Lecture 33: Language Death—The Problem
Just as there is an extinction crisis among many of the world's animals and plants, it is estimated that 5,500 of the world's languages will no longer be spoken in 2100.
Lecture 34: Language Death—Prognosis
There are many movements to revive dying languages. We explore the reasons that success is so elusive. For one, people often see their unwritten native language as less "legitimate" than written ones used in popular media.
Lecture 31: Language Starts Over—The Creole Continuum
Just as one dialect shades into another, "creoleness" is a continuum concept. Once we know this, we are in a position to put the finishing touches on our conception of how speech varieties are distributed across the globe.
Lecture 32: What Is Black English?
Using insights developed in the course to this point, Professor McWhorter takes a fresh look at Black English, tracing its roots to regional English spoken in Britain and Ireland several centuries ago.
Not my direct area of expertise, but I suspect this area was born with the popular Sapir–Whorf hypothesis in linguistics which may give you a place to start. There hasn’t been a lot of hard proof provided for it to my knowledge however.
Lecture 30: Language Starts Over—Signs of the New
Creoles are the only languages that lack or have very little of the grammatical traits that emerge over time. In this, creole grammars are the closest to what the grammar of the first language was probably like.
Lecture 28: Language Starts Over—Creoles I
Creoles emerge when pidgin speakers use the pidgin as an everyday language. Creoles are spoken throughout the world, wherever history has forced people to expand a pidgin into a full language. (finished at 8:23am)
Lecture 29: Language Starts Over—Creoles II
As new languages, creoles don't have as many frills as older languages, but they do have complexities. Like real languages, creoles change over time, have dialects, and mix with other languages.
Lecture 26: Does Culture Drive Language Change?
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis proposes that features of our grammars channel how we think. Professor McWhorter discusses the evidence for and against this controversial but widely held view.
Lecture 27: Language Starts Over—Pidgins
This lecture is the first of five on how human ingenuity spins new languages out of old through the creation of pidgins and creoles. A pidgin is a stripped-down version of a language suitable for passing, utilitarian use.
Lecture 25: A New Perspective on the Story of English
We trace English back to its earliest discernible roots in Proto-Indo-European and follow its fascinating development, including an ancient encounter with a language possibly related to Arabic and Hebrew.
Lecture 24: Language Interrupted
Generally, a language spoken by a small, isolated group will be much more complicated than English. Languages are "streamlined" in this way when history leads them to be learned more as second languages than as first ones.
Lecture 23: Language Develops Beyond the Call of Duty
A great deal of a language's grammar is a kind of overgrowth, marking nuances that many or most languages do without. Even the gender marking of European languages is a frill, absent in thousands of other languages.
Lecture 20: Language Mixture—Words
The first language's 6,000 branches have not only diverged into dialects, but they have been constantly mixing with one another on all levels. The first of three lectures on language mixture looks at how this process applies to words.
Lecture 21: Language Mixture—Grammar
Languages also mix their grammars. For example, Yiddish is a dialect of German, but it has many grammatical features from Slavic languages like Polish. There are no languages without some signs of grammar mixture.
Lecture 22: Language Mixture—Language Areas
When unrelated or distantly related languages are spoken in the same area for long periods, they tend to become more grammatically similar because of widespread bilingualism.
Robert Lowth FRS (/laʊð/; 27 November 1710 – 3 November 1787) was a Bishop of the Church of England, Oxford Professor of Poetry and the author of one of the most influential textbooks of English grammar.
An interesting character with an outsize influence on modern English grammar. Dave Harris is sure to appreciate this.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
Lowth seems to have been the first modern Bible scholar to notice or draw attention to the poetic structure of the Psalms and much of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. ❧
October 16, 2018 at 10:55AM
Lowth’s grammar is the source of many of the prescriptive shibboleths that are studied in schools, ❧
October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM
His most famous contribution to the study of grammar may have been his tentative suggestion that sentences ending with a preposition—such as “what did you ask for?”—are inappropriate in formal writing. ❧
October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM
Lindley Murray (27 March 1745 – 16 February 1826), was an American Quaker who moved to England and became a writer and grammarian.
Lecture 17: Dialects—The Standard as Token of the Past
When a dialect of a language is used widely in writing and literacy is high, the normal pace of change is artificially slowed, as people come to see "the language" as on the page and inviolable. This helps create diglossia.
Lecture 18: Dialects—Spoken Style, Written Style
We often see the written style of language as how it really "is" or "should be." But in fact, writing allows uses of language that are impossible when a language is only a spoken one.
Lecture 19: Dialects—The Fallacy of Blackboard Grammar
Understanding language change and how languages differ helps us see that what is often labeled "wrong" about people's speech is, in fact, a misanalysis.
Interesting to hear about the early “canonization” of English grammar by Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray.
Lecture 15: Dialects—Where Do You Draw the Line?
Dialects of one language can be called languages simply because they are spoken in different countries, such as Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. The reverse is also true: The Chinese "dialects" are distinctly different languages.
Lecture 16: Dialects—Two Tongues in One Mouth
Diglossia is the sociological division of labor in many societies between two languages, with a "high" one used in formal contexts and a "low" one used in casual ones—as in High German and Swiss German in Switzerland.