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...
Reviews & Previews
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...
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...
For the last four decades, Koko, the world’s most famous gorilla, has lived in a trailer in Silicon Valley, the subject of the longest-running project on ape sign language. With a reported vocabulary of hundreds of signs, Koko has appeared to express feelings almost anyone can relate to — a love of kittens, a desire to be a mother.
A new PBS documentary argues that Koko’s remarkable life...
In the brain, language pops up everywhere.
All across the wrinkly expanse of the brain’s outer layer, a constellation of different regions handle the meaning of language, scientists report online April 27 in Nature.
One region that responds to “family,” “home” and “mother,” for example, rests in a tiny chunk of tissue on the right side of the brain, above and behind the ear. That...
The grunts, moans and wobbles of gelada monkeys, a chatty species residing in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, observe a universal mathematical principle seen until now only in human language.
The new research, published online April 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds light on the evolution of primate communication and complex human language, the researchers...