The *Bʰlog | A blog devoted to all matters Indo-European.
Welcome to the *Bhlog, a website that hopes to provide an accessible but informed forum for all matters Indo-European.

A really interesting, accessible blog about Indo-European, if you enjoyed that Indo-European fable that went around a while ago

Categories include fables, language, and culture. I don’t think it’s updated recently, but the back posts are still fascinating! 

anonymous asked:

What's the difference between STIs and STDs?

Honestly, they’re basically the same thing, but people tend to prefer STI these days because of the difference of what the words infection and disease mean.  An infection is defined as “The invasion and multiplication of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are not normally present within the body.” A disease is the symptoms, the effects of an infection (or other cause).  

We’ve switched from calling it a disease to an infection since for the most part STIs don’t have a lot of symptoms, are easily cured, and do not cause long-term effects.  So, call it what you will, they’re basically the same thing.  Know that I’ll be calling them STIs, for the most part, and that’s what I mean when I say it.

Fun fact

There is no known relation between language phyla in the African continent, not even on a high level of macro-phylum classification.

(This means Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga’s assertions that all languages in Africa are related are pseudo-linguistics and not reliable)

Great Summer Research programs for undergrad/honours students in Australian

There have been a few emails advertising Summer Research programs in Australia and I wanted to share them. These are definitely more common now than when I was an undergrad, and they’re a great way to use your linguistics skills, see if research is for you and perhaps experience a department at a different university. They usually have a small travel and living stipend included. If you are in the wrong hemisphere, or you need to work over the summer months like I did as an undergrad, these types of notifications can still be useful - they let you know the kind of work specific researchers are interested in and what kinds of honours or grad research a particular department might be interested in. If you see more of these programs around let me know and I’ll Tweet them! Remember, it’s the Southern Hemisphere, so Uni summer break is November - February.

Aboriginal Dictionary Making (ANU)

Linguistics students are invited to help us create dictionaries of Indigenous Australian languages at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL). You will also be able to take part in the CoEDL Summer School at the University of Western Sydney, and the Australian Linguistics Society Annual Conference.

The project will involve different aspects of dictionary-making, depending on the interests of the scholar/intern, from computational to lexicographic to documentary to transcription of primary data. The supervisor is Professor Jane Simpson, and there will be plenty of opportunity to work with other scholars of Indigenous languages.

Further information:

Complex word structure in indigenous languages of Australia

Project duration: 7 weeks, January 4 – February 19

Australia’s indigenous languages are famed for their complex word structures, making them highly informative for our understanding of how human language works. This project unearths that complexity and organises it into computer-readable form, in order to contribute to cutting-edge research on data visualisation in linguistics (including a concurrent, related summer project in computer science at UQ), and to electronic resources that will underlie the coming generation of indigenous language apps.

We are seeking students in a linguistics major at second year level or higher, at any Australian or international university. Some study in the areas of morphology, phonology, or both, is preferred.

Further info: Dr Erich Round

The languages of Cape York — bringing Bruce Sommer’s work to life

Project duration: 7 weeks, January 4 – February 19

Bruce Sommer worked for decades with indigenous peoples throughout Cape York, recording a vast amount of language material, most of which he deposited with UQ’s Fryer Library. This project will begin to enrich Sommer’s records, by bringing it out of archival boxes and into more readily accessible forms, specifically, by creating electronically readable and deliverable versions of some of his thousands of pages of notes on traditional stories, grammar, vocab and culture.

We are seeking students in a linguistics major at second year level or higher, at any Australian or international university. Some study in the areas of phonology and phonetics is preferred.

Further info: Dr Erich Round

Building a dictionary of Garrwa

Project duration: 8 - 10 weeks (negotiable)

The Garrwa language is spoken in the Gulf Country around the town of Borroloola (NT) and east towards the Queensland Border. Children no longer learn Garrwa as a first language but there are a number of older Garrwa people in and around Borroloola and the community of Robinson River who are keen to ensure that the language is well-documented and taught to young people to maintain and revitalise cultural and linguistic heritage and practices. They are particularly interested in the production of a dictionary to sit alongside the recently published reference grammar (Mushin, I. 2012. A grammar of (Western) Garrwa. Mouton). The first stage of this project will be to work through an older draft dictionary from 1997 and checked with speakers in 2006-2010 to compile an initial list of entries and, where possible, match with recordings of the words. Students will learn practical skills in language documentation and the development of dictionary entries, as well as learning about the Garrwa language.

