Tag Archives: language

How Language Began: Gesture and Speech in Human Evolution

Human language is not the same as human speech. We use gestures and signs to communicate alongside, or instead of, speaking. Yet gestures and speech are processed in the same areas of the human brain, and the study of how … Continue reading

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Multiculturalism, Autonomy, and Language Preservation

In this paper, I show how a novel treatment of speech acts can be combined with a well-known liberal argument for multiculturalism in a way that will justify claims about the preservation, protection, or accommodation of minority languages. The key … Continue reading

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Language has become a tool for social exclusion

Within a week of the Salzburg Global Seminar’s Statement for a Multilingual World launching in February 2018, the document – which calls for policies and practices that support multilingualism – had received 1.5m social media impressions. The statement opens with some … Continue reading

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The emergence of hierarchical structure in human language

We propose a novel account for the emergence of human language syntax. Like many evolutionary innovations, language arose from the adventitious combination of two pre-existing, simpler systems that had been evolved for other functional tasks. The first system, Type E(xpression), … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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The power of culture: acculturation and language use in bilinguals

This paper investigates the extent of second language (L2) use in four cognitive domains including mental calculation, planning (action plans), note-taking, and shopping lists. Participants include 149 highly educated L2-competent sequential Polish–English bilinguals who relocated to the UK1 in early … Continue reading

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Language, Culture, and Society

Language, our primary tool of thought and perception, is at the heart of who we are as individuals. Languages are constantly changing, sometimes into entirely new varieties of speech, leading to subtle differences in how we present ourselves to others. This revealing account … Continue reading

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The mystery of language evolution

Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been … Continue reading

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The 10 Oldest Languages Still Spoken In The World Today

Language evolution is like biological evolution – it happens minutely, generation by generation, so there’s no distinct breaking point between one language and the next language that develops from it. Therefore, it’s impossible to say that one language is really … Continue reading

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Culture shapes the Evolution of Cognition

A central debate in cognitive science concerns the nativist hypothesis, the proposal that universal features of behavior reflect a biologically determined cognitive substrate: For example, linguistic nativism proposes a domain-specific faculty of language that strongly constrains which languages can be … Continue reading

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