Author Archives: Brian Bird

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

What happened to Iranian Languages and Scripts?

There used to be an excellent web site called Iranian Languages & Scripts (IL&S) at http://iranianlanguages.com, but there has been nothing at this address for several months now. This site had introductory information, samples of writing, and bibliographies for all the languages of the Iranian language family, as well as some good articles on the history of the Iranian language, and on-line texts from the Avesta. If anyone knows a new address for this web site please leave a note with the new URL in the comments at the end of this post. Continue reading

Naruzaton Mubarak – Happy New year!

Today is the first day of spring and the Persian new year’s day which is called no ruz in Farsi, and na ruz in Tajik- both meaning ‘new day’. So, this post is to wish everyone idaton mubarak!  ‘may your holiday be blessed!’

Noruz
Read more about Noruz on FarsiNet

Video of Iran

I found a nice video slide-show of Iran with Persian  background music at this link:

Iran from Another Perspective

Iran scene

This video was posted with along with a plea to take action to prevent the US from going to war against Iran. Personally, I don’t think the Bush administration would make such a foolish and politically unpopular decision. Nevertheless, I do support this effort to promote peace!

Phone calls between the CIS and the United States

Listed below are instructions for calling to/from the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, also known as the former Soviet Union)  and the United States. Continue reading

Writing about Yaghnobi grammar

My wife and I spent the fall of last year living with a Yaghnobi family in a village in Tajikistan. It was a fantastic experience. The family we lived with was extremely hospitable. We spent several hours every day sitting around the dastarkhon (tablecloth) with them, their extended family, and neighbors. We will always value the friendships we made there.

My purpose for living in a Yaghnobi community was to study the language and collect material for my MA Thesis. I am a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Oregon and plan to graduate in the spring of this year.

I really enjoyed eliciting words and sentences in Yaghnobi, collecting stories, and analyzing the language. Since we lived in the home of Saifiddin Mirzoev who has a doctorate in philology and is head of the department of languages at the Rudaki Institute of Language and Literature, I received a great deal of expert consultation and was able to make tremendous progress in studying the Yaghnobi language.

Now I’m back home in Oregon working and writing my Thesis. I’ve been feeling a bit isolated in this work since I don’t know anyone else who is studying the Yaghnobi language. I’m hoping that this blog will be a medium for connecting and collaborating with other students and scholars of the Yaghnobi language.

 6/13/07 Update: I started a new blog, The Yaghnobi, and all new posts about the Yaghnobi language are being made there.