Linguistics

Various articles on language topics

Arabic medieval block printing: a lost art

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Since 1894, several Arabic block printed charms were known by various researchers. Arabic Verses by two Arab poets, Abu Dulaf Al Khazraji أبو دلف الخزرجي, from the 10th century and Safeyudin al-Hilli صفي الدين الحلي from the 14th century suggest that that the term they used, tarsh, is for the print block technology.

The charms or amulets are similar to modern day hijabs حجاب written for superstitious gullible people by greedy quacks pretending to be holy men. 

Picking Inauspicious Names For Children To Ward Off Evil

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In many cultures, a small number of people pick bad names for their kids to keep them away from envy, evil eye, or demons.In Egypt, you can find some rural families calling their kids strange and offensive names, to prevent harm from coming to them. This is specially true for a family that has all its male children die in childhood, or something like that.Names such as El Shahhat الشحات (the begger), Shehata شحاتة (begging) are used. This practice is not exclusively Egyptian though.Malaysia recently introduced a set of rules to prevent such practices among its varied ethnicities:

How The Dutch Got Their Funny Names

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Several years ago, a Dutch friend told me that some Dutch have funny names.It turns out that this is a story worth telling, possibly repeated in Algeria, with the French playing a part in both.Many Dutch names are of the form:van ("of/from"), de/het/'t ("the"), der ("of the"), van de ("of the/from the"), and in het ("in the") or simply de ("the"). All but the latter denote a place of origin or residence, and the latter an occupation or attribute.

Simplified Spelling For English: Is It Worth The Trouble?

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What many people do not realize, is that language and alphabets are two different things. A language is mainly a spoken thing, while an alphabet is a way of approximating this spoken voices on paper (or stone, or keyboard).

English is notorious in being non-phonetic, and hence there has always been calls to reform/simplify the way it is spelled.

For example, Yahoo had an article on efforts for pushing simplified spelling, and how they persist.

This idea is not new of course. In 1779, Benjamin Franklin proposed a new phonetic spelling system. You can see the full details on that system in this article. Noah Webster proposed the same in 1789.

Language Recognition: The Brain As A Complex Pattern Recognition Machine

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Language is a complex thing, and is one of the things that make humans human. You may have seen this in your inbox:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rest can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

List of Swahili Words of Arabic Origin

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Introduction

Swahili is a language that fuses African Bantu with Arabic. Arab sailors and traders have established links and ties with East Africa for centuries, their language  strongly merged with the local language to produce a creole derivative.

The word Swahili itself is derived from Arabic Sawahili سواحلي which is plural for ساحل meaning [Language] of the Coast

This article gives  some examples of Arabic words still in today's Swahili.

Here are some words. 

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