Dolphin Language

The textbook I am using in my grammar class, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English, suggests that humans are unique in that they are the only species known to show abstract language use in the wild (they do mention the example of chimpanzees that have been trained to use sign language).


Very recent research, however, provides a potential counter example: Dolphin names. It has long been known that dolphins communicate with each other verbally. And since the 1960s, researchers have believed that individual dolphins use a “signature whistle” to identify themselves that is recognised by others in their population. What is new, however, is the evidence that dolphins use the signature whistles of other dolphins to refer to them—that is to say, recognise a particular whistle sequence as being symbolic of a particular individual dolphin, distinct from themselves.


This use of arbitrary signals to refer to a specific object, if true, would invalidate the claims in Brinton Read the rest of this entry »


Grammar Essentials 2: Parts of Speech (Word Classes) Exercise Answers

Here are possible answers to the exercises in Grammar Essentials 2: Parts of speech. In some cases more than one right answer might be possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Basic Old English Grammar

Old English and Modern English can be deceptively similar from a syntactic point of view. In particular, word order frequently is the same in the two languages (though Old English is actually probably closer in some aspects of its word order to other Low German languages such as Dutch). This means that it is often possible to translate simple declarative sentences from Old English by simply looking up the meaning of each word in a dictionary… Read the rest of this entry »

The Pronunciation of Old English

The sounds of Old English should not prove difficult, with a few exceptions, for speakers of Modern English. It can be hard at first to get used to some of the spelling conventions, such as the fact that all letters—including final e—are pronounced; but on the whole Old English does not have many sounds that are not the same as in Modern English, and, in most cases, indicated by the same letters… Read the rest of this entry »

Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law Notes

This tutorial looks at Grimm’s Law and Verner’s Law. Read the rest of this entry »

Grammar Essentials 2: Parts of Speech (Word Classes)

Words are different from each other in meaning—car and unwelcome mean different things, after all. But they can also differ from each other in more than meaning: they can also differ in the way they are used in sentences. Read the rest of this entry »

Grammar Essentials 1: Inflections (Inflectional Morphology)

For the most part, English uses word order to indicate the relationship among words in sentences. When I say “The boy bit the dog”, people listening to me know that it was the boy who did the biting because The boy comes first in the sentence. Likewise, they know that it was the dog that was bitten because the dog comes after bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Grammar: A Guide to the Essentials

This tutorial is intended for high school, college, and University students who need a quick guide the essentials of English grammar. Its goal is to help you understand the core grammatical terminology used in textbooks and lectures in courses on foreign languages, the History of English, Old English, or other medieval and classical languages. Read the rest of this entry »
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