We are seeking students in a linguistics major at second year level or higher, at any Australian or international university.

Further info: Dr Ilana Mushin,

Gurindji Kriol across the generations

Project duration: 10 weeks

This project will form a part of an ARC project examining changes in Gurindji Kriol across two generations of Gurindji people. It will compare the speech of 10 year old Gurindji children with the linguistic input they received as babies. The Summer Research scholar will be trained in linguistic annotation, transcription of Gurindji Kriol and will code transcribed recordings in preparation for statistical analysis. The focus will be on changes in the use of ergative marking in Gurindji Kriol. The Summer Research scholar will work with other scholars building Gurindji and Mudburra corpora and can potentially development an Honours thesis from the project.

Further info: Dr. Felicity Meakins

Building a Mudburra corpus

Project duration: 10 weeks

This project will form a part of an ARC project examining a trilingual Indigenous community, Elliott (NT). It examines how people at Elliott manage multiple languages and how these languages have changed through mixing processes such as creolisation and code-switching. Summer Research scholars will be a part of a team including PhD students Claire Gourlay and David Osgarby trained in corpus development. They will key in transcribed recordings of Mudburra and sound-link the corpus. Summer Research scholars will work with other scholars building the Gurindji corpus. If students are interested in potential Honours topics on Mudburra at UQ, a day a week can be allocated to background research.

Further info: Dr. Felicity Meakins

Building a Gurindji corpus

Project duration: 10 weeks

This project will form a part of the Centre of Excellence in the Dynamics of Language building a corpus of Gurindji recordings for the language community and linguistic research. Gurindji is spoken in the Northern Territory (Australia). Summer Research scholars will be a part of a team trained in corpus development. They will key in transcribed recordings of Gurindji and sound-link the corpus. Summer Research scholars will work with other scholars building the Mudburra corpus.

Further info: Dr. Felicity Meakins

anonymous asked:

As a linguist yourself, i wonder if you could help confirm something I think I've been witnessing recently. The tendency of my generation (early nineties) to use substitute words in texting, for eg: things like where r u? and ttyl, are abbreviations that I have seen re-manifesting lately on tumblr, not in the abbreviated, but simply having been adapted into modern language (1/.2)

example: I saw a post just today saying I luff you. And that struck me as perhaps being a variation on ‘I luv u’: an adaptation to emphasis not just the nature of the word, but the feelings behind it. I get a completely different tone from “I luff you” to “I love you”. I mean, this is simplistic because I’m only looking at one cultural dialect but It seems to me that each generation defines words and language and changes how language is used as a whole… (2/2)

Okay, so, you’ve actually touched on a couple of different linguistic phenomena here – 1. “where r u?” vs. “where are you?”, which is an issue of register (formal vs. informal), 2. ttyl vs. “talk to you later”, which is an issue of word creation, and 3. “I luff you” vs. “I love you”, which falls more under the heading of wordplay but is slightly more complicated than that. They’re all distinct hallmarks of the “internet” dialect of English, but they’re all very different

(This is super long, like, 3k long, so the rest of it’s going under a cut.)

Keep reading

About the Yama and the dogs thing

(Referring to this.)

In Hindu mythology, there are in fact two dogs belonging to Yama, god of death.  They are described as having “four eyes and wide nostrils” and sometimes wander the earth as his messengers.  They are, literally, hellhounds.  They’re identified with the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor.


In Sanskrit, one of them is called śarvarā (शर्वरा), which means “striped.”  The word is comparable to the Greek Kerberos, which means “spotted.”  So yeah, the Greek and Indic hellhounds are basically named “Spot” and “Stripy.”  The two words might trace back to a common Indo-European *ḱerberos, meaning “variegated” (i.e. either spotted or striped).  The Sanskrit reflex requires a /w/ to turn into /v/, so its original form might have been *ḱerweros, which looks more typically Indo-European, but /b/ is suspected to have been rare and notoriously unstable in PIE, so maybe the form with /b/ was the earlier one and /w/ showed up in pre-Indo-Iranian dialects later.

For what it’s worth, in Norse mythology, Odin’s throne Hliðskjálf is also guarded by two wolves, although Odin isn’t really a god of the underworld.


(IMO, J.K. Rowling really should have named Fluffy in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone “Spot”).

