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Foundations of Human Language


Free Resource (#825) - June 2nd, 2009
Today's Free Resource

The Foundations of Language

In this lecture Professor Michael Drout focuses on language as a whole and how it develops and is learned. He points out the amazing ability that children have for speaking and comprehending a language they are immersed in until they reach about six years old without having to "learn" the language at all. While the origins of human language are endlessly debated, he does provide some interesting examples of how languages develop such as through mixing of people speaking different languages in the case of Hawaiian Creole, and through the isolation of people developing different languages over time in the case of the over 850 indigenous languages spoken in Papua New Guinea.

The Foundations of Language

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A History of the English Language

Professor Drout addresses the foundation of language and its connection to specific portions of the brain. The components of language are explained in easy-to-understand terms and the progression of the language from Germanic to Old, Middle, and Modern English is fully illustrated - including such revolutionary language upheavals as those brought about by the Norman Conquest and the Great Vowel Shift.

One of the most interesting aspects of the English language lies in its variants, such as the "soda" vs. "pop" debate and the place of African-American English in modern culture. These and other dialectual curiosities are looked at in detail and placed in the context of today's world. Finally, Professor Drout examines the future not only of the English language, but of all the world's languages.

Available on MP3 Download.

Listen to a free sample of: A History of the English Language

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