Category Archives: Language

If you feel stuck for words every once in a while, the most straightforward answer is that there is nothing wrong with you. Fifty years ago, Roger Brown and David McNeill at Harvard University showed that it is possible to […]

The number of people who speak one language (monolinguals) is rather small today , with many of us growing up with more than one language or learning another one during our lifetime. Language experts argue that what counts as speaking […]

…and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains, . within the sound of silence. . (Simon and Garfunkel, The sound of silence 1964). . . Sound is made of waves. One fundamental trick of speech is that it surfs those […]

Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary man with an extraordinary talent for negotiation. He was also an outstanding public speaker. Among the many words of wisdom he left behind, there is this piece of advice for negotiations: . . “If you talk […]

Jabberwocky is the title of a famous poem by Lewis Carroll[1], a poem very much liked by linguists because it beautifully illustrates the crucial role that function words play in language. Function words are the little words no one […]

Talking seems easy to us, so much so that we take it for granted, but the cognitive machinery responsible for this capacity is extremely complex. Among the many cognitive processes involved in speaking, people who know more than one language […]

A dear biologist friend once complained to me that the Basque verb hausnartu is used to mean both “to ruminate”, and “to ponder over”. He saw this as an example of very bad language behavior that should not be encouraged. […]