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Category: History/Archaeology

  • Apr 20, 2012
  • 02:35 AM

The language that became a mighty weapon

Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, “Native Words, Native Warriors” shares the stories of the code talkers, U.S. military soldiers who came from more than a dozen Native American tribes.
  • Apr 12, 2012
  • 03:41 PM

'British Raj promoted Urdu'

The Express Tribune
“The textbook tale that British colonial rule in the subcontinent harmed the development of Urdu is false,” Dr Tariq Rehman, Dean of School of Education at Beaconhouse National University, said in a lecture at the Forman Christian (FC) College University on Tuesday.
  • Apr 05, 2012
  • 12:26 PM

Navajo Code Talkers

Bill Waterstreet / Desert Warrior
The code talkers began in early 1942, when Philip Johnston, a white protestant missionary's son, presented the idea of using the Navajo language to create a code the Japanese couldn't break. Johnston recruited 29 young Navajos to become Marines, not informing them about the plan for the code. Once the Navajo Marines had passed boot camp and combat training, they were instructed to create a code based on their native language.
  • Apr 04, 2012
  • 08:49 PM

English: The mongrel language

Heidi Stevens / Chicago Tribune
Stamper's talk attempted to put our incredibly rich and multilayered and mind-numbingly confusing language into some historical context for audience members whose jobs are among the hardest in the world: teaching English as a second language.
  • Apr 03, 2012
  • 03:26 PM

Romancing the bone

Liu Xiangrui, Li Yuefeng / China Daily
The excavations carried out at Yinxu and the finding of the oracle bones significantly changed China's historical records. The inscriptions on these bones are the precursor of modern Chinese calligraphy, according to Tang Jigen, a researcher with the Institute of Archeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
  • Mar 30, 2012
  • 05:46 PM

The language of assimilation

Esther Cepeda / The Star Democrat
CHICAGO Back in the mid-1700s, German immigrants were the bane of my favorite founding father, Benjamin Franklin, who believed they'd never assimilate into the predominant culture of the time. Franklin believed the immigrants were "generally of the most ignorant, stupid sort of their own nation" and thus unable and unwilling to learn English.
  • Mar 27, 2012
  • 09:43 AM

Census study shows Caithness's Gaelic past

Donald Morrison / BBC News
New research claims that the Gaelic language was indigenous to many areas of Caithness - surviving into the 20th Century. Opponents of Highland Council's policy on bi-lingual road signs have often claimed that Caithness heritage is more Norse than Gaelic and that the county was never Gaelic-speaking.
  • Mar 27, 2012
  • 09:20 AM

A Picture of Language

Kitty Burns Florey / New York Times
The curious art of diagramming sentences was invented 165 years ago by S.W. Clark, a schoolmaster in Homer, N.Y. [1] His book, published in 1847, was called “A Practical Grammar: In which Words, Phrases, and Sentences Are Classified According to Their Offices and Their Various Relations to One Another.” His goal was to simplify the teaching of English grammar.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:33 PM

Are We “Meant” to Have Language and Music?

Mark Changizi / The Crux
I believe that language and music are, indeed, not part of our core—that we never evolved by natural selection to engage in them. The reason we have such a head for language and music is not that we evolved for them, but, rather, that language and music evolved—culturally evolved over millennia—for us. Our brains aren’t shaped for these pinnacles of humankind. Rather, these pinnacles of humankind are shaped to be good for our brains.
  • Mar 16, 2012
  • 12:23 PM

History of the English language celebrated at University of Leicester

Loughborough News
Three linguistics experts from the University of Leicester will give readings from their latest books – which together span the history of the English language - on March 22. The evening, 'Røk, Paper, Tweeters: Changing modes in the transmission of English,' is open to the public and will celebrate the launch of the School of English’s new MA in English Language and Linguistics.
  • Mar 15, 2012
  • 12:35 AM

How should Shakespeare really sound? (audio)

The Telegraph
Inspired by working with Kevin Spacey, Sir Trevor Nunn has claimed that American accents are "closer" than contemporary English to the accents of those used in the Bard's day. The eminent Shakespearean scholar John Barton has suggested that Shakespeare's accent would have sounded to modern ears like a cross between a contemporary Irish, Yorkshire and West Country accent.
  • Mar 14, 2012
  • 12:42 PM

Back When America Was Multilingual

Ryan W. McMaken / The LRC Blog
...The adoption of such measures, in these two places, as in most places in America, is meaningless in the practical sense because most local governments already do business in English only. But, such measures are symbolic measures designed to send a message to undesirables who are insufficiently nationalistic in their choice of language. An obsession with forcing the citizenry to speak one government-approved language has long been central to the plans of nationalists everywhere.
  • Mar 13, 2012
  • 12:33 PM

The Writing on the Wall: Symbols from the Palaeolithic

Past Horizons
In 2009, a ground-breaking study by Genevieve von Petzinger revealed that dots, lines and other geometric signs found in prehistoric European caves may be the precursor to an ancient system of written communication dating back nearly 30,000 years. Von Petzinger, with University of Victoria anthropology professor April Nowell, compiled the markings from 146 different sites in Ice Age France, making it possible to compare the signs on a larger scale than had ever previously been attempted.
  • Mar 12, 2012
  • 01:31 PM

An Indigenous Language With Unique Staying Power

Simon Romero / New York Times
In Paraguay, indigenous peoples account for less than 5 percent of the population. Yet Guaraní is spoken by an estimated 90 percent of Paraguayans, including many in the middle class, upper-crust presidential candidates, and even newer arrivals.
  • Mar 08, 2012
  • 07:35 PM

Mohawks seek recognition for WWII code talkers (audio)

North Country Public Radio
A Mohawk veterans group wants the federal government to recognize the contributions of "code talkers" during the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War Two. The Navajo "code talkers" were the largest group of Native Americans during the 1940's to use their language skills in the south Pacific against the Japanese.
  • Mar 08, 2012
  • 01:23 PM

Is the Korean language really an orphan?

