John Cowan has alerted me to the existence of a blog that is going straight to the blogroll, Asya Pereltsvaig’s Languages of the World. The Welcome post from March of last year says “This site is intended to be a resource and place for discussion for those interested in languages, their histories and their interactions,” and for anyone interested in such things, it’s a lot of fun. She started off in Ukraine, moved on to Malta and Scotland, and has continued with admirable catholicity since (she’s just finished a series on Hebrew). Thanks, John!


  1. Bathrobe says

    Another blocked blog…

  2. It’s a very interesting blog. In my last round-up of links, I gave pole position to Asya’s very helpful recent post about which language is the oldest.

  3. And thank *you* for “boosting the signal” (as they say)!

  4. Bathrobe – are all blogs blocked?

  5. So Bathrobe is in the Heavenly Dynasty, then? Didn’t know that!

  6. Bathrobe says

    Anything that ends in seems to be blocked.
    Not all blogs are blocked, of course. WordPress used to be, but is now accessible. Blogs for the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are not blocked.
    Things change, but in general China doesn’t like blogs very much.
    Bathrobe is in, but not of the Celestial Kingdom. Which is not a boast. Somehow, in the days of the Internet it’s possible to live in but be isolated from the life of the country around you. 🙁

  7. There is some new, vicious development: basically, the Benevolent Government du Royaume céleste seems to have recently instituted a cap on the foreign traffic an IP could have, apparently to curb wall-breaking efforts. In other words, even if the various encrypted protocols ensure that the Gov’t doesn’t actually know what you are doing, if you generate too much international traffic, chances are, you are a Tor node or a VPN server or some other fishy subversive agent. And you’ll be punished with cutting off of all foreign traffic for a few minutes, just like what happens when you search for the Fourth July massacre on
    This sounds suspiciously like a great step forward to the idea discussed a while ago, of making a white list of permitted foreign sites ( unlikely to be one of them) and block all the rest. Hope that I’m over-interpolating, deo volente.

  8. Anybody care to comment on the Modern Hebrew brouhaha?

  9. What brouhaha? The discussion on the blog mentioned seems quite reasonable. I’m not an expert on the linguistic facts, but it seems that, with respect to the historical context of Modern Hebrew’s differentiation from its predecessors, the answer is (like the old Yiddish joke): you’re right, you’re right, and *you’re* right too. Yes, Hebrew as a spoken language in Israel predated the founding of the state; and, yes, Hebrew language planning and standardization (to the extent that it has had some effect) was strongly dependent on Ben Yehuda. What that has do to with the genetic heritage of Israeli Jews is something else again.

  10. Maybe I misread the article, but I thought it was raising the question of whether Modern Hebrew was an invented language with a grammar closer to an Indo-European language than a Semitic one, and consequently whether its links with Biblical Hebrew are tenuous. I was just interested in knowing how controversial this claim is (from a purely linguistic viewpoint as I am not interested in the politics). That’s all I was getting at.

  11. Then it’s trivial. The phonology and parts of the syntax look definitely SAE, while the morphology remains quite Semitic.

  12. Bathrobe says

    I don’t know much about the technicalities of censorship.
    I’ve probably mentioned this before, but certain foreign blogs (such as, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are blocked absolutely, and trying to access a forbidden site used to bring a temporary block on all Internet access, although that seems to have changed now.
    Google is subject to interference. At least several times an hour gmail, google analytics and google search (but not google translate) become inaccessible, but they’re not blocked in such a heavy-handed way; you are simply kept waiting until there’s a time-out. After a while it’s ok again.
    Apparently the new censorship is technically very sophisticated, so the government’s hackers are entitled to feel some pride in, if not glee at their efforts. The government, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to realise (or probably doesn’t care — it is after all, le Royaume céleste) how much this continues to damage its image, which had improved immensely over the years since 1989. None of this matters, of course, unless you care about such things, but it’s very frustrating as a user. And especially when you’re denied access to goodies like Languages of the World 🙁

  13. >Then it’s trivial. The phonology and parts of the syntax look definitely SAE, while the morphology remains quite Semitic.
    Thanks, minus273. That clarifies things for me. I’m filing this under non-issue/storm-in-a-teacup.

  14. J. W. Brewer says

    I wonder how much surviving textual evidence there is of the “lingua franca” Hebrew that was apparently (per the series) used for communication between Yiddish and Ladino speakers in the 19th century before Ben Yehuda and to what extent it was or was not consistent with the post-Ben-Yehuda features that deviate from classical Hebrew. To the extent it was being spoken by native IE speakers (although not necessarily native speakers of anything Slavic, and some of the Ladino speakers, in particular, may also have had quite good Turkish and/or Arabic) it might point you in a similar direction, but to the extent it was not being as self-consciously planned/systematized it might not.

  15. J. W. Brewer says This may mean at some future point a revival of her prior blog mentioned here, but at least temporarily it means a fair amount of interesting stuff has disappeared.

  16. Well, hell. Let’s hope it becomes available again. Thanks for the heads-up!

  17. It’s probably available at the Internet Archive.

  18. David Marjanović says

    They deleted the posts without realizing that this would entail deleting the comments. *facepalm*

  19. And what is this “reasons legal and financial”? Somehow I doubt there’s brass in it.

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