As for Yama himself, he only got to be god of death because he was the first mortal to die.  Basically he ended up in the Otherworld and no one else was there so he just stuck around and started running the place.


Certain scholars link Yama with Ymir, the first mortal (in this case, a frost giant) to die in Norse mythology.  The purported link comes via Proto-Indo-European *yemos, meaning “twin” (Yama being the twin of Manu, the first man, whose name simply means “man”).  Ymir was never attested as twin, though some argue for references as a “two-fold” being, or one possessing both sets of sexual characteristics.


Comparative mythologists put forth a mytheme of primordial twins in IE mythology, including Romulus and Remus (speculated to be a deformation of iemus < *yemos).  Jaan Puhvel plants whole forests of Epileptic Trees on this topic in Comparative Mythology.  (Here’s one more: Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf and actually raised as a pair of wolf twins.)

So, yeah, basically Kukur Tihar, the Nepali dog festival, has deep mythological roots going back thousands of years with potential connections across two continents, involving twins, wolves, hellhounds, and the birth of humankind.  It is a lot more than just celebrating dogs for friendship.  Still, you should definitely be nice to your dog, because otherwise they might report you to the king of hell.

Speaking of linguistics, there’s one particular linguistic tick that I think clearly separates Baby Boomers from Millennials: how we reply when someone says “thank you.”

You almost never hear a Millennial say “you’re welcome.” At least not when someone thanks them. It just isn’t done. Not because Millenials are ingrates lacking all manners, but because the polite response is “No problem.” Millennials only use “you’re welcome” sarcastically when they haven’t been thanked or when something has been taken from/done to them without their consent. It’s a phrase that’s used to point out someone else’s rudeness. A Millenial would typically be fairly uncomfortable saying “you’re welcome” as an acknowledgement of genuine thanks because the phrase is only ever used disengenuously.

Baby Boomers, however, get really miffed if someone says “no problem” in response to being thanked. From their perspective, saying “no problem” means that whatever they’re thanking someone for was in fact a problem, but the other person did it anyway as a personal favor. To them “You’re welcome” is the standard polite response.

“You’re welcome” means to Millennials what “no problem” means to Baby Boomers, and vice versa.The two phrases have converse meanings to the different age sets. I’m not sure exactly where this line gets drawn, but it’s somewhere in the middle of Gen X. This is a real pain in the ass if you work in customer service because everyone thinks that everyone else is being rude when they’re really being polite in their own language.

It is a well-documented fact that by the age of 5 monolingual White children will have heard 30 million fewer words in languages other than English than bilingual children of color. In addition, they will have had a complete lack of exposure to the richness of non-standardized varieties of English that characterize the homes of many children of color. This language gap increases the longer these children are in school. The question is what causes this language gap and what can be done to address it?

The major cause of this language gap is the failure of monolingual White communities to successfully assimilate into the multilingual and multidialectal mainstream. The continued existence of White ethnic enclaves persists despite concerted efforts to integrate White communities into the multiracial mainstream since the 1960s. In these linguistically isolated enclaves it is possible to go for days without interacting with anybody who does not speak Standardized American English providing little incentive for their inhabitants to adapt to the multilingual and multidialectal nature of  US society.

This linguistic isolation has a detrimental effect on the cognitive development of monolingual White children. This is because linguistically isolated households lack the rich translanguaging practices that are found in bilingual households and the elaborate style-shifting that occurs in bidialectal households. This leaves monolingual White children without a strong metalinguistic basis for language learning. As a result, many of these monolingual White children lack the school-readiness skills needed for foreign language learning and graduate from school having mastered nothing but Standardized American English leaving them ill-equipped to engage in intercultural communication.


What if we talked about monolingual White children the way we talk about low-income children of color?

Excerpt from a satirical blog post from The Educational Linguist that makes a good point about which language skills we value as a society and the problems with talking about a “language gap”. [Edit: I’ve seen a lot of comments asking how this is satire so if you’re wondering this I’d strongly recommend clicking through to the full post.]

Making the most of Duolingo

Here’s a list of what I do that really helps me learn the language using Duolingo; it’s extra work than the app gives you, but it helps me get my answers right most of the time and I feel like I know the language much better than I would have normally.

