The Laz People of Turkey

The last Spot the Language piece was solved by a Turkish commenter who is one-half the ethnicity of the language: the Laz people. Here is his comment about the Laz and the region where they reside. Very nice comment and I would like to thank the commenter very much.

Ertuğrul Bilal: I am a Turco-Laz half-breed. There are at least half to close to one million people like me. I identify as a son of the homeland and as any particular ethnicity. This is also the primal identity adopted by almost all Lazes, who see themselves ethnically Laz only secondarily. Let’s put it his way: Black Sea people’s loyalty is more territorial than ethnic, just like cats.

FYI: Laz is not related to Turkish or any other Turkic language. It is part of the Kartvelian linguistic family, consisting of Georgian, Svan, and the Mingrelian-Laz twin peoples. The single substantial difference between the last two being that Mingrelians remained Orthodox, while Laz converted to Islam in late 15th and 16th century; otherwise the discrepancy is solely dialectal.

Laz people live on Northeastern Black Sea coast, actually at the eastern end towards the Turkish-Georgian frontier. This region has always been multi-cultural just as Anatolia used to be, only somewhat more so; even if superficially it is less obvious nowadays.

The local populace was originally mainly Tzans, a rather obscure culture, apparently resulting from an amalgamation of indigenous populace with immigrating/invading Cimmerians, westward-advancing Kartvelians and perhaps some other not well-known tribes ancestral to both Mingrelians and Laz in Antiquity when Greek colonizers founded practically all cities and most of the towns.

Today, you may find Turks (Alevi Turcomans forcibly relocated there by the Ottoman empire in 16th century who converted to Sunnism, except for a few thousand who remained Alevi) and other people of Turkic origin like my late father who told me his paternal lineage emigrated from Northern Dagestan and was either Nogay or Kumyk.

In addition, there are now Lazes, Georgians, Armenians (Hemshinids Islamicized long ago and some others forcibly assimilated to Turks in 1915), and Islamized Greeks, to mention only the most numerous.

Let’s put it this way – we are accustomed to quite a wide diversity of ethnicities in our country and especially in my parents’ native region, even if the official doctrine still tends to disregard the fact, and while it is not outright denial as in the past, a more subtle denial yet exists.

The Non-Castilian Languages of Spain

Spanish hit the other languages hard but after the dictatorship things got a lot better. Catalan is the official language of the region. I recently met several mostly Castilian speakers from Catalonia and they told me that they all understood Catalan. Whether they spoke it or not was another man. A young man there was a native speaker.

Basque is actually doing quite well. I think ~20% of the population are native speakers and there are quite a few second language speakers. There are Basque schools, Basque media, Basque signage, on and on. I recently met a young college aged man who was a Basque native speaker. Quite a few children are still being brought up in Basque. I am not sure if there are any Basque monolinguals left.

Native Catalan speakers might be ~35% of the population, and many children are still being brought up in Catalan. There are Catalan schools, Catalan media, Catalan as an official language in the government, etc. There is a huge pool of Catalan second-language speakers. There are probably not any Catalan monolinguals left, but if there are, it is an old lady in a tiny village in the mountains.

There is a form of Catalan spoken in La Franga and the Strip in Aragon that speakers say is a separate language. There are regular calls to have it recognized. However, in spite of the fact that speakers say that they speak a separate language, Catalan speakers say they can understand it just fine.

I think it is called Chapurillo a variation on the term churro, etc. which means more or less broken Spanish or bad Spanish. Many of the languages above are called churros or chapurros, and many Spaniards think they are just forms of broken Spanish spoken by poorly educated people.

Even speakers of these languages often think that they simply speak broken Spanish or bad Spanish, are often ashamed of their speech, and refuse to speak it. Speaking churro also implies ignorance, rural residence, poverty, lack of intelligence, etc.

There is dialect called Churro spoken in this same region around La Franja. It is probably the most diverse Castilian dialect in Spain. It seems to be a form of Aragonese Spanish with a lot of Catalan or Valencian mixed in.

Valencian is spoken in Valencia and the Valencian speakers insist that they speak a different language from Catalan although there is 94% intelligibility between the two. Catalan speakers do not want to break up the language and refuse to recognize Valencian as a separate language.

There is an Institute of the Valencian Language, an official orthography, etc. In particular, Valencians reject the Catalan orthography as they say it does not suit the language that the speak. ~20% of Valencians speak Valencian. It is in much worse shape than Catalan.

There is a form of Catalan that is spoken on the Mallorca Islands in three different dialects. Some have difficult intelligibility with Catalan, and they are probably closer to Valencian. Whether these qualify as separate languages is not known. Mallorcan is one of these dialects of Catalan.

There are forms of speech spoken on the border of Catalonia and Aragon in the very high mountains that are definitely not Catalan and probably not Aragonese. However, the official language institutes of Catalan and Aragon both claim these speech forms. One is called Benasquesque. This is a very remote mountain region. Whether this is a form of Catalan, a form of Aragonese or a separate language altogether it not known. It’s obviously Catalan-Aragonese transitional.

Murcian, spoken in Murcia, is mostly a Spanish dialect called Murcian Spanish, albeit quite a strange one. There are regular calls to have it recognized as an official language, but they go nowhere. However there is a hard form of it called Panocho spoken in the remote mountains in Eastern Murcia that cannot be understood outside the region. Andalusians cannot understand it either. It is probably a separate language. It has 6,000 speakers.

Mantegno spoken in La Mancha is part of a “Southern Castilian” that ranges to Andalucian. When Mantegno speakers go to Madrid, they say they are not understood. This is probably also a separate language. When spoken in rapid speech, intelligibility even with Andalucian Spanish/Extremaduran Spanish is 50%.

Andalusian is mostly a Spanish dialect albeit an extremely divergent one. However, there are a few villages in the mountains where a hard Andalucian is spoken that is not intelligible even to other Andalusian.

Aragonese is still spoken in Aragon. It is not fully intelligible with Castilian, and it is a separate language. This region was under the crown of Aragon, hence a different speech evolved here. It sounds a lot like Spanish. There are 30,000 Aragonese speakers.

It is an official language in the state of Aragon but Spain refuses to recognize it. It was formerly spoken in three forms like Extremaduran, and like that language, only the remote northern form survives. Otherwise Southern and Central Aragonese turned into dialects of Spanish, Aragonese Spanish.

Aragonese is spoken in the very high mountains of the Pyrenees in villages that are often almost totally depopulated. There are still children being brought up in Aragonese though, especially around the Benasquesque-speaking region. The children show up at school as Aragonese monolinguals.

Extremaduran is still spoken in Extremadura by 100,000 speakers. It is a highly Castillianized form of Eastern Leonese that got cut off from the rest of Leonese 400-500 years ago. Otherwise Eastern Leonese is nearly extinct. It is spoken in the mountains in tiny depopulating villages which is where it originated.

I know a Spanish speaker who actually grew up in the region, has been hearing Extremaduran all his life, and he can only understand 17% of it. The accent is wild. There is much confusion as Extremaduran is also called Castuo, and Extremaduran is the northern form of Castuo from the mountains that survived while Southern and Central Castuo turned into dialects of Spanish.

However there may be some “Extremaduran” spoken in the south too, as my friend has a word list from a tiny village in Bajadoz, and he said he could only understand 50% of the lexicon. This may be some far southern form of Extremaduran. Southern and Central Castuo is just a Spanish dialect, albeit an odd one, but it is heavily spoken and often confused with Extremaduran because people refer to both by the same term. Extremaduran is an official language in Extremadura, but Spain refuses to recognize it.

strong>Oliveno is spoken on the border of Portugal, but it’s not Portuguese. It still has ~3,000 speakers. It is spoken in a single village. Officials refuse to recognize this language, and Portugal says it is just Portuguese. It is a sort of heavily Castillianized Portuguese. Portuguese speakers say they can’t understand a word of Oliveno.

Asturian is still very much alive although it is not an official language of Spain. It is an official language of the state of Asturias. ~20% of Asturians speak Asturian and I believe there are children still being brought up in Asturian.

Leonese is the same language as Asturian spoken to the south and is in much worse shape. It is also not an official language of Spain but it is an official language of Castille and Leon where it is spoken. Amazingly, there are still Leonese monolinguals in the high mountains in Northwestern Castille and Leon.

Leonese was their first language and they learned Spanish in school but subsequently forgot Spanish and now speak only Leonese. There are still children being brought up in Leonese in the tiny depopulated villages in the mountains of Southeastern Castille and Leon near the Portuguese border. This form of Leonese is often called Porteno, and it is quite close to the Mirandese language spoken in Portugal.

There is actually a language called Eonavian/Ibino spoken between Asturian/Leonese and Galician. It is a completely separate language but no one will recognize it as such. It is closer to Galician but it is not Galician. There are still native speakers of Ibino, not sure about Eonavian.

Galician is still doing quite well. ~35% of the population of Galicia speak Galician. Almost all also speak Castilian. It is an official language of Galicia and Spain. There are Galician schools. There is some Galician media but not nearly enough. You hear Galician a lot more in the rural areas than in the big cities.

A very Castillianized Official Galician is used in the media, and it has high intelligibility with Spanish of 78%. A much harder Galician is spoken in the villages in the mountains where intelligibility with Spanish is as low as 40%. The form of Galician spoken in the far south on the border with Portugal is not intelligible with Portuguese or the rest of Galician and is not spoken outside the region. It is actually a separate language though no one will recognize it.

Rio de Onoro is a village on the Portuguese border. Rio de Onorese is still spoken, though everyone thinks it is extinct. It is a form of Mirandese spoken in Spain and should be recognized.

Cantabrian is said to be a form of Spanish, but actually it is part of Extremaduran. Extremaduran is nothing less than Eastern Leonese and Far Eastern Asturian that started going over to a form of Old Spanish ~500 years ago. Asturian-Leonese survived in the coastal mountains and in the mountains of Extremadura to the far south, but the rest of it mostly went extinct. Today Eastern Leonese is just about dead.

But Extremaduran speakers say if they go to Cantabria, everyone understands them, and it sounds like they are speaking the same language. These same speakers say that if they go to Oviedo in Central Asturias where people speak Asturian and speak Extremaduran, they are not understood. Therefore Extremaduran and Asturian-Leonese are two different languages, and Cantabrian, instead of being a Spanish dialect, is part of Extremaduran.

Some Cantabrian speakers held out for a long time in the rugged mountainous province where some areas are still reachable only on foot or maybe by donkey. One speaker said his recently deceased grandmother was a Cantabrian monolingual who died in the last 20 years. She had stubbornly refused to learn Spanish as she considered it to be “an imposed language.”

Formerly there was a separate language called Montanes spoken in the mountains, while Cantabrian was spoken on the coast. Half a century ago, they could not understand each other. But now with leveling, the people in the mountains understand the people on the coast just fine.

