More Language News

Thanks to another network analysis of linguistic data — previous story [here]( — scholars seem to have traced the origin of language to … well, to the origin of human beings in eastern Africa. The Economist has a [write-up](

Some Possible Revisions to Generative Linguistics

While the Ars Technica article is rather superficial, and assumes that the work of several generation of linguists is rather easily overthrown, the research written up is quite interesting:

By treating language features like subject-verb order as a trait, the authors were able to perform this sort of analysis on four different language families: 79 Indo-European languages, 130 Austronesian languages, 66 Bantu languages, and 26 Uto-Aztecan languages. Although we don’t have a complete roster of the languages in those families, they include over 2,400 languages that have been evolving for a minimum of 4,000 years.

The results, according to the article itself: “most observed functional dependencies between traits are lineage-specific rather than universal tendencies.”


I can’t tell if this [set of photographs on Flickr]( is the work of one person or many, but it’s pretty amazing documentation of signs seen at recent Tea Party events, a number of which feature unfortunate, if not highly ironic, misunderstandings of grammar or spelling of the English language.