Completing the tree

  • The first thing you should do is complete the tree! Most people think they stop using Duolingo after that - this is absolutely not the stopping point! There’s a reason I listed this as step one.
  • To complete the tree, set a goal for yourself. One lesson per day, one unit per week, etc. Experiment a little and find one that works for you.
  • The XP feature on Duolingo helps me stay on track by measuring my frequency, not my learning. Use this to make you motivated to start each day, but don’t use it as a measure of how well you’re doing. It’s like a homework grade that gives points for completion but not accuracy. But, because of this, you can choose any goal you want. I’m on the “insane” goal (50pts per day) but I often go way past the limit. Trust me, if you’re following these steps, that won’t be a problem.
  • THIS IS AN IMPORTANT RULE!!!! Before ever starting a new lesson, all of your previous lessons must be golden.
    • Duolingo builds off of previous skills in a fairly linear way. You’ll notice especially as you get farther in the tree that whenever you learn new nouns, they will always be practiced in the context of the most recent verb tense you’ve learned, and they will always mix up adjectives and phrases that you’ve also recently learned. Because of this, if you’re even a little shaky on a previous lesson, you’re screwing yourself over if you don’t review that first.
    • When you first open Duolingo, use “Practice Weak Skills” - this will give you a random lesson to run through and practice, and often it will mix multiple to allow you to strengthen multiple skills at once.
    • Keep using “Practice Weak Skills” until every lesson is golden. This takes about 3-4 times if you get most of the questions right, 5-6 if you’re getting most of them wrong - and it will get you past your XP goal. When you’re done, scroll through to check that every lesson is golden. Feels nice, don’t it?
    • Your lesson strength deteriorates quickly. It often feels like you’re taking one step forwards and two steps back. This is the case for a short while - the more you practice, the longer your skills will stick there. When you need to strengthen them again, all you have to do is prove that you know it from before. Instead of 15 questions on the same lesson, you’ll get about 3 - if you get all of them right, the skill goes straight back up to golden!
    • HOWEVER:
      • If you are having trouble with a certain lesson, maybe you find yourself constantly tripping up on it? Practice these lessons individually.
      • I constantly mess up on verbs, and now that I’ve finished the tree, whenever I review it mixes up to 4 tenses at once. What happens then? I get mixed up.
        • Personally, I rushed through the tree when I shouldn’t have. Whoops.
        • Because of this, I review each verb lesson on its own before using “Practice Weak Skills.”
        • When I feel confident enough, the next day I might test myself using “Practice Weak Skills” and see how it turns out. It’s your personal judgement call on when you should stop isolating lessons!

Grammar time!

So, if you’re anything like me, you love learning languages. If you’re even more like me, you have a preference for doing it, and it is not memorizing vocab (though this is necessary!). Duolingo is nice for vocab and grammar….practice. To practice, you have to learn it first, right? It teaches you the vocab well, but there’s one huge problem I found while finishing up my Spanish tree: The farther you get, the less grammar lessons there are.

This is crucial! How am I supposed to know what’s going one with he/habia/habias when I don’t even know what the tense is?

So, I prepared a list of grammar resources/courses that I think do a good job of walking you through, step-by-step, the lessons in a similar order to Duolingo.

My recommendation for using these requires looking ahead. Look at your next Duolingo lesson and, before taking it, look at the corresponding lesson on one of these websites. Take notes on it! Go back to Duolingo and now that you actually know what you’re doing. (If you get things consistently wrong, you can then review the grammar lesson on whatever website - in case they’re out of order). These apply to any website or program other than Duolingo, especially self-teaching, since they’re all basic grammar lessons.

The ones I’ve listed are mainly Spanish and German; these are the languages I’m studying. I can’t speak on other websites and their ease/comprehensiveness if I’m not studying that language! Please feel free to edit this post and add your own websites/languages when you reblog.


  • (This is my personal favourite! Separated into units that progress from basic to advanced.)
  • (good for referencing what you got wrong. Organizes by subject of lesson rather than easy-hard)
  • Bowdoin (Another one that goes through basic-advanced. Has lessons written in Spanish and exercises to practice! Also has more information than most of these other links, however this can be confusing and that’s why it’s not my favourite.)


  • (Has a TON of information and exercises; can be hard to navigate.)
  • Dartmouth Review (A little chart to separate very broad categories; once you pick a section, it goes on for a while.)
  • Deutsch Lingolia (Left column has a list; the top part is the important tenses, nouns, etc. grammar stuff.)

