What can we learn about language from children who grew up without it?

People are fascinated by stories of “feral children”, raised apart from human contact. Can these children ever learn language, once they’re found? And what does this tell us about the human language faculty?

Daniel and Ben take a critical look at the stories on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/13/ai-programs-exhibit-racist-and-sexist-biases-research-reveals

Scientists Taught A Robot Language. It Immediately Turned Racist.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/nidhisubbaraman/robot-racism-through-language

An AI stereotype catcher
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6334/133

Google searches expose racial bias, says study of names
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-21322183

The ‘three black teenagers’ search shows it is society, not Google, that is racist
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/10/three-black-teenagers-google-racist-tweet

Meet the 8-year-old girl raised by monkeys
http://nypost.com/2017/04/06/meet-the-8-year-old-girl-raised-by-monkeys/

Girl found living with monkeys in Indian forest
https://apnews.com/9bb6522fe5c642a38a62bd7f99b23708

Indian girl found in jungle was not living with monkeys, officials say
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/08/indian-girl-found-in-jungle-was-not-living-with-monkeys-officials-say

Elissa Newport: Contrasting Conceptions of the Critical Period for Language
Google Books link

The History of Herodotus
http://classics.mit.edu/Herodotus/history.2.ii.html

Erik The Flutemaker: Egyptian Flute (used with permission)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnyW3R-v19Y

Erik’s YouTube channel
https://www.youtube.com/user/theflutemaker

The King of Scotland’s Peculiar Language Experiment
http://mentalfloss.com/article/75378/king-scotlands-peculiar-language-experiment

A creepy 15th century language experiment took place on this island
http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-creepy-15th-century-language-experiment-took-place-on-1484724484?IR=T

Peter Mundy’s account of Emperor Akbar
Google Books link

The Critical Period for Language Acquisition and Feral Children
https://sites.psu.edu/psych256sp16/2016/04/21/the-critical-period-for-language-acquisition-and-feral-children/

Wikipedia: Amala and Kamala
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amala_and_Kamala

Starved, tortured, forgotten: Genie, the feral child who left a mark on researchers
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jul/14/genie-feral-child-los-angeles-researchers

The Heartbreaking Story Of Genie, A Feral Child Who Will Never Learn To Communicate
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/critical-period-for-language-acquisition-2013-10#xFbIh50RV7uI6TRo.99

Feral Children in Fact and Fiction
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/feral_children_in_fact_and_fiction/

Urban Dictionary: re-accommodate
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=re-accommodate

Flight or fight? United’s ‘re-accommodation’ of passenger a colossal mistake
http://www.smh.com.au/business/aviation/flight-or-fight-uniteds-reaccommodation-of-passenger-a-colossal-mistake-20170410-gvi842.html

United C.E.O. offers the worst possible response to the airline’s P.R. disaster
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/04/united-airlines-oscar-munoz

New United logo
http://imgur.com/gallery/SQLY2

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

The Rice University Neologisms Database: voluntold
http://neologisms.rice.edu/index.php?a=term&d=1&t=7413

Slate: Why Do We Hate Certain Words? The curious phenomenon of word aversion.
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2013/04/word_aversion_hate_moist_slacks_crevice_why_do_people_hate_words.html

Urban Dictionary: jawn
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=jawn

The Enduring Mystery Of ‘Jawn’, Philadelphia’s All-Purpose Noun
http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-enduring-mystery-of-jawn-philadelphias-allpurpose-noun

Read This: The history of “jawn,” Philadelphia’s favorite all-purpose word
http://www.avclub.com/article/read-history-jawn-philadelphias-favorite-all-purpo-234368

Funky 4+1 Thats The Joint (Vinyl High Quality)
https://youtu.be/FzuskHUux6U

Language Hat: JAWN.
http://languagehat.com/jawn/


Show tunes

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

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