All posts tagged with language

Link: Origins of human languages

1 minute read

The online magazine Sapiens has a fascinating piece by Elizabeth Svoboda looking at the ways that new languages form: “Where Do “New” Languages Come From?”

Link: Language development in the Tsimané

less than 1 minute read

A nice article in Scientific American by Dana Smith looks at a new study of language development in the Tsimané people of Bolivia: “Parents in a Remote Amazo...

Kebara hyoid still speaking

4 minute read

In an open access article in PLoS ONE, Ruggero D’Anastasio and colleagues take a closer look at the internal structure of the hyoid bone from the Kebara 2 Ne...

Culture-gene coevolution and language

2 minute read

Simon Fisher and Matt Ridley, in a recent essay in Science, discuss the relationship between the genetic mutations that distinguish humans and other primates...

Mankind in the unmaking

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Annalee Newitz gives a worthwhile etymological lesson: “Think twice before using mankind to mean all humanity, say scholars”.

Left-handed termite-fishing

3 minute read

Stephanie Bogart and colleagues, working at the chimpanzee field site of Fongoli, Senegal, have a new paper on handedness in these wild primates Bogart:2013....

Chomping Chomsky

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I ran into Deevy Bishop’s review of a recent book by Noam Chomsky and James McGilvray, titled The Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray.

Spielke profile

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The New York Times has a long profile of developmental psychologist Elizabeth Spielke, whose work with babies has opened a window on early cognition (“Insigh...

New animal communication books

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Anthropologist Barbara J. King reviews two new books on animal communication in the Washington Post: “‘Calls Beyond Our Hearing: Unlocking the Secrets of Ani...

The cultural tool

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The Guardian interviews Daniel Everett about his new book, Language: The Cultural Tool. Which I will mention, has one of the worst covers ever. It’s like the...

How interestiaaang

less than 1 minute read

The Science NY Times covers the “vocal fry” trend in an article on how young women are the leading edge of linguistic change.

The thrifty brainotype

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Andy Clark, a philosopher of the mind, has entered a useful essay in the NY Times online commentary section: “Do thrifty brains make better minds?”

Greene language interview

less than 1 minute read

The Browser gives us an interesting interview with the Economist’s Robert Lane Greene, (“Robert Lane Greene on Language and the Mind”). Greene has a recent b...

Language serial founder effects?

1 minute read

I’m at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists meetings this week, so I haven’t had time to keep up with the press. Tonight I see this story abo...

Language and spandrels

7 minute read

I’m preparing a lecture on the evolution of language. This post started out as a short note about the quote below, referring to a new book by V. S. Ramachand...

The mystery of left lateralization

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This morning, a timely post by cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott addresses the localization of language functions on the left side of the brain:

Number as cognitive technology

4 minute read

Archaeologists often define technology in terms of material products. People make stuff, and that stuff is technology.

Language bootstrapping the brain

7 minute read

Marina Bedny and colleagues Bedny:2011 show that, to a remarkable degree, the visual cortex of blind subjects takes on language-specific processing tasks.

Culturomics

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From the Guardian: “Google creates a tool to probe ‘genome’ of English words for cultural trends”.

Koro in the Aka

less than 1 minute read

I was talking about language dispersals today, and so this piece by Nigel Williams in Current Biology is topical: “New language found”. The article describes...

Mad Men language

less than 1 minute read

Linguist Ben Zimmer writes about “‘Mad Men’-ese”– the challenge of writing for a TV show set in the 1960’s without introducing anachronistic idioms. Or is th...

Language loss

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Razib Khan: “Linguistic diversity = poverty.”

Syntactic heterocomprehension

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A few days ago, Razib pointed to a story on ScienceDaily: “Many English Speakers Cannot Understand Basic Grammar”. The underlying research is by cognitive li...

Evo-devo-robo

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The May issue of Discover has a transcript of a roundtable between the editor in chief, Corey Powell, and four researchers in robotics. It’s an interesting c...

Disappearing languages

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Last month The Independent ran a story profiling linguist Mark Turin and his work documenting “endangered” languages (“The beckoning silence: Why half of the...

Monkey syntax

less than 1 minute read

This story about monkey communication is worth a pointer:

A speaking gene?

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I’m just going to quote from a press release that fell into my inbox. It’s about a talk being given at the American Society for Human Genetics meeting by Ray...

