Are we hard-wired for language?

New studies have found that infants (and even adults) seem predisposed to certain combinations of sounds and words. But is this evidence for innateness, or is there another explanation?

Linguist Daniel Midgley takes us into a great debate on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with James Hall


Show notes

Forensic linguistics has found a likely candidate for the author of a crucial Bitcoin document
http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2014/apr/bitcoin-author-revealed.cfm

It’s Nick Szabo
http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/04/16/nick_szabo_bitcoin_forensic_linguistics_analysis_from_suggests_he_wrote.html

An article in the Daily Mail that seems very certain that language is innate.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2600623/Language-biological-instinct-Babies-dont-learn-develop-speech-theyre-BORN-ability.html

Slightly better ones from Science Daily.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408122316.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401102126.htm

The article in PNAS
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/03/26/1318261111

About the sonority hierarchy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonority_hierarchy

Australian languages show different phonological tendencies than does Italian: VC as well as CV (PDF)
http://dspace.flinders.edu.au/jspui/bitstream/2328/14408/1/2004053859.pdf

Learning can begin very early.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-26/unborn-babies-learn-sounds-of-speech3a-study/4541788
http://www.counselheal.com/articles/4097/20130226/premature-babies-decipher-sounds-syllables.htm

The ‘shoes blue’ experiment. With an opinion by Chomsky.
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25334-born-to-chat-humans-may-have-innate-language-instinct.html#.U1Ie9V5sPnk

Banning ‘Nazi’ in Israel
http://forward.com/articles/190783/israel-proposes-bill-to-outlaw-use-of-the-word-naz/
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.568845
http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2014/3/24/will-israel-make-use-of-nazi-slurs-and-symbols-punishable-by-law#.U09jNF5sPnk


Show tunes

‘Bubble Baby’ by Clouds
from the album Favourites

‘Cry! Baby!’ by Bibio
from the album Ambivalence Avenue