Triangle of meaning

This year, at the urging of a friend, I presented at the APU Asia Pacific Conference. I was rather impressed with the panel organisation and level of research done there. While my paper did not fit perfectly into the type of research done there, it was enough to fit in with concepts and ideas presented…More

Phonemic atomism

SOCRATES: Is a proposition resolvable into any part smaller than a name?HERMOGENES: No; that is the smallest.  (Cratylus, Plato) In language there are levels of units. These are sentence, clause, phrase, word and phoneme. Here Socrates narrows down the meaningful unit to the word or name. A phoneme in itself has no meaning as such.…More

Linguistic determinism and relativity

In philosophy determinism is a theory of causation where what precedes a situation determines the outcome. While this is a secular theory is related to its religious cousin, predestination. Linguistic determinism is the theory that a language determines the way you think of the world. There is a weak version termed linguistic relativity where it…More

Is “language isolate” a misnomer?

If you really think about it languages cannot be an isolate, that is, unless at the creation of the language it developed out of a population that had no language. It is now accepted that about 70,000 years ago our species spread from Africa into Europe and Asia. As these populations migrated they some settled.…More

anata – ‘you’ in Japanese

In English, to address the person you are speaking to, you use ‘you’ (I have just used ‘you’ four times in one sentence. lol). It is impossible to call them by name directly to him or her. But that is English. In Japanese, you must use their name, or else drop the subject (which is…More

Language Acquisition Device or shared common reality?

There are three claims that Chomsky makes about the existence of Language Acquisition Device (LAD). The first claim is that children can understand all kinds of sentences without having to have heard or learn them before. To this we can say the same thing about adults as well. In fact, every time I open a…More

Constituent, adverbial, and the prepositional phrase

Consider the following sentence: (1) He is at the station. We could ask (2) Where is he? and we may also ask: (3) He is at what? or (4) What is he at? However (3) and (4) are marked in the linguistic sense. (2) seems the more natural question form. Consider (5): (5) He is…More

How to pronounce “Reiwa”?

The first recorded instance of “Reiwa” used was at the announcement of the new era name on April 1st (no joke). Cabinet minister Suga Yoshihide pronounced it as REI-wa. People working in the television industry have said they also pronounce it as REI-wa because that was the way it was announced, but the pronunciation will…More

Using Leio app for research

There re many a times when I know I read something somewhere but forget where I had read it. Searching through all the books or articles that I think it might be consumes a lot of time and energy, that is, until I found the app, Leio. While Leio is not designed for research but…More

Motivation for learning a language

Did you know that in Japan English is a compulsory subject from Junior high school, from around the age of twelve. And soon this will be lowered to from ten years of age, starting at elementary fifth grade. And they continue until high school. Plus they do two years at university, giving students a total…More