Conversion to the Latin Alphabet in Post-Soviet Asia

The end of the Soviet Union left its newly-independent republics free to pursue their own linguistic policies for the first time. Four of the five predominately Turkic-speaking countries of the former Soviet Union (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) looked to follow the lead of Turkey, which adopted the Latin alphabet under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk back…

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Norfolking Way: Counterinituitive Pronuniciation Clusters in England

The English language is in many ways a victim of its own success.  Being standardised in writing at such an early stage meant that centuries of changes in pronunciation in the Anglosphere have have gone unrepresented in modern English spelling. Centuries of pilfering and absorbing words from a myriad of languages have resulted in speakers…

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Creole Languages With Official Status, Part I

(Part II of this article can be found here.) When people who don’t share a common language begin interacting with one another, often a pidgin language develops between them: an impromptu, simplified language using basic words derived from their respective native languages.  As European colonial empires spread throughout the world over the past 500-plus years,…

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Odds and Ends: Slovakia/Slovenia/Slavonia

Calling back to another recent TBG article (the ‘Same Name, Different Side of the Border’ series), a side-note to the multitude of duplicated regional place names is the Slovakia/Slovenia/Slavonia issue; two independent countries and a major region of eastern Croatia with incredibly similar names each separated from the other by a distance of 230 km…

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Galatia: Asia’s Celtic Outpost

For pretty well all of the past 1 500 years, Celtic cultures have been confined to the western margins of Europe.  Yet, prior to the rise of the Roman Empire, Celts were present throughout western and central Europe; indeed, the first fully Celtic culture arose in Austria (the Hallstatt culture, named for the village where…

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Renaming India One City at a Time

Place names aren’t static, especially for well-known locations.  There are literally over a hundred variations on ‘Germany’, for example; many coming from completely different roots depending upon which language you’re speaking.  There are toponyms that change over time; places renamed for political purposes.  In 1868, Edo became Tokyo (‘eastern capital’) when the seat of the…

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Esperanto, la plej Sukcesa Planlingvo (Esperanto, the Most Successful Constructed Language)

With so many thousands of languages around the world (anywhere between 3 000 and 6 000 are currently spoken), some people have invested a fair amount of effort over the past two centuries into creating languages from scratch (constructed languages) with the idea of creating a universal, relatively-easy-to-learn lexicon that the entire world can use…

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Language Isolates That Still Remain Strong

Every year around this time, one of the world’s most unique languages gets an extra bit of exposure. Since 1994, the Euskaltel-Euskadi team has been a fixture of international cycling, essentially serving as the Basque national cycling team. During the Tour de France each July, it’s very common to see Basque flags waving in the…

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