Alex Baratta / The Korea Herald
...And while all Koreans know that their alphabet, by extension a part of their overall identity, was single-handedly created by King Sejong, a question mark still persists regarding the origins of their language. Until around the 1960s, the Korean language was widely believed to be part of a hypothesized language family called “Ural-Altaic.”
  • Mar 08, 2012
  • 01:00 PM

English language ordinance brings nothing new

Paul Gordon / Gazette.Net
The commissioners have added an ordinance to Frederick County laws making English the official language of the county. To historians, it is naught but a large yawn. Many have been to the courthouse and read the early official documents of the county. The closest use of a language other than English in the documents appeared in the June 1749 recorded proceedings
  • Mar 07, 2012
  • 10:58 PM

Tamil Language Rights in Sri Lanka – Part II

Devanesan Nesiah / The
This part consists of Recommendations made over 13 years ago to the Official Language Commission (OLC) by a team headed by the writer and appointed by the OLC to conduct an Audit on the Use of Tamil as an Official Language in provinces outside the NorthEast. Although the Audit did not research the North or East, the Recommendations relate to the whole Island and include the use of Sinhala in the North and East.
  • Mar 07, 2012
  • 01:34 AM

Tamil Language Rights in Sri Lanka – Part I

Devanesan Nesiah / The
Sinhalese Language rights have been largely secured since the Official Language Act of 1956. I will therefore focus mainly on Tamil Language rights and, to a less extent, on English Language rights. It would be useful to begin with a brief historical outline.
  • Feb 23, 2012
  • 08:15 PM

Spellbound text in old Irish finally yields to translation

Ronan McGreevy / Irish Times
AN AUSTRIAN-born professor claims to have comprehensively translated one of the first written passages of old Irish, which has defied previous translations. The passage is the third of three charms, or spells, in the ninth century Stowe Missal, a Mass book written mostly in Latin, which has a single page at the back containing the charms written in old Irish.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 03:58 PM

A pahticulah way of talking

Ben Zimmer / Boston Globe
This is just one of many fascinating linguistic vignettes revealed in the new book “Speaking American: A History of English in the United States,” by the late University of Michigan scholar Richard W. Bailey. A preeminent figure in the study of American English, Bailey died last April after a four-year health struggle following a near-fatal car accident.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 12:50 AM

Mother tongue

Mümtazer Türköne / Today's Zaman
The Kurdish issue is the mother of many other problems, and the Kurdish issue itself is a Kurdish language issue. In other words, today, i.e., International Mother Language Day, is particularly important for Turkey.
  • Feb 22, 2012
  • 12:46 AM

Bengali Language Day: Celebrating A Universal Human Right

Salman Al-Azami / The Platform
Today, the 21st February, marks a significant point in the global calendar. Exactly sixty years ago some brave men laid down their lives for Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan), so that Bangla could be established as a state language. It is a tragic tale with a happy ending as Bangla eventually achieved the status it deserved, albeit at the cost of valuable lives.
  • Feb 18, 2012
  • 02:12 PM

How Americans Have Reshaped Language

John McWhorter / The New York Times
In “Speaking American,” a history of American English, Richard W. Bailey argues that geography is largely behind our fluid evaluations of what constitutes “proper” English. Early Americans were often moving westward, and the East Coast, unlike European cities, birthed no dominant urban standard.
  • Feb 16, 2012
  • 03:17 PM

Out of Africa? Data fail to support language origin in Africa

Last year, a report claiming to support the idea that the origin of language can be traced to West Africa appeared in Science. The article caused quite a stir. Now a linguist has challenged its conclusions, in a commentary just published in Science.
  • Feb 16, 2012
  • 10:59 AM

Great Russia's divine nationalistic mission

Otto Ozols / Latvians Online
Overall, the Russian Empire collapsed twice precisely because of its unreasonable Russian language policies. For many decades, for innumerable people, this was the language of the occupiers. It symbolizes oppression, reprisals and arrogance. People do understand that it isn’t reasonable to blame common Russians or the language itself. Even so…
  • Dec 27, 2011
  • 10:48 AM

Kosli Language: A Perspective on Its Origin, Evolution and Distinction

Sanjib Kumar Karmee / Orissa Diary
There is a sense among the people of western Odisha that writings in Kosli language are not respected among Odia pundits. It is reported that some member of the “Odisha Sahtya Academy” does not recognize Kosli as an independent language. They think that Kosli language is a dialect of Odia language.
  • Dec 26, 2011
  • 12:14 PM

Rare Cuneiform Script Found on Island of Malta

Popular Archaeology
Excavations among what many scholars consider to be the world's oldest monumental buildings on the island of Malta continue to unveil surprises and raise new questions about the significance of these megalithic structures and the people who built them. Not least is the latest find - a small but rare, crescent-moon shaped agate stone featuring a 13th-century B.C.E. cuneiform inscription, the likes of which would normally be found much farther east in Mesopotamia.
  • Dec 20, 2011
  • 05:08 PM

'Goan Liberation helped liberate Konkani language as well'

Jaideep Shenoy / Times of India
While there is little or no sense of euphoria about this historical event in this coastal city, historical researchers hail the Goan Liberation as the turning point that gave Konkani language its own distinguishable identity and prevented it from being treated as dialect of Marathi.
  • Dec 08, 2011
  • 09:38 AM

Island language in a sea of change (audio)

University of Cambridge
Norman languages spoken in the Channel Islands for a thousand years are now severely endangered. Cambridge linguist Dr Mari Jones has been analysing the languages and tracing why they have declined.