Episode 2: Judie Maxwell, part 1, on Language Diversity

In this episode, we talk to our own beloved professor Judith M. Maxwell of Tulane University about language diversity. Because the purpose of this podcast is to discuss the unique languages of the world, the first few episodes are intended to help set the stage for a discussion of the world’s unique languages. We talk very generally about how languages change and diversify themselves, giving a few examples of the processes that change language over time.

“Well, for one thing, what I usually say when we talk about Historical Linguistics or Dialectology is that people are lazy.” ?

Topics include:

  • historical and contemporary use of the Spanish terms “lengua” vs “idioma”
  • use of the words “language” and “dialect” in the Philippines
  • the process of assimilation (simplification of language)
  • the process of dissimilation (re-complication of language)
  • the process of metathesis and spoonerisms
  • deletions, epenthesis, re-cutting, and weird historical accidents (did you know “an apron” used to be “a napron”?
  • how languages change each other (language contact)
  • lexical borrowing (borrowing of words)
  • “killer languages” and “prestige languages”
  • the “Three Generations to Extinction” model

We also discuss the effects of globalization on language diversity.


  • Kemchi’ Wuj Pa Oxi’ Ch’ab’äl: Kaqchikel, K’iche’ chuqa’ Tz’utujiil. (Arte de los Tres Idiomas: Kaqchikel, K’iche’ y Tz’utujiil): book project with Ajpub’ García Ixmatá and Juan Rodrigo Guarchaj, U Rafael Landívar Press (IN PRESS)
  • Ezguerra, Domingo. 1747. Arte de La Lengua Bisaya de La Provincia de Leite. Manila: Compañia de Jesus.
  • Méntrida, Alonso de. 1894. Arte de La Lengua Bisaya-Hiligayna de La Isla de Panay. Tambobong, Philippines: Pequeña Tipo-Litografía del Asilo de Huérfanos de Nuestra Señora de la Consolación.
  • Field Notes podcast website: https://fieldnotespod.com
  • “They All Ask’d for You”, by The Meters : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juaOgKVTYJ4

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