All Languages

Language and Linguistics Resources

1. All sites are online and free. 

2. It’s hard to separate into Languages and Linguistics because there’s a lot of overlap. Many of these sites could be on either list. 


World Atlas of Language Structures Online

Speech Accent Archive - listen to a paragraph read in English by speakers of other languages

List of Languages by Writing Script

List of Endangered Languages

Type the IPA

Ethnologue - Information about the languages of the world

23 Maps and Charts on Language

Endangered Languages Project

Listen to the IPA

Linguistics pdfs

Articles and videos on linguistics

Google Ngram Viewer - looks at the use of words over time

Concise Encyclopedia of the Languages of the World

Language learning:

Lang-8  - practice writing and receive corrections from native speakers

Memrise  - practice vocab

Tatoeba - find a sentence that uses your word

Harry Potter - listen to the beginning of Harry Potter read in  60+ languages

A User’s Guide to the Best Swear in Every* Language (*obviously not every language. whatever buzzfeed)

Wordreference  - the French and Spanish dictionaries are really good, the others are meh

BBC Languages - Not very in depth but offers quite a few small European languages such as Manx, Luxembourgish, and Guernésiais  - Translation, language facts, and information about some scripts

Transparent Language Blogs - occasionally has interesting articles about various languages 

Students of the World Penpals - Correspond in your target language with a native speaker

The Polyglot Project - Read books in your target languages; built in translation feature - offers a huge variety of languages; introductory/beginner level 

SayJack - Chinese, Japanese, and Korean

Duolingo but I’m sure you all know this one XD

A-Z Index of Omniglot - SUPER informative resource especially for smaller, lesser known languages; provides information as well as LINKS to learning resources for each language

Dramafever - watch TV in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, and English (they have like one or two in Portuguese as well)

Interesting/fun article about some interesting languages (I don’t really like their use of the word ‘bizarre’ here)

Interesting blog about a guy’s experiences with 37 languages 

Look at videos trending on youtube by country

Top websites by country - useful in finding advanced content in your target language

Project Gutenberg - Read books in English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese

Yabla -  Watch videos in your target language

Wikitongues - A youtube channel featuring speakers of a wide variety of languages (they have a tumblr too!)

Foreign Language Music

Forvo - listen to words pronounced by native speakers

Rate your foreign language fluency

Lingro - “the coolest dictionary known to hombre”

The world’s most multilingual countries

World Language Store - by products (for example, books) from around the world

Foreign Service Institute Language Courses

Interlinear books - foreign language books with the english translations below

Global Language Online  - material drawn from radio, newspaper etc. 

Resource list  for learning over 50 languages

Tumblr blogs for specific languages - most are inactive but may still be good resources

Read articles in your target language!

Babla - online language dictionaries

Collins Dictionaries Online

Peace Corps Language Courses

Culture Talk - Videos about culture

Innovative Language Learning - Youtube channels teaching over 30 languages


Dictionaries for a LOT of languages

Read Grimm’s fairytales in other languages

European radio stations streaming live

TV streaming live

How I Learn Languages - pdf of the book by Hungarian polyglot Kató Lomb

Lyrics Training - this is a REALLY FUN way to practice listening

meme for language lovers

1. What is your mother tongue?
2. What are the official languages of the country you live in?
3. Are there any minority languages in your country? Are you interested in them?
4. Are there any minority / extinct languages you are interested in?
5. How many languages can you speak and on what level?
6. When did you start learning your second language?
7. Is second language a mandatory subject in your country and how many hours per day do children learn it?
8. What do you think about immersion? Have you ever / would you like to try it?
9. How many languages are you learning at the moment {self-study counts} ?
10. What languages would you like to learn in the {near} future?
11. Do you prefer attending courses / classes or learning on your own? Why?
12. Is there a language you have just given up on although you really wanted to master it?
13. Is {are} there word{s} you just always misspell?
14. Do you have favourite words ?
15. What aspect{s} of langauge interests you?
16. What linguistic category interests you the most? {lexicology, semantics...}
17. Favourite language teacher?
18. What does your name mean and from what language does it come from?
19. Native speaker or not, as a teacher?
20. In case you are planning to have children, would you like to raise them bilingual {multilingual}? Or in another case, what do you think about teaching such young children languages?
21. Do you think that one day we will speak only English?
22. What is the hardest langauge to learn in your opinion?
23. Favourite foreign name{s}?