There are reports that Cantabrian may be going out in Cantabria. But Cantabrian is still spoken and it is children are still being brought up as Cantabrian monolinguals. In the mountains, the children all show up at school speaking only Cantabrian, and the teachers can’t understand the students.

Linguistic Genocide in India, Indonesia, and Thailand

SHI recently commented that linguistic genocide was also occurring in India, Indonesia, and Thailand as Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, and Thai take out the many other languages spoken in those lands.

They speak of a Hindi dialect continuum with maybe 200-300 languages in it. I am wondering what the mutual intelligibility figures are for that continuum?

Yes, Bahasa Indonesia is taking out those other languages. Also, I am not sure that those other languages are offered as native language instruction in the schools. Though I recently talked for a few years with a teenage girl from Jogjakarta who spoke Javanese as a native language. She said everyone around her did too.

Thai is taking out the other languages of Spain. But Isan does have 18 million speakers. It’s the native language of the Thais who live in Northeastern Thailand. I corresponded with a Thai woman for several years who was a native Isan speaker. It’s just about mutually intelligible with Lao. Thais claim that Lao and Isan are mutually intelligible with Thai, but if you look at a word list, you can’t see how that’s the case.

In Southern Thailand, Southern Thai has three million speakers is still doing well. A form of Malay is still widely spoken in the Muslim South.

The Linguistic Crack-up of America and France: Coming Soon

A great comment on the coming linguistic breakup of the USA and France. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s fascinating nevertheless.

Francis Meville: English is a genocidal language, of course. I have some good news for you, though. That language is about to suffer an defeat that will be as surprising and fast as the fate awaiting the American nation proper, which won’t survive four more years of Trump. How so? As you know America, or rather Murrica, is being engulfed in a maelstrom of obscurantism as never experienced during the Middle Ages proper.

Murrica is being indoctrinated into the rejection of everything French as essentially evil, this being facilitated by France’s being governed by a president who plainly hates every French for a different reason.

Another aspect of this rejection is unfortunately the fact that such an opinion is not entirely mistaken right now, as the late French Republic is specializing in being the international refuge haven of figures like Epstein and the world teacher of fake Left deconstructionism at the service of world capital.

As you know there are more words of more or less French origin in English than of Anglo-Saxon or other Nordic origin and also more of them in English than there remain in modern French, the French language having been severely culled of a great part of its vocabulary during the Era of Enlightenment.

A movement is developing right now in Trumpland to remove from American English all words known to be of more or less French origin and also of learned classical Latin and Greek origin, as the classical European culture is denounced as something that should be phased out together with humanism and democracy.

When they could not find real Anglo-Saxon root words to replace them (something impossible as phonetic evolution would have made many such root words sound all alike), they would rather resort to Klingon or Hebrew.

They won’t succeed in that linguistic utopia of restoring Anglish of course, but they will succeed in dividing the American English language into two unbridgeable halves as the Second Civil War develops (there is no future for the US after Trump, and California will be the first state to secede) and do their best to teach the young a form of language making them incapable of accessing works written during the humanistic era.

Blue State America will take the opposite direction, rejecting all English words that sound too populist in favor of polysyllabic jargon of the kind loved by the fake Left. Both languages do not differ too much as regards their real daily usage in the beginning but have completely incompatible official terminology as regards their legal use.

Moreover not all Blue States will agree on the same kind of ideal sophisticated English to use so as to distinguish from the Morlock kind of language that will become the norm in Murrica.

People of California will try their best to distinguish from East Coast intellectuals they despise through the use of gender-neutral forms and other transformations deliberately planned to prevent books from other generations to be understood by the young, while the East Coast will stick to old school sophisticated expression.

England will be subject to the same phenomenon. English there will divide among that of the Brexiters and that of the Remainers, though Brexiter English will not be Murrican at all.

British English being already very divided by social class and regional jargons, the divide will come easy: there will be simply no longer any Queen’s English as a norm of reference to be striven to by all, and Britishers of Pakistani and Indian origin will do their best to distinguish between each other by a very different kind of English too.

India as you know speaks English quite well for one sole reason mostly, employment in telephone service for Western clientele, and they will have to adapt to a rapidly fracturing English with the result various Indian castes and regions specializing in varieties of English less and less mutually intelligible.

The resulting mess will have the consequence that English will cease to be any guarantee of good communication with colleagues worldwide in any domain, especially as regards pronunciation and terminology, each splinter of the Anglophone society trying to redefine the whole language according to their ideology.

Zionist Jews will speak and use modern Hebrew only, so as not to be heard by outsiders. In addition, it will require goys to come to the Jews’ language if they want some chance to be talked to (and even then not to be welcomed). The reverse will not be true any longer, as the Jews all drift rightwards, they will also fall more and more prey to their most rabid rabbis that will do their best to bring them back into ghetto life conditions.

Another factor differentiating Jews from goys will be that the US Ultra-Right will speak Murrican only as a second language while the Tel Aviv Gay Pride Paraders will rather use Californian Google English.

Nevertheless, in practice the new fashionable non-Jewish language among Jews will be Russian, which will gain in prestige for scientific communication. Actually the greater body of the Anglosphere will be very rapidly crumbling all over America like a decomposing corpse due to America’s abandonment by its very soul, which is Zionist Israel.

Ten or twelve years will suffice to break up the English language into linguistic fiefdoms less mutually intelligible than those of modern Arabic. Actually it will be far worse because there will be absolutely no agreement on a classical norm to teach to anyone, whereas dialect-speaking Arabs also know at least some Quranic Arabic and can access the literary language through official media.

Learning one variety or another of English just won’t procure any great advantage as regards communications any more than learning Dutch or Urdu.. With four more years of Trump, America will become the laughingstock of the world and the very symbol of idiocracy, and when the country enters full-scale irreversible civil war, it will become a negative symbol of status.

People will just be ashamed to speak their language and consider that written English as we knew it is a dead language to be mastered as such by foreigners – to be read and written without much caring about how to speak it. Moreover, even as a written language, English is considered to be particularly ambiguous compared to others and not a great advantage for expressing scientific thought.

The French language will also know a similar fate as France enters civil war due to malignant multiculturalism. Old Classical French will become ridiculed and morally condemned as language of bad ideas to be eradicated by all parties involved (including the white nationalists). A new modern genderless norm will become obligatory while each region returns to some form of langue d’oil

Though by a strange turn of things, French will still be conserved in its classical form in several parts of Northern and Black Africa. The reason once more being the same as in the US.

That is that the soul of the modern form of the French language has actually been Jewish since the Era of Enlightenment in a tremendous and obdurate effort not to be constrained by Christian thought, and when the Jewish soul entity suddenly no longer wants to have anything to do with you even as a subservient body, you crumble and decompose.

Spanish despite its multiplicity of accents and regional varieties will still refer to a common Castilian norm and therefore become the new serious language even in the US for the reason that it has never been the linguistic body of a Jewish soul but always quite the opposite.

Quite like Spanish, German, whose fate has already been detached forever from that of the Jewish entity for the various reasons we know of (the Nazi episode and also the fact that German Jews always used to have their own variety of the Jewish soul), will not undergo such a mortal break-up.

Anyway it is in its written official form, German is a language as artificial as modern standard Arabic, to be learned at school by all Germans, not in family.

But modern English has a Jewish soul due to the fact that it formed in great part thanks to Calvinist Reformation which was a movement where the believers fancied themselves as kinds of Old Testament Jews being restored. French also has a Jewish soul due to the fact that with Royal France defined itself as the Roman Church’s Elder Daughter.

Hence modern free-thinking modernistic France had to define itself logically as Israel’s Elder Adoptive Daughter just to gain the right to free debate and high culture on equal standing with Latin. But what has been happening up to now is the gradual death of the former Aufklärung Jewish culture under the triumph of Netanyahu’s anti-cultural anti-humanist Zionism and also of scientific transhumanism to a lesser degree.

The soul to which English referred as a body was to be quickly departed into some other dimension, as the body just decomposes and very quickly.

The apparent cause of the break up will be first, a malignant White Nationalism doing their best to vomit everything too French-sounding and identifying with Vikings rather than with the American Founding Fathers as the founders of their identity, and second, utter self-hate from the part of the French proper, generating in return anti-populist reaction from the coastal chattering classes.

Are There Any Native Born Americans Who Are Monolinguals of a European Language?

SHI: Are there any descendants of European-origin Americans who don’t speak a word of English? Mostly as a result of living in isolated communities.

I’m thinking along the lines of the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, or Canadian French speakers in places like Maine.

It’s a very interesting subject. If you’re determined, no one can impose their linguistic hegemony on you or your families.

Oh I really doubt it. Everyone who grows up here speaks English. I really doubt if there are any US born monolinguals of any European languages. The monolinguals were mostly immigrants, not people who were born here. I know a Jewish gf of mine had a grandmother who was pretty much a Yiddish monolingual. She died maybe 20 years ago but she may have come here on a boat.

A friend of my Mom’s mother was pretty much a Norwegian monolingual. Worse a lot of them had no language at all anymore as they had forgotten their first language and they never learned English well. I know that Paula’s mother used to say,

“I have forgotten all of my Norvegian, and I never learned good the English!”

But that woman came on a boat too. It’s strange if you think about, people who are not fluent in any language anymore. How odd. What language do they think in? Broken whatever?

However, there are some Quebeckers in Canada who are French native speakers, and they just don’t speak English well at all. Whether you would qualify them as monolinguals or not, I am not sure.

I know there are some in Spain. There are still a few Leonese monolinguals and until recently, maybe 20 years ago, there were Cantabrian monolinguals. One man talked about his grandmother who died twenty years ago, a Cantabrian monolingual. She had stubbornly refused to learn Spanish or Castilian as she called it. She said it was an “imposed language.” So there is an example of a person stubbornly hanging on to their linguistic identity and refusing to have Spanish imposed on her. It’s a cool image, I think.

The Leonese monolinguals are old men in the mountains who learned Spanish in school but then forgot all of it and now speak only Leonese. And there are some Eonavian monolinguals too, old women. There are probably no more Catalan monolinguals, or if there are, it’s some old woman in a rural area. There might be a few Basque monolinguals. I doubt if there are any Extremaduran, Asturian, Aragonese, or Galician monolinguals, but you never know.

But those are languages native to Spain, so a corrolary of here would be monolingual speakers of Indian languages of which I doubt there are any. But there was a monolingual speaker of Chukchansi Yokuts until the early 1960’s. But even most of those folks spoke some English. For instance the Chukchansi speaker did speak a broken English.

Praise for Two of My Papers

Mutual Intelligibility of Languages in the Slavic Family

Intelligibility studies are both interesting and of importance for the study of phonology, grammar, historical linguistics, and the effect of language contact situations, as well as the sociocultural factors influencing languages perceived as high or low status, and so on.

Lindsay here presents the intelligibility between many of the Slavic languages in great detail – and this clears up many common and unspoken questions about these languages…the paper comes well recommended!

