Language

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Amid the debate about what languages should dominate at African schools, we’re missing an important point: why do we learn language in the first place? From www.shutterstock.com

We need to remember why we teach and learn languages

There are two functions of language: communication and access to knowledge. Each must be pursued as an objective in its own right rather than being lumped together.
Members of the Chitimacha language team (from left to right) Sam Boutte, Kim Walden and Rachel Vilcan use the new language software for the first time.

Renaissance on the bayou: the revival of a lost language

In the face of war, disease and outside cultural pressures, the Chitimacha language has survived -- and now thrives.
Minions, contrary to parental fears, have not been swearing at children – but why would that be a problem anyway? Daniel Go

Foul-mouthed Minions? Some myths about children and swearing

Parental concerns that Minions given as toys in McDonald's Happy Meals have been dropping the F-bomb raises an issue: how far – if at all – should we go to prevent children from exposure to "bad" language?
Lest we forget is an expression with dignified origins, a rich history and a budding linguistic fossil. E-Maxx

Lest we forget lest: Anzac and the language of remembrance

This Anzac Day the words "lest we forget" will often be spoken. It's a usage that we don't otherwise hear. Why do linguistic fossils such as "lest we forget" linger – and how do they help us remember the fallen?
Map depicting the two major hypotheses of the spread of Indo-European languages (white arrows) and geographic distribution of the archaeological cultures described in the text. Wolfgang Haak

European invasion: DNA reveals the origins of modern Europeans

Europe is famously tesselated, with different cultural and language groups clustering in different regions. But how did they all get there? And how are they related?
From left to right. Mandarin employs a different part of the brain. Chinese man via XiXinXing/Shutterstock

If you speak Mandarin, your brain is different

Language is traditionally associated with the left side of the brain. But Mandarin speakers are using the right side.
We could all pay better attention to what comes out our mouth. Emmanuel Szép

Mansplaining the word of the year – and why it matters

The Macquarie Dictionary last week named “mansplain” its word of the year for 2014. The Dictionary defines mansplain as: verb (t) Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in…

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