Published Date2020-01-14
JournalAnnual Review of Linguistics, 2020-01-14, Volume 6 Find other publications in this journal
Author Info
  • Department of Linguistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA;
  • Prince George, British Columbia V2K 3K2, Canada;


Many nonlinguists believe that their ability to speak at least one language provides special insight into the essence of languages and their histories. One result of this belief is a plethora of theories about language from a surprising variety of perspectives: where particular languages (or all languages) originated, which languages are related by a shared history, how undeciphered writings or pseudowritings are to be read, how language figures in paranormal claims as “evidence” for reincarnation and channeled entities, and much, much more. This review surveys some of the major areas in which fringe and crackpot claims about language thrive. Only a few topics and examples can be covered in the limited space of a single article, but these should be enough, we hope, to suggest the range of wonderfully wacky pseudolinguistic notions out there.