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Your search has returned 35 articles:
  • News

    Huge ‘word gap’ holding back low-income children may not exist after all

    A scientific takedown of a famous finding known as the 30-million-word gap may upend popular notions of how kids learn vocabulary.

    Research conducted more than 20 years ago concluded that by age 4, poor children hear an average of 30 million fewer words than their well-off peers. Since then, many researchers have accepted the reported word gap as a driver of later reading and writing...

    09/04/2018 - 05:30 Psychology, Language
  • News

    The window for learning a language may stay open surprisingly long

    Language learning isn’t kid stuff anymore. In fact, it never was, a provocative new study concludes.

    A crucial period for learning the rules and structure of a language lasts up to around age 17 or 18, say psychologist Joshua Hartshorne of MIT and colleagues.

    Previous research had suggested that grammar-learning ability flourished in early childhood before hitting a dead end around...

    05/11/2018 - 11:02 Language, Psychology
  • News in Brief

    The southern drawl gets deconstructed

    BOSTON — Some aspects of speech are as Southern as pecan pie. Consider the vowel shift that makes the word pie sound more like “pah.” While that pronunciation is found from Florida to Texas, a new study reveals a surprising diversity in Southern vowel pronunciation that’s linked to a speaker’s age, social class, gender, race and geography.

    The research, presented June 29 at a meeting of...

    06/30/2017 - 15:14 Anthropology, Language
  • News

    Twisted textile cords may contain clues to Inca messages

    Animal-hair cords dating to the late 1700s contain a writing system that might generate insights into how the Inca communicated, a new study suggests.

    Researchers have long wondered whether some twisted and knotted cords from the Inca Empire, which ran from 1400 to 1532, represent a kind of writing about events and people. Many scholars suspect that these textile artifacts, known as...

    05/08/2017 - 09:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Language
  • News

    Homo naledi’s brain shows humanlike features

    NEW ORLEANS — A relatively small brain can pack a big evolutionary punch. Consider Homo naledi, a famously puzzling fossil species in the human genus. Despite having a brain only slightly larger than a chimpanzee’s, H. naledi displays key humanlike neural features, two anthropologists reported April 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

    Those...

    04/25/2017 - 12:08 Human Evolution, Anthropology, Language
  • News

    Monkeys have vocal tools, but not brains, to talk like humans

    Macaque monkeys would be quite talkative if only their brains cooperated with their airways, a new study suggests.

    These primates possess the vocal equipment to speak much as people do, say evolutionary biologist and cognitive scientist W. Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna and colleagues. But macaques lack brains capable of transforming that vocal potential into human talk. As a...

    12/19/2016 - 07:00 Anthropology, Language, Human Evolution
  • News

    Oldest alphabet identified as Hebrew

    SAN ANTONIO — The world’s earliest alphabet, inscribed on stone slabs at several Egyptian sites, was an early form of Hebrew, a controversial new analysis concludes.

    Israelites living in Egypt transformed that civilization’s hieroglyphics into Hebrew 1.0 more than 3,800 years ago, at a time when the Old Testament describes Jews living in Egypt, says archaeologist and epigrapher Douglas...

    11/19/2016 - 08:00 Language, Archaeology
  • Context

    Tom Wolfe’s denial of language evolution stumbles over his own words

    Language is a tricky thing to write about. You’re using it while dissecting it. That sort of recursion can trip you up. As a philosopher friend of mine once said, a zoologist studying tigers, while riding on the back of a tiger, should be very careful.

    Of all the writers who’ve ever taken on the task of writing about language, nobody of any consequence has ever tripped himself up quite...

    10/19/2016 - 08:00 Language, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    Cognitive scientist puts profanity in its place

    What the FBenjamin K. BergenBasic Books, $27.99

    Few of the expletives discussed in cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen’s new book can be spelled out in this review. But Bergen argues, in a bluntly engaging way, that the largely secret science of swearing reveals much about who we are.

    Based on surveys of what people in several Western nations regard as unacceptable, the...

    09/05/2016 - 07:00 Language, Psychology
  • News

    Dog brains divide language tasks much like humans do

    View the video

    Editor’s note: When reporting results from the functional MRI scans of dogs’ brains, left and right were accidentally reversed in all images, the researchers report in a correction posted April 7 in Science. While dogs and most humans use different hemispheres of the brain to process meaning and intonation — instead of the same hemispheres, as was suggested — lead author...

    08/30/2016 - 15:49 Animals, Language, Neuroscience