Animals that can do math understand more language than we think

It is often thought that humans are different from other animals in some fundamental way that makes us unique, or even more advanced than other species. These claims of human superiority are sometimes used to justify the ways we treat other animals, in the home, the lab or the factory farm. So, what is it [...]

By |2020-05-29T10:39:57+00:00May 29th, 2020|Animal communication, Animals, Language|0 Comments

In Milpa Alta, people still speak the Aztec language

In the 1970s, before workers laid the asphalt that became a two-lane highway connecting Mexico City with Milpa Alta, the southernmost of the city’s 16 delegations, Javier Galicia-Silva’s grandmother would hike down the hills to Xochimilco each day at 04:00. From here she would take a chalupa (a large water taxi) along the ancient canals [...]

By |2020-05-06T11:45:05+00:00May 6th, 2020|Language, Mexico, Nahuatl language|0 Comments

How Did Human Language Evolve? Scientists Still Don’t Know

Humans have language and other animals don’t. That’s obvious, but how it happened is not. Since Darwin’s time, scientists have puzzled over the evolution of language. They can observe the present-day product: People today have the capacity for language, whether it be spoken, signed or written. And they can infer the starting state: The communication [...]

By |2020-05-02T19:23:46+00:00May 2nd, 2020|Language|0 Comments

Scientists make a spectacular discovery about the origin of language in the brain

Mammal brains, unlike bones, do not fossilize. This fact presents a conundrum for scientists trying to understand how we came to be how we are. For example, scientists have long argued over how humans became able to speak -- if only they had an ancient brain to settle the debate! But with no time machine, [...]

By |2020-04-21T11:15:30+00:00April 21st, 2020|Language, The brain|0 Comments

Can emojis be evidence in court? Forensic linguists are figuring it out

Emojis have become ubiquitous in text communication – messages are peppered with smiley faces, hearts and other graphic icons. They were first drawn by graphic designer Shigetaka Kurita, and generated by a Japanese communications firm called NTT DoCoMo in the late 1990s. Now they’re everywhere. But would you be quite so quick to insert an [...]

By |2020-04-13T20:04:10+00:00April 13th, 2020|Emojis, Language, Law|0 Comments

Why Do Human Beings Speak so Many Languages?

The thatched roof held back the sun’s rays, but it could not keep the tropical heat at bay. As everyone at the research workshop headed outside for a break, small groups splintered off to gather in the shade of coconut trees and enjoy a breeze. I wandered from group to group, joining in the discussions. [...]

By |2020-04-10T23:03:12+00:00April 10th, 2020|Language|0 Comments

Save the Words

The fight to keep indigenous languages alive, through speaking, software, and day care. Class starts with a prayer, but there’s no Jesus, no Muhammad, no saints or Abrahamic God. And no English. Reciting “Lavina’s Prayer” requires a handout that everyone falteringly reads from, guided by Joey Awonohopay, the director of the Menominee Language and Culture [...]

By |2020-04-08T15:51:19+00:00April 8th, 2020|Language|0 Comments

How the visual language of comics could have its roots in the ice age

Neil Cohn's love of comic strips began in his family's attic. In one of his earliest memories, he recalls his dad climbing the stairs and pulling down a box of 1960s Batman and Superman books that he had stashed away from his own childhood. To Cohn's four-year-old self, it was as if they'd been imported [...]

By |2020-03-25T23:27:32+00:00March 25th, 2020|Comic books, Language|0 Comments

Card game celebrates pre-colonial Filipino script baybayin, and creator hopes to help inspire its revival

A young Philippine artist and freelance illustrator has created a card game she hopes will inspire her countrymen to help revive the written language used by their ancestors. Patricia Ramos hopes her simple game will teach players across the Philippines how to read the ancient writing system of baybayin, widely used before the Spanish invasion [...]

By |2020-03-25T13:48:14+00:00March 25th, 2020|Baybayin script, Filipino, Language, Philippines|0 Comments

Forensic linguists explore how emojis can be used as evidence in court

Emojis have become ubiquitous in text communication – messages are peppered with smiley faces, hearts and other graphic icons. They were first drawn by graphic designer Shigetaka Kurita, and generated by a Japanese communications firm called NTT DoCoMo in the late 1990s. Now they’re everywhere. But would you be quite so quick to insert an [...]

By |2020-03-25T13:41:09+00:00March 23rd, 2020|Emojis, Language, Law|0 Comments