Archive of posts with tag 'linguistics'

The Spread of Writing

October 12, 2022 • #

The spread of written language around the world, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to today.

4 Amazing Things About Language

September 25, 2019 • #

Dialect expert Erik Singer is back with a short video on some fascinating features of language:

I find anything about language or linguistics immensely fascinating. It’s amazing the way humans so naturally develop the ability to convert random noise into patterns for communication by age 3.

In this video he talks about the Great Vowel Shift, a slow wandering of the pronunciation of English over the past few hundred years. Now stretch this back a thousand more years and think about how many different languages...

Weekend Reading: Brains and Language, Hillshading in Blender, and Antifragility

April 13, 2019 • #

🧠 Your Brain Needs 1.5 MB of Storage to Master Your Native Language

“It may seem surprising but, in terms of digital media storage, our knowledge of language almost fits compactly on a floppy disk,” the authors wrote in the study. In this case, that would be a floppy disk that holds about 1.5 megabytes of information, or the equivalent of about a minute-long song as an Mp3 file. [3D Images: Exploring the Human Brain] The researchers estimate that in the best-case scenario, in a...

Linguistic Relativity

April 7, 2019 • #

The linguist John McWhorter has written a plethora of books on the English language. For an academic (he’s a professor at Columbia University), he has a very progressive view of English’s evolution, a supporter of the vernacular and everyday grammar with all its quickly-developing trendy figures of speech over the conservative, traditionalist approaches of Strunk and White. Many linguists of tend toward preservation, pushing standardization of grammar and even teaching “proper” usage that no modern speaker would say out loud. But McWhorter has a different perspective and supports change in usage with...

Language and Progress

December 11, 2018 • #

A wide-ranging conversation on linguistics, human scientific advancement, and enlightenment thinking with Steven Pinker and John McWhorter.

Linguistics is endlessly fascinating.

I might be an outlier, but I absolutely love YouTube as a medium for this kind of content. This sort of long form video is an example of a fantastic new thing that couldn’t exist or thrive prior to YouTube.

Technique Critique

October 12, 2018 • #

This series with dialect coach Erik Singer is great, I could watch dozens of these. He critiques renditions of different accents, some of them specific regional dialects:

Maybe it’s related to my interest in geography, but I’m always curious to learn how to differentiate accents from different countries and localities.