Four fantastic stories about language
Do you ever browse the NPR website? It's well worth a look. NPR is a not-for-profit organisation that syndicates 900 public radio stations across the United States. And it's got some fascinating stories on language, four of which we just had to share here.
1. Robots can create their own 'spoken' language.
NPR reports that researchers in Australia have made robots dubbed lingodroids that can create their own spoken language of sorts.
The robots talk to each other in beeps to understand the relationship between locations in room. It's not quite R2D2 but it's still pretty impressive.
2. Language could shape your view of the world.
Do you know which way is south from where you're reading this right now? An aboriginal Australian would – because their language has no words for left and right, only words for compass points. It seems the language you use affects how you perceive the world.
Some researchers think this is significant if you're trying to learn a new language. They believe it shows that you'll have more luck picking up a foreign language if you start thinking in the same way as people who speak that language. So if you want to pick up an aboriginal Australian language, you need to think in compass points and not left and right.
3. People are still creating new languages.
A new language has sprung up over the last few decades in a remote aboriginal community of Lajamanu in the Northern Territory of Australia. Light Warlpiri was created by young people in the community formalising a mixture of creole and English.
University of Michigan linguistics professor Carmel O'Shannessy discovered the language and created this video showing it in action:
4. A secret language is a great way to gossip.
Fancy a horn of zeese? In Boonville, Northern California, I'd be asking you if you wanted a cup of coffee – because Boonville has its own secret language: Boontling.
The language dates back to the 1880s, reports NPR, and is still spoken by around 100 people today. Locals say it was (and still is) a great way to gossip about outsiders in the tiny town.
Maybe we should make up our own language for the office.