This work yet remains unpublished. At the moment, it is 260 pages. At this point it is pretty much a book. It is simply a massive overview of all of the Slavic languages and it does add some new languages to Slavic. It also changes the classification around a bit. This might be harder to publish, as Slavicists are a pretty stuck-up lot and if you are not a Slavicist yourself, they pretty much don’t want to talk to you or publish your work.

Turkologists are a bit like that too, but there are not nearly as many of them, and they accepted my work as an amateur.

I did have one Slavicist tell me that all of this data has never been published before in a single work. Sure it has mostly been published, but most of it is in obscure journal papers that no one reads.  And no doubt a lot of good Slavicist work is being done in Slavic languages themselves and not in English. I know it is true in the Balkans as much of the work is still published in Serbo-Croatian.

I sent the paper out to a few Slavicists, including some of the top ones in the field, but I never heard back from them. All of these folks are extremely busy even at an advanced age and this is pretty much a book after all. They are always behind in their reading, preparing new papers, teaching, etc.

Mutual Intelligibility Among the Turkic Languages

A massive paper by Robert Lindsay on the study of mutual intelligibility of the Turkic languages, dispelling many myths and including language examples, historical considerations, and more – heartily recommended for any Turkologist or student of any Turkic language!

This paper was published as an 81 page chapter in The Handbook of Endangered Turkic Languages, Volume 1. There is a url of it in published form if you would like to it.

I haven’t got much other feedback from it except from a major Turkologist who said she really liked it. I was amazed.

A Turkologist whose work was quoted incorrectly was very angry at me for misquoting what she said. I am not a Turkologist myself so this stuff is going to happen. I tried to assuage her but she wasn’t having anything of it.

No one yet has written a book review on this book, nor has anyone commented on my re-do of Turkic, cumulatively adding 14 new languages and changing the classification a bit. The Wikipedia article about Turkic classification does not include mine. There is a chart at the end with my classification in it.

English as a Genocidal Language Attacking Other Tongues Spoken in the Anglosphere – USA

English has had a genocidal affect on the other languages spoken here, but many non-English languages still survive and some are quite thriving.

Pennsylvania Dutch is still quite alive with 300,000 native speakers. I think is is just a dialect of Rhenish German. It’s actually two separate languages and they can’t understand each other.

There are many other languages in the US that have been taken out by English. Most of the Indian languages spoken here have been driven extinct or moribund by English. A few like Cherokee, Sioux, Navajo, Mohawk, Pueblo, some Alaskan languages, a couple of Indian languages of the US South, are still doing well.

Most of the others are in bad to very bad shape, often moribund with only 10 or fewer speakers, often elderly. Many others are extinct. However, quite a few of these languages have had a small number of middle aged to elderly speakers for the last 25 years, so the situation is somewhat stable at least at the moment.

Almost all Indian languages are not being  learned by children. But there are still children being raised speaking Cherokee, Navajo, Pueblo, Mohawk, and some Alaskan and Southern US Indian languages. Navajo is so difficult that when Navajo children show up at school, they still have  problems with Navajo. They often don’t get the  language in full until they are twelve.

However, there are revitalization efforts going on with many to most Indian languages, with varying amounts of success. Some are developing quite competent native speakers, often young people who learn the language starting at 18-20. I know that Wikchamni Yokuts has a new native speaker, a 23 year old man who learned from an old who is a native speaker. In California, there is a master apprentice program going on along these lines.

There are a number of preschool programs where elders try to teach the  languages to young children. I am not sure how well they are working. There are problems with funding, orthographies and mostly apathy that are getting in the way of a lot of these programs.

There are many semi-speakers. For instance in the tribe I worked with, many of the Indians knew at least a few words, and some of the leadership knew quite a few words. But they could hardly make a sentence.

Eskimo-Aleut languages are still widely spoken in Alaska. I know that Inuktitut is still spoken, and  there are children being raised in the language. Aleut is in poor shape.

Hawaiian was almost driven extinct but it was revived with a revitalization program. I understand that the language still has problems. I believe that there are Hawaiian medium schools that you can send your child to. There may be only ~10,000 fluent speakers but there are many more second language speakers with varying fluency.

There are actually some European based languages and creoles spoken in the US.  A noncontroversial one is Gullah, spoken on the islands of South Carolina. There may be less than 5,000 speakers, but the situation has been stable for 30-35 years. Speakers are all Black. It is an English creole and it is not intelligible with English at all.

There is at least one form of French creole spoken in Louisiana.  There is also an archaic form of French Proper called Continental French that resembles French from 1800. It has 2,000 speakers. Louisiana French Creole still has ~50,000 speakers. People worry about it but it has been stable for a long time. Many of the speakers are Black.

Texas German is really just a dialect of German spoken in Texas. There are only a few elderly speakers left.

There are a few Croatian languages spoken in the US that have diverged dramatically from the languages back home that they are now different languages. The status of these languages vary. Some are in good shape and others are almost dead. One of these is called Strawberry Hill Gorski Kotar Kaikavian spoken in Missouri. It is absolutely a full separate language and is no longer intelligible with the Gorski Kotar Kaikavian spoken back home.

There are other European languages spoken in the US, but they are not separate from those back home. Most are going out.

There are many Mandarin and especially Cantonese speakers in the US.

There are many Korean speakers in the US, especially in California.

There are a fair number of Japanese speakers in the US, mostly in California.

There are many speakers of Khmer, Lao, Hmong, and Vietnamese in the US. Most are in California but there are Hmong speakers in Minnesota also.

There are quite a few speakers of Arabic languages in the US. Yemeni, Syrian, and Palestinian Arabic are widely spoken. There are many in New York City, Michigan and California.

There are also some Assyrian speakers in  the US and there are still children being raised in Assyrian. Most are in California.

There are quite a few Punjabi and Gujarati speakers in the US now. We have many Punjabi speakers in my city.

There are quite a few Urdu speakers here. Most of all of these speakers are in California.

Obviously there are many Spanish speakers in the US. English is definitely not taking out Spanish. They are mostly in the Southwest, Florida, and New York City, but they are spreading out all across the country now.

There are a few Portuguese speakers in the US. All also speak English. They are mostly in California but some are back east around Massachusetts.

The Sicilian Italian spoken in the US by Italian immigrants is still spoken fairly widely to this day. It has diverged so much from the Sicilian back home that when they go back to Sicily, they are not understood. This is mostly spoken in large cities back east.

There are quite a few Armenian speakers in the US and children are still being raised in Armenian. Most are in California.

There are some Persian speakers in the US, but not a lot. Most of these are in California too.

All of these languages are the same languages as spoken back home.

English as a Genocidal Language Attacking Other Tongues Spoken in the Anglosphere – Ireland and the UK

Yes, English has devastated most of the native languages of the Anglosphere, talking here about Ireland and the UK.

Welsh is still very much alive, spoken by 20% of the population of Wales.

Irish Gaelic is in fairly good shape. It will survive to the end of the century as will Welsh. There are still children being brought up in Irish. Irish is undergoing a renaissance with a lot of literature being published. Keep in mind it is an official language of Ireland. All Irish have to take 12 years of Irish in school but they don’t learn much and you ask them to speak a sentence in Irish 20 years later and they struggle. The way it is taught is quite inferior.

Scots Gaelic is in very bad shape with only 7,000 speakers but there are also second language speakers and I believe it is still spoken as a native language out on the islands. Gaelic is now an official language of Scotland.

Scots, very closely related to English but not English, is much more widely spoken by ~20% of the population. Scottish English is almost a separate language and it is spoken by about everyone. Scots is probably four separate languages. Shetlandic cannot be understood by other Scots speakers and is surely a separate language. Even inland, people in the south have a hard time understanding people in the north.

Cornish has been revived and there are 1,000 second language speakers. They can’t agree on an orthography and this is the subject of endless fights.

Manx went extinct maybe 50-75 years ago when a famous elderly last speaker died. He must have had no one to talk to. How sad. However, 2,500 people on the  Isle of Man have learned Manx as a second language and are now Manx speakers.  A few of them are even raising  their children in Manx, so we may soon have Manx native speakers again.

 

Alt Left: Language Rights in the USSR and Russia

James Schipper: On the other hand, it can’t be denied that there was some linguistic imperialism within the Soviet Union. There was no systematic attempt to Russify the entire country, but there was an encroachment of the Russian language on the others.

Yes, there were 14 that broke away. Those were republics. The Soviet Constitution was radically progressive in that it gave any republic the right to self-determination and independence if they so chose. That’s why they were allowed to break away, although the first to separate (Azerbaijan) were attacked. But the state soon gave up, and Gorbachev let them all go one by one when they voted to go out.

While the USSR initially started out as radically progressive in terms of mother tongue education and state support for all of the languages of the country (even some very small ones), that soon faded with Stalin’s paranoid crackdown on regional nationalism in the 1930’s, when state support was withdrawn from many of the smaller languages. Language rights retracted further under Khrushchev.

The main areas where there was an attempt at linguistic imperialism were in the Baltics, and even there, they failed pretty badly. The native languages in the Baltics are doing very well. I’m not aware of much linguistic imperialism anywhere else.

Keep in mind that every one of those republics had their non-Russian language as an official language. Government documents, books, newspapers, magazines, and journals were published and radio and TV was broadcasted in those languages.

You could elect to send your kid to school from K-12 in the non-Russian language, and in quite a few of those republics, there was university education in the native language also. Of course you had to learn Russian too, and everyone had to take Russian in grades 1-12.

Look around the world. Look at the US. Who are we to talk about linguistic imperialism? Would we ever allow any non-English language the same extreme rights here in the US? You see any public schools in the US where you get to go to school from K-12 in your non-English language? I don’t see any.

Even with some linguistic imperialism under Khrushchev, the USSR was still radically progressive compared to the rest of the world as far as language rights go.

And to this day, all throughout Russia, there are many official languages other than Russia in titular republics. In fact, almost all titular republics where another language is spoken widely have that language as an official language. In many of those republics, you can still get K-12 education in your native language. There are non-Russian language schools all over Russia.

The only exception is Karelia where for some reason, the Karelian Republic has refused to make Karelian an official language, though there are still ~50,000 speakers of the various Karelian tongues.

And many of the republics that split away to form their own nations have kept their Soviet-era policies, even savage Soviet/Russia-haters like Ukraine, where you can get an education in 5-10 different languages depending on what you speak at home.

Alt Left: Everything You Have Been Told By the Western Media about the Ukraine Conflict is a Complete Lie

This is a summary of the Ukraine conflict from Maidan to the present day.

The US media has been lying about Ukraine from day one. They have never said one single thing about this matter that was true in any way.

Why pay attention to what I say? For one thing, I know more about this than just about anyone you will ever meet. I was close to people who were deeply allied with the Russian separatists in the East. That doesn’t make right but maybe it makes me someone you ought to listen  to.

