Recent Blog Posts

In a BBC News Magazine article published several months ago, Matthew Engel discusses and laments Americanisms. The article, “Viewpoint: Why Do Some Americanisms Irritate People?,” explores the increasing presence of Americanisms in the British vernacular, and how some Americanisms should be a cause for alarm. As an American, I found […]

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If you had told a linguist five years ago that text messaging would help save an endangered language, he or she probably would have laughed in your face. But it’s true, according to Samuel Herrera of the linguistics laboratory at the Institute of Anthropological Research in Mexico City. He found […]

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Crowdsourcing endangered languages is one way to preserve languages in peril of disappearing. Biagio Arobba’s website LiveAndTell, for instance, uses a social media interface to archive Native American languages. Still, other methods have recently been developed to catalogue and disseminate endangered tongues. Spearheaded by Laura Welcher, the Rosetta Project is […]

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Over the past few years, we’ve written many times about endangered languages and highlighted specific ones like Mecanese and Shiyeyi. We’ve also discussed some staggering statistics: there are 538 critically endangered languages, 502 severely endangered, 632 definitely endangered, and 607 unsafe languages in the world. Still, with all this talk […]

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In October 2009, we ran an article about the growing field of animal cognition and highlighted a research project on vervet monkeys. It appears that vervet monkeys have the ability to differentiate their calls to signify the presence of various kinds of predators. For instance, the call for "’Leopard!’ does […]

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When most people think of humor and satire, they probably don't turn to 1970s Bulgaria. But if you lived in the U.S.S.R. during that era, chances are high that you did. Deemed the capital of communist humor, Gabrovo, a town smack-dab in the middle of Bulgaria at the foot of […]

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This installment of the Beyond Words' feature Endangered Language Watch—in which writers discuss languages at risk of extinction around the world—will focus on the Macanese language. Macanese: A Chameleon of a Language Imagine a people whose native language combines Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese, and Portuguese, and whose native territory will only […]

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Today is Valentine’s Day — a holiday both loved and hated the world over. If you happen to belong to that latter camp of haters, you might be excited to learn about the ancient Greek festival that Valentine’s Day replaced. Observed between February 13th and 15th, the Lupercalia festival once […]

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It seems as if foreign language films are the talk of the town this awards season, and for good reason—for the first time in ages, foreign films are being recognized in the United States as some of the most important films being made today. Foreign films, foreign languages, and foreign […]

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The holidays are often a time of overindulgence, especially when it comes to food. From Thanksgiving through New Years, Americans tend to stuff their faces with holiday mainstays. But it’s fair to say that a plate topped off North Dakota won’t look like one topped off in Alabama. Southern food […]

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