Linguistics

Pure Pedantry

Category archives for Linguistics

Kenneth Chang, guest-blogging at TeirneyLab, laments the use of the word “organic” in both the contexts of organic chemistry and as a term for natural foods: Organic derives from Greek, organikos. The original meaning was, logically, something related to an organ of the body. The meaning later generalized to “characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived…

Language Log has a fascinating article about creole languages and birdsongs: Zebra finches are among the songbirds who learn their songs by imitating adults, just as human children learn their language by interaction with those who already know it. Male songbirds raised in isolation, without any conspecific adult models during the critical period for song…

A post over at the Scientist blog laments the difficulty in getting people to acknowledge the English-language bias in science: Many, perhaps most, scientists are grateful that English has become the international language, but an informative protest comes from Prof. Tsuda Yukio of Japan, who has taught in the U.S. “Today one speaks of globalization.…

Genes for Language

You would think that language as a general phenomena in the human species is genetically prescribed, but the peculiarities of individual languages — such as whether a people uses a particular phoneme or not — is the result of historical or geographical factors. Dediu and Ladd, publishing in PNAS, have shown that is true with…