Benefits of Mother-Tongue Education

I just started a new bibliography on the benefits of mother-tongue education – check it out over on my bibliographies page. While this is just a start, I hope to expand this bibliography and keep it updated over time. Here’s the description:

This bibliography attempts to document some of the many benefits that accrue to children who are educated in their mother tongue or heritage language. These benefits are purported to include boosts to emotional and psychological health, physical health, intelligence, financial earnings, academic success, and many other areas. While many linguists working in language revitalization agree that such benefits exist, few studies have actually documented them, and far fewer have attempted to quantify these benefits in any way. This bibliography is the beginning of an attempt to address that gap.

If you know of any other sources that should be added to this bibliography, please let me know by emailing me here.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Language Death

The received wisdom regarding language endangerment typically begins with statistics regarding the number of languages in the world (7,000), and goes on to note how 50 – 90% of these will be extinct by 2100. The causes, it is claimed, are globalization and modern capitalism, and cultural dominance through things like technology and media, as well as causes which affect people rather than languages per se, such as disease, war, genocide, and natural catastrophes (but these last few are typically outside the realm of study and expertise for linguists and anthropologists).

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English for All, Freedom for None

My latest article, ‘English for All, Freedom for None’, was published today over at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Check it out here!

The article takes a praxeological look at English-Only and official English policies, and argues that the problems that these policies are meant to address are non-problems – yet another example of activists and government imagining problems just so that they can solve them. In addition, following the tradition of Bastiat and Hazlitt, I show some of the many unseen effects of such official English policies, and – following the tradition of von Mises – that these policy prescriptions are unsuited for the ends they aim at, even in their proponents’ own terms.

This article follows a similar theme as my previous Mises articles, here and here, in that they all examine the social dimensions of language from a praxeological perspective. This article differs significantly from the previous two, however, in that it focuses on English language policy in the States, rather than the issue of endangered languages and language death which I wrote on previously.

Athabaskan Languages Conference

I’m here at the 2012 Athabaskan Languages Conference at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, where I just finished giving, along with Lorraine and Kasra Manavi, our presentation on Rosetta Stone and Navajo Language Renaissance: collaboration for revitalization. Day 2 of the conference is dedicated entirely to language revitalization, and so it kicked off with our keynote talk on the Rosetta Stone Navajo project.

You can see our slides below, or download a pdf version here.

Presenting at the Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference

Next month I’ll be a plenary speaker at the Athabaskan/Dene Languages Conference, along with Lorraine Manavi (San Juan College) and her son, Kasra Manavi (University of New Mexico). We will be presenting on the Navajo Rosetta Stone project, in our talk titled ‘Rosetta Stone & Navajo Language Renaissance: Collaboration for Revitalization’. Lorraine and Kasra have worked tirelessly with me for several years now to make the Navajo Rosetta Stone product a reality, and continue to develop materials which build on and complement the software.

The conference is being held from August 15-17 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. The program for the conference is available here. Hope we’ll see you there!

An Introduction to Typology, Part III: Grammatical Relations

Here is the last presentation in my three-part lecture series on language typology! For my grand finale, I covered grammatical relations, which to me are one of the most fun parts of typology.

Download the pdf here, the PowerPoint here, or view the slides below.

Previous talks:

  • Part I – Morphological Typology: pdf, pptx
  • Part II – Voice & Transitivity: pdf, pptx

An Introduction to Typology, Part II: Voice & Transitivity

Last Friday I gave the second talk in my three-part lecture series on language typology. This talk and the one before it are both structured so as to be accessible to people with no background in linguistics or languages. The topic for this week was voice and transitivity, or, “cool things you can do with verbs”. You can download the pdf version here, or the PowerPoint here, or just skim through the slides below. And if you missed it, you can get last week’s talk here.

Stay tuned this week for the final talk, on grammatical relations, or, “did you know that not all languages have subjects?”