Language

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Language

One of stand-up comic George Carlin’s most famous routines was the seven words you can’t say on TV (obviously, not safe for work). He repeated the words over and over, and it was hilarious — especially back in the days before most people had cable. These days we’ve become desensitized to those words, and it’s…

Baby signing in the real world

Take a look at this video made by fellow ScienceBlogger Dr. Isis. She’s talking with her son, a toddler who adorably mimics her as she says very complicated words such as “Adventures in Ethics and Science” and “Wackaloon” (but sadly, not “Cognitive Daily”): It’s cute, but it’s difficult to say whether Dr. Isis is really…

Baby sign language is all the rage these days. Upscale day-care centers and nanny services promote it as a better way of understanding what babies want. Babies have been known to reliably produce signs as young as 5.5 months, and studies have shown that they reliably produce signs significantly earlier than spoken words. As we’ve…

Nora was an excellent talker, starting at a very young age, but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t express herself in other ways. Here, for example, she points to a the item she wants. It’s entirely possible that she didn’t yet know the word “stick,” but she was still quite able to express her desire.…

I’ve always been a fan of literary studies — I was an English major in college and I continue to blog about literature on my personal blog. But when I first learned about the concept of alliteration (I must have been in middle school), I was unimpressed. Obviously making a poem rhyme requires some serious…

Have you ever seen Singin’ in the Rain? One of the movie’s most hilarious moments is when the beautiful silent movie star Lina Lamont is asked to start making “talking pictures.” As soon as this gorgeous screen siren opens her mouth, the illusion of her beauty is shattered: her squeaky voice instantly transforms her from…

Does music help us learn language?

One of the first steps to learning a language is figuring out where one word ends and the next one begins. Since fluent speakers don’t generally pause between words, it can be a daunting task. We’ve discussed one of the ways people do it in this post — they focus in on consonant sounds. Other…

Listen to this short audio clip: The clip plays two notes that are two full octaves apart. That’s a greater range than many people can produce vocally. It should be easy for anyone to tell the difference between these two notes, even when heard in isolation, right? Not necessarily. A team led by Ulrich Weger…

One of the amazing things about learning language is that children rarely hear language sounds in ideal acoustic environments. Maybe other people are talking in the background, or the dishwasher is running, or the TV is on. Yet somehow children they learn words just the same. By the time we’re adults, we’ve become experts at…

The fact that infants are able to learn language without any help from adults can sometimes seem almost miraculous. Not only do children learn to speak and understand language completely on their own, active teaching of language skills seems to make almost no difference in their ability to talk. One of the first difficulties when…