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Magazine: Language

Magazine: Language
Related:  Linguistic Evolution

Evolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn | Wired Science 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. “It’s terribly important to understand human cognition, and how the human mind is put together,” said Michael Dunn, an evolutionary linguist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute and co-author of the new study, published April 14 in Nature. How languages have emerged and changed through human history is a subject of ongoing fascination. That’s not what they found. “Each language family is evolving according to its own set of rules.

May/June 2010 > Features > Cognitive Scientist Lera Boroditsky Can language shape how we think? A Stanford researcher says yes, and her work speaks volumes about what makes people tick. By Joan O'C. Hamilton Lera Boroditsky's journey to answer one of psychology's most intriguing and fractious questions has been a curious one. She's spent hours showing Spanish-speakers videos of balloons popping, eggs cracking and paper ripping. "In English," she says, moving her hand toward the cup, "if I knock this cup off the table, even accidentally, you would likely say, 'She broke the cup.'" If one deliberately knocks the cup, there is a verb form to indicate as much. The question is: Does the fact that one language tends to play the blame game while the other does not mean speakers of those languages think differently about what happened? As anyone who's studied a new language understands well, languages differ in myriad ways beyond simply having, as comedian Steve Martin once observed, "a different word for everything." Consider space. Not so in Indonesian.

Language Evolution Glossary of linguistic terms Context for this page: Modular book: Glossary of linguistic terms, by Eugene E. Loos (general editor), Susan Anderson (editor), Dwight H., Day, Jr. (editor), Paul C. Jordan (editor), and J. Douglas Wingate (editor) In bookshelf: Linguistics 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 subjects were asked to play a game of Memory, by trying to recall the terms with the illustrations. Transmission Error & Measure of Structure versus the Number of Generations Clearly there’s some pattern forming. Transmission Error & Measure of Structure versus Number of Generations with Selection Like this: Like Loading...

LSA: Welcome 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). It might at first thought seem impossible to do that, since speakers of most languages will borrow words almost indiscriminately from other languages unless discouraged by linguistic purism. Languages speciate when they are no longer mutually intelligible. As an example, English, German and Swedish share the following vowel correspondence: This correspondence stays when we examine older Germanic tongues: In contrast, vocabulary similarities broader than the core level are no pointer to common ancestry. For more, see the American Heritage Dictionary.

American Association for Applied Linguistics Why Do Americans and Brits Have Different Accents? | When Did American and British Accents Diverge? | English Pronunciation 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." Rhotic speakers pronounce the "R" sound in such words as "hard" and "winter," while non-rhotic speakers do not. It was around the time of the American Revolution that non-rhotic speech came into use among the upper class in southern England, in and around London.

Languages - Homepage: All you need to start learning a foreign language » Language may be much older than previously thought A recent study brings together archaeological, biological and linguistic research to posit that spoken language may be much older than previously thought. Authors Dan Dediu and Stephen C. Levinson argue that emerging research indicates ancestors of modern humans as far back as 500,000 years ago may have been capable of spoken language, in contrast to most current estimates limiting the age to between 50,000 and 100,000 years. A significantly different picture of language evolution emerges if we are to imagine that it’s been around for up to 10 times longer than previously thought. In sum, the evidence points to modern speech capacities in the common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans. In fact, the authors argue strongly for the likelihood that Neandertals had significant linguistic abilities and may even have influenced modern human language in detectable ways, mainly in the observed differences between Eurasian and African languages:

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. A rival theory holds that, to the contrary, the first Indo-European speakers were peaceable farmers in Anatolia, now Turkey, about 9,000 years ago, who disseminated their language by the hoe, not the sword. The new entrant to the debate is an evolutionary biologist, Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The result, they announced in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science, is that “we found decisive support for an Anatolian origin over a steppe origin.” Dr. A computer was then supplied with known dates of language splits.

Siletz Language, With Few Voices, Finds Modern Way to Survive But the forces that are helping to flatten the landscape are also creating new ways to save its hidden, cloistered corners, as in the unlikely survival of Siletz Dee-ni. An American Indian language with only about five speakers left — once dominant in this part of the West, then relegated to near extinction — has, since earlier this year, been shouting back to the world: Hey, we’re talking. (In Siletz that would be naa-ch’aa-ghit-’a.) “We don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Bud Lane, a tribe member who has been working on the online Siletz Dee-ni Talking Dictionary for nearly seven years, and recorded almost all of its 10,000-odd audio entries himself. Since February, however, when organizers began to publicize its existence, Web hits have spiked from places where languages related to Siletz are spoken, a broad area of the West on through Canada and into Alaska. “They told us our language was moribund and heading off a cliff,” said Mr. “We’re the last standing,” Mr.