Language

A curated mix of articles on language.

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Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017

We still have no idea why humans speak over 7,000 languages

Why is it that humans speak so many languages? And why are they so unevenly spread across the planet? As it turns out, we have few clear answers to these fundamental questions about how humanity communicates.

Friday, Jul 21, 2017

Why do human beings speak so many languages?

Why is it that humans speak so many languages? And why are they so unevenly spread across the planet? As it turns out, we have few clear answers to these fundamental questions about how humanity communicates.

Monday, Mar 20, 2017

The Sticky Truth about Modern Written Language

The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word).

Monday, Jan 2, 2017

The Strange Persistence of First Languages

Losing your native tongue unmoors you not only from your own early life but from the entire culture that shaped you.

Wednesday, Dec 7, 2016

We went in search of the world's hardest language

English is pretty simple. Learning to speak Ubykh or !Xóõ presents more of a challenge.

Thursday, Nov 3, 2016

To those who became fluent in a second language, what did you do?

I’m overwhelmed by all the options out there. Duolingo, pimsluer, classes, books, etc. What did you do to become fluent in another language? How long did it take you?

Thursday, Jul 21, 2016

The World's Most Efficient Languages

How much do you really need to say to put a sentence together?

Monday, Jun 20, 2016

How do you communicate when you don't speak the language?

Can some of you that live or have lived in a country where you don’t speak the language tell me about your experiences. I mean essentially you have to figure out some way to communicate. How do you communicate with people who are providing you accommodations. Or how do you figure out what you want and communicate that to a waiter at a restaurant. Just really curious how you make it day to day.

Monday, Jun 13, 2016

How memory research can help you learn a new language

Moving beyond the obvious idea that more practise is better, it is likely that practise is most effective when combined with sufficient deep sleep.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How to identify any language at a glance

Thanks to globalization, it’s very likely that at some point you’ve found yourself faced with a line of text written in a language you couldn’t quite identify. Maybe in the international section of a grocery store, or on Facebook, for example. “What the heck is this language?” you ask yourself.

Monday, Oct 26, 2015

Beginner's Guide to Language Learning

Here’s my take: I’m not especially good at learning languages. What I am good at is being passionate about languages, talking to people, and being diligent, which are just some of the skills required to effectively learn a language. In any case, after giving the same advice over and over, I finally decided to write a short guide that explains how I go about learning a new language.