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The Geography Classroom
Linking geographic concepts to human and environmental issues
Curated by Elisha Upton
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Do Geography and Altitude Shape the Sounds of a Language?

Do Geography and Altitude Shape the Sounds of a Language? | The Geography Classroom | Scoop.it
Languages that evolve at high elevations are more likely to include a sound that's easier to make when the air is thinner, new research shows

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PatrickHance's comment, September 2, 2013 9:33 PM
Recently, a University of Miami linguist named Caleb Everett made a surprising discovery about how geography influences language. Previously, it was assumed that how languages developed sounds was random. His findings show that languages with ejective consonants have a strong tendency to be in high-altitude regions. Ejective consonants are made by suddenly releasing an intense burst of air, and about 20% of the worlds languages have them. By sampling 567 of the 6909 known languages, Everett found that 87% of languages with ejective consonants are found in areas above 1500 meters. Only 43% of languages originating in high altitude areas were without ejectives, and just 4% of languages developed far from high altitudes had ejectives. Everett also found that as the altitude of a language's origin point grew, so did the chance of it containing ejectives. Assuming that his findings hold up when the rest of the world's languages are analyzed, this would be the first time geography was proven to change the sounds of a language.
PatrickHance's comment, September 2, 2013 9:56 PM
I feel that this is a very important article. If his analysis remains true for all the other remaining languages in the world, then it'll be a major discovery. This research may open up a whole new branch of linguistics, regarding how languages are shaped by geography. Soon, we could be discovering how dry, mountain air could help you make clearer sounds, and so on. From there, we could be studying how factors like socioeconomic status change your speech. The prospects for a big discovery like this are amazing.
PatrickHance's comment, September 2, 2013 10:02 PM
Stromberg, Joseph. "Do Geography and Altitude Shape the Sounds of a Language?." Surprising Science. Smithsonian, 12 Jun 2013. Web. 1 Sep. 2013. <http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/06/do-geography-and-altitude-shape-the-sounds-of-a-language/>.
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Not All English is the Same

Not All English is the Same | The Geography Classroom | Scoop.it

"22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other"


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Lena Minassian's curator insight, January 27, 5:58 PM

This article was actually funny and interesting. You do not really pay attention to the pronunciation of words just because we are surrounded by the same people who say a particular word the same way. Many individuals in the US are in for a culture shock if they leave their respected homes. One word that you have grown up with may be a completely different word in another area. We tend to not focus a lot of attention on the smaller details like this type of grammar and pronunciation so this caught my eye because it was interesting to think about and realize how you say words compared to the rest of the United States.

Louis Mazza's curator insight, January 28, 11:53 AM

to me this is not so shocking but definitely entertaining. i mean between my family their is pronunciation differences. some say tomato others say toma`to right? not all English is the same is a concept that makes perfect sense to me. in other countries such as Italy, a person from the north cannot understand a person from the south because they speak in different dialects. perhaps it has to their with their location, or job types. but it holds true that different parts of a country can speak the same language in different ways. 

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, April 8, 3:04 PM

I've seen this collection of maps a number of times before, but they are just as interesting and informative every time I look at them. It's really a fun exercise in seeing what phrases you use or how you pronounce certain words as opposed to the rest of the country. As a Rhode Islander, the bubbler/water fountain divide was of particular interest to me. I also found it funny that I have the vaguely Western/Midwestern tendency of calling "rotaries" (or what are traditionally called rotaries in my area), "roundabouts". This is especially curious to me, because I generally tend to think of that term as a British one. Could this possibly mean that a lot of British immigrants settled in the Western/Midwestern United States? Or am I just mistaken and buying into a poorly informed stereotype about British people?

 

Whatever the case, these maps are very informative and say a lot about the linguistic differences that occur even within one country. Now granted, the United States is a large country, so there is bound to be a good amount of variation. But it's still fascinating to me just how much variety there can be. The fact that when traveling, your use or pronunciation of a certain word or phrase can immediately identify you as an out-of-towner is very interesting. This is yet another example of the importance of doing your own research in order to avoid making incorrect assumptions. Just because all of the people within a geographic border may live in the same country, it does not mean that their dialects or colloquialisms are all the same. It does not even necessarily mean that they speak the same language. Different immigrant groups (because almost no country is impervious to immigration) settle in different areas and this ends up contributing (in part) to the different dialects and expressions that one finds within geographic borders. 

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The Pop vs. Soda Page

The Pop vs. Soda Page | The Geography Classroom | Scoop.it
A page that plots the geographic distribution of the terms "pop" and "soda" when used to describe carbonated beverages...

 

This is an old classic that is going viral on Facebook right now, so I thought it would be time to link you to the original.  This map isn't just cool, but a great portal to a discussion on regions, diffusion and cultural identity.  This is a modern 'shibboleth' for the United States, a way to show where you are from to some extent.  What are other 'shibboleths' that make your region distinct?  


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cookiesrgreat's comment, February 2, 2012 5:23 PM
Other could mean "cola" or "drink"
Elizabeth Allen's comment, November 16, 2012 5:05 PM
Such a neat map that certainly illustrates the differences between US states. Seeing this map and the reasons for the variation in name makes sense. Of course soda is called "Coke" in the south. Georgia is the home of the Coke Cola Factory.
Sarah Ann Glesenkamp's curator insight, September 9, 2014 11:44 PM

Unit 1

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Atlas of True Names

Atlas of True Names | The Geography Classroom | Scoop.it

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings,
of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States.

For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated,
the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One", derived from Arab. es-sahra “the fawn coloured, desert”.


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John Blunnie's curator insight, July 2, 2013 11:12 AM

True names give these maps a unique and historic twist.

Carol Thomson's curator insight, July 17, 2013 4:57 AM

I loved looking at the map of great britain.  I hope it grabs my pupils' attention as an introduction to maps.

Amy Marques's curator insight, July 31, 2013 7:19 PM

Great to see what the original names where! Especially for those that are similar to its current name and those that are completely irrelevant!

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The Italians who want to be Austrian

The Italians who want to be Austrian | The Geography Classroom | Scoop.it
It is Italy's richest province, and has been part of the country for almost 100 years - but some in South Tyrol just do not feel fully Italian.

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Scarpaci Human Geography's curator insight, December 14, 2012 11:13 AM

Questions to Ponder: How to political borders reveal and conceal "the truth" about places on either side of the line?  What elements are a part of a regions heritage?  Can regions have multiple, overlapping heritages?  How does devolution impact the whole country?

Allison Anthony's curator insight, December 14, 2012 1:46 PM

Take note Kate and Johnny!!

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 30, 2014 8:14 PM

Being an eighth Tyrolean, I remember my great uncles and other family members complaining about this at every family reunion. Newer generations in my family would refer to themselves as Italian, and the arguments would ensue. That being said, it is no surprise that those living in what was once Tyrol have faced conflict. Historically, peoples with languages, cultural heritages, or religions that differ from the rest of a country usually hold grievances. During the time of Mussolini, Italians were encouraged to move to the northern reaches and Italian was forcibly taught in the school systems. Italy's past of forcing the Austrian speaking Tyroleans to assimilate into a more Italian culture may remain, but fortunately, they have worked to preserve their culture. The bilingual nature of this region allows for the people to thrive in business and tourism. Unfortunately, this autonomous state is facing dark times as Italy's financial crisis puts pressure on South Tyrol by increasing taxes. Many see this as a continuation of Italian oppression on a not so Italian demographic.