Monthly Archives: April 2007

Tajik Folklorist’s Memoirs–Translation in Progress

Stories from the Land of Springs (Dushanbe, 1996) is the memoir of one of Tajikistan’s most prominent 20th-century folklorists. Rajab Amonov (1923-2002) describes his boyhood in the northern Tajikistan city of Uro Teppa. The book’s attraction lies in its both cultural and historic value. As a folklorist, Amonov details cultural practices still observable in many parts of Tajikistan. Written in the late 20th century, the account also discloses Amonov’s perspective on the changes that took place during the early years of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Amonov knew the value of story, so his descriptions are couched in engaging narratives. Continue reading

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Universal Grammar Ghosts « The Language Realm

The Language Realm blog reports:

A new chapter in the debate about Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar has opened up with real excitement. So even if you’re not into hard-core linguistics and have only heard of UG, read on. It’s worth it.

The story starts with field research nicely summarized on Physorg. The key point is that Daniel L. Everett, a linguist at Illinois State University, claims that the language Pirahã lacks certain fundamental features that UG predicts and requires.

Read it here:  The Language Realm Blog Universal Grammar Ghosts «
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Notes on Language Endangerment

An endangered language is one that is likely to entirely cease being spoken within a few generations. This kind of language death is not the same as the gradual change undergone by “dead” ancient languages like Latin which did not suddenly cease to be spoken, but that slowly evolved into something new. In the case of Latin, it evolved into the modern romance languages like French and Italian.

Language extinction occurs as speakers of minority languages come under economic, social, and/or political pressure to adopt the majority language being spoken around them (Woodbury 2000). The pressure exerted by major world languages is evidenced by the fact that 50% of the world’s population speak one of the top 12 world languages (Ostler 2005:526). A language becomes extinct when all the members of the new generation have adopted the language of the outside majority and the last older generation speaker of the minority language has died.

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Easter greetings!

reshtyaq akhasht
‘In truth, he is risen!’

Middle Persian rendering of Luke 24:34 from a Manichaean text recorded in: Handschriftenreste Estrangelo-Schrift aus Turfan, F. W. K. Müller, 1904. This text is described in: A Possible Restoration from a Middle Persian Source of the Answer of Jesus to Pilate’s Inquiry ‘What is Truth?’, by H. C. Tolman, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1919. Online: http://www.jstor.org/view/00030279/ap020033/02a00020/0