The Interesting History of the Celtic Languages

The Interesting History of the Celtic Languages

The popularity of several historical fiction television shows, such as Outlander (STARZ), has revived a fascination with the Celtic languages. When hearing about Celtic, most people instantly think of Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language spoken in Scotland. What many don’t realize is that the Celtic languages actually originated on the mainland in what is central and southern Europe today. During the first millennium BCE, Celtic languages were spoken across much of Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to the Black Sea and even in part of Asia Minor. Most of these native speakers were either assimilated into the Roman Empire or naturally died off. These versions of the Celtic languages are known as the Continental Celtic languages, a geographic distinction before a migration to the British Isles. Today, all the Continental Celtic languages are extinct. The Celtic languages that developed in the British Isles are known as the Insular Celtic Languages. Since these Celtic language...

January 13, 2017

Arrival Hits Theaters with Interesting Take on Alien Language

Arrival Hits Theaters with Interesting Take on Alien Language

Science fiction fans everywhere have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new movie which takes the alien encounter storyline in an entirely new direction. We're speaking of course of Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. In the trailers for the film, ships from a distant planet arrive on Earth and one of the world's top linguists, played by Adams, is recruited to communicate with them. While large-scale Hollywood films have employed a wide array of consultants over the years, this is one of the first times a professional linguist has been retained. Jessica Coon, a McGill University associate professor in syntax and indigenous languages, is an expert in syntax, morphology, ergativity, and nominalization. Each of these key components went into the main plotline of the film. Coon has spent several years in the field studying various Mayan languages as well as the First Nations language of Mi'gmaq in Quebec. “There was a lot in the script that has to...

December 14, 2016

Saving a Dying Language in Cyprus

Saving a Dying Language in Cyprus

Cyprus is a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey and West of Syria. In a village in the northern part of the country, a community is working to save an ancient language and reunify a divided land. This town, Kromakitis, was once the unofficial "capital" of Cyprus's Maronite minority. These people were descendants of Lebanese and Syrian Christians who spoke a unique dialect of Arabic known as Sanna. This language was influenced by Aramaic and is now severely endangered according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Many Maronites fled Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish invasion and were assimilated into Greek-Cypriot communities where they sought asylum. Recently, leaders of both Greece and Turkey have intensified talks to reunite this population with their homeland. Despite many years of Sanna classes in Cyprus, the language is still on the decline. Maronites hope that by returning home they will be able to ...

December 14, 2016

Website Translation Tips

Website Translation Tips

If you've ever come across a website in a foreign language, chances are you saw an icon appear asking if you would like to translate the page into English. You've probably also experienced the frustration of the translation being generally poor and still feeling lost while reading the page. When it comes to translating the written word, regional dialect must be taken into account. The most easy way to demonstrate this is by visiting a site published in the United Kingdom. While it is still in English, it is most definitely a different English than you are accustomed to. Certain phrases and words can have entirely different meanings which may be lost on the reader. This is important to take into account if you are considering translating all or part of your website into one or more languages. Many businesses based in the United States struggle with this problem when they attempt to have their websites translated into Spanish. Depending on the background of the translator, you may n...

November 11, 2016

Deaf-Blind Americans Have Developed a New Language

Deaf-Blind Americans Have Developed a New Language

While Braille may be a useful tool to the blind and sign language useful to the deaf, have you ever wondered about those who are both deaf and blind? Most alternative methods for communicating involve one of the other non-affected senses. However for those who can only rely on their senses of touch, smell, and taste, communication can be extremely difficult. Pro-tactile ASL is a newer language developed in only the past few years. It is not widely used or well known as of yet, but it is a way for Deaf-Blind people to more easily communicate with others, including one another. The practice typically involves a translator who uses ASL. While signing, the Deaf-Blind individual loosely places their hand on top of the signer's. When they want to respond, they tap out a response on their interpreter's body, anywhere from their knees up to their shoulders. The interpreter then signs the response, again in ASL. This type of conversation can be fascinating to watch and leave those who don'...

