5 Languages That Could Change the Way You See the World

I went to my neighbor’s house for something to eat yesterday. Think about this sentence. It’s pretty simple—English speakers would know precisely what it means. But what does it actually tell you—or, more to the point, what does it not tell you? It doesn’t specify facts like the subject’s gender or the neighbor’s, or what [...]

By |2019-11-15T15:52:59+00:00November 15th, 2019|Language|0 Comments

Why words make language

From hieroglyphics to emojis, and grunts to gestures, humans have always used multiple modes to communicate, including language. If you've ever sent a text using emojis, which the recipient received and understood, then you've communicated in a new language code. Communication codes have been with us since the grunts of our ancestors developed in to [...]

By |2019-11-12T18:25:57+00:00November 12th, 2019|Language, Words|0 Comments

Invented Languages and the Science of the Mind

Hildegard von Bingen was something of a medieval genius. She founded and was Abbess of a convent at Rubensberg in Germany, she wrote ethereally beautiful music, she was an amazing artist (one of the first to draw the visual effects of migraines), and she invented her own language. The language she constructed, Lingua Ignota (Latin [...]

By |2019-10-24T10:28:56+00:00October 24th, 2019|Conlang, Constructed languages, Language|0 Comments

Recognizing And Reviving Argentina’s Indigenous Languages

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina may be South America's most Europeanized country, with Spanish, of course, as its official language, but it also has 36 recognized indigenous tongues (belonging to 38 peoples). That is the conclusion that researchers involved in a year-long project create the country's first comprehensive language map presented earlier this month in Buenos [...]

By |2019-10-23T15:36:22+00:00October 23rd, 2019|Argentina, Language|0 Comments

Why the language-ready brain is so complex

In a review article published in Science, Peter Hagoort, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, argues for a new model of language, involving the interaction of multiple brain networks. This model is much more complex than the classical neurobiological model of language, which was largely [...]

By |2019-10-23T15:32:32+00:00October 21st, 2019|Language, The brain|0 Comments

Here’s How Words Get Removed from the Dictionary

The dictionary isn’t forever. Here’s the lowdown on what happens to a word when its popularity starts to wane. You can’t call someone a frutescent snollygoster anymore—at least not officially. Those words have been deleted from the dictionary, so you’ll have to come up with alternate terms to describe a shrubby, unscrupulous politician. And those [...]

By |2019-10-17T17:13:28+00:00October 17th, 2019|Dictionaries and Lexicography, Language, Words|0 Comments

Here’s How Words Get Added to the Dictionary

Just look it up—or look here to check out the dish on dictionaries that logophiles will love! (Logophile means word lover!) What’s the deal with new words? Where do they come from and how do they go from obscure to official? First, new words have to circulate in culture to make it into the dictionary. [...]

By |2019-10-13T16:57:14+00:00October 13th, 2019|Dictionaries and Lexicography, Language|0 Comments

Why larger communities create more systematic languages

The differences between the 6,800 or so languages that currently exist in the world are remarkable. From Cantonese, in which a speaker must perfect six different tones each of which change the meaning of a single word, to Georgian, in which verb endings vary not just according to the tense or plurality (as in English), [...]

By |2019-10-08T12:14:06+00:00October 8th, 2019|Language|0 Comments

Gesture as language: why we point with a finger

Pointing at an object… in one sense you might say that this simple gesture doesn't just replace a word, but that it is a word—perhaps the first word. We know that it and other such gestures play a fundamental role in human language, but until now, we have not known where these gestures come from. [...]

By |2019-10-07T17:37:20+00:00October 7th, 2019|Gesture, Language|0 Comments

Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language

When Paul Kay, then an anthropology graduate student at Harvard University, arrived in Tahiti in 1959 to study island life, he expected to have a hard time learning the local words for colors. His field had long espoused a theory called linguistic relativity, which held that language shapes perception. Color was the “parade example,” Kay [...]

By |2019-10-06T23:59:27+00:00October 6th, 2019|Colors, Language|0 Comments