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.[...]
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.[...]
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 ethnologue.com. This week, we present another visualization of world languages, this one produced by Alberto Lucas Lopéz, on behalf of the South China Morning Post.
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.
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.[...]
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.[...]
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.[...]
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.
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.[...]
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.[...]