The Fascinating Whistled Languages of the Canary Islands, Turkey & Mexico (and What They Say About the Human Brain)

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Science |4 Comments”>another

For some years now linguist Daniel Everett has challenged the orthodoxy of Noam Chomsky and other linguists who believe in an innate “universal grammar” that governs human language acquisition.


Learn to Speak 48 Languages for Free: Everything from Arabic to Indonesian to Yiddish on One Page

≡ Category: Language Lessons |3 Comments

Even by the standards of United States Presidents, Barack Obama has led a pretty unusual life. His early experiences included a childhood plunge into internationalism in the form of not just his Kenyan father but his Indonesian stepfather, to whose homeland the family moved when Obama was six years old.


A Proportional Visualization of the World’s Most Popular Languages

≡ Category: Language Lessons |18 Comments

Click to view in a big, high-res format
Last week we highlighted for you a beautiful Tree of Languages infographic, created by Minna Sundberg using data from This week, we present another visualization of world languages, this one produced by Alberto Lucas Lopéz, on behalf of the South China Morning Post.


The Tree of Languages Illustrated in a Big, Beautiful Infographic

≡ Category: Art, Language Lessons |68 Comments

Click image, then click again, to enlarge
Call it counterintuitive clickbait if you must, but Forbes’ Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry made an intriguing argument when he granted the title of “Language of the Future” to French, of all tongues.


Hip Hop Hits Sung Wonderfully in Sign Language: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” & More

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Music |1 Comment

The first time I went to see David Sedaris read some of his hilarious essays live, I ended up laughing much more than I expected. By luck of seating, I found myself at the right of the stage, facing his sign language interpreter. She didn’t just quickly parse what he said.


Klingon for English Speakers: Sign Up for a Free Course Coming Soon

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Random |4 Comments

Duolingo provides free educational resources that will help you learn a whole host of terrestrial languages — languages like Spanish, French, German, and Italian. But now they’re expanding into extraterrestrial languages too, like Klingon.


The Linguistics Behind Kevin Spacey’s Southern Accent in House of Cards: A Quick Primer

≡ Category: Language Lessons |2 Comments

Let’s take Kevin Spacey’s southern accent on the Netflix series House of Cards, and use it as a springboard for exploring the linguistics of that often times charming regional accent, shall we? In the video above, created by Vox, we learn all about “ay-unglidding.


Cab Calloway’s “Hepster Dictionary,” A 1939 Glossary of the Lingo (the “Jive”) of the Harlem Renaissance

≡ Category: History, Language Lessons, Life, Music |4 Comments

The lists are in. By overwhelming consensus, the buzzword of 2014 was “vape.” Apparently, that’s the verb that enables you to smoke an e-cig. Left to its own devices, my computer will still autocorrect 2014’s biggest word to “cape,” but that could change.
Hopefully not.


The Making of the Famous Jive Talk Scenes from Airplane!

≡ Category: Comedy, Film, Language Lessons |3 Comments

Like films by the Marx brothers, Airplane! creates a feeling of giddy, exuberant anarchy by hurling a non-stop barrage of jokes at you. It is the sort of movie that viewers risk hyperventilating from laughing so much. Yet among the all gags and one-liners — “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.


Watch Classic Seinfeld Scenes Dubbed in …. Yiddish

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You may never have heard much Yiddish, but we can’t call it a dead language. The tongue of the Ashkenazi Jews, one referred to in the 19th and part of the 20th century as simply “Jewish,” certainly did, however, have a near-death experience.


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