Why do words appear the way they do?

Why aren’t words the same in every language?

Sometimes it doesn’t seem to make any sense. But new research shows that maybe language is not as arbitrary as it seems.

Linguist Daniel Midgley makes sense of the chaos on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


Show notes

James Chapman’s Tumblr blog
http://chapmangamo.tumblr.com

20 Actually Useful Chengyu (成语)
http://carlgene.com/blog/2010/07/20-actually-useful-chengyu-成语/

How to say “third wheel” in French?
https://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101120103032AAU5Jcf

LiveJournal: third wheel
http://linguaphiles.livejournal.com/3313785.html

Third wheel? Fifth wheel? (Try control-clicking on the lines to make them collapse.)

“Play gooseberry”
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/play+gooseberry

Buzzfeed: What Noises Do Animals Make In Other Languages? Here Is An Important Guide
http://www.buzzfeed.com/robinedds/what-noises-do-animals-make-in-other-languages-here-is-an-im#.ic7P18xW4

Epic of Gilgamesh Summary
http://www.shmoop.com/gilgamesh/summary.html

Lost ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ Verse Depicts Cacophonous Abode of Gods
http://www.livescience.com/52372-new-tablet-gilgamesh-epic.html

The Newly Discovered Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh
http://etc.ancient.eu/2015/09/24/giglamesh-enkidu-humbaba-cedar-forest-newest-discovered-tablet-v-epic/

Back to the Cedar Forest: The beginning and end of Tablet V of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgameš
http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/18512/

Points of similarity between the Babylonian and Noachian flood stories
http://www.religioustolerance.org/noah_com.htm

On the Arbitrary Nature of Linguistic Sign
http://www.academypublication.com/issues/past/tpls/vol02/01/07.pdf

Hockett’s features of human language
http://people.exeter.ac.uk/bosthaus/Lecture/hockett1.htm

Hockett on arbitrariness and iconicity
http://ideophone.org/hockett-on-arbitrariness-and-iconicity/

Saussure knew about iconicity, despite his focus on arbitrariness
http://hiphilangsci.net/2014/08/06/saussures-sound-symbolism/

Wikipedia: Koro language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koro_language_(India)

Koro–the psychological disappearance of the penis.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17727356

Koro Syndrome: The Irrational Fear of Lethal Genital Shrinkage
http://io9.com/5944722/koro-syndrome-the-irrational-fear-of-lethal-genital-shrinkage

Wiktionary: koro
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/koro

Languages less arbitrary than long assumed
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151001130050.htm

Finding iconicity in spoken languages
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-09/uom-fii090915.php

Arbitrariness, Iconicity, and Systematicity in Language
http://www.cell.com/trends/cognitive-sciences/abstract/S1364-6613(15)00177-1?_returnURL=http%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1364661315001771%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

Road to language learning is iconic
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113143705.htm

Language Hat: Gluckschmerz
http://languagehat.com/gluckschmerz/

Schadenfreude Is in the Zeitgeist, but Is There an Opposite Term?
http://www.wsj.com/articles/schadenfreude-is-in-the-zeitgeist-but-is-there-an-opposite-term-1434129186


Show tunes

Find the tracks we play on the RTRFM webpage for this episode.

Image credit: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/languagecurriculum-150617134700-lva1-app6891/95/language-definition-nature-and-characteristics-33-638.jpg?cb=1434548895