Endangered Alphabets Sudoku

The Endangered Alphabets project is about to publish Endangered Alphabets Sudoku. This is a book of Sudoku puzzles. Instead of numerals, it uses letters from endangered languages. Other items produced by the project include: Endangered Alphabets Word Search Puzzles Glagolitic Abbey—a clue-based board game introducing the ancient Glagolitic script in the context of a treasure-hunt…… Continue reading Endangered Alphabets Sudoku

Languages differ in what they MUST say

There is a popular belief that some things can only be expressed in some languages and not in other languages. The linguist and literary theorist Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) took issue with that belief in his well-known statement: ‘Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey’. That statement appears in his short essay…… Continue reading Languages differ in what they MUST say

How to need and how to have

The way languages express needing something is linked in a surprising way to how they express having something. In their paper Having “need” and needing “have” Stephanie Harves and Richard Kayne (Linguistic Inquiry, 2012) summarise the facts and suggest an explanation. How to have: H-languages English and some other languages use a transitive verb like…… Continue reading How to need and how to have

German ‘ohne’ and English ‘without’ as not-with

Does the German word ohne (‘without’) correspond to a single mental concept? A recent paper argues that it does not. Instead, it has 2 components. One component corresponds to what the paper calls the cum concept (English with). The other corresponds to a negation or antonymity concept, which the paper calls anti. The paper also…… Continue reading German ‘ohne’ and English ‘without’ as not-with

From the Steppes or from Anatolia?

A recent paper takes a further look at some old questions: when did Indo-European languages separate from the rest of that language family, and in which order? where did speakers of Proto Indo-European—the ancestral language of the Indo-European language family—live? The paper Language trees with sampled ancestors support a hybrid model for the origin of…… Continue reading From the Steppes or from Anatolia?

Who used to live near the Don?

Major rivers in Russia and neighbouring countries include the Dniester, Dnieper, Don (and its tributary the Donets). They flow into the Black Sea—the Don doing so via the Sea of Azov. These names are believed to derive from the Iranic words danu (‘river’). For example, the Dnieper comes from a form reconstructed as *danu para…… Continue reading Who used to live near the Don?

Structure of numbers in Indo-European

How are numerals formed in Indo-European languages today, and how were they formed in the ancestral language Proto-Indo-European (PIE)? And do ordering patterns of components within numerals align with other word order patterns in the same languages? Andreea S. Calude and Annemarie Verkerk considered those questions in a paper looking at how 81 present and past…… Continue reading Structure of numbers in Indo-European

ULEZ, uljez, izlaz

London has just extended the boundary of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Drivers of motor vehicles causing heavy emissions must pay to drive in the ULEZ. The word ULEZ has the shape and feel of some Croatian words. The common prefix u- means ‘in’ or ‘into’ and is derived from the preposition u. (In other…… Continue reading ULEZ, uljez, izlaz

Solvenian, Croatian and Serbian words in context

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

Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic

For someone who knows some Russian, the 3rd person possessive adjectives in Croatian look odd.  But looking at it more closely, I’ve realised that their Russian counterparts are just as odd, though in a different way. Russian Table 1 shows some of the possessive adjectives in Russian. The adjective’s stem depends on the person (1st,…… Continue reading Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic