How People Talk Now Holds Clues about Human Migration Centuries Ago

What can a modern-day Creole language tell us about its first speakers in the 1600s? M M,    By Dr. Nicole Creanza (left) and Dr. André Ché Sherriah (right) / 03.02.2018 Creanza: Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Sherriah: Postdoctoral Associate in Linguistics, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus Often, you can tell where someone[…]

Decoding Languages in the Lab

New linguistics facility applies scientific tenets to understanding how we communicate. By Jill Radsken / 02.21.2018 Dorothy Ahn stood behind a video camera, recording a fellow researcher reading simple sentences — “One girl is my friend. That girl plays soccer”— while pointing for emphasis. The filming was part of a research experiment comparing speech gestures[…]

The Peoples, Languages, and History of the Pyrenees Region

Sainte-Cecile Cathedral overlooking the Tarn River, Albi, France. Midi- Pyrénées / Encyclopedia Britannica  By Dr. Friedrich Edelmayer / 05.31.2012 Professor of Austrian and Medieval History Universität Wien Abstract The Pyrenees region encompasses areas from the Kingdom of Spain, the Republic of France and the Principality of Andorra. It is also linguistically heterogeneous. In addition to[…]

Language and Its Development

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.15.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Introduction to Language 1.2 – Introduction 1.1.2 – Overview Language is the ability to produce and comprehend both spoken and written (and in the case of sign language, signed) words. Understanding how language works means reaching across many branches of psychology—everything from basic[…]

The Term “Reich” in the Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern Worlds

Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Joachim Whaley / 05.11.2015 Professor of German History and Thought University of Cambridge Abstract The term “Reich” is found in a variety of European languages and has several applications in German. “Das Reich” is different, however, and it derives its suggestive force from a combination of secular and religious sources. This[…]

The Polyglot of Bologna

Mezzofanti as pictured in the frontispiece to The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti; with an introductory memoir of eminent linguists, ancient and modern (1858) by Charles William Russell Michael Erard takes a look at The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti, a book exploring the extraordinary talent of the 19th century Italian cardinal who was reported to be able to speak[…]

Trüth, Beaüty, and Volapük

Johann Schleyer on a harp given to him as a 50th birthday present by his colleagues at Sionsharfe, a magazine devoted mainly to Catholic poetry, which Schleyer edited and in which he first published on Volapük in 1879 / Bayerische StaatsBibliothek Arika Okrent explores the rise and fall of Volapük – a universal language created in[…]

Porridge is Funnier than Oatmeal, and Booty is Funnier Still

Ha! Photo by Getty Images    By Dr. Thomas Hills (left) and Tomas Engelthaler (right) / 11.20.2017 Hills:  Professor of Psychology Engelthaler:  PhD Candidate in Psychology University of Warwick ‘Which word is funnier: porridge or oatmeal?’ This is the question one of us recently posed to the other. Clearly, the notion was insane. Surely finding something funny requires context[…]

Primate Vocalizations are Much More than Gibberish

Chimpanzees use alarm calls to inform each other of danger. / Ronald Woan, Flickr Nonhuman primates clearly do more than just screech meaningless sounds at each other, but what are the limits of their communication? By Jay Schwartz / 08.25.2017 PhD Candidate in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior Emory University A chimpanzee is strolling along a[…]

The Language of the Undead: Zombie Narrative and Linguistics, Who Knew?

Jamie Thomas, AB ’06, studies zombies, language, race and othering at Swarthmore College. Photo by Jennifer Weisbord By Alana Hauser / 10.16.2017 In 2003, bestselling author Max Brooks published the Gray’s Anatomy of survival guides. The Zombie Survival Guide took readers on a journey through the anatomy of the living dead: their physical attributes, behavioral patterns and historical origins.[…]

The Unexpected Benefits of Getting Lost in Translation

‘You can never, in American public life, underestimate the advantages of complete and total incomprehensibility.’ Kissinger meets Anwar Sadat in 1976. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Edward Gibson / 09.25.2017 Professor of Cognitive Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology About 20 per cent of the United States population (60 million out of 300 million people) are[…]

Languages don’t All have the Same Number of Terms for Colors – Scientists have a New Theory Why

Everyone sees them all, but we don’t all give them the same distinct names. lazyllama/   By Dr. Ted Gibson and Dr. Bevil R. Conway / 09.18.2017 Gibson: Professor of Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Conway: Investigator at the National Eye Institute’s Sensation, Cognition, Action Unit, National Institutes of Health People with standard vision can see[…]