Language and linguistics


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Philosophy of language
Chomsky, Wolfe and me

I took on Noam Chomsky’s ideas about language and unleashed a decade of debate and ridicule. But is my argument wrong?

Daniel Everett

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Travel
The parlance of pilots

High above London, Tokyo and Cairo, the language of the cockpit is technical, obscure, geeky – and irresistibly romantic

Mark Vanhoenacker

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Language and linguistics
Who decides what words mean

Bound by rules, yet constantly changing, language might be the ultimate self-regulating system, with nobody in charge

Lane Greene

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The ancient world
The deep roots of writing

Was writing invented for accounting and administration or did it evolve from religious movements, sorcery and dreams?

Michael Erard

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Philosophy of language
The way words mean

Words stand for things in the world, and they stand apart from it. Perhaps meaning is more sunken into words than we realise?

Alexander Stern

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Language and linguistics
Words as feelings

A special class of vivid, textural words defies linguistic theory: could ‘ideophones’ unlock the secrets of humans’ first utterances?

David Robson

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Human evolution
Did Homo erectus speak?

Early hominins who sailed across oceans left indirect evidence that they might have been the first to use language

Daniel Everett

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Language and linguistics
The say of the land

Is language produced by the mind? Romantic theory has it otherwise: words emerge from the cosmos, expressing its soul

Mark Vernon

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Philosophy of language
The death of languages

Endangered languages have sentimental value, it’s true, but are there good philosophical reasons to preserve them?

Rebecca Roache

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Stories and literature
Sweetness and strangeness

In our image-saturated, over-sped world, we are losing the imaginative power to create and find meaning through metaphor

Heather Altfeld & Rebecca Diggs

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Language and linguistics
Euphemise this

Euphemisms are like underwear: best changed frequently. What work are they doing in our language and why do they expire?

John McWhorter

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Stories and literature
L’art de la traduction

What is the task of the translator – to be a servant to the source or to create a new work of illuminated meaning?

Mark Polizzotti

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History of ideas
How not to be a chucklehead

Saturday mornings with J L Austin in postwar Oxford were a golden time for wordplay, silly jokes and serious philosophy

Nakul Krishna