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Related:  Linguistique anglaise Language Log An important rallying cry and usage distinction made by allies of undocumented workers in the current cultural battle over immigration in the United States is Elie Wiesel's assertion above: "No human being is illegal." In the quote, Wiesel gives examples of the kinds of adjectives that he feels can denote properties of people (fat, skinny, beautiful, right, and wrong). On the other hand, calling a person 'illegal', he says, is a contradiction in terms. Here's a more elaborated statement of the idea, quoted from this website When one refers to an immigrant as an "illegal alien," they are using the term as a noun. Now because syntax is my actual job, I am honor-bound to point out that the term 'illegal alien' is a noun phrase, not a noun, and furthermore, that "using a term as a noun" does not mean "using it to refer to a person, place or thing," which I think is what the author above may be trying to say. Read the rest of this entry »

Christopher Culver’s Linguistics Weblog Preparing to study Mongolian from Krueger’s An Introduction to Classical (Literary) Mongolian (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 3rd edition 1993), I’ve been re-reading the Routledge Language Family Surveys volume The Mongolic Languages ed. Juha Janhunen. Below are some musings on and follow-ups to trivia within. Examples of some crucial [Khalka] consonant contrasts: ad [at] ‘demon’ vs. at [aʰt] ‘castrated camel’; dal [taɮ] ‘seventy’ vs. tal [tʰaɮ] ‘steppe’. So modern Mongolian is one of those languages that, instead of a voiced–unvoiced distinction in dentals that I could actually pronounce, has an aspirated–unaspirated distinction that I’ll never get down. [Turkic borrowings in Mongolic] often show a specialized meaning, whereas the native [Mongolic] words have a more general semantic profile, cf. e.g. The ordinary Chuvash word for ‘hair’ today is ҫӳҫ. That Bulgar Turkic had a cognate word for ‘throat’ showing rhotacism is attested by Chuvash пыр id.

The Sheila Variations Lavengro Cogprints - Welcome to Cogprints Evolving English II Lingua Franca In the greatest English theatrical comedy of the 19th century, a peculiar series of events involving an infant and a handbag are the subject of an 11th-hour confession by one of my favorite literary inventions, a governess named Miss Prism. There are many reasons to love Miss Prism, among them the fact that in her youth she wrote a three-volume novel. Like all of Oscar Wilde’s creations, she has more than a bit of the playwright in her (Miss Prism is given to saying things like “I speak hort… A new semester of classes started at German universities this week, which means I’ve spent the last few days asking fresh rounds of students about their language goals. The greatest number in any class want, above all, to improve their speaking skills. But a significant group has also mentioned vocabulary expansion. People sometimes take my skeptical comments on animal-language news stories (“Dolphin Talk and Human Credulity,” for example) as evidence that I regard animals as inferiors.

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