Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Subject: Words for Mother
Question:
I am curious why there is a remarkable similarity across different languages in the form of nusery names for parents?e.g.,In Chinese and Navajo ''ma'' corresponds to English ''mama''.
Is it juist a matter of fact on coincident????

Reply:
Just to follow up on Bob Papen's comments: it's not that the word
for mother is related in all these languages. It's that human babies
develop at roughly the same timetable everywhere, and the sounds
in the baby words (and sometimes also the adult term) for mother
correspond to the sound that are earliest controllable by baby
articulators.

Reply From: Nancy J. Frishberg     click here to access email
Date: Jan-21-2006
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Words for Mother Robert A Papen    (Jan-20-2006)
  2. Re: Words for Mother Geoffrey Sampson    (Jan-23-2006)

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