Why you’d better never have to ask the way when visiting the Northern Territory in Australia

The way that different languages convey information has long fascinated linguists, anthropologists, and sociologists alike. Murrinhpatha, the lingua franca spoken by the majority of Aboriginal people in the Moyle and Fitzmaurice rivers region of Australia’s Northern Territory has many interesting features, with the absence of verbal abstract directions a prominent one among them. And if a language… Read more

Book Review: The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity by Charles Taylor

To be human is to sometimes wonder what that entails, and to what extent we differ from the rest of our animal brethren. Some of us believe that humans are unique in our capacity to seek out knowledge for its own sake (Aristotle); to exercise our moral duty or free will (Kant); and to reason (Descartes). Others (such as Hume and Darwin) take human exceptionality to task, contending that the difference lies in degree. We have… Read more

Moana Maniapoto: Why we’ve become reo refugees

I’m a refugee. Apparently. I didn’t know I was one until a Sunday newspaper told me. When our baby was two, our family moved from our cool Grey Lynn apartment to a ramshackle whare on an Auckland west coast beach. Our friends in the city thought we’d lost the plot. “You going all country on us, mate?” Drama queens, we thought. We’re only 45 minutes from Ponsonby Road, if you get a clear run. For the first two… Read more

You say tax haven, I say corruption port. Welcome to New Zealand

My daughter returned home with from seeing Romeo and Juliet at Auckland Pop-up Globe the other night quoting one of Shakespeare’s famous lines: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, she would, her name is Rose. But it got me thinking about esoteric language and whether or not the words we use for things change their reality – which, in the way these things do,… Read more