What is Esperanto? From the wikipedia page:

Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language. It is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (“Esperanto” translates as “one who hopes”), the pseudonym under which physician and linguist L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, on 26 July 1887. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language that would transcend nationality and foster peace and international understanding between people with different languages.

Between 100,000 and 2,000,000 people worldwide fluently or actively speak Esperanto, including perhaps 1,000 native speakers who learned Esperanto from birth. Esperanto has a notable presence in 120 countries. Its usage is highest in Europe, East Asia, and South America. lernu!, the most popular online learning platform for Esperanto, reported 150,000 registered users in 2013, and sees between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors each month.

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How a PhD in linguistics prepared me for motherhood

peasap (CC BY 2.0)

peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Annabelle Lukin

Unlike most newborns, on his arrival into the world, my newly-minted son found himself in the arms of someone well-versed in the the most fiercely contested question in contemporary linguistics: is language innate?

Are babies born with grammar hard-wired into their brain? Or is language something bestowed by culture and socialisation?

The early exchanges of gaze, attention and vocalisations with my baby in his first hours, days and weeks were experienced against the melodrama of modern linguistics’ greatest schism. This happens to revolve entirely around the role of mothers and significant others in the development of a child’s language.

In the story of how language emerges in the child, as told by Noam Chomsky, nature is largely the lone hero. The child comes with a “language organ” already installed in her or his brain, as a sudden and isolated gift of evolution – out of nowhere, all-at-once, fully formed and forever unchanging.… Read the rest

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The Evolution of Language and the Death of “I”

The Dark Meaning Research Institute has just published its third paper, which is on the evolution of language. Dark Meaning Research Institute logoIt states:

Since we saw in Paper No. 1 that the self and the other are inseparable, we can also begin to see how one of the biggest tricks in The Language Show – “sawing a person in half” – is achieved. Two aspects of the same self can be made to look like completely separate parts thanks to the old magic dividing wand of “I”, which forces a person into a very narrow position with a limited view of reality.

The trick is very easy to perform: an unwitting actor’s attention is directed away from their true centre by making them focus on a magic dot in their limited field of vision while a bend is made behind them. This results in the victim maintaining that they are an individual, which always gets a big laugh from the audience, who fail to realise they are also victims of the same trick.

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Linguist Claims that 90% of Languages Will Be Extinct in 100 years

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Sarah Griffiths writes at The Daily Mail:

Sci-fi visions of the future may focus on soaring skylines and flying cars, but the world in 100 years may not only look different, but sound different too.

While there are more than 6,000 languages spoken globally at present, less than 600 are likely to endure in 2115, and they could be simplified versions of what we recognise today, one linguist has claimed.

He told MailOnline that the advent of technologically-advanced translating tools will not be enough to save the diversity of Earth’s languages either.

Writing in a piece for The Wall Street Journal, Dr John McWhorter said that in a century from now there will be ‘vastly fewer languages,’ which will be less complicated than they are today – especially in the way they are spoken.

The American studies, philosophy and music expert at Columbia University, predicts that 90 per cent of languages will die out to leave around 600.

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Capitalism is God’s Will and the Cat Drank all the Milk: How our Language Creates our Biggest Problems and Why We Can’t do Anything about It

Felipe Del Valle (CC BY 2.0)

Felipe Del Valle (CC BY 2.0)

I have a confession to make, one that a good number of readers will find disgusting and emetic and prevent many of them from reading further. Others, however, might relate or find it interesting regardless, and so those people will continue to read, which, I suppose, is good enough for me. You see, when I was a child, from a very early age, probably as early as I can remember, I felt all around me the “Presence of God.” It was and is, in all actuality, an impossible feeling to properly describe, but I suppose to some extent that I could say that I felt some sort of “immanent-transcendent energy” “flowing” through me and through my surroundings. Having lived in a rural area hours away in any direction from something resembling civilization, many of my childhood memories consist of me sitting in the backseat of a Toyota 4Runner driving somewhere else, usually toward civilization somewhere.… Read the rest

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Radical Linguistics in an Age of Extinction

1404144393BrueghelBabel666

An interesting essay on the equality of languages by Ross Perlin at Dissent Magazine:

. . . words are a way of fending in the world: whole languages, like species, can disappear without dropping a gram of earth weight, and symbolic systems to a fare you well can be added without filling a ditch or thimble. . . .

—A.R. Ammons

Modern linguistics is founded on a radical premise: the equality of all languages. “All languages have equal expressive power as communication systems,” writes Steven Pinker. “Every grammar is equally complex and logical and capable of producing an infinite set of sentences to express any thought one might wish to express,” says a recent textbook. “The outstanding fact about any language is its formal completeness,” wrote Edward Sapir, adding elsewhere for rhetorical effect: “When it comes to linguistic form, Plato walks with the Macedonian swineherd, Confucius with the head-hunting savage of Assam.”

Where native speakers are concerned, no language, dialect, or accent can meaningfully be described as primitive, broken, or inferior.

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You Already Know One Word in Every Language on Earth

huhHuh?

Via Los Angeles Times.

Humans speak many languages, but we may be united in our confusion. A new study examined languages from around the world and discovered what they say could be a universal word: “Huh?”

Researchers traveled to cities and remote villages on five continents, visiting native speakers of 10 very different languages. Their nearly 200 recordings of casual conversations revealed that there are versions of “Huh?” in every language they studied — and they sound remarkably similar.

While it may seem like a throwaway word, “Huh?” is the glue that holds a broken conversation together, the globe-trotting team reported Friday in the journal PLOS ONE. The fact that it appears over and over reveals a remarkable case of “convergent evolution” in language, they added.

“Huh?” is a much-maligned utterance in English. It’s seen as a filler word, little more than what’s called a “conversational grunt,” like mm-hmm. But it plays a crucial role in conversations, said Herbert Clark, a psychologist at Stanford University who studies language.

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Is This What The Proto-Indo-European Language Spoken 6,000 Years Ago Sounded Like?

PIEIt sounds like the Satanic incantations hidden in the fadeout of Beatles album. io9 writes:
Linguists have recently reconstructed what a 6,000 year-old-language called Proto-Indo-European might have sounded like. This language was the forerunner of many European and Asian languages, and now you can listen to how it may have sounded. Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was spoken by a people who lived from roughly 4500 to 2500 B.C. The question became, what did PIE sound like? As linguists have continued to discover more about PIE, this sonic experiment is periodically updated to reflect the most current understanding of how this extinct language would have sounded when spoken some six thousand years ago. Since there is considerable disagreement among scholars, no one version can be considered definitive.
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