neurosciencestuff:

Our Brains are Hardwired for Language
People blog, they don’t lbog, and they schmooze, not mshooze. But why is this? Why are human languages so constrained? Can such restrictions unveil the basis of the uniquely human capacity for language?
A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals. Syllables that are frequent across languages are recognized more readily than infrequent syllables. Simply put, this study shows that language universals are hardwired in the human brain.
LANGUAGE UNIVERSALS
Language universals have been the subject of intense research, but their basis remains elusive. Indeed, the similarities between human languages could result from a host of reasons that are tangential to the language system itself. Syllables like lbog, for instance, might be rare due to sheer historical forces, or because they are just harder to hear and articulate. A more interesting possibility, however, is that these facts could stem from the biology of the language system. Could the unpopularity of lbogs result from universal linguistic principles that are active in every human brain?
THE EXPERIMENT
To address this question, Dr. Berent and her colleagues examined the response of human brains to distinct syllable types—either ones that are frequent across languages (e.g., blif, bnif), or infrequent (e.g., bdif, lbif). In the experiment, participants heard one auditory stimulus at a time (e.g., lbif), and were then asked to determine whether the stimulus includes one syllable or two while their brain was simultaneously imaged.
Results showed the syllables that were infrequent and ill-formed, as determined by their linguistic structure, were harder for people to process. Remarkably, a similar pattern emerged in participants’ brain responses: worse-formed syllables (e.g., lbif) exerted different demands on the brain than syllables that are well-formed (e.g., blif).
UNIVERSALLY HARDWIRED BRAINS
The localization of these patterns in the brain further sheds light on their origin. If the difficulty in processing syllables like lbif were solely due to unfamiliarity, failure in their acoustic processing, and articulation, then such syllables are expected to only exact cost on regions of the brain associated with memory for familiar words, audition, and motor control. In contrast, if the dislike of lbif reflects its linguistic structure, then the syllable hierarchy is expected to engage traditional language areas in the brain.
While syllables like lbif did, in fact, tax auditory brain areas, they exerted no measurable costs with respect to either articulation or lexical processing. Instead, it was Broca’s area—a primary language center of the brain—that was sensitive to the syllable hierarchy.
These results show for the first time that the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals: the brain responds differently to syllables that are frequent across languages (e.g., bnif) relative to syllables that are infrequent (e.g., lbif). This is a remarkable finding given that participants (English speakers) have never encountered most of those syllables before, and it shows that language universals are encoded in human brains.
The fact that the brain activity engaged Broca’s area—a traditional language area—suggests that this brain response might be due to a linguistic principle. This result opens up the possibility that human brains share common linguistic restrictions on the sound pattern of language.
FURTHER EVIDENCE
This proposal is further supported by a second study that recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, also co-authored by Dr. Berent. This study shows that, like their adult counterparts, newborns are sensitive to the universal syllable hierarchy.
The findings from newborns are particularly striking because they have little to no experience with any such syllable. Together, these results demonstrate that the sound patterns of human language reflect shared linguistic constraints that are hardwired in the human brain already at birth.

neurosciencestuff:

Our Brains are Hardwired for Language

People blog, they don’t lbog, and they schmooze, not mshooze. But why is this? Why are human languages so constrained? Can such restrictions unveil the basis of the uniquely human capacity for language?

A groundbreaking study published in PLOS ONE by Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University and researchers at Harvard Medical School shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals. Syllables that are frequent across languages are recognized more readily than infrequent syllables. Simply put, this study shows that language universals are hardwired in the human brain.

LANGUAGE UNIVERSALS

Language universals have been the subject of intense research, but their basis remains elusive. Indeed, the similarities between human languages could result from a host of reasons that are tangential to the language system itself. Syllables like lbog, for instance, might be rare due to sheer historical forces, or because they are just harder to hear and articulate. A more interesting possibility, however, is that these facts could stem from the biology of the language system. Could the unpopularity of lbogs result from universal linguistic principles that are active in every human brain?

THE EXPERIMENT

To address this question, Dr. Berent and her colleagues examined the response of human brains to distinct syllable types—either ones that are frequent across languages (e.g., blif, bnif), or infrequent (e.g., bdif, lbif). In the experiment, participants heard one auditory stimulus at a time (e.g., lbif), and were then asked to determine whether the stimulus includes one syllable or two while their brain was simultaneously imaged.

