The Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet and the Siloam Inscription

The inscription hence records the construction of the tunnel in ancient Jerusalem. Introduction The Siloam inscription or Shiloah inscripti, known as KAI 189, is a Hebrew inscription found in the Siloam tunnel which brings water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam, located in the City of David in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shiloah or Silwan. The inscription records the construction of the tunnel, which has been dated to the 8th century[…]

Grammar: From the Ancient Greeks to the Middle Ages

English sentence structure or grammar has been extraordinarily impacted by the ancient Greek and Latin models. By Dr. R GnanasekaranAssistant Professor, Department of EnglishKarpagam University Abstract In view of the fact that grammar is a central phase of instructing a language, many techniques have been adopted to instruct it effectively over the time. Right from[…]

Neanderthals Could Speak and Process Spoken Communication

Neanderthals had the capacity to perceive and produce human speech. When the ancestors of anatomically-modern non-Africans came out of Africa and met their Neanderthal sister species, they would probably have been able to communicate with them with speech. The fact that two related species of hominin could very probably use speech in exactly the same[…]

Historical Linguistics: Tracing the Roots of Speech and Language

Western modern historical linguistics dates from the late-18th century. It grew out of the earlier discipline of philology, the study of ancient texts and documents dating back to antiquity. Introduction Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time.[1] Principal concerns of historical linguistics include:[2] to describe and account for observed changes in[…]

What You Should Know About An English Course Before Taking One Up

English has been portrayed as the language of opportunity. It has more advantages than other languages in terms of profession, industry, technology, research, schooling, etc. If you’re taking an English class in middle school, high school, or graduate school, you might wonder why English matters, particularly if you’re planning to study or look for jobs[…]

The Complicated Origin of the Expression ‘Peanut Gallery’

Remember the ‘peanut gallery’ from ‘Howdy Doody’? That term, like many others we commonly use, has surprisingly controversial origins. “No comments from the peanut gallery!” For many Americans who were born in the 1940s or 1950s, this phrase conjures up fond memories of the “Howdy Doody” show. It launched in 1947 as one of the first children’s television[…]

Writing as a Method to Express Yourself: From Ancient Times to Our Days

Writing is one of the activities that makes us humans so unique. For thousands of years, the human race has been attempting to record its thoughts and experiences with various forms of the written word. From its beginnings, the written word has become one of the most powerful tools we have when it comes to[…]

How Did the Ancient School of Writing Develop?

Writing is the most important invention because it makes all the other innovations possible. While researching a 99papers review, I started to think about the craft itself and how it developed. With all living things, every generation is a blank slate. When an elephant or a wolf dies, everything he experienced, all that he learned,[…]

‘You Would Do Better to Keep Your Mouth Shut’: The Significance of Talk in 6th-Century Gaul

By the sixth century gossip and defamation were viable and even preferable weapons against one’s political adversaries. In the past decade, historians have shown a growing interest in the implications of talk and gossip in medieval culture and society. Notable scholars of medieval talk studies, such as Thelma Fenster and Daniel Lord Smail, identify the[…]

Zounds! What the Fork Are Minced Oaths and Why Are We Still Fecking Using Them?

From 16th-century playwrights to ‘The Good Place,’ wordplay has found clever ways to get around uttering profane and blasphemous language. Introduction What in tarnation is “tarnation?” Why do people in old books exclaim “zounds!” in moments of surprise? And what could a professor of linguistics possibly have against “duck-loving crickets?” I’ll get to the crickets[…]

Tweet, Tweet: ‘Twitter’ in the Medieval World

Exploring the medieval roots of the now-obsolete meaning of the word ‘Twitter’. Does Twitter have its origins in the medieval period? Well, in a literal sense, no. As far as we are aware, no medieval ships came close to being named BoatyMcBoatFace as a result of a ‘campaign’ of parchment scraps. Medieval people did not[…]

Ancient Semitic-Speaking Peoples

The languages they spoke are usually divided into three branches: East, Central, and South Semitic languages. Introduction Ancient Semitic-speaking peoples were Western Asian people who lived throughout the ancient Near East, including the Levant, Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Horn of Africa from the third millennium BC until the end of antiquity. The languages[…]

The Language of the Ancient Etruscans

Etruscan was a relatively isolated language not connected with the Indo-European languages of Italy. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The language of the Etruscans, like the people themselves, has remained somewhat mysterious and has yet to be fully understood. The alphabet used a western Greek script, but the language has presented difficulties to scholars because it[…]

Learning a New Language Is Like an Illicit Love Affair

The truth is that entering an intimate relationship with a new language often colors everything. Learning a new language is a lot like entering a new relationship. Some will become fast friends. Others will hook their arms with calculus formulas and final-exam-worthy historical dates, and march right out of your memory on the last day[…]

When Did Colonial America Gain Linguistic Independence?

