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Silly Linguistics Magazine Issue #72 May 2024 now available

Issue #72 is now available to subscribers

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Excerpts from our articles

The story of “boat”

“The word boat has an interesting history. Words can either be inherited from an older form, like Latin words slowly changing as the language developed into French and other Romance languages, or they can be borrowed.

But knowing whether a word is borrowed is not always straight forward because people might not realise a word is borrowed and older documents would not mention a word being borrowed, and if they do not all words would be covered. So how do we work out if a word is borrowed? Well, we can use some linguistic sleuthing.“

By Steve the vagabond

Text from the west or how Chinese use a keyboard

“With Chinese, it’s a lot more complicated, to say the least. They don’t have an “alphabet” so to speak, albeit having an analogous sound system that correspond to letters, imagine the Chinese language moreso like pictograms. They don’t have a limited amount of symbols that you can just look up in a dictionary, they comprise their words and sentences from different symbols meaning different things, and the possibilities are practically endless. For a westerner to grasp that language system is quite hard, and to learn it – even harder.“

By Joana Atanasova

Acronyms: not always the answer

“We are having a bit of a love affair with the acronym in the current phase of human language evolution. In the worlds of science, academia, law and in everyday use, acronyms are everywhere”

By MJ Buckman

Phonology fun

“When you‘re at the library late at night and you see someone sitting in a corner with a safe distance from everyone else, making the weirdest sounds with lips and tongue as quiet as possible – that is probably a linguist!

When I attended university for the first time, I found this discipline so weird and interesting, I wanted to be a part of it, and within only a few weeks, I had joined the nerdy group of people that played around with their mouths, temporarily forgot what words actually were, and spent nights over a set of data to unriddle before the next lesson to pass the test.“

By Lydia Pryba

What Does Endangered Mean? Interpreting UNESCO’s World Atlas of Languages Classification System

“Linguists often draw an analogy between languages and biological species: both can be grouped into subfamilies within larger families based on common features, both have historical geographical bounds that have changed due to modernization – and in both of their cases, over 90% of them are endangered or threatened with extinction due to modernization.“

By qiy

Småländska and language in relation to Småland

“Småländska is a rather generic name for the Nordic dialects spoken within Småland, a region of southeastern Sweden, with a coastline on the Baltic in the east, with a coastline on the Baltic in the east, part of which faces the island of Öland. I have written about several of Sweden’s traditional languages before, which include North-Germanic, Sámi and Finnic languages, but the background of this rather complex picture is beyond the scope of this article. But I will briefly introduce this topic.

Sweden is linguistically diverse, and many of the “dialects of Swedish” can be more accurately be described as “traditional Nordic languages” which became defined as “Swedish” in more recent history, often alongside a general watering down of these older language features into more standard forms of Swedish, which has created a gradient between traditional languages and regional dialects of “Swedish” proper.”

By Linden Alexander Pentecost

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