Results showed the syllables that were infrequent and ill-formed, as determined by their linguistic structure, were harder for people to process. Remarkably, a similar pattern emerged in participants’ brain responses: worse-formed syllables (e.g., lbif) exerted different demands on the brain than syllables that are well-formed (e.g., blif).

UNIVERSALLY HARDWIRED BRAINS

The localization of these patterns in the brain further sheds light on their origin. If the difficulty in processing syllables like lbif were solely due to unfamiliarity, failure in their acoustic processing, and articulation, then such syllables are expected to only exact cost on regions of the brain associated with memory for familiar words, audition, and motor control. In contrast, if the dislike of lbif reflects its linguistic structure, then the syllable hierarchy is expected to engage traditional language areas in the brain.

While syllables like lbif did, in fact, tax auditory brain areas, they exerted no measurable costs with respect to either articulation or lexical processing. Instead, it was Broca’s area—a primary language center of the brain—that was sensitive to the syllable hierarchy.

These results show for the first time that the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals: the brain responds differently to syllables that are frequent across languages (e.g., bnif) relative to syllables that are infrequent (e.g., lbif). This is a remarkable finding given that participants (English speakers) have never encountered most of those syllables before, and it shows that language universals are encoded in human brains.

The fact that the brain activity engaged Broca’s area—a traditional language area—suggests that this brain response might be due to a linguistic principle. This result opens up the possibility that human brains share common linguistic restrictions on the sound pattern of language.

FURTHER EVIDENCE

This proposal is further supported by a second study that recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, also co-authored by Dr. Berent. This study shows that, like their adult counterparts, newborns are sensitive to the universal syllable hierarchy.

The findings from newborns are particularly striking because they have little to no experience with any such syllable. Together, these results demonstrate that the sound patterns of human language reflect shared linguistic constraints that are hardwired in the human brain already at birth.

worduptiffany:

No one verbs like Gaston,
Adverb verbs like Gaston,
No one verbs with the adjective noun like Gaston.

(Source: gracelikeleaves, via penguinswrite)

wuglife:

openaccess-ling:

http://en.bookfi.org/book/1177934

Fundamentals of Psycholinguistics, Eva M Fernandez & Helen Smith Cairns

Hey guys, a free book! It’s 3.1MB as a PDF.

(via linguisten)

Anonymous asked: This is the high school sophomore here; thank you for you recommendations so far! I had already been considering McGill, but I'm glad that others are suggesting it, as that gives me a bit more interest in it. If anybody else has recommendations, please leave them, as I'm trying to finish my scheduling for next year.

No worries man, glad to help. Hope it all goes well for you (: x

"

Imagine you’re in a cafe and someone asks you whether you want a coffee. In English, the conversation might go like this:

"Do you want a coffee?"
“Thank you.”

And a few minutes later you’d have a coffee in front of you. But if you said this is French, the result would be very different:

"Voulez-vous un café?"
“Merci.”

No coffee would arrive. Because ‘merci’ on its own like that means “thanks but no thanks”. You’re refusing. If you want to say “yes”, you would have to say “yes” (“oui”) or “please” (“s’il vous plaît”) or “yes thanks” (“oui merci”) or the like.

"

A Little Book of Language by David Crystal, page 123. (via linguaphilioist)

(via linguisten)

ftlouis:

swedish is a very beautiful and deep language

ftlouis:

swedish is a very beautiful and deep language

(via anarkawaii)

jennnl asked: The high school sophomore might want to check out McGill University in Canada, in addition to US options.

Fab, thank-you!

lifehackable:

More Life Hacks Here

lifehackable:

More Life Hacks Here

wuglife:

Heads up, tumblinguists who are also redditors! Famous sociolinguist Walt Wolfram will be giving an AMA (“ask me anything”) next Wednesday! Spread the word!

wuglife:

Heads up, tumblinguists who are also redditors! Famous sociolinguist Walt Wolfram will be giving an AMA (“ask me anything”) next Wednesday! Spread the word!

(via languagevillage)

abbreviated:

sharkblade:

littlebuttonanna:

leozhang:

this is amazing!!! i got goosebumps

ugh look at their faces

look at them all connecting with the song

I love that. I really love that

tears, so much happy tearsss

(Source: Yahoo!, via thefuuuucomics)