Tag Archives | language


Tweet this: human language may have evolved from birdsong

Charles Darwin speculated that language might have had its origins in singing and now linguists from MIT are taking that theory a step further by proposing that human language could be a grafting of two communication forms found in the animal kingdom. Writing in Frontiers in Psychology, the scientists suggest that human language is a […]

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QWERTY effect creates sexy words

An intriguing new study in the journalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review shows there is a link between the meaning and interpretation of words and the letters they are composed of – a relationship the researchers have called the QWERTY effect. Cognitive scientists Kyle Jasmin of University College London and Daniel Casasanto of The New School for […]

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Say what? Ambiguity makes language more efficient

To avoid conversational confusion and optimize language, linguists have traditionally argued that every word should have just one meaning, but a new study from MIT turns that notion on its head, showing instead that ambiguity in words actually makes language more efficient. The new study, published in the journalCognition, proposes that ambiguity increases efficiency by […]

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“Language” Gene Pooh-Poohed

The evolution of human speech was far more complex than is implied by some recent attempts to link it to a specific gene, says Robert Berwick, professor of computational linguistics at MIT. Berwick presented his ideas about language in a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last […]

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Language-Gene Evolution Shared By Humans And Neanderthals

Adaptive changes in a human gene involved in speech and language processing were shared by our closest extinct relatives, the Neanderthals, suggests a study in Current Biology. The finding reveals that the human form of the gene arose much earlier than scientists had estimated previously. It also raises the possibility that Neanderthals possessed some of […]

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Monkeys Use “Baby Talk” With Infants

Just like human mothers, rhesus monkeys also use special “baby talk” vocalizations to engage and interact with their infants, a new study from the University of Chicago has found. The researchers speculate that the high pitched, musical form of speech known as “motherese” may be biological in origin. “The acoustic structure of particular monkey vocalizations […]

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Big Gender Differences In Language Learning

Neuroscientists from Georgetown University Medical Center say that boys and girls use different parts of their brains to process some basic aspects of grammar. Their study, published in the journal Developmental Science, suggests that gender is an important factor in the acquisition and use of language. It appears that girls mainly use a system that […]

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Linguistic Resources Shape Reality

Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf posed the theory that language can determine the nature and content of thought. But are there concepts in one culture that people of another culture simply cannot understand because their language has no words for it? New findings by Dr. Peter Gordon, a bio-behavioral scientist at Columbia University, strongly support a […]

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