November 3, 2016

Coding Language, the New Bilingual

Coding Language, the New Bilingual

Do you speak code? This may sound like an odd question, but many of today's high school and college graduates are being asked that very question on job interviews across the country. HTML, Java, CSS, PHP, and the like have become the new "second language" to many students, even those not focused on a technical field. Computers, software, and apps have become such a large part of our lives that schools are emphasizing coding more and more. Many students graduate with at least a rudimentary understanding of computer coding. Ambitious ones create their own software, games, and apps well before entering high school. So how do you go about learning a coding language? There are countless online tutorials and it all comes down to what you want to learn. Those focused on building websites will usually begin with HTML and CSS, the foundations of most web design applications. People wanting to develop apps for Apple and Android may begin learning the proprietary languages of those...

November 3, 2016

Are Micro-Expressions the Universal Language?

Are Micro-Expressions the Universal Language?

While it's true there is not a universally spoken language, there is a language which transcends borders and cultures. Micro-expressions are facial expressions flashed for a fraction of a second which can reveal how a person is feeling, despite what they're saying. In the hit television series Lie To Me, the main characters specialize in identifying micro-expressions and assist various groups in detecting truthfulness. While yes it is just a television show, the principles are founded on real science. Dr. Paul Ekman is the pre-eminent psychologist and co-discoverer of micro-expressions. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine and is ranked fifteenth among the most influential psychologists of the 21st century. His work in nonverbal behavior has been ground breaking, starting in the late 1950's. In the late 1960's, Dr. Ekman traveled to Papua New Guinea for an immersive study involving the Fore people. This isolated Stone Age culture pr...

October 27, 2016

Is English Really A Germanic Language?

Is English Really A Germanic Language?

Ever since grade school, we've all heard that English is a Germanic language. However, this often confuses most people because of how much English differs from German. For example, if you were to place a page of French and a page of German in front of an English native speaker who had never learned a foreign language, chances are they'd be able to recognize more of the words on the French page than on the German page. This leads many people to wonder if English is actually a Romance language. In the field of linguistics, languages are categorized by their genetic relationship, meaning they have a common ancestor. This common ancestor gives all languages in the family common features, which distinguish them from other groups of languages. This genetic relationship is most commonly seen between the grammar and syntax of the languages. The current vocabulary of the language is not taken into account in this categorization process. In the case of English, it developed from Proto-German...

September 27, 2016

Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

We've covered some of the easiest languages to learn as well as those languages that are most commonly spoken. However did you know there is a very large list of languages that are considered "dead?" What makes a language dead you may ask? In simple terms, a dead language is one which is no longer spoken in everyday use, such as Latin. While Latin may be the most commonly known dead language, there are many other styles of communication and writing which have gone extinct over time. Some of these are incredibly interesting and have a unique history all their own. Akkadian: Spoken between 2800 BCE and 500 CE, this language is reminiscent of alien writing found in many science fiction movies. Used in ancient Mesopotamia, Akkadian utilizes the same cuneiform alphabet as Sumerian. Many ancient creation myth texts are written in Akkadian such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish creation myth. Akkadian has grammar similar to classic Arabic. Coptic: Spoken between 100...

September 13, 2016

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Residents of larger nations such as the United States, China, and Russia are often surprised to find that their country does not hold the most diversity of language. Surprisingly, the tiny nation of Papua New Guinea features 820 spoken languages. This accounts for nearly 12% of the known living languages spoken in the world today. Only 462,840 square kilometers, Papua New Guinea encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore islands. About the size of the state of California, Papua New Guinea has a population of 7.3 million. Why so many languages? The country's history is probably the biggest factor. People have inhabited the island for at least 40,000 years. The language of original settlers, left alone in relative isolation, had time to change over countless generations. The territory itself is cut off from many nearby societies by mountains, swamps, dense forests, and rivers. The indigenous groups developed very different lifestyles as separate tribes throughout the...

August 10, 2016

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