By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, did colonial Americans still sound like their British counterparts? When did Americans start sounding funny to English ears? By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, carefully composed in the richly-worded language of the day, did colonial Americans—who after all were British before[…]

Primate Research Pushes Timeline for Speech Evolution Back by 27 Million Years

Researchers say it’s time to finally discard a decades-old theory about the origins of human language. Introduction Sound doesn’t fossilize. Language doesn’t either. Even when writing systems have developed, they’ve represented full-fledged and functional languages. Rather than preserving the first baby steps toward language, they’re fully formed, made up of words, sentences and grammar carried[…]

Three Recent Internet Language Trends

Which of these trends will stick around, and which are passing fads? Introduction Social media has created an entirely new linguistic ecosystem, with new words, phrases and features for expressing ourselves cropping up all the time. Last year, internet language expert Gretchen McCulloch – whose best-selling book “Because Internet” is its own noteworthy language event[…]

I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

Words change their meaning over time, but it can be hard to keep up, especially when some words evolve to mean the opposite of their original definition. Kath & Kim’s Sharon Strezelecki, who tries hard to school US celebrity Kim Kardashian on the pronunciation of the word ‘nice’ in a TV advertising campaign, might be[…]

Bringing Back Aboriginal Languages from Scraps of Paper

Ethnographer Daisy Bates recorded many Aboriginal languages in the early 20th century, which would otherwise be lost today. Introduction In 1904 Daisy Bates, an Irish-Australian journalist and ethnographer, sent out a questionnaire to squatters, police, and other authorities across Western Australia asking them to record examples of the local Aboriginal language. Mrs Bates (1859-1951) was something[…]

Preserving Precious Indigenous Languages in Australia

Linguists are using new technology to return decades-old recordings of near-extinct languages to the communities where they were made. On the bonnet of a dust-covered four-wheel drive, linguists Ian Green and Rachel Nordlinger whip out a laptop to download a sound file onto a memory stick. The Indigenous man beside them is impatient. His family[…]

Talkin’ Like a Pirate? It Be a Linguistic Treasure Trove

No one in history has ever, based on their adopting a sea-going profession, talked like Robert Newton’s Long John Silver in Treasure Island. The people we think of when we talk about “pirates” would’ve talked mostly like the people they grew up around, just like the rest of us do. Many of them wouldn’t have[…]

How Language and Climate Connect

While we’re losing biological diversity, we’re also losing linguistic and cultural diversity at the same time. This is no coincidence. The world is getting uncomfortably warm. At present, much of Europe is suffering under a heat wave of record-breaking temperatures. It’s so hot that piles of manure are spontaneously combusting and setting off wildfires in Spain. Across the[…]

Noah Webster’s Civil War of Words over American English

Webster saw himself as a saviour of the American language. In the United States, the name Noah Webster (1758-1843) is synonymous with the word ‘dictionary’. But it is also synonymous with the idea of America, since his first unabridged American Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1828 when Webster was 70, blatantly stirred the young[…]

An Overview of Ancient Mesopotamian Languages

Remaining examples include religious, mathematical, musical and astronomical texts. Key Points The principal languages of ancient Mesopotamia were Sumerian, Akkadian (i.e. Babylonian + Assyrian), Amorite, and – later – Aramaic.  They have come down to us in the “cuneiform” (i.e. wedge-shaped) script, deciphered by Henry Rawlinson and other scholars in the 1850s.  The subject which[…]

Why Languages and Dialects Really Are Different Animals

It takes about a millennium for dialects to become languages. Simple questions often yield complex answers. For instance: what is the difference between a language and a dialect? If you ask this of a linguist, get comfortable. Despite the simplicity of the query, there are a lot of possible answers. You can see it firsthand[…]

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[…]