Linguistics

Various articles on language topics

Emerging Language skills in Children: Salma as an example

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It is very interesting how we humans acquire language as babies. Just by listening and observing, we acquire language and meaning, build vocabulary and grammar.

It was interesting to see how Salma, my baby daughter, did this.

This is not a full fledged study, but rather a collection of observations. 

Example 1: English or Arabic?

Early on, just after she turned one year, Salma started saying syllables. What we noticed is that she understood both English and Arabic words (which is to be expected, her not knowing the difference). What was amazing is that when we presented her with two terms for the same thing, one Arabic and one English, she picked the easier one to pronounce, although she knew the meaning of both words being the same.

The name Omar in the Western Hemisphere

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Every now and then, I come across someone named "Omar" in the Western hemisphere. Having a brother called Omar, as well as my family claiming descent from another famous Omar, I am intrigued.The name Omar عمر is a pre-Islamic male proper name. Several of the Prophet's companions were called Omar, the most prominent of which is the second successor to him, Omar Ibn Al Khattab.In Latin America, the name is popular in the 20th century. For example, we have Omar Sivori from Argentina, Arthur Omar from Brazil, Omar Jose Daal from Venezuela, Omar Cabezas from Nicaragua, Omar Rodriguez Lopez from Puerto Rico, and Omar Romano from Mexico.

Jose Pardo Hidalgo and Jewish origins of Iberia

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Jose Pardo Hidalgo, of Murcia, Spain writes to me by email:

Dear Sirs, Do you know if Iberia is coming of Ibrya=Hebrew,the Hebrew land of Spain and Portugal.Ivry is a Jewish surnames, Ivrya,may pe "Ladino", for femenine.. where Iberos semitic people, Assyrian tablets say even Celts were a tribe Lost of Israel, red.haired and blue eyes,losing his identity, not lost, only identity, Judah, benjamin, dan, etc... which is your opinion?.Thanks and peace,lover and friendships,Thank you.

I write back that this does not fit with the pattern of settlement of Iberia in pre-Roman times, before the Jewish diaspora, and I include a few links, such as:

Similarities in unrelated Languages

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Language similarities between apparently unrelated languages is quite a prevalent phenomenon, regardless of what the underlying reasons in each case are. Here is a link that clearly shows that totally unrelated languages can have the same words for the same concepts or objects.And how likely are chance resemblances between languages? Quite likely actually. according to this statistical study on the Zompist web site.

Kamal Salibi and the "Israel from Yemen" theory

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One highly tenuous theory, is by Professor Kamal Salibi's of American University in Beirut. In his 1985 book Bible Came from Arabia,he compares place names in the Bible with names in Arabia today, andconcludes that Palestine had absolutely no histoical Hebrew presence,and rather South West Arabia is what the Bible refers to as Israel!Moreover, Moses and Pharoah were not in Egypt, but rather in Yemen!Egypt in the Bible is not today's Egypt, ...etc.

Hindi and Welsh similarities and Indo-Eurpoean languages

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Here is a good article with many useful links on how a contemporary Hindi speaker finds that it is similar to Welsh, after moving there.The article contains many useful links, and more importantly maps of how the family of Indo-European languages spread from the Indian subcontinent to the British Isles.The similarities of these languages are well known for more than two centuries. It all started in 1782 when William Jones, a British judge in India with a special gift for languages, noticed the similarities between Hindi and English. He wrote:

The Thai word "Farang", its variations in other languages, and its Arabic origin

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While reading a recent issue of the Canadian Geographic, I came across a news item mentioning two Canadians in Thailand, who run a magazine targeted for Westerners, called Farang. The similarity of this term to the Arabic ones piqued my interested, so I did some research on it.

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