50% of Ukrainians speak Russian and 50% speak Ukrainian. This has been the main fault line in  the  country since independence.

After being put into power by the US and NATO coup, the Ukrainian Nazid started killing people. In fact they started murdering people even before they got into power in their murderous Maidan Color Revolution, when NATO snipers from Lithuania and Georgia holed up in a building where they shot both protesters and the Berkut police.

The US media then immediately blamed the Berkut police, who never killed one person in those riots. We now have the Georgian snipers on videotape saying that they were hired by NATO to fire on people, but they had no idea what they were really doing, and now they feel bad about it.

The old Ukrainian government was fine. It was elected in a democratic election. It was not illegitimate in any way. The overthrow of Yanukovitch was a plot by the US and NATO.

There are two big groups in Ukraine – Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers. The Russians are allied with Russia and the East, and the Ukrainians are allied with NATO and the West. Both groups have ~50% support.

The pro-Western groups tried to push through a measure allowing Ukraine to join NATO and the EU which was sponsored by the US and NATO. They had a vote and it lost by a narrow margin. The President opposed the measure as he was pro-Russian.

Since they lost, the pro-Ukrainians tried to seize power by force. This coup was plotted by the US, specifically by US diplomat Victoria Nuland, who is the brains behind the putsch and gave the Ukies $5 billion to stage this coup. Demonstrations went on for a while, but they lacked majority support.

Finally there was violence at the end as noted above when NATO snipers shot many people in a false flag operation which was immediately blamed on the government’s police, most of whom had no guns at all.

Yes, the president who was removed by the violent coup was corrupt, but all Ukrainian governments before and since have been corrupt, and the US-supported ones are the worst ones of all.

The new government immediately declared war on labor unions, gay rights activists, feminist groups, human rights groups, independent journalists, etc. because they were neo-Nazi fascists and these are first groups that fascists go after – labor unions, liberals, Leftists, and Communists. They particularly declared war on  the members of the Opposition party supported by Russian speakers, the Party of Regions, which had support of ~50% of the population.

The new Ukrainians were radical Ukrainian nationalists who are all essentially Nazis. They  immediately set about building statues and making holidays for Ukrainian Nazi independence fighters under Stepan Bandera who had fought alongside the Nazis and murdered many Jews and Poles during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in World War 2.

The government started harassing and murdering prominent figures of the Party of Regions. Fights broke out in Parliament when the Ukrainians tried to beat up POR people. The also murdered many union members, calling them Communists, as the government was now ruled by radical anti-Communist fascists.

In a building in Kiev, up to a score of labor leaders were chained to a heater, and then the building was set on fire. A whole building full of Party of Regions people was assaulted by Nazis in Odessa. They were tortured, strangled, and set on fire. About 80 people died. The US media barely covered it and described as some sort of fight between two groups while assigning no blame.

The new Ukrainian government immediately said it was joining NATO and the EU. They also said they were taking over the Russian navy port in Crimea at Sevastopol. This port is crucial to Russia’s national security. Russia was alarmed and said they would not permit Ukraine to join NATO, as that is a severe threat to their national security.

Crimeans began agitating for independence. Crimea has always been a part of Russia. It was only added on to Ukraine in 1950 by Khrushchev because he was a Ukrainian himself. When Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, Crimea refused to go along with it, saying they wanted no part of the new state. They had to be put down by force.

So the little green men came to Crimea and restored it to Russia. Crimea had a vote on independence, and ~90% voted for joining Russia. Repeated opinion polls since found that 85-90% of Crimeans support joining Russia.

The new government also declared total war on Russian speakers by removing the Russian language  as a national language and even banning it from all official communications. The Russian language was more or less made illegal. The new government regularly made incendiary comments against Russia and the Russians in their country, who they viewed as traitors.

A completely grassroots citizen’s rebellion started slowly in the East where common people started seizing police stations and army bases. Most of the police and a lot of the army simply went over to their rioters. Russia had nothing to do with any of this, and in fact they very much opposed it.

These people soon declared their independence and became separatists. They voted on independence in the separatist region, and they got ~90% support. Subsequent opinion polls showed that that was correct, with 85-90% support. I believe the separatists had 80% support, but it soon went to 100%. The US and the West said the elections were fraudulent, but actually they were free and fair.

A low level guerrilla war started in the East. Supplies started coming in from Russia via the “Army Surplus Store,” as it was called. A lot of soldiers and citizen veterans got roused up nationalistically about the separatist matter. They were given permission to take Russian military weaponry and vehicles and move them into Ukraine to support the rebels.

Putin didn’t want anything to do with this clandestine support for the separatists, but he turned a blind eye to this amateur effort to arm the fighters. He still wanted federalism and autonomy for the East within Ukraine. The US and Ukraine were adamant that there would be no autonomy or federalism in the separatist region.

The separatists had mass support, ~80% of the population. The Ukrainian army started conquering a lot of the region, and when they went in to towns, ~20% of the people would come out and greet them.

There were guerrillas fighting an extremely dirty war in all the towns and villages, but they were very hard to find, as they were dressed like civilians and hid in the population. So these separatist guerrillas were operating far behind enemy lines. They could not be defeated.

After a while of occupation, the 20% pro- Ukrainians all went over to the separatists due to the abuses of the occupiers.

There were a number of atrocities via shelling in the area. Most of them were behind separatist lines. Quite a few civilians were killed, and there was a lot of outrage. The US and the media blamed the separatists for each of these atrocities, but they were all done by the Ukrainian, whether on purpose or not, I have no idea.

The OCSE is the armed police and “peacekeeper” wing of the EU, and they were cruising all over this warring region lying everywhere, making up stories, and blaming the rebels for all atrocities which were all done by the Ukrainian.

At one point, the Ukrainian gained momentum, and it seemed like they were going to conquer the region. The separatists were retreating and everyone said they were going to lose.

At that point, yes, Putin did invade with ~10,000 troops to rescue the separatists. He never admitted it but they pushed the Ukrainian way back, recovered most of their territory, and even started easily conquering new territory where most people also supported the rebels. Russia lost 200 men in this fighting.

However the Ukrainians got massacred and at the moment, they have suffered 12,000 killed in action. The Ukie government lied and said they were “missing,” and I believe that is still their official status.

An Analysis of the Difficulty of Learning Various Foreign Languages for English speakers – Indo-European Languages

Another of my major works. This one is 100 pages. Download as pdf to enjoy.

An Analysis of the Difficulty of Learning Various Foreign Languages for English speakers IE languages

A Reworking of Chinese Language Classification

This is a huge work that I have lost track of. Really need some Chinese informants to work on this one some more. I look at this work and get a headache just looking at it. It’s 211 pages. This is one of the most extensive overviews of the Chinese languages ever published in English though, I will say that. Work in progress for ten years now. Download as pdf for best experience.

A Reworking of Chinese Language Classification

A Look at the Chinese Model of Communism – Market Socialism

You are starting to see a lot of articles in the capitalist press bashing China now, saying their economy is not as good as they say, that it cannot be sustained, and that it is headed for crash. They base this on a comparison to other Communist countries, but those economies fell behind far before China’s did.
China has sustained Communism under various forms, including presently under market socialism, for 70 years now. That’s as long as the Soviet Union, and the Soviets started stagnating a long time before that. China is an example of a smashing success for a Communist country, and the capitalist press is freaking out because that shows that their anti-Communist propaganda has been crap for all of these years.
Incidentally, Deng Xiaoping emphatically stated that he was a Communist. Deng’s idea was to create “a rich Communist country.”. In an interview in 2005, a top party official was asked if China was still committed to spreading Communism all over the world.
“Of course,” the minister beamed. “That is the purpose of the Communist party (CCP).”
Incidentally, China still has 5-year plans and the whole economy is planned. The business sector has to go along with the plan, and if you do not go along with it, they can confiscate your business. A party committee sits on the board of all large corporations. The government owns every inch of land in China. The state invests an incredible amount in the economy and also overseas where it makes vast investments. This is because some Chinese government companies are very profitable. A number of Chinese government companies are on the list of largest companies in the world.
Capitalists in the US openly complain that they cannot compete with Communist Chinese government  corporations, crying that they get subsidies so it’s not fair. So here we have US corporations openly admitting that they can’t compete with Chinese government Communist state-owned companies.
45% of the economy is state owned and it is very profitable. 87% of all investment in the economy is made by the state. This figure includes all Chinese private investment and all foreign investment.
Much of the state sector is owned by small municipalities, and this works very well. Further, cities compete against each other. For instance, City A’s steel mill will compete against City B’s steel mill, and both will compete against a private sector steel mill, if there is one. Successful enterprises bring in a lot of money to the city, which it uses to upgrade the city, which results in more workers moving there, which grows the economy more with more workers and more demand.
There are also still a number of pure Maoist villages in China that are run completely on a Maoist line. Everything is done as it was right out of the Mao era. I understand that they do very well, and there is a huge waiting list to move to those villages.
I did a lot of research on China recently, and the party is literally everywhere you look every time you turn around. The party itself still runs many enterprises all over the country, especially in the rural areas. There are party officials in every village and city, and they take a very active role in developing the municipality in every way, including culturally. They have an ear to the ground and are typically very popular in the villages and cities.
Party officials lobby the state to try to solve any urgent problem in the area. The government is always spending a lot of money all over China on public works, on fixing various environmental problems, or on really any societal problem or issue you can think of. This of course includes economic development, which tends to be state-led. I read synopses of many dissertations coming out of Chinese universities, and most were on how to deal with some particular societal problem or issue. Many others dealt with technology and industry. So a lot of the research on technology and industry that is driving economic development is coming straight out of state universities.
Instead of leaving it up to the private sector to deal with the problems in society, create public works, and even plan the economy, the government does all of that. Incidentally, the way the US leaves the planning of the economy, such as it is, up to the private sector is insane. All sensible economic planning in any nation will always be done by the state with a view towards allowing the country to prosper. Capitalists have no interest in whether the country profits or not, so they engage in no economic planning at all. Leaving economic planning up to the whims of the capitalists is economic malpractice.
There are 1,000 protests every day in China. Yes, there is corruption and there are government abuses, but if protests last long enough, the party usually gets alarmed and tries to do something about the problem because they don’t want serious unrest. This is party that does everything it can to serve the people and try to remain popular with citizens by giving them as much as they can and doing as much for them as possible. The party spends every single day of its rule literally trying to buy off unrest and keep its citizens satisfied.
It’s illegal to be homeless in China. If you end up homeless in China, they will try to put you in a homeless shelter, or if they cannot do that, they will send you back to your village because most homeless are rural migrants who moved to the city. The state is now investing a vast amount of money in the rural areas because these places have been neglected for a long time. The state still wants to own all the land because they want to keep the rural areas as a secure base where rural migrants to the city can always return if they fail in the city.
How can a government in which 45% of the economy is publicly owned, 87% of investment is done by the state, and every inch of land is owned by the state possibly be called as capitalist country? No serious political economist anywhere on Earth considers China to be a capitalist country. The only people who say that are ideologues and liars, which includes almost all political conservatives and most businessmen.
The state spends an unbelievable amount of money on public works all over the country all the time. Many projects that in the US have “conclusively proven” to be too costly to be implemented have been done in China quickly and easily. And China’s per capita income in less than 10% of ours.
Most ethnic minorities are still allowed to support their culture, and in most cases they are allowed to have education in their native language. In these areas, the native language is co-official with Mandarin.
In recent years, the Chinese government has begun to support a lot of the Chinese dialects, of which there are over 2,000 main ones, many of which are actually separate languages. Cantonese is still an official language in Hong Kong, and it is widely used in Guangdong. The other major Chinese languages or macrolanguages still have millions of tens of millions of speakers. Lately the Chinese government is telling people they can preserve their dialect as long as they also speak Mandarin. Many schools now have classes in the local dialect.
Cheap medical insurance is available and it covers 85% of costs. State medical centers are still very good. However, if you have a serious medical condition in China, you will quickly run out of money with no recourse.
This is a serious problem but it is much better than earlier in the Deng Era when millions were dying from lack of health care. However, the state still need to cover everyone. They got away from universal coverage  when they moved away from Maoism early in the Deng era. In addition, tens of thousands of schools, many of which were built during the Cultural Revolution, were closed early in the Deng era.
The introduction of a market had a lot of problems in the early days. The capitalist press was cheering wildly as thousands of schools were closed all over China, medical care was cut off from or reduced for hundreds of millions of people, while millions of Chinese died from lack of medical care. This was all cause for celebration! Isn’t capitalism wonderful? What’s millions of humans dying from lack of health care as long as a few rich people can buy ridiculously expensive, useless items that they don’t even need?
A recent good survey done by a Western polling firm found that 87% of the population supported the Communist Party.  The excesses of the Mao era, especially the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution, have been widely discussed and the party has admitted that many errors were made and resolved not to do this again. These excesses are being blamed by the party on what they call “ultra-Leftism.”
The economic model of China is called Market Socialism and a lot of modern day Leftists and even Communists support it and agree that this is the way forward for the left and Communist movement. Like all words, the word Communism has no inherent meaning. It means whatever people who use it say it means. So the definition of Communism can clearly change with the times as Communists update their definitions of what the word means.
China cannot be called capitalist in any way. Their model is far more socialist than anything in any European social democracy. It also goes far beyond the US in the New Deal and of course beyond beyond the social liberalism and its more left analogue in Canada, not to mention beyond social democracy in Australia or New Zealand.
Interestingly, Japan is not a capitalist country. They don’t have neoliberalism. That country does not operate on the capitalist mode of development. Instead the resemblance is, I hate to say, to Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany also did not have a capitalist mode of development. I’m not sure what you call it, but it’s not capitalism. For instance, in Japan, the commanding heights of the economy, including almost all of the banks, is owned by the state.
The state still plans the economy. They plan the economy together with the business community and the state allocates a lot of funds and loans to areas of the economy it wishes to develop. There is probably a similar model in South Korea, which also is not capitalist and instead operates on a series of monopolies that are owned currently by large corporations and the government. The South Korean economy is also planned, and the plan is worked out by the government and the business sector working together.

India as the True Home of White Supremacism

Another great comment by Francis Miville:

If that is your opinion, first give up your Sanskrit name, a language elaborated by Whiter than Whites and used by White supremacists. These people are far Off Whiteness, though many of them are actually off-Whites. Off-Whites as they are generally called are the real center of gravity of all White Supremacism, as they depict their Gods rather than themselves as the perfect White ones that should prevail.
The genocide most needed to end White Supremacism has to take place where it came first from, that is to say among off-Whites, starting with the Indo-Gangetic Plain, and the doctrine best suited to perform it is Cultural Revolution style Maoism as it is still believed in by the Indian Naxalites, not Brown Nationalism. When the issue of money is not tackled in top priority as is the case with nationalism, Brown Nationalism always end up taken over by millionaires who will buy White slave girls to breed with, as Whiteness is valued as movable property even by those who dehumanize it most.
Even the fiercest traditional German Nazi White Supremacists themselves consider their Indian counterparts as purer than themselves, endowed with more desirable features, despite their skin being somewhat darker due to the sun. However darkish you may seem, you are the dirt the plant of White Supremacism keeps on sprouting from. You are the clay the statues of White idols are made from. Whites come from Northern lands such as Russia and Scandinavia, but White Supremacism originally came from India to be taught to the former, not the other way round.

A Look at the Altaic Question, a Current Controversy in Linguistics

               Turkic    Tungusic*        Written Mongolian
1P sing.:
 
nominative      ban      bi               bi
oblique stem    man-     min-             min-
2P sing.:
nominative      san      chi    (<*ti)    si
oblique stem    san-     chiin- (<*tin)   sin-
(e.g. Evenki and Manchu)

The Altaic argument is one of the biggest controversies in current linguistics. It is said that Linguistics has decided that Altaic does not exist. Actually, the field has not decided that at all. The consensus in the field is that Altaic is still an open question. In other words, they are fighting about it.
The field is split up into Pro-Altaicists and Anti-Altaicists. It’s not true that the field has decided in favor of the Anti-Altaicists. The Antis say that there is no such thing as Altaic. The Pros said that Altaic exists, and here is the evidence. The consensus instead rejects both positions and says we don’t know if Altaic exists or not. There is a big difference between we don’t know if it exists (maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t) and it doesn’t exist. One statement is uncertainty and the other statement is negative.
According to Anti-Ataicists, every time a human can’t make up their mind about something yes or no, they actually are saying no. No they’re not! They’re not saying yes or no. They are rejecting both positions and saying instead that they are undecided. What the Anti-Altaicists are doing is akin to saying everyone who answers undecided on a political candidate poll is actually saying that want to vote against the person! The entire basis of political polling would change.
The Anti-Altaicists are typically quite vicious, while the other side is not. The safe position is Anti-Altaicism, so a lot of wimpy linguists too scared to stand up and fight have sought refuge in the negative position. Furthermore, Linguistics is like an 8th grade playground. Some positions are openly ridiculed. Pro-Altaicism is openly ridiculed, and taking that position is seen as prima facie evidence that a linguist is a crank, an idiot or a fool. I would imagine that if you told a hiring committee that you believed in Altaic, it would be harder to get hired than if you took the negative stand. And I could imagine that being pro-Altaic might keep you from getting tenure.
Not only are the Antis vicious (all of them are vicious, bar none), but many of them are complete idiots and fools, as seen above in the preposterous conflation of uncertain opinions with negative opinions above. The fools on Bad Linguistics Reddit are evidence of this. They all hate Altaic because they are wimps who are too afraid of a fight, so they take a safe position. They bashed me for saying Altaic was real, saying it was evidence of what a kook and crank I am, when in fact, Altaic exists is a completely acceptable position to take. Many famous linguists have supported Altaic in the past, and a number of top linguists currently support it.
Anti-Altaic papers are often vicious from an academic paper standpoint. In academic papers, you are supposed to be restrained and keep your strong opinions to yourself. Not so with anti-Altaicists. They are over the top insulting and ridiculing towards Altaicists.
Altaicists have accumulated quite a bit of evidence in support of their position. The pronouns above prove Altaic for me. All I have to do is look at those pronoun sets (and there are other pronouns that also line up precisely like above) and I know it’s real.
This is what Joseph Greenberg means when he says that proving whether language families exist and reconstructing proto-languages are two different things.
You figure out a language family by simple inspection. Greenberg uses the mass comparison method, and it has worked very well for him for African languages. His Amerindian languages proposals have not been well accepted, but it’s clear that there is a large family called Amerind. There is 1st person m and second person n all through the family, occurring ~450 times. Personal pronouns are rarely borrowed, and entire personal pronoun sets are almost never borrowed (Piraha did borrow all of its pronouns, but Piraha is bizarre in many ways).
Joanna Nichols, a current spokesperson for the conservative Linguistics Establishment as good as any other (and a fine linguist to boot) states that the current consensus is that there is no such thing as Amerind and that those 450 similar pronouns are all cases of borrowing. Wow! Personal pronoun sets (not just one pronoun but an entire paradigm) were borrowed 450 times in the Americas! That’s one of the most idiotic statements that one could make, but this is the current consensus of linguistic “science.” Dumb or what?
A much better position would be to say that Amerind is uncertain (maybe it exists, maybe it doesn’t), as the negative position is preposterous and idiotic right on its face. Nichols has also stated that all of the Altaic pronouns were borrowed.
That’s even more idiotic because unlike in the Americas, entire large pronoun paradigms exist in Altaic where they do not exist in Amerind. Paradigms, especially pronoun paradigms, are almost never borrowed, and paradigm evidence is considered excellent evidence of genetic relationship. English good, better, best is the same paradigm as German gut, besser, besten. That’s an odd way to set up comparatives, and the fact that that comparative set lines up perfectly is what is known as a paradigm. That one paradigm right there ought to be enough to prove the relatedness of English and German, even leaving out all other massive evidence for relatedness.
Greenberg says that after you decide that languages form a family, then you set about using the comparative method of reconstructing proto-languages, finding sound correspondences and whatnot. The current conservative or reactionary position of the field is that first you reconstruct the proto-languages and then and only then can you prove a language family. That’s absurd. They’re in effect doing everything ass backwards. Incidentally, long ago Edward Sapir agreed with Greenberg that language families were proven first by inspection and only later did reconstruction take place. Sapir also came up with the Amerind hypothesis decades before Greenberg. Sapir is quoted as saying:

Getting down to brass tacks, how are you going to prove Amerind 1st person m and second person n other than genetic relatedness?
– Edward Sapir, 1917?

Who was Edward Sapir? Only one of the greatest linguists in history.
I can look right there at that pronoun paradigm set and tell you flat out that those three language families are related. It’s not possible that all of those languages borrowed all of those pronouns. It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because it couldn’t happen. It’s beyond the realm of statistical probability. A statement that is outside the realm of statistical probability is considered to be for all intents and purposes nonfactual. Ask anyone Statistics major.
Not only has Proto-Altaic been reconstructed at least in a tentative and initial form, but there are regular sound correspondences running through all of the comparative lexicon of the three proto-languages: Proto-Turkic, Proto-Tungusic and Proto-Mongolian.
Regular sound correspondences are another thing we look for. It would mean that every time you have VlV in Language A, you have VnV in Language B (V = vowel). We then say that Language A l -> Language B n. Regular sound correspondences are considered to be excellent evidence of genetic relatedness.
In fact, an entire etymological dictionary of Altaic has been produced, reconstructing a lot of Proto-Altaic lexicon along with the cognates in the daughter languages. This dictionary runs to over 1,000 pages, and it is a true work of art in the social sciences. The entire etymological dictionary has been rejected out of hand by the Anti-Altaicists. However, they have not directly attacked or tried to prove many of the etymologies wrong. They simply looked at it, said it’s junk, laughed at it and ridiculed it, and moved on.
This conservative or even reactionary mood has been the norm in Historic Linguistics for decades now. The field has become very stick in the mud about this.
However, in much of the rest of Linguistics, especially Sociolinguistics, Language Acquisition, and Applied Linguistics, the field has reached consensus on many a silly thing that makes little to no sense at all other than that it sounds very Politically Correct. Linguistics being a social science, PC and SJW Cultural Left culture has infected the field in an awful way.
You must understand that Cultural Left views did not just appear in a few select social sciences. Instead this ideology swept through the entire social sciences, sparing not a one. In terms of a March Through the Institutions for this ideology, it was akin to a rapid hostile takeover. Cultural Left and SJW views are now mandatory in Linguistics. If you refuse to go along, you will not get hired or get tenured. If your reputation is too bad, you may not be able to publish in academic journals or books.
Alas, my field has been poisoned with this Cultural Left toxin or venom like all the rest of them!

Repost: The Classification of the Vietnamese Language

This ran first a long time ago, but I just sold an ad on this post, so I decided to repost it. Rereading it, it’s a great Historical Linguistics post.
One of the reasons that I am doing this post is that one of my commenters asked me a while back to do a post on the theories of long-range comparison like Joseph Greenberg’s and how well they hold up. That will have to wait for another day, but for now, I can  at least show you how some principles of Historical Linguistics, a subfield that I know a thing or two about. I will keep this post pretty non-technical, so most of you ought to be able to figure out what is going on.
Let us begin by looking at some proposals about the classification of Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese language has been subject to a great deal of speculation regarding its classification. At the moment, it is in the Mon-Khmer or Austroasiatic family with Khmer, Mon, Muong, Wa, Palaung, Nicobarese, Khmu, Munda, Santali, Pnar, Khasi, Temiar, and some others. The family ranges through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, China, and over into Northeastern India.
It is traditionally divided into Mon-Khmer and Munda branches. Here is Ethnologue’s split, and here are some other ways of dividing up the family.
The homeland of the Austroasiatics was probably in China, in Yunnan, Southwest China. They moved down from China probably around 5,000 years ago. Some of the most ancient Austroasiatics are probably the Senoi people, who came down from China into Malaysia about 4,000 years ago. Others put the time frame at about 4-8,000 YBP (years before present).
A major fraud has been perpetrated lately based on Senoi Dream Therapy. I discussed it on the old blog, and you can Google it if you are interested. In Anthropology classes we learned all about these fascinating Senoi people, who based their lives around their dreams. Turns out most of the fieldwork was poor to fraudulent like Margaret Mead’s unfortunate sojourn in the South Pacific.
The Senoi resemble Veddas of India, so it is probably true that they are ancient people.  Also, their skulls have Australoid features. In hair, they mostly have wavy hair (like Veddoids), a few have straight hair (like Mongoloids) and a scattering have woolly hair (like Negritos). Bottom line is that ancient Austroasiatics were probably Australoid types who resembled what the Senoi look like today.
There has long been a line arguing that the Vietnamese language is related to Sino-Tibetan (the family that Chinese is a part of). Even those who deny this acknowledge that there is a tremendous amount of borrowing from Chinese (especially Cantonese) to Vietnamese. This level of borrowing so long ago makes historical linguistics a difficult field.
Here is an excellent piece by a man who has done a tremendous amount of work detailing his case for Vietnamese as a Sino-Tibetan language. It’s not for the amateur, but if you want to dip into it, go ahead. I spent some time there, and after a while, I was convinced that Vietnamese was indeed a Sino-Tibetan language. One of the things that convinced me is that if borrowing was involved, seldom have I seen such a case for such a huge amount of borrowing, in particular of basic vocabulary. I figured the  case was sealed.
Not so fast now.
Looking again, and reading some of Joseph Greenberg’s work on the subject, I am now convinced otherwise. There is a serious problem with the cognates between Vietnamese and Chinese, of which there are a tremendous number.
This problem is somewhat complex, but I will try to simplify it. Briefly, if Vietnamese is indeed related to Sino-Tibetan, its cognates should be not only with Chinese, but with other members of Sino-Tibetan also. In other words, we should find cognates with Tibetan, Naga, Naxi, Tujia, Karen, Lolo, Kuki, Nung, Jingpho, Chin, Lepcha, etc. We should also find cognates with those languages, where we do not find them in Chinese. That’s a little complicated, so I will let you think about it a bit.
Further, the comparisons between Chinese and Vietnamese should be variable. Some should look quite close, while others should look much more distant.
So there’s a problem with the Vietnamese as ST theory.
The cognates look like Chinese.
Problem is, they look too much like Chinese. They look more like Chinese than they should in a genetic relationship. Further, they look like Chinese and only Chinese. Looking for relationships in S-T outside of Chinese, and we find few if any.
That’s a dead ringer for borrowing from Chinese to Vietnamese. If it’s not clear to you how that is, think about it a bit.
Looking at Mon-Khmer, the case is not so open and shut. There seem to be more cognates with Chinese than with Mon-Khmer. So many more that the case for Vietnamese as AA looks almost silly, and you wonder how anyone came up with it.
But let us look again. The cognates with AA and Vietnamese are not just with its immediate neighbors like Cambodian and Khmu but with languages far off in far Eastern India like Munda and Santali. There are words that are found only in the Munda branch in one or two obscure languages that somehow show up again as cognates in Vietnamese.
Now tell me how Vietnamese borrowed ancient basic vocabulary from some obscure Munda tongue way over in Northeast India? It did not. How did those words end up in some unheard of NE Indian tongue and also in Vietnamese? Simple. They both descended long ago from a common ancestor. This is Historical Linguistics.
The concepts I have dealt with here are not easy for the non-specialist to figure out, but most smart people can probably get a grasp on them.
A different subject is the deep relationships of AA. Is AA related to any other languages? I leave that as an open question now,  though there does appear to be a good case for AA being related to Austronesian.
One good piece of evidence is the obscure AA languages found in the Nicobar Islands off the coast of Thailand. Somehow, we see quite a few cognates in Nicobarese with Austronesian. We do not see them in any other branches of AA, only in Nicobarese. This seems odd,  and it’s hard to make a case for borrowing. On the other hand, why cognates in Nicobarese and only in Nicobarese?
Truth is there are some cognates outside of Nicobarese but not a whole lot. In historical linguistics, one thing we look at is morphology. Those are parts of words, like the -s plural ending in English.
In both AA and Austronesian, we have funny particles called infixes. Those are what in English we might call prefixes or suffixes, except they are stuck in the middle of the word instead of at the end or the beginning. So, in English, we have pre- as a prefix meaning “before” and -er meaning “object that does X verb”. So pre-destination means that our lives are figured out before we are even born.  Comput-er and print-er are two objects, one that computes and the other that prints.
If we had infixes instead, pre-destination would look something like destin-pre-ation and comput-er and print-er would look something like com-er-pute and prin-er-t.
Anyway, there are some fairly obscure infixes that show up not only in some isolated languages in AA but also in far-flung Austronesian languages in, say, the Philippines. Ever heard of the borrowing of an infix? Neither have I? So were those infixes borrowed,  and what are they doing in languages as far away as Thailand and the Philippines, and none in between? Because they  got borrowed? When? How? Forget it.
Bottom line is that said borrowing did not happen. So what are those infix cognates doing there? Probably ancient particles left over from a common language that derived both Austronesian and AA, probably spoken somewhere in SW China maybe 9,000 years ago or more.
Why is this sort of long-range comparison so hard? For one thing, because after 9,000 years or more, there are hardly any cognates left anymore, due to the fact of language change. Languages change and tend to change at a certain rate.
After 1000X years, so much change has taken place that even if two languages were once “sprung from a common source,” in the famous words of Sir William Jones in his epochal lecture to the Asiatic Society in Calcutta on February 2, 1786, there is almost nothing, or actually nothing, left to show of that relationship. Any common words have become so mangled by time that they don’t look much or anything alike anymore.
So are AA and Austronesian related? I think so, but I suppose it’s best to say that it has not been proven yet. This thesis is part of a larger long-range concept known as “Austric.” Paul Benedict, a great scholar, was one of the champions of this. Austric is normally made up of AA, Austronesian, Tai-Kadai (the Thai language and its relatives) and Hmong-Mien (the Hmong and Mien languages). Based on genetics, the depth of Austric may be as deep as 30,000 years, so proving it is going to be a tall order indeed.
What do I think?
I think Tai-Kadai and Austronesian are proven to be related (more on that later). AA and Austronesian seem to be related also, with a lesser depth of proof. Hmong-Mien seems to be related to Sino-Tibetan, not Austric.
The case for Vietnamese being related to S-T is still very interesting, and I still have an open mind about it.
All of these discussions are hotly controversial, and mentioning it in linguistics circles is likely to set tempers flaring.

References

Author and date unknown, What Makes Vietnamese So Chinese? An Introduction to Sinitic-Vietnamese Studies.

A Look at the Tsou Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Tsou language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Austro-Tai

Austronesian

Formosan

Tsouic

Tsou is a Taiwanese aborigine language spoken by about 2,000 people in Taiwan.
Tsou is also ergative like most Formosan languages. Tsou is the only language in the world that has no prepositions nor anything that looks like a preposition. Instead it uses nouns and verbs in the place of prepositions. Tsou allows more potential consonant clusters than most other languages.
About 1/2 of all possible CC clusters are allowed. Tsou has an inclusive/exclusive distinction in the 1st person plural and a very strange visible and non-visible distinction in the 3rd person singular and plural. Both adjectives and adverbs can turn into verbs, as they are marked for voice in the same way that verbs are. Verbs are extensively marked for voice.
Nouns are marked for a variety of odd cases, often referring to perception (visible/invisible) and person and place deixis

'e         "visible and near speaker"
si/ta      "visible and near hearer"
ta         "visible but away from speaker"
'o/to      "invisible and far away or newly introduced to discourse"
na/no ~ ne "non-identifiable and non-referential"*
*often when scanning a class of elements

Tsou gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.

A Look at the Valman Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Valman language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Torricelli

Wapei

Valman

Valman, spoken in Papua New Guinea, is a bizarre case where the word “and” that connects two nouns is actually a verb, of all things, and is marked with the first noun as subject and the second noun as object.
“’John’ (subject) and ‘Mary’ (object) went to the store.”
“John” is marked as subject for some reason and “Mary” is marked as object for some reason, and the “and” word shows subject agreement with “John” and object agreement with “Mary”.
Valman gets a 6 rating, hardest of all.

A Look at the Chukchi Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Chukchi language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Chukotko-Kamchatkan

Northern

Chukot

Chukchi is a polysynthetic, agglutinating and incorporating language and is often listed as one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn.

Təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən.
“I have a fierce headache.”

There are five morphemes in that word, and there are three lexical morphemes (nouns or adjectives) incorporated in that word: meyŋ “great”, levt “head”, and pəγt “ache”.
Chukchi gets a 6 rating, hardest of all.

A Look at the Inuktitut and Kalaallisut Eskimo Languages

Method and Conclusion. See here.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Kalaallisut and Inuktitut languages in terms of how difficult they would be for an English speaker to learn them.

Eskimo-Aleut

Eskimo

Inuit-Inupiaq

Inuktitut is extremely hard to learn. Inuktitut is polysynthetic-agglutinative, and roots can take many suffixes, in some cases up to 700. Verbs have 63 forms of the present indicative, and conjugation involves 252 different inflections. Inuktitut has the complicated polypersonal agreement system. In a typical long Inuktitut text, 92% of words will occur only once. This is quite different from English and many other languages where certain words occur very frequently or at least frequently. Certain fully-inflected verbs can be analyzed both as verbs and as nouns.
Words can be very long.

Inuktituusuungutsialaarungnanngittuaraaluuvunga.
I truly don’t know how to speak Inuktitut very well.

You may need to analyze up to 10 different bits of information in order to figure out a single word. However, the affixation is all via suffixes (there are no prefixes or infixes), and the suffixation is extremely regular.
Inuktitut is also rated one by linguists one of the hardest languages on Earth to pronounce. Inuktitut may be as hard to learn as Navajo.
Inuktitut is rated 6, hardest of all.
Kalaallisut (Western Greenlandic) is very closely related to Inuktitut.
Look at this sentence:

Aliikusersuillammassuaanerartassagaluarpaalli…
However, they will say that he is a great entertainer, but…

That word is composed of 12 separate morphemes. A single word can conceptualize what could be an entire sentence in a non-polysynthetic language.
Kalaallisut is rated 6, hardest of all.

A Look at the Buyang Language

Method and Conclusion. See here.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings: Languages are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Buyang language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Kam-Sui

Kra

Paha

According to a Fudan University study, Buyang in the third most phonologically complex language in the world. Buyang is a cluster of four related languages spoken by 1,900 people in Yunnan Province, China. Buyang has a completely wild consonant inventory.
It has a full set of both voiced and voiceless plain and aspirated stops, including voiceless uvulars. The contrast between aspirated and plain voiced stops is peculiar. The stop series also has distinctions between palatalized and rounded stops. It has a labialized voiceless palatal fricative and a voiceless dental aspirated lateral, both unusual sounds. It has four different voiceless aspirated nasals. It has voiceless y and w, both more odd sounds. It also has plain and labialized palatal glides.
That is one wild phonology.
Buyang gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.

Possible Origin of the Black Plague

Here.
The standard view is that twelve ships from Florence docked at Messina in 1347, bringing the Plague to Europe. It would later kill 1/3 of all Europeans and an incredible 20% of all humans. It would be as if 1.6 billion people died in only seven years or as if 66 million Americans died over a seven year period. Can you imagine? In my city alone, 12,000 people would be dead. Of every five people you knew at the start of the period, one would be dead after seven years. Can you imagine? That would not have left one person unscathed.
A new view though is that the Plague, which had already been active in Asia for a while, came to Europe via a biological warfare attack by Genghis Khan’s raiders on the city of Caffa in the Crimea. The Caffans were probably Turkic speakers at this time, but it is hard to say what Turkic lect they may have spoken. Perhaps a dead language called Cuman.
Khan’s raiders besieged the city and a number of people died of the Black Plague in the conflict. Khan’s men suspected a thing or two about biological warfare, so they loaded up the bodies that had died of the plague and catapulted them over the walls of the city into the population. Can you  imagine the horror of looking out your window and see a dead, bubonic plague ridden corpse fly by in the air at rapid speed to splatter nearby. Good Lord. In due time, this biological warfare killed a lot of the people in  the city.
Khan knew nothing of the  germ theory of disease, but experience with the plague showed that those who came in contact with victims tended to sicken and die. No one knew what was causing it. One European physician posited that plague victims radiated some sort of death vapors or essence out of their very eyes. Without medical science, people had to fall back on spiritual theories.
But people caught on quickly that being around plague victims could quickly make you a victim yourself. Physicians refused to treat plague patients and patients were often abandoned wherever they sickened. Family members even fled from their own sickened members, leaving them to die in the home while countless people fled to the countryside. But even there they were not safe. Even farm animals, cows, pigs, goats and sheep, caught the plague. So many sheep died that there was an acute wool shortage all over Europe for years afterwards. There was no solace or respite anywhere. The epidemic ended almost as fast as it began in 1354, but Europe was ruined. Entire cities had been abandoned as thousands of residents fled to the false safety of the countryside.
Many people escaped from Khan”s raid on Caffa, and survivors fled all over the Mediterranean. This people soon sickened and died. It was possibly from some of this group, fled to Florence, that the ill-fated death ships docked in Messina on that warm October night. The disease was in Southern France the next year and Germany soon after that. Not long afterwards, it hit Paris. And despite the primitive conditions of the day, it was not long in  Paris before London was also hit. People did have ships in those days you know.
Despite the enticing new theory, the medical journal concludes that the entrance of the Plague to Europe was multifactorial and the infection of the Caffa population did not play an important role in the European pandemic.

How I Determined Intelligibility For Turkic Lects

Steve: This is amazing. Well done. But how can you possibly know the degree of mutual intelligibility between two languages you don’t speak or know if something is a language or dialect when you don’t speak it? That seems strange. How is it worked out?

Linguists don’t speak all these languages we study. We just study languages, we don’t necessarily speak them. This is confused with the archaic use of the word linguist to mean polyglot. Honestly, many linguists do in fact speak more than one language, and quite a few of them have a pretty good knowledge of at least some of the languages that they study. But my mentor speaks only Turkish and English though he studies all Turkic languages. I don’t believe he has ever learned to speak any Turkic lect other than Turkish.
In reference to my paper here.
We are not looking for raw numbers. We just want to know if they can understand each other or not.
A lot of it is from talking to native speakers and also there was a lot of reading papers by other linguists. I also talked to other linguists a lot. Linguists typically simply state if two lects are intelligible or not. Also there is a basic idea among linguists of what the boundary is between a language and a dialect, and I used this knowledge a lot.
Can they understand each other? Yes or no. That’s pretty much about it. Also at some degree of structural difference, we can see the difference between a language and a dialect. It’s a judgement call, but linguists are pretty good at this.
There is a subsection of very loud linguists, mostly on the Internet, who like to screech a lot about this question cannot be answered by answered because of this or that red herring or some odd conundrums that work their way in. The thing is if you ask around enough, you will be able to get around all of the conundrums and you should be able to eventually reconcile all of the divergent responses to get some sort of a holistic or “big picture.” You finally “figure it out.” The answer to the question comes to you in a sort of a “seeing the answer as part of a larger picture” sort of thing.
The worst red herring is this notion that speakers from Group A will lie and say they do not understand speakers of Group B simply because they hate them so much. If this was such a concern, you would have think I would have run into it at some point. A much worse problem were ethnic nationalists who lie and say that they can understand neighboring tongues when they can’t.
The toxin called Pan-Turkism or Turkish ultranationalism comes into play here. It is almost normal for Turks to believe that there is only one Turkic languages, and it is called Turkish. All of the rest of the languages simply do not exist and are dialects of Turkish. I had to deal with regular attacks by extremely aggressive Ataturkists who insisted that any Turk could easily understand any other Turkic language. Actually my adviser told me that my piece would not be popular with the Pan-Turkics at all. I don’t really care as I consider them to be pond scum.
Granted, some of it was quite controversial and I got variable reports on intelligibility for some lects like Siberian Tatar vs. Tatar, the Altai languages, Kazakh vs. Kirghiz, Crimean Tatar vs. Turkish.
Where native speakers differ on such questions, often vociferously, you simply ask enough of them, talk to some experts and try to get a feel for that what best answer to the question is.
Some cases like Gagauz vs. Turkish probably need raw intelligibility testing. That’s the only one that is up in the air right now, but it is up in the air because the lects are so close. Intelligibility between Gagauz and Turkish is somewhere between  70-100%. In other words, they have marginal intelligibility at worst. My Gagauz expert who knows this language better than anyone though feels that Turkish intelligibility of Gagauz is less than 90%, which is where I drew the line at language and dialect.
It is also starting to look like Nogay is a simply a dialect of Kazakh instead of a separate language, but that might be a hard sell.
Some of these are seen as separate languages simply because they are spoken by different ethnies who do not want to be seen as part of the same group. Also they have different literary norms. Karapalkak is just a Kazakh dialect, but the speakers want to say they speak a separate language. Same with Bashkir, which is simply a dialect of Tatar. The case of Kazakh and Kirghiz is more controversial, but even here, we seem to be dealing with one language, yet the two dialects are spoken by different ethnies that have actually differentiated into two separate states, each with their own literary norm. Kazakhs wish to say they speak a language c called Kazakh and Kirghiz wish to say they speak a language called Kirghiz although they are probably really just one language.
We see a similar thing with Czech and Slovak. My recent research has proven that Czech and Slovak are actually a single language. But the dialects are spoken by different ethnic groups who claim different cultures and histories and they have actually divided into two different states, and each has its own literary norm.
It is here, where dialects become languages not via science by via politics, culture, history and sociology, that Weinrich’s famous dictum that “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy” comes into play.
Scientifically, these are all simply dialects of a single tongue but we call them languages for sociological, cultural and political reasons.

A Few Words on Language Endangerment

Carlos Lam: Congrats! However, isn’t language death a rather standard occurrence among societies?

It is, but we linguists don’t really like it. It is quite a debate going on, but the bottom line seems to be that ethnic groups and speaker groups have the right to ownership of their languages. We worry that a lot of speaker groups are being pressured into blowing up their languages prematurely. We like to study these languages and we are not real happy about seeing them vanish into the horizon. On the other hand, is cultural death a natural thing too? Both cultural death and language death are occurring at rates far beyond the normal background rates. English and some of the other major languages are like weapons of mass destruction in taking out languages. You really want a world with one language and one culture? I don’t.
The best position seems to be that speakers have the right to decide the fate of their languages. If speakers wish to continue speaking their languages, then governments and linguists should help them to preserve and continue to develop their languages. Quite a few groups do not seem to care that their languages are going are extinct or they are even driving or drove their languages extinct, and they have the full right to do so. In these cases, we will simply do salvage linguistics. There are many salvage linguistics projects going on in the world today.
You won’t get very far with linguists arguing that language death is a good thing. Most people don’t think so.
Occurring at the same time as language death is a lot of language revitalization. Even fully dead languages are being resurrected from the grave. Also in addition to language death, we are creating new languages all the time. In this piece, I created a total of net 13 new languages. And new languages are occurring on their own.
To give you an example. A group of Crimean Tatars moved from Crimea to Turkey about 200 years ago in the course of the Crimean War. They have been speaking Crimean Tatar in Turkey ever since, for 200 years now. But in that time, Crimean Tatar in Turkey and Crimean Tatar in Ukraine has diverged so much that Turkish Crimean Tatar is now, in my opinion, a fully separate tongue from the Ukrainian language. This is because in Turkey, a lot of Turkish has gone into Turkish Crimean Tatar which is not well understand in the Ukraine. And in the Ukraine, a lot of Russian has gone in which is not well understood in Turkey. Hence, Crimean Tatar speakers in Turkey and Ukraine can no longer understand each other well.
To give you another example, there are many Kazakh speakers in China. However, Kazakh speakers in China can no longer understand Standard Kazakh broadcasts from Kazakhstan because so many Russian loans have gone into Standard Kazakh that it is no longer intelligible with Chinese Kazakh speakers. I learned this too late for my paper, otherwise I would have split Chinese Kazakh off as a separate language.
There are many cases like this.
Further, many languages are being discovered. Sonqori, Western Khalaj, Todzhin, Duha, Dukha and Siberian Tatar are just a few of the new languages that I created. Khorosani Turkic was split into three different languages. Dayi was subsumed into one of the Khorosani Turkic languages. Altai was split from one into five separate languages, but the truth is that it is six languages, not five. Salar was split into Western Salara and Eastern Salar. Ili Turki was eliminated becuase it does not even exist. It is simply a form of Uighur. Kabardian and Balkar, Tatar and Bashkir, Kazakh and Kirghiz were some languages that were eliminated and subsumed into single tongues such as Tatar-Bashkir, Kazakh-Kirghiz, and Kabardian-Balkar. And on and on.
Languages and of course dialects are dying all the time, but new languages are being created by humans and by linguists as we continue our splitting projects. Many lects referred to as dialects are more properly seen as separate languages. Chinese is at least 450 separate languages, only 14 of which are recognized. German may be up to 130 separate languages, only 20 of which are recognized.
There are quite a few more languages to be created out there, but there is a lot of resistance to splitters like me from more conservative linguists and especially from linguistic nationalists. For while Chinese may well be over 1,000 languages, the Chinese government is anti-scientifically insistent that there is but one Chinese language and maybe 2,000 “dialects,” most of which are probably separate languages. The German government is quite resistant to the idea that there is more than one form of German, though I believe Bavarian and Swiss German have official status in Austria and Switzerland.

I Am Now a Published Author

Here.
You can download my first published work above. I was published for the first time this spring in a book called:

Before the Last Voices Are Gone: Endangered Turkic Languages, Volume 1: Theoretical and General Approaches

This is the first volume of a four volume set called:

The Handbook of Endangered Turkic Languages

The first volume alone runs to 512 pages. Articles are in English, Russian and Turkish, variably. It was published out of the International Turkish-Kazakh University in Istanbul, Turkey and the International Turkic Academy in Astana, Kazakhstan. These are two campuses that are part of one joint Turkey-Kazakhstan shared university.
I contributed one chapter that runs from pages 311-384 titled:

Mutual Intelligibility among the Turkic Languages

It’s 83 pages long and has ~100 references. It may have taken me 500 hours to write that chapter. Tell that to my enemies who claim I do not work, ok? When all is said and done, I figure I may make 75 cents an hour on this work. But this is how academic publishing works. There’s just no money in it. It’s all a labor of love. In addition, most work is done by professors who have to publish as part of their professorship (publish or perish), so in effect, their professor salary is covering their publishing.
That document had to go through two rather grueling peer reviews. I had to make many changes in it to get it to publication. The second peer review had to get past the top Turkologists in the world today, and I am amazed that I made it through review to be honest.
Most people publishing in academic books or journals are academics, professors working at universities. There are only a few of us independent scholars out there (I am an independent scholar because I am not at a university). Also most folks have PhD’s, and I only have a Masters, but there are some folks with Masters publishing academically.
In general, this is a rather selective game where everyone is hyperspecializing as is the trend nowadays. Although my mentor at the project calls me a Renaissance Man, I wonder if the autodidact/polymath is an endangered species if not extinct. Everyone has to specialize nowadays.
For instance, common knowledge in this particular field would be that the only folks who could publish in Turkology would be linguists with a PhD in Linguistics, preferably with a emphasis in Turkology. Beyond that, they may prefer say 5-10 years publishing in the field of Turkology in addition to a professorship in Turkic linguistics. You can see where this is headed. I am not knocking it. I am just pointing out that microspecialization is the game now.
What follows is that since I lack the PhD or professorship or any background at all in Turkology, I should not be allowed to be published in this field, or if by some error I am somehow mispublished, all of my work should be promptly ignored as done by a nonspecialist who could not possibly know what he is talking about. Needless to say, I don’t agree with that, and I carry on tilting at windmills like a good deluded Renaissance Man who never got the memo and wouldn’t read it if he did.
The odd thing is that I knew nothing about Turkology until I plunged into this mess. I had written a short piece of mutual intelligibility in Turkic, as MI is one of my pet subjects and put it up on Academia on my scholarly papers site, and a professor in Turkey happened to read it. He wrote to me telling me he agreed with me, he wanted me to expand it into a document, and they would publish it for me. So off I went, down the Turkic rabbit hole. If you study the very high IQ types (140+), they tend to go on “crazes” like this. They also lose interest after a bit, drop the craze and move on to some new craze. Dilettantism for the win.
I also have an anxiety disorder called OCD which is well controlled. A good side of it though is that you tend to do dive down rabbit holes a lot, and the OCD makes you burrow maniacally into the rabbit hole with the notion that one is going to become the world’s leading expert on whatever rabbit hole you are digging in now. So for one or two years, I went absolutely berserk into Turkic, whereas before I scarcely knew a thing about it. The end result can be read above.
The sad result is that either due to the savant stuff or the mental quirk, I also tend to lose interest in my rabbit holes after a bit. I follow them about halfway to China, make several revolutions around the molten core, and after a year or so, come up for air gasping with incipient Black Lung, and next thing you know, I am bored, and it’s onto a new craze. It’s a bit silly, but we all have our crosses to lug, and as eccentricities go, there are many worse things that dabbling, er hobbyism, er dilettantism, er polymathy, er autodidactism, er Renaissance Manism.
Most of you will probably not find this very interesting, as it is pretty specialized stuff that is mostly of interest to people in the specialty, linguists and those interested in the subject. It’s not exactly for the general reader. But if you have any interest in these languages, you might enjoy it.
I expanded Turkic from 41 to 53 languages, eliminated some languages, turned some into dialects, turned some dialects into full languages, combined languages into a single tongue, created some new languages out of scratch and did quite a bit of work on the history of the languages.
I also reworked the classification a bit because I thought it could be done better. Even though this work does not pay much, the pay is in fame if it is at all. My work will either be accepted by the field or rejected outright or somewhere in between. I have already earned the praises of some of the world’s top Turkologists, much to my surprise. If I get fame, well, I get quoted in papers, maybe invited to conferences, and maybe even referenced in Wikipedia. There are groupies in all status fields, and what the heck, there may even be linguist groupies. If not, there are always starry eyed coeds dreaming of professor types to mentor them. I am already working that angle as it is. Writer Game, Scholar Game, there’s Game for everything.
Or my work does not go over and maybe the field decides I do not know what I am talking about.
Crap shoot, like most of life’s endeavors. Roll em, and wish upon a star…snake eyes!
PS. The title of the series, Before the Last Voices Are Gone, was created by me. I think it has a nice little song.

External Relations of Japanese and Apache

Jason Voorhees: YEE – There is some similarity between the language of an Apache and that of the Japanese for example.
Yee: That seems far fetched. My ancestors moved from Central China, but I can’t understand any of their dialect now. Language is easy to lose

Actually this is not correct. Apache does have external relations in the new Yenisien-Na Dene family (already under fierce attack by splitters), and in a larger sense to Chinese but not Japanese. But there is no similarity whatsoever between Japanese and Apache, other than that probably all human languages are related at some distant level. There is no clear or obvious relationship between Japanese (really Japonic) and any other language. Japanese is not one language. It is a group of languages called Japonic. Most of the Japonic languages are spoken the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), where there are 5-6 separate languages spoken. These languages still have many speakers, but they are in very bad shape as the Japanese have been waging war on them for some time now. Most of the speakers are middle aged or older and transmission to the young is at a low level.
However, it is clear to me that Japanese does have external relations. The most obvious external relation would be with Korean. Even some of the hardest-core anti-Altaicists agree that there is a good chance that Korean and Japanese are related. Looking at the larger picture, Japanese and Korean are both related to Turkic, Tungusic and Mongolic in a superfamily called Altaic. Mainstream linguistics has refused to accept Altaic although the evidence for its existence is striking.
The evidence for the existence of Altaic is just as good as the evidence for Austroasiatic,l and that is a universally accepted family. Worse, people who believe in Altaic are attacked and ridiculed mercilessly to the point where if you believe in it,  you might actually have a hard time getting a professorship.
Of course, Altaicists are accused of being anti-scientific because “science” has not yet shown that there is any relationship. Adults who think like this are children. Science doesn’t know everything and science is flat out wrong about countless things. That is because many theories are simply true that are presently rejected by science due to so-called lack of evidence.
Having to go ask Mommy Science whether everything you encounter in the world is true or not is like what a child does. A child is always running up to Mommy asking is it is true that so and so etc etc. Mommy says yes or no and the kid is satisfied. The are adults who are still tied to their mothers apron strings who never learned to differentiate themselves as mature individuals. Hence they have to run the Mommy Science and ask whether something is true or not instead of sitting down and looking at the evidence and deciding for yourself.
Not all things that are true have been accepted by science. If you are going to learn anything in life, it should be that right there. Time to cut the apron strings, babies.

Where Is Telegu Spoken?

Jason Voorhees: Mr. Lindsey
Telugu meaning Tamil of Southeast India. I was there once, many moons ago.

Telegu and Tamil are two different groups and languages. Tamils are indeed in SE India, but Telegu is spoken to the northwest quite a bit in a region of Andhra Pradesh called Telegana. Telegana is the far southern portion of Andhra Pradesh. It is heavily forested. There was a movement among them to break away and form their own state a while back I think. There was also quite a bit of armed Maoist activity there, but I think most of it was wiped out.
With 85 million speakers, Telegu is one of the largest world languages, but no doubt most folks have not heard of it. It has more speakers than Italian! I am not sure how far apart the Dravidian languages are from each other, but they can’t understand each other, that’s for sure.
I met two Telegus in a nearby town and I have seen photos of others, including one of the leaders of the Telegana Movement, also a Maoist, after he was released from prison. These three Telegus had quite prominent Australoid features, at least as Australoid as Tamils.