The Uralic Languages

According to Kiefer and Laakso (2014), there is a general consensus that there are 6 main branches of Uralic: Ugric: Hungarian (13 million speakers) and, in Western Siberia, the Ob-Ugric languages Khanty (almost 10,000 speakers) and Mansi (probably less than 10,000 speakers) Finnic: Finnish (5 million speakers); Estonian (1 million). Other Finnic languages have many…… Continue reading The Uralic Languages

A is for Bee

A is for BEE: An Alphabet Book in Translation, by Ellen Heck, is a delightful alphabet book for children. Each page lists one or more words starting with the same letter and has bright pictures illustrating each word. The pages are in alphabetical order. This is an alphabet book with a twist: each page lists…… Continue reading A is for Bee

Still using unhelpful headlines … and still talking about batsmen

I’ve complained before about the unhelpful and misleading headlines The Times uses when an inside page continues an article that started on the back page. Their style seems to be to invent a new headline for the rest of the article, rather than keep the original headline. Please keep the same headline throughout – Language…… Continue reading Still using unhelpful headlines … and still talking about batsmen

British sign language will be a GCSE subject

Schoolchildren will soon be able to study British Sign Language (BSL) as a GCSE. The target is for schools to be able to teach it from September 2025.   As part of the GCSE, students will be taught at least 750 signs and how to use them to communicate effectively with other signers in work, social…… Continue reading British sign language will be a GCSE subject

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?

Careless talk cost a goal

The introduction of video assistant referees (VAR) has led to a lot of discussion in many sports, particularly football. That is because VAR has slowed decisions down and hasn’t cut out  all referring errors. One particularly shocking example arose from poor communication between the on-field referee and the VAR team at a Premier League football…… Continue reading Careless talk cost a goal

Another way to classify English consonants

I have discussed before how many consonants there are in English. In this post, I consider whether it is possible to classify English consonants in a more economical way. Previous post In an earlier post, I discussed how many consonants there are in English. The variety of English I looked at was standard southern British…… Continue reading Another way to classify English consonants

4 types of adjective

One way to classify adjectives is into 2 categories: intersective and non-intersective, with 3 subcategories of non-intersective adjective (subsective, plain and privative). Intersective adjectives An example of an intersective adjective is carnivorous in ‘carnivorous mammal’. This describes something that is both a mammal and carnivorous. The set of carnivorous mammals is the intersection of 2…… Continue reading 4 types of adjective

Adjectives boldly going to the stars

Even the most inspirational orators (and their speechwriters) slip up sometimes. Last week, I was at Moon Walkers, an immersive experience about the moon landings by the crews of Apollos 11, 12 and 14-17. It also previews the planned return to the moon by the Artemis programme. The film includes an extract from John F…… Continue reading Adjectives boldly going to the stars