by Ilan Stavans
The history of pragmatic adaptation that built the American form of English is reflected in its present status as the world's second language. It's not jingoistic, just accurate, to declare the particularity of the American tongue.
"Cajuns were punished for speaking French in school, Cajun GIs left the region to fight in the world wars and learned English, the discovery of oil ushered in more English, and television further diluted the language."
by Arika Okrent
"We did get a lot of words from Latin, but sometimes we forged the receipts."
While generally disapproved in polite company, swear words are a powerful and entrenched aspect of language around the world. Nic Cage will host a series examining their historical origins and use.
SOURCE: The Conversation
by Kirk Hazen
Minced oaths have historically performed a very specific role: providing a weakened but socially acceptable form of an actual religious oath, swear or curse.
by David B. Parker
New digital databases are changing the history of linguistics.
SOURCE: Tablet Magazine
Allan Metcalf is a professor at MacMurray College in Illinois, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, and author of OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word.Out in the wilds of western Missouri, in Rolla, which is not far from the tornado-devastated town of Joplin, lives a scholar who has made etymology his life’s work. He is Gerald Leonard Cohen, professor in the department of arts, languages, and philosophy at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and grand impresario of American etymologists—as well as the world’s leading corraler of language historians, who often join him in tackling some of the most challenging puzzles of word origins.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK)
Languages spoken by billions of people across Europe and Asia are descended from an ancient tongue uttered in southern Europe at the end of the last ice age, according to research.The claim, by scientists in Britain, points to a common origin for vocabularies as varied as English and Urdu, Japanese and Itelmen, a language spoken along the north-eastern edge of Russia.The ancestral language, spoken at least 15,000 years ago, gave rise to seven more that formed an ancient Eurasiatic "superfamily", the researchers say. These in turn split into languages now spoken all over Eurasia, from Portugal to Siberia."Everybody in Eurasia can trace their linguistic ancestry back to a group, or groups, of people living around 15,000 years ago, probably in southern Europe, as the ice sheets were retreating," said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at Reading University....
...[L]ess than 10 percent of [Haiti]’s 10 million people speak French fluently, and in most schools, even the teachers don’t understand it very well although they’re asked to teach in it.The private Louverture Cleary School has already broken from that linguistic tradition and is instead emphasizing the Haitian Creole children speak at home. The school is also introducing students to Spanish from other parts of the Caribbean and the English they will likely need in the future....Haiti’s 1805 Constitution declared that tuition would be free and attendance compulsory for primary students. But the quality of education lagged through the years, and plunged during the 29-year-long dynasty of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” which ended in 1986. Haiti’s professionals fled into exile to escape political repression, spawning a major brain drain the country has never bounced back from....
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