Category: universals

Episode 265: Universal Grammar 2 (featuring Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy)

The biggest idea in linguistics is back on the table.

Is there such a thing as the Universal Grammar? Do you have to have a human brain to learn language, or is learning a language just like learning anything else? And are one man’s insights into Amazonian languages sufficient to demolish this theoretical edifice?

Linguists Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy talk to Daniel, Ben, and Kylie on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Promo with Dylan Websdane


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Support for this episode comes from our patrons: Christy, Matt, and Whitney. Thanks, all! Your support gives life its meaning and texture.

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Patreon extras for this episode

Interview with Dan Everett 2016-10-07 (complete)

Cutting Room Floor 265: Universal Grammar 2

265: Universal Grammar 2 (featuring Dan Everett and Lynne Murphy) [128kbps] (for everyone)


Show notes

Warning: Bad linguistics alert

‘Th’ sound to vanish from English language by 2066 because of multiculturalism, say linguists
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/09/28/th-sound-to-vanish-from-english-language-by-2066-because-of-mult/

Here’s how the English language could sound incredibly different in 50 years
http://www.sciencealert.com/the-english-language-could-sound-incredibly-different-in-50-years-study-finds

Our accents are under threat: dialects may die as computers strip the beauty from language
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/dialect-english-regional-accents

It’s the end of the frog and toad for regional slang, says report
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/29/its-the-end-of-the-frog-and-toad-for-regional-slang-says-report

XKCD:

Better linguistics alert

Researchers are using an app to crowdsource how the English language has changed
http://qz.com/694906/researchers-are-using-an-app-to-crowdsource-how-the-english-language-has-changed/

How do you say ‘scone’? English regional accents decline as ‘southern’ accent becomes widespread
http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/how-do-you-say-scone-english-regional-accents-decline-as-southern-accent-becomes-widespread-11364064620130

How London has killed off elements of local dialects across England – in seven maps
https://www.indy100.com/article/how-london-has-killed-off-elements-of-local-dialects-across-englandin-seven-maps–ZJxofkDwH7Z

New Scientist: The Electric Kool-Aid language test
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2108618-the-electric-kool-aid-language-test/

Dan Everett: Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolfe? Apparently everyone.
https://daneverettbooks.com/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-wolfe-apparently-everyone/

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html

A banner day for profanity
https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/a-banner-day-for-profanity/

An Oxford linguist on the dangers of dismissing comments about sexual assault as “locker-room talk”
http://qz.com/807395/donald-trump-oxford-linguist-deborah-cameron-explains-the-dangers-of-dismissing-comments-about-sexual-assault-as-locker-room-talk/

“Locker room” language encourages rape culture, even if it stays private
http://qz.com/806386/donald-trumps-lewd-access-hollywood-video-locker-room-language-encourages-rape-culture/

Lynne Murphy on Twitter: @lynneguist
https://twitter.com/lynneguist

Lynne’s blog: Separated by a Common Language
https://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com.au

Linguistics explains why Trump sounds racist when he says “the” African Americans
http://qz.com/806174/second-presidential-debate-linguistics-explains-why-donald-trump-sounds-racist-when-he-says-the-african-americans/

Everything that was said at the second Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton debate, highlighted
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/09/everything-that-was-said-at-the-second-donald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton-debate-highlighted/

“open mic” and “on the mic”


Show tunes

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

Image credit: http://www.chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/photo_19711_portrait_wide.jpg

Episode 261: Red Big Balloon (featuring Damián Blasi)

We love red big balloons — or are they big red balloons?

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, you know. But how do we know what the right way is? And what else does your brain know that you don’t know it knows?

Linguist Daniel Midgley blows your mind on this episode of Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode

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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


Patreon supporters

Our patrons Whitney Fielding and Matt are once again keeping the show going. Our sincerest thanks!

Become a Patreon supporter yourself and get access to bonus audio, extra blog posts, Talk the Talk merch, and more!


Daniel’s interview with Chris Mason on RTRFM’s The Mag

https://rtrfm.com.au/story/sound-and-meaning/


Complete interview with Damián Blasi

https://www.patreon.com/posts/talk-talk-with-6817302

For Patreon patrons. (Let us know if you’d like to access the interview for research purposes.)


Show notes

Telegraph: Humans may speak a universal language, say scientists
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/09/12/humans-may-speak-a-universal-language-say-scientists/

LA Times: In world’s languages, scientists discover shared links between sound and meaning
http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-languages-sound-meaning-20160912-snap-story.html

ABC: Linguistic study proves more than 6,000 languages use similar sounds for common words (formerly Linguists discover humans have ‘universal language’)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-13/linguists-discover-humans-have-%27universal-language%27/7841134

Cornell Chronicle: A nose by any other name would sound the same, study finds
http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2016/09/nose-any-other-name-would-sound-same-study-finds

Max Planck Institute: Sound of words is no coincidence
https://www.mpg.de/10731041/language-sound-meaning-coincidence

“R” Is for Red: Common Words Share Similar Sounds in Many Languages
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/r-is-for-red-common-words-share-similar-sounds-in-many-languages/