Protolanguage proceedings

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Edmund Blair Bolles has posted some entries about the proceedings at a protolanguage conference. There’s much of interest there, but I’ll give a provocative ...

Neandertals talking from the past

less than 1 minute read

I’m getting a lot of hits this month on a post from last year, “The amazing talking Neandertals”. Don’t know why….

Whorfed

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I found an interesting essay by Lera Boroditsky on Edge, titled, “How does our language shape the way we think?” She describes cross-cultural psychology expe...

How the FOXP2 transgenic mice squeak

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Nicholas Wade today covers a new study by Wolfgang Enard and colleagues, in which they generated transgenic mice expressing the human-derived version of FOXP...

Language, speech, and early humans

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I’m doing a little literature review this week on Middle Pleisocene postcrania. On a somewhat tangential topic, the description of the Sima de los Huesos cer...

Language Log points to my research

less than 1 minute read

Language Log links to that Science News piece about my work, with a lot of interesting commentary. An old college friend saw it and let me know – it’s amazin...

Darwin, languages, and genetics

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How are languages and genes related to each other? Anthropology is an interdiscipinary subject, and this is probably the topic that pushes that envelope the ...

Hearing at Atapuerca

1 minute read

A story in Science News by writer Tia Ghose, about the hearing capacities of the Atapuerca/Sima de los Huesos people, has been making the rounds, including S...

Communication not language in the brain

less than 1 minute read

Wired’s Brandon Keim covers a new study by Susan Goldin-Meadow, which shows a conflict between linguistic and gestural communication strategies:

Is language extinction a good thing?

5 minute read

That's the question posed by Ronald Butters in a recent book review, discussed by Geoffrey Pullum at Language Log. The book is Language in the USA, edited b...

Punctuational language evolution

2 minute read

This week's Science has an interesting paper by Quentin Atkinson and colleagues, titled "Languages evolve in punctuational bursts." It's a brief communicati...

Find your way in the dark with FoxP2

3 minute read

It's the wonder gene that makes the mute birds sing, the mute mice squeak and the mute Neandertals talk. And now, we find out that it fights mosquitoes, too...

Making new languages

7 minute read

The PNAS early edition is like a one-stop shop today. Here's a paper where the authors set up an experimental model for language origins:

Monkey music mixmasters

2 minute read

OK, maybe not mixmasters, exactly, but Mixing Memory does review this paper on marmoset reactions to human music by McDermott and Hauser, so I don't have to...

Math and language in the brain

2 minute read

Semenza et al. (2006) examined the mathematical abilities of aphasics with hemispheral dominance to determine which side of the brain is used for mathematic...

Metacommunication in roleplay

3 minute read

Just taking some notes on a paper from last year by Helga Andresen, on the ways that role playing by preschool-age children can illuminate language and meta...

Right-handed baboon gestures

4 minute read

There's a study of handedness in baboon communicative gestures by Meguerditchian and Vauclair. Discovery News has a report about it (via Palanthsci). From t...

Geometry, music and the brain

9 minute read

The lead report in Science this week was this paper by Dmitri Tymoczko, titled "The geometry of musical chords":

Putting two calls together

2 minute read

A very brief paper by Arnold and Zuberbüler in Nature presents a case of a complex call in guenons:

Quote of the day

less than 1 minute read

Jesper Hoffmeyer, in Signs of Meaning in the Universe (translated by Barbara Haveland):

More on the starling syntax study

2 minute read

Chris at Mixing Memory has a post from last week reflecting on the meaning of the finding that starlings can learn certain patterns of syntactic recursion.

Starling syntax

4 minute read

Generative grammar -- the theory of language structure originated by Noam Chomsky -- is lost on most people. It has a unique place in biology, because it is...

Chimpanzee language antics

1 minute read

Carl Zimmer has an article in Forbes covering recent experiments in chimpanzee vocal communication.

Probing the correlates of SLI

6 minute read

This week's (9/27/95) PNAS has an article by Johannes Ziegler and colleagues (Université de Provence) titled, "Deficits in speech perception predict ...

Language evolution update

1 minute read

Carl Zimmer has put together this week's news about language evolution. In one paper, mice with knockout versions of the FoxP2 gene were found to have troub...

The Singing Neandertal

2 minute read

Is it just me, or does this remind anyone of "The Dancing Cavalier" from Singin' in the Rain?