Four-quark matter and linguistic insights

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Back in June, Sally Thomason noted that Carmel O'Shannessy's paper in the June issue of Language, "The role of multiple sources in the formation of an innovative auxiliary category in Light Warlpiri, a new Australian mixed language", was getting widespread press coverage ("A new mixed language in the news", 6/18/2013). Sally flagged stories by Denise Chow, "Australia's Mixed Language, 'Light Warlpiri,' Discovered In Remote Desert Community", Live Science  6/18/2013, and by Enrico de Lazaro, "Light Warlpiri: New Study Sheds Light on Origins of Recently Discovered Australian Language", 6/18/2013.

We can add Paul Hamaker, "Light Warlpiri is the newest language on earth", The Examiner 6/18/2013; Joanna Egan, "New Aboriginal language born in the NT", Australian Geographic 6/20/2013; and reprints of Denise Chow's piece in the Huffington Post and on Fox News. And an excellent article by Olga Khazan in The Atlantic, "How the World's Newest 'Mixed' Language Was Invented", 6/18/2013.

Update — and now Nicholas Bakalar, "Linguist Finds a Language in its Infancy", NYT 7/14/2013.

The LSA's press release, reprinted at e.g. Science Codex and RedOrbit, was very well done, and was no doubt partly responsible for this quick flurry of stories: "New Language Discovery Reveals New Linguistic Insights", 6/18/2013

There was even coverage in the Netherlands ("Nieuwe taal in kaart gebracht in Australië", 6/18/2013) and in Vietnam ("Miền bắc Australia xuất hiện ngôn ngữ mới",  Hànộimới 6/23/2008).

But my favorite Light Warlpiri media ripple is The Hindu's "Tech Check" feature for 6/20/2013, which included this list of briefly-described items: "California bill posed to lift restrictions on egg donation", "New particle hints at four-quark matter", "New language discovery reveals linguistic insights", "Computer-aided design of zeolite templates", and "Obese black hole galaxies may help explain how quasars form".


  1. Victor Mair said,

    July 12, 2013 @ 5:52 am

    As someone who has dabbled in Indian philosophy, religion, music, poetry, art, language, literature, and so forth for decades, all I can say is that you simply have to learn to wrap your mind around these novel concepts as best you can and just "go with the flow".

    [(myl) In this case, I'm happy to say, the new linguistic ideas are sensible and easy to assimilate, and the coverage in the media has been generally appropriate and accurate.]

  2. John Lawler said,

    July 16, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    I might add that Carmel's actual paper in Language is behind a pay wall, which is no doubt good for Language, but is not terrific for science, or for Linguistics, which is already the best-kept secret in the USA.

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