Category Archives: Language History & News

Why are some adult foreign language learners more proficient than others? (Language Aptitude)

Past puberty our capacity to learn foreign languages decreases, but adults do not learn a second or additional language at the same pace. Many individual variations affect the outcomes, continue reading to find out which one seems to be the … Continue reading

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A language with too many armies and navies?

JOHNSON has touched on Arabic and its variety quite a few times over the years, but we have never really addressed a critical question directly: what is “Arabic” today, and is it really even a single thing? A short and … Continue reading

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Phil’s Findings: How did Spanish become such a prominent language in U.S.?

By PHILIP A. RUE Last week in this column, I explained that Spanish was now language number two in the U.S. In this article I will try to explain how it how it achieved that eminent position.  There are a … Continue reading

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Being Multilingual: You speak with an accent, I don’t

Linguist Madalena Cruz-Ferreira discusses our perception of accents and how it can impact our judgement of others. Accents are things that only other people have. They are, by extension, things that we don’t think we have. This is why, if … Continue reading

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Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism

Learning a foreign language is more than just a boost to your CV or handy for travelling. It will make you smarter, more decisive and even better at English, says Anne Merritt. Children learning foreign languages at a Grammar School … Continue reading

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English May Have Retained Words From an Ice Age Language

By Elizabeth Norton, ScienceNOW Map showing approximate regions where languages from the seven Eurasiatic language families are now spoken. Image: Pagel et al./PNAS If you’ve ever cringed when your parents said “groovy,” you’ll know that spoken language can have a … Continue reading

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Evolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn

By Brandon Keim It’s widely thought that human language evolved in universally similar ways, following trajectories common across place and culture, and possibly reflecting common linguistic structures in our brains. But a massive, millennium-spanning analysis of humanity’s major language families … Continue reading

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Becoming ‘Asia Literate’: Learn Chinese, but Don’t Stop There

By SUE-LIN WONG Theodore Kaye for The New York Times College and high school students in Kazakhstan learning Chinese. BEIJING — While studying abroad at Peking University in Beijing, Andrew Stead didn’t expect to find a job at Burton, one … Continue reading

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TEDx Talks to make learning a new language easy

Everybody’s done it. You wake up one morning and decide, “I’m going to learn a new language.” But, as daunting as it may seem, learning a new language isn’t the herculean feat it’s cracked up to be. Language learning isn’t … Continue reading

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Learning second language depends on ability to learn patterns

Learning to understand and read a second language may be driven, at least in part, by your ability to pick up on statistical regularities, a new study has found. Some research suggests that learning a second language draws on capacities … Continue reading

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The Rise of Spanish

Spanish has more native speakers than any language other than Mandarin. Yet its success could not have been foreseen The Story of Spanish. By Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow. St Martin’s Press; 496 pages; $27.99. Buy from Amazon.com THE Iberian … Continue reading

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‘Unborn babies can learn languages’: study

A Swedish-American team of researchers claims that babies begin learning their native tongue when they are still in the womb. “We showed that the foetus during the last ten weeks of the pregnancy not only listens to but remembers and … Continue reading

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Child’s Second Language: Advantage, Distraction?

By Mona A. Moneim Research has proven that a child is ready to learn a second language since their early months! You decide to teach your child one or two foreign languages and one day you find him coming over … Continue reading

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How foetuses learn language

By Jane O’Brien BBC News, Washington Listening in: foetuses in the last ten weeks of pregnancy can process human speech Babies are born with the ability to recognise familiar sounds and language patterns, according to new research. A glimpse into … Continue reading

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European and Asian languages traced back to single mother tongue

Eurasiatic languages from Portugal to Siberia form ‘superfamily’ with root in southern Europe 15,000 years ago, scientists claim The words for bark in at least four of the languages studied were found to have a common root. Photograph: Alamy Languages … Continue reading

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Could the United States become bilingual?

Could the U.S. become bilingual? (shutterstock) Luis Clemens in his well-crafted, and truly thought-provoking post in CodeSwitch (April 28, 2013), hits us hard with the question: “Will Spanish survive as a language widely spoken by Latinos in the United States?” … Continue reading

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Parallel influences in language

To paraphrase John Donne: No language is an island, entire of itself. And the death of a language diminishes all of us because languages are part of mankind. In more ways than one, languages are intertwined and not one escapes … Continue reading

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English is trying to colonize world languages

Through illegal immigration, English is trying to colonize world languages, especially the variety of Spanish spoken in the Iberian Peninsula. (Shutterstock) Through illegal immigration, English is trying to colonize world languages, especially the variety of Spanish spoken in the Iberian … Continue reading

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Breaking the language barrier

The Thai and Cambodian governments are locked in a contentious legal case over disputed border territory, but at the social level, the shared cