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Linguists to gather in Minneapolis for national conference
Date:12/6/2013

herited unchanged over several thousand years. Other kinship names, however, are less stable. English 'aunt,' for example, was borrowed from French about 1000 years ago, and the kinship categories themselves may also change over time. Old English, had two terms 'fau' or 'fae' for paternal aunt and 'mōdriġe' for maternal aunt where Modern English has only 'aunt.' We have studied the stability of sibling terms in 190 Australian languages belonging to the Pama-Nyungan family. Our interests lie in how stable the names are (are they stable like English 'brother' and 'sister'?) and also in how stable the categories themselves are (do distinctions like the Old English words for maternal and paternal aunt come and go?). We studied how many distinctions speakers make between sibling types (for example, are there different terms for older and younger sisters and brothers), and if these distinctions are common across the languages. We found that while the kinship terms for siblings are not frequently borrowed, they are not historically old in the Pama-Nyungan family. Instead, speakers frequently recruit terms in other meanings to apply to kin. For example, words for younger siblings often come from words meaning 'rubbish' or 'worthless'. The kinship categories themselves are quite stable, however, implying that speakers recruit new words to describe existing kinship distinctions rather than innovating new ones. This work gives us an insight into how word meanings do (and don't) change over time, as well as differences in kinship names across the world.

Title: The racialization of Basque: a result of language revitalization

Author: Itxaso Rodriguez

Issues of language and identity are especially prominent when two ethnic groups are in contact, and even new identities may result from such highly symbolic events as the standardization of a language. These changes, however do not often come peacefully; they may result in new forms of self
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Contact: Alyson Reed
areed@lsadc.org
202-835-1714
Linguistic Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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