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Wednesday Linguistics: Late and not mine

2006-05-11 @ 9:38

Interesting article about an even more interesting culture and language.

The Pirahã people have no history, no descriptive words and no subordinate clauses. That makes their language one of the strangest in the world — and also one of the most hotly debated by linguists.

In this article, it is said, in passing, that “Linguistics generally focuses on what idioms across the world have in common.” That is a good start, but to really understand something, scientist usually also look at the differences. Those can say a lot about a system. It is, in a way, a form of “differential diagnostic”. The language in question, Pirahã, does not have subordinate clauses. You can’t say “When I have finished eating, I would like to speak with you,” you have to say “I finish eating, I speak with you.”

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