The Phoenician Alphabet and Language

Phoenician is a Canaanite language closely related to Hebrew. Introduction Very little is known about the Canaanite language, except what can be gathered from the El-Amarna letters written by Canaanite kings to Pharaohs Amenhopis III (1402 – 1364 BCE) and Akhenaton (1364 – 1347 BCE). It appears that the Phoenician language, culture, and writing were[…]

A History of Language, Script, and Symbol in West Africa

West Africa is a place of great diversity – in language, in writing, in the hugely varied means of recording information and passing it on. By Dr. Marion Wallace (left) and Dr. Janet Topp Fargion (right)Wallace: Lead Curator, Africa CollectionsFargion: Lead Curator, World and Traditional MusicBritish Library Introduction West Africa is home to well over[…]

Why Americans Think British Words Are Silly and Adorable

Although brolly is British, bumbershoot is surprisingly American. Me: Hi English person: You mean you don’t have SNELLYDORF HUFFLEDAMS? WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR BROOKENSHIRES? Me: Aight man have a good day                                                                                                   —@minifiliawarde Since 2011, University of Delaware professor Ben Yagoda has been writing Not One-Off Britishisms, a blog that tracks British turns of phrase that are infiltrating[…]

“Woe Unto Those Who Know Not How to Syllabificate”: The Languages of Medieval Law

Lawyers spoke their own language, even in the Middle Ages. When John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180) decried the dishonesty of lawyers in his Policraticus, he targeted the incomprehensibility of their legalese, complaining that “they snare simple men in nets of impenetrable jargon … ‘Woe unto those who know not how to syllabificate.’”[1] The sentiment expressed by John[…]

Linguistic Understanding and the Philosophy of Language

What is it to understand a language, hence others? By Dr. Paul TomassiFormer Professor of PhilosophyUniversity of Aberdeen Introduction Current understanding of the nature of language[1] owes much to two authors: Noam Chomsky and the later Wittgenstein. What is interesting is that the conceptions of language proposed by each appear to conflict. The key question[…]