Monday, December 8, 2014

Quote of the Day

The basic ingredients of language, at least from our English-speaking perspective, are the parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and so on. But many languages lack adverbs, and some, such as Lao (spoken in Laos and parts of Thailand), lack adjectives. It has even been claimed that Straits Salish, an indigenous language spoken in and around British Columbia, gets by without nouns and verbs. Moreover, some languages feature grammatical categories that seem positively alien from our Anglocentric perspective. My favourite is the ideophone, a grammatical category that some languages employ to spice up a narrative. An ideophone is a fully fledged word type that integrates different sensory experiences arising in a single action: to pick one example, the word ribuy-tibuy, from the northern Indian language Mundari, describes the sight, motion and sound of a fat person’s buttocks as he walks.

- There is no language instinct, Vyvyan Evans

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