Swedish has a sound /s/, broadly similar to English /s/ in, for example, English seep. I’ve known for a long time that Swedish also has 2 other sibilant consonants, which I’d thought corresponded roughly to English /ʃ/, as in English sheep. Common transcriptions for those 2 sibilants in the International Phonetic Alphabet are /ɕ/ and…… Continue reading Is that Swedish ‘sj-sound’ really a sibilant?
I came across an on-line tool that generates lists of similar words (or phrases) and synonyms for 3 languages: Slovenian (SL), Croatian (HR) and Serbian (SR). Here’s how to use it: go to https://www.kontekst.io select the language you want. enter a word in the search box and hit enter (or select one of the small…… Continue reading Solvenian, Croatian and Serbian words in context
SIL International Publications has published the 25th edition of Ethnologue®. This tries to list all known living languages in the world. It comes in 3 self-contained volumes, each covering a region and including: language descriptions organized by continent and country lists of primary names, alternate names, and dialect names country overviews with graphical language vitality…… Continue reading How many languages exist?
Is it possible to quantity how one language differs from another language? In 2015, two academic researchers tried to do that by creating what they called a ‘Language Friction Index’ (LFI). They describe the index in their paper Language friction and partner selection in cross-border R&D alliance formation, Amol M Joshi and Nandini Lahiri, Journal…… Continue reading Measuring how much languages differ
Did you know that the 3 working languages of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) include Russian? The others are English and French. I didn’t know that. Those 3 languages are the ones available on the ISO website. I haven’t found a clear statement on the ISO web site about its official languages, but here…… Continue reading Russian: an official language at the ISO
The World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (WALS) is a useful resource for looking at similarities and differences between languages. I’ve recently looked at WALS to get more information on the verb form known as the perfect. This post is based on Chapter 68 of WALS The Perfect. Meaning of ‘perfect’ in WALS Chapter 68 of…… Continue reading What is the perfect and where does it occur?
A palindrome is a sequence of letters that reads the same backwards as it does forwards. Palindromes can be a single word or a sequence of words. Well known English examples are ‘civic’ (a single word) and ‘Madam, I’m Adam’ (a whole sentence—albeit with internal punctuation disregarded). If you want some help in composing palindromes,…… Continue reading Do you want help with palindromes?
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
At a new exhibition on the correspondence of Charles Darwin, I came across a letter from 5 daughters of a family friend of Darwin’s. Describing themselves as botanists and linguists, they ended the short letter with a saying in the Maori language. Text of the letterThe Botanists present their best thanks to Mr Darwin for…… Continue reading Young linguists who thanked Darwin