Actual paper: Sound–meaning association biases evidenced across thousands of languages (paywall)
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/09/06/1605782113

The Secret Rules of Adjective Order
http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_good_word/2014/08/the_study_of_adjective_order_and_gsssacpm.single.html

The language rules we know – but don’t know we know
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160908-the-language-rules-we-know-but-dont-know-we-know

Big bad modifier order
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=27890

The language rule you never think about but always get right
http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/adjective-order-english-language/

Two things native English speakers know, but don’t know you know
http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2016/09/04/bish-bash-bosh/

Adjective attributes following noun in English?
https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/4v874s/adjective_attributes_following_noun_in_english/

4 Things Most Native English Speakers Don’t Know About English
http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/4-things-most-native-english-speakers-dont-know-about-english/

4 More Unofficial Rules Native English Speakers Don’t Realize They Know
http://mentalfloss.com/article/85935/4-more-unofficial-rules-native-english-speakers-dont-realize-they-know

Separable Phrasal Verbs
https://www.grammarly.com/handbook/mechanics/phrasal-verb-and-idioms/3/separable-phrasal-verbs/

Clinton expresses regret for saying ‘half’ of Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/09/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-basket-of-deplorables/

Where Did Hillary Get a Phrase Like “Basket of Deplorables”?
http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/09/12/hillary_s_basket_of_deplorables_has_some_fascinating_legal_antecedents.html

Top constitutional experts say no problem with “self executing” plebiscite
http://hrlc.org.au/media-release-top-constitutional-barrister-says-there-is-no-problem-with-self-executing-plebiscite/

Labor could support ‘self-executing’ same-sex marriage plebiscite
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/labor-could-support-selfexecuting-samesex-marriage-plebiscite-20160905-gr9fum

An Unusual Way of Speaking, Yoda Has
http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/hmmmmm/420798/

Unclear Of Yoda’s Syntax The Principles Are, If Any
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002182.html

Incidental music thanks to Bensound
http://www.bensound.com


Show tunes

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

Episode 257: Alien Languages

What would an alien language be like?

The new trailer for the film Arrival has got us pretty excited, and there’s even a whole field of study called xenolinguistics. How will we know what to say when we make contact?

Linguist Daniel Midgley explores the final frontier on this episode of Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode


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Subscribe on Android
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Promo with Kylie Sturgess


Patreon supporters

We’re very grateful for the support from our patrons Whitney Fielding and Matt. You’re helping us to keep the talk happening!

Become a Patreon supporter yourself and get access to bonus audio, extra blog posts, Talk the Talk merch, and more!


Show notes

Try out problems from the International Linguistic Olympiad
http://www.ioling.org/problems/

Apple to replace gun emoji with water pistol when iOS 10 rolls out
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/03/apple-to-replace-gun-emoji-with-water-pistol-when-ios-10-rolls-out.html

Herhold: Apple got it right in changing emoji to water gun
http://www.mercurynews.com/scott-herhold/ci_30258541/apple-got-it-right-changing-gun-emoji

Microsoft replaced its toy gun emoji with a real revolver
http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/4/12382894/microsoft-emoji-toy-gun-revolver-update-apple

Finally, a Hollywood sci-fi alien movie with a linguist as the hero
http://qz.com/761363/finally-a-hollywood-sci-fi-alien-movie-with-a-linguist-as-the-hero/

‘Arrival’: First Full Trailer Further Reveals Denis Villeneuve’s Alien Encounter
http://collider.com/arrival-trailer-amy-adams-jeremy-renner/

Alien Linguists Like Amy Adams’s Character in ‘Arrival’ Exist
https://www.inverse.com/article/19803-arrival-alien-linguist-amy-adams

The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang (PDF)
https://mathisgasser.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/ted-chiang_story-of-your-life_2000.pdf

Wittgenstein Light: Real Refreshment
https://wittgensteinforum.wordpress.com/2007/06/13/wittgenstein-if-a-lion-could-speak-we-could-not-understand-him-pi-p223/

Humpty Dumpty was a Wittgensteinian?
https://inferential.wordpress.com/2007/02/20/humpty-dumpty-was-a-wittgensteinian/

Why We Would Not Understand a Talking Lion (PDF)
http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1811&context=bts

Could We Understand Their Language?
http://personal.bgsu.edu/~swellsj/xenolinguistics/presentation.html

Languages without adjectives
https://linguistlist.org/issues/4/4-442.html

Driverless cars need Australia’s latitude and longitude coordinates to be corrected
http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-28/why-it-matters-that-australias-coordinates-are-moving/7668014

What is a Datum?
https://www.maptoaster.com/maptoaster-topo-nz/articles/projection/datum-projection.html

Australia’s GPS Was Off Because the Whole Country Moved
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a22125/australia-gps/

Australia moving up in the world… literally
http://phys.org/news/2016-07-australia-world-literally.html

Language is messy, part 2: Arabic script in “Arrival”
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=27588

Hong Kong netizens rage over Hollywood film ‘Arrival’ poster blunder
http://mashable.com/2016/08/22/arrival-movie-poster-blunder/


Show tunes

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

Image credit: https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/arrival-movie-4-e1471529984165.png?w=1497

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