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Magazine: Language

Magazine: Language

http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/language/language_article1.html

Related:  Linguistic Evolution

Evolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn It’s widely thought that human language evolved in universally similar ways, following trajectories common across place and culture, and possibly reflecting common linguistic structures in our brains. But a massive, millennium-spanning analysis of humanity’s major language families suggests otherwise. Instead, language seems to have evolved along varied, complicated paths, guided less by neurological settings than cultural circumstance. If our minds do shape the evolution of language, it’s likely at levels deeper and more nuanced than many researchers anticipated.

Words in English A Brief History of English, with Chronologyby Suzanne Kemmer © 2001-2005 Pre-English | Old English | Middle English | Modern English The language we call English was first brought to the north sea coasts of England in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., by seafaring people from Denmark and the northwestern coasts of present-day Germany and the Netherlands. These immigrants spoke a cluster of related dialects falling within the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Their language began to develop its own distinctive features in isolation from the continental Germanic languages, and by 600 A.D. had developed into what we call Old English or Anglo-Saxon, covering the territory of most of modern England. New waves of Germanic invaders and settlers came from Norway and Denmark starting in the late 8th century.

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Did Stone Age cavemen talk to each other in symbols? Visit the caves of Pech Merle, Font-de-Gaume and Rouffignac in southern France and you will witness some of the most breathtaking art our planet has to offer. Images of bisons, lions and other creatures loom from the cavern walls. Herds of horses and the occasional rhino, not to mention the odd mammoth and giant bull, parade across the rocks. Simulated Linguistic Evolution In The Laboratory About a week ago, I read and posted on a summary piece on cultural evolution research in PLoS Biology. The reviewer introduced me to Simon Kirby‘s work, which I found remarkable. Kirby and colleagues setup an experiment, one that observed the evolution of an artificial language from a set of random terms to an ordered, naturally adapting system in ways that assured its reproduction. I didn’t know when Kirby was to publish his work, but lo and behold in this week’s issue of PNAS, I saw “Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language,” by Simon Kirby, Hannah Cornish, and Kenny Smith. The experiment involved showing subjects illustrations that were associated with nonsense words. The subjects were asked to play a game of Memory, by trying to recall the terms with the illustrations.

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14 Pangrams" A pangram, or holoalphabetic sentence, includes every letter of the alphabet at least once. The most challenging pangrams are the ones with the fewest letters. Here are a few of the best. 1. Indo-European Languages Originated in Anatolia, Biologists Say The family includes English and most other European languages, as well as Persian, Hindi and many others. Despite the importance of the languages, specialists have long disagreed about their origin. Linguists believe that the first speakers of the mother tongue, known as proto-Indo-European, were chariot-driving pastoralists who burst out of their homeland on the steppes above the Black Sea about 4,000 years ago and conquered Europe and Asia.

Linguistic evolution - EvoWiki From EvoWiki The evolution of languages, like that of religions, and unlike that of living organisms, is Lamarckian, not Darwinian. Languages evolve according to acquisition of inherited characteristics from parent to child. However, despite this basic difference between linguistic and biological evolution, there are many shared points: for example, linguistic speciation, just like biological, works on the group level (the level of society).

What type of writing does the Indus script represent? How, then, is it possible to decipher an unknown system of writing? Confronted with this primary question we are doubly fortunate in comparison to the decipherers of the Egyptian hieroglyphs more than 150 years ago. In the first place, we have a number of successful decipherments to look back to, both as potential models and as sources of inspiration, which reassure us in the indispensable belief that seemingly impossible feats can be achieved. Yet none of the earlier decipherments is directly comparable to the problem of the Indus script: most of them were based on a translation of a text in the unknown script into a known script and language, or at least the historical context provided crucial clues in the form of proper names. In the absence of such aids, we must look for a different approach.

15 Oxymorons" An oxymoron is a combination of words that contradict each other. Here are some of our favorites. 1. virtual reality 2. original copy 3. old news 4. act naturally Every language evolved from 'single prehistoric mother tongue first spoken in Africa' By David Derbyshire Updated: 00:25 GMT, 17 April 2011 500 languages traced back to Stone Age dialectThe further away from Africa a language is spoken, the fewer distinct sounds it hasEnglish has around 46 sounds, while the San bushmen of South Africa use a staggering 200Study finds speech evolved 'at least 100,000 years ago' Every language in the world - from English to Mandarin - evolved from a prehistoric 'mother tongue' first spoken in Africa tens of thousands of years ago, a new study reveals. After analysing more than 500 languages, Dr Quentin Atkinson found compelling evidence that they can be traced back to a long-forgotten dialect spoken by our Stone Age ancestors. The findings don't just pinpoint the origin of language to Africa - they also show that speech evolved at least 100,000 years ago, far earlier than previously thought.

Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents? In 1776, whether you were declaring America independent from the crown or swearing your loyalty to King George III, your pronunciation would have been much the same. At that time, American and British accents hadn't yet diverged. What's surprising, though, is that Hollywood costume dramas get it all wrong: The Patriots and the Redcoats spoke with accents that were much closer to the contemporary American accent than to the Queen's English. It is the standard British accent that has drastically changed in the past two centuries, while the typical American accent has changed only subtly. Traditional English, whether spoken in the British Isles or the American colonies, was largely "rhotic."

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