How long does knowledge of foreign languages last?

Recent press reports have talked about new research, claiming to show that people retain knowledge of foreign languages learnt many years ago, even if they do not use the language actively. Those reports were triggered by announcements by the researchers, for example at: york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2022/research/knowledge-of-foreign-languages-lasts-a-lifetime https://theconversation.com/modern-language-gcses-continue-to-fall-in-popularity-but-new-research-shows-language-knowledge-will-last-you-a-lifetime-187820 In this post, I give a bit more detail on…… Continue reading How long does knowledge of foreign languages last?

Italian dictionary will now include feminine forms

The Italian publisher Treccani will change how it lists nouns and adjectives in the next edition of its Dizionario della Lingua Italiana (Dictionary of the Italian Language), due to come out in October. Previous editions have followed the traditional practice of listing nouns and adjectives under only the masculine form of the head word. The…… Continue reading Italian dictionary will now include feminine forms

There could potentially be too many modals here

People often write or say ‘could potentially’ when just ‘could’ by itself is enough. For example, some people say ‘it could potentially rain’, instead of saying ‘it could rain’. Both these both modal expressions—the modal verb ‘can’ and the modal adverb ‘potentially’—express uncertainty. If we use one of them, the other is redundant. In this…… Continue reading There could potentially be too many modals here

Irish language in the Black Country

I listened to a 10-minute online talk about the Irish language in the Black Country. The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands, adjoining Birmingham to the west. The talk The Irish Language in the Victorian Black Country (Gaeilge sa Tír Dhubh Victeoiriach) is by Simon Briercliffe, a doctoral student at Birmingham University…… Continue reading Irish language in the Black Country

Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

The surname of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Михаил Горбачёв) was occasionally spelled Gorbachov in English, especially early in his leadership. It is a pity that this spelling didn’t persist. The spelling with <o> would show English speakers more clearly how to pronounce this name. Cyrillic spelling Gorbachev’s surname is spelled Горбачeв in the Russian…… Continue reading Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

Cabinet of grammatical rarities

A Raritätenkabinett (cabinet of rarities) is a collection of things, living or dead, which are considered worth collecting (and perhaps exhibiting) because they are rare. An online collection of grammatical rarities is available at https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/rara/ The site classifies the items it contains into the following categories: rarum (plural rara): ‘a trait (of any conceivable sort:…… Continue reading Cabinet of grammatical rarities

Into the 2-word stage

When I last reported on my youngest granddaughter’s progress in learning language, she was still clearly at the 1-word stage (at 20 months). She was still there a couple of months later, though maybe just starting to produce 2-word phrases or statements. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/early-words She recently had her 2nd birthday and is now very definitely in…… Continue reading Into the 2-word stage

How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish (3)?

I have written before about: the major cases in Finnish and Hungarian. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnishthe local / spatial cases in those languages https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/05/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnish-2 In this post, I cover the minor cases in those languages. Overview Both Finnish and Hungarian have minor cases expressing: accompaniment (comitative)—though in Hungarian, the case expressing accompaniment is more often the instrumental case…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish (3)?

Keeping Welsh place names

An English commercial property lawyer from Manchester has drafted a set of legal covenants that property vendors can insert in property sale contracts to prevent buyers replacing the Welsh name of the house or place. He did this after becoming incensed about the name of farmland called Banc Cornicyll (‘ridge for lapwing or for plover’).…… Continue reading Keeping Welsh place names