SOUNDING on Random Theoretical Notions, July 2, 2010

Some things that have crossed my wires (in all senses) recently, that I’m keeping track of:


SOUNDING for Week Ending 1/9/2010


Southeast Asian Language Resources

From my own teacher (lokkru, លោក​គ្រូ) of Cambodian, the redoubtable Frank Smith (who is now teaching at Berkeley – Lucky them!), who also hosts the amazing StudyKhmer site, with the “Extreme Khmer” video podcast (or ‘vodcast’, for those enamoured of the portmanteau). Lokkru Frank says,

This blog post describes a great free resource for downloading old FSI
(Foreign Service Institute) materials–in most cases with audio as
well–for learning Thai, Lao and Khmer, in addition to 31 other languages:

These materials are old and not without their pedagogical shortcomings,
yes, but like the man says, the price is certainly right.   Get
something back for your [American] tax dollars that produced these in
the first place!  The blog itself, “Thai 101”, is a great read on a
regular basis as well.

Just to make sure you read the darned thing and snag those excellent resources, I’ll post the entire Thai 101 blog post below the jump. Continue reading


Up the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

I’ve not normally found the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis very compelling. The idea that language determines thought is rather repellent to me, but more importantly (since gravity is also sometimes repellent to me, and nevertheless exists), does not seem to properly match many facts. It seems much more realistic to adopt a weak form of the hypothesis, that language is a powerful determining factor in worldview, rather than determining the worldview nearly in toto.

Here, anyway, via the always-wonderful Mind Hacks blog (on neurobiology, mostly, a topic that attracts high numbers of Buddhists and Buddhist studies types), is a study that seems to support the weak form of the hypothesis, and is freaking fascinating to boot:

I’ve just found this fascinating study on language and psychosis that found that multilingual psychotic patients can present with either different or less psychotic symptoms depending on the language they use.

It’s a 2001 study from The British Journal of Medical Psychology that collected existing case studies from the medical literature and reports on several new examples.

There have been previous accounts of bilingual or ‘polyglot’ patients who only hear voices in one of their languages, but this seems to be the first study to assess psychotic symptoms using a standardised measure.

Wow. Click here for the Mind Hacks summary; here for the full article.


Mon-Khmer Call Home

Lundi 16 juillet 2007 / Monday 16th of July 2007
Vous êtes cordialement invités à la présentation informelleYou are cordially invited to attend the informal presentation:
Looking for the homeland of Mon-Khmer language

Associate Member of the EFEO
Récemment, plusieurs archéologues (Higham, Belwood) ont tenté de relancer l’hypothèse selon laquelle les populations parlant les langues de la famille Mon-Khmer seraient originaires de Chine Centrale.

La famille Mon-Khmer (environ 120 langues) ne constitue qu’une moitié de la plus grande famille Austro-asiatique dont l’autre moitié, les langues de la famille Munda (environ 20 langues) se trouvent en Inde. Nous proposons quelques arguments suggérant que les origines de la famille Austro-asiatique serait plutôt à chercher du côté du Golfe du Bengale. Aussi quelques photos.

Recently, several archaeologists (Higham, Belwood) have tried to revive the idea that Mon-Khmer speaking populations originated in Central China.

However, the Mon-Khmer family (ab. 120 languages) constitutes only one half of the larger Austroasiatic family, the other half, the Munda family (ab. 20 languages) is located in India. We will present a few arguments suggesting that the origins of the Austroasitic family are more likely to be found somewhere on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Some photos also.

Gérard Diffloth, PhD in Linguistics, UCLA (1968); Professor of Linguistics University of Chicago; Professor of Linguistics and Asian studies, Cornell University. Currently associate member of the EFEO, writing an « Introduction to comparative Mon-Khmer ».

18 h 30, Lundi 16 juillet 2007, au centre de l’EFEO.

Monday 16th of July 2007, at 6:30 pm at the EFEO.

Presentation will be in English – La présentation sera en Anglais

Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) Siem Reap

P.O. Box 93 300, Siem Reap – Angkor

Phum Beng Don Pa, Khum Slâ Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodge

Tel: (885) (16) 635 037 / (63) 964 630 / Tel/Fax: (855) (63) 964 226

Email: /