Recent Blog Posts

Despite all the technological advances of the computer age, sometimes it’s most convenient to fall back on old practices. Palatography – demonstrated here my good friend in the video – is not an art form but a method of scientific inquiry. Linguists researching articulatory phonetics – how we physically make sounds […]

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Scientific investigation is a slow process. Rarely are long-established ideas smashed with one individual research paper that causes everyone to turn their heads. The study of sound symbolism (also called phonosemantics) follows suit. One of the founding principles of modern linguistics, as put forward by Saussure, is the idea that […]

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What if I was to tell you that Mandarin is far from alone in being a tonal language? What if I was to tell you that, in fact, most of the world’s languages are tonal, including some entire language families? I suspect you’d either be surprised, confused as to what […]

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You’d think that one of the fundamental questions linguists would have sorted out by know is how many languages there are. I thought that too before I studied to become one. Quantifying languages is much more complicated than it initially sounds, with the result that we can never truly count […]

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Rio de Janeiro’s time in the global spotlight is nearly over. Rio, one of Brazil’s jewels — world heritage site, protected by Christ the Redeemer, so named for its grand river that … wait, what? Yes, its explorers mistook its harbor for a river mouth, and their mistake is now […]

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As a linguist I can attest to how rewarding it is to be the first to research a topic, and how ridic fun it is for my barely-concealed inner nerd to describe internet speech and slang with formal terminology. Lauren Spradlin, a graduate student at CUNY, managed to do both […]

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Amid the flurry of activity in the weeks after Brexit, with markets panicking and the major UK political parties facing monumental power changes, it was surprising and refreshing to see a translation and interpretation topic rise briefly to the top of the news cycle. Media outlets all over were wondering: […]

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