Articles in World
It is not very often that my attention is captured by a title of an academic journal, but the newly established Journal of Linguistic Geography did just that. Published by Cambridge University Press, this journal “focuses on dialect geography and the spatial distribution of language relative to questions of variation and change”, according to the publisher’s description. Submissions in the areas of dialectology, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, language in its sociocultural environment, and linguistic typology are expected to appear in the journal. The most important feature of this new journal is not its content—numerous academic journals in sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and typology are already being published worldwide—but rather its format.
Last week I was contacted by the producers of the AirTalk radio based in Los Angeles and asked to discuss the article on the universality of “Huh?” recently published by Mark Dingemanse, et al. in PLOS One. I was specifically told that the producers were looking for “someone to support the work”. I made it clear to the producers that I could explain the research and indicate some of the pitfalls, but I was promptly turned down. In this GeoCurrents post I will do what the AirTalk producers did not want me to do: explain the article and indicate what I see as problems with this research. I will also overview some of the media reports that mushroomed after the PLOS publication came out.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I am now devoting most of my attention to the book on Indo-European origins that Asya Pereltsvaig and I are writing. I am currently working on a chapter that recounts the intellectual history of the Indo-European concept, which is a fascinating and complex topic. Right now, I am perplexed in regard to an issue …
I am often asked by my students why countries receive masculine or feminine names in languages that make a grammatical gender distinction. For example, why is Portugal masculine in French but feminine in Russian? Conversely, why is China feminine in French but masculine in Russian? Is there a geographical pattern to the gender assignment? The answer is “not really”. On first glance, it does seem that Russian and French, at least, place many countries in the same categories. As can be seen on the maps posted here, countries in in central and western Asia and northern Africa tend to be coded as masculine in both Russian and French, while most European nations fall in the feminine category. The pattern, however, is deceptive.
As GeoCurrents commentator D. Schwartz figured out, the quiz map posted last Friday shows countries that do not have primate cities in red and those that do have primate cities in grey.
Here is another one-map GeoCurrents quiz: What does the Wikipedia map, reproduced on the left, show? Hint: the countries shown in red do not have something that the countries shown in grey do have. The answer will be posted on Monday.
When lecturing on world economic geography, I always stress the incomplete nature of the standard data, emphasizing the size of the unrecorded, underground economy, or “black market,” that constitutes up to twenty percent* of global production. Obtaining decent information on such matters is difficult, and as a result I am always on the lookout for maps, tables, and graphs that …
Among the many endangered languages around the world are several languages and dialects once spoken by Jews in various parts of the diaspora, including Europe, Iran, India, and the Caucasus region. Not all Jewish languages have been discovered and described, and a few have probably passed away unnoticed. Sarah Benor, a professor at Hebrew Union College who specializes in Jewish languages, puts the number of endangered Jewish languages at around two dozen. The assimilatory tendencies in the Americas; the horrors of World War II; the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union; the rise of nationalism in the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East; and—ironically—the creation of the State of Israel, which promoted Hebrew at the expense of other Jewish languages, all led to the weakening and even demise of many mixed Jewish languages, such as Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, Judeo-Arabic, and others.
One sign that the global financial crisis is easing up is the rise of hotel prices, tracked by the Hotels.com Hotel Price Index (HPI). Considered one of the most important and accurate tourism indices, the HPI surveys tens of thousands of hotels around the world and tracks real prices that hotel guests actually paid for their accommodation. According to this Index, hotel prices worldwide increased by 2% through the first half of 2013. Although the rise is relatively small, it continues the trend of slowly increasing rates seen since the start of 2010, with average prices now close to their pre-crisis 2007 levels. However, the rise in hotel prices is not uniform worldwide. The breakdown of the results by country and by city is also instructive.
About a year ago, two New York Times journalists, Frank Jacobs and Parag Khanna, wrote an opinion article listing eleven potential new countries that they expect to emerge in the near future. But in many cases, the situation is not that simple. The links below are to numerous GeoCurrents posts about these “potential countries”. We also consider a few examples of potential new countries that the New York Times missed.
In a recent post on idibon.com Tyler Schnoebelen asked which language is the “weirdest of all”. The most intuitive definition of the concept of language weirdness involves comparing languages to the native language of the person who does the comparing, most typically English. Here I must agree with Schnoebelen that “that’s a pretty irritating definition”. However, Schnoebelen’s definition of a “weird language” as one that has typologically uncommon features, proves to be problematic as well, as we show in this post.
The Wikipedia map on the left shows the traffic directions used by all countries and the changes that have occurred from 1858 onwards. Red represents countries in which people have always driven on the right (at least as far as formal laws are concerned, as we shall see below), and dark blue indicates those where they have always driven on the left. Orange represents countries that switched from left and right, and purple indicates the reverse. As you can easily notice, there are many more “orange” countries than “purple” ones. Green depicts states that formerly had non-uniform driving orientation rules but now drive on the right.
In examining the various countries of the world, I am often unsure what to call their main administrative divisions. Recently, I found myself writing about Peruvian departments but then wondered whether they might be called provinces instead. As it turns out, Peru is split into regions. Other countries are divided into districts, counties, governorates, divisions, and so on. Around twenty …
After making the map posted here I realized that its patterns are so odd that it would make an extremely difficult GeoQuiz. Just one question: what does the map show?
The topic being mapped is commonplace, familiar to all readers. The categories are relatively precise, with almost no overlap or gradations, and they derive from an authoritative website devoted to the …
As noted in the previous GeoCurrents post on global patterns of tobacco consumption, manufactured cigarettes remain the main way to consume tobacco worldwide despite the existence of alternative tobacco products such as dry and moist snuff, water pipes, and roll-it-yourself cigarettes. This post focuses on economic implications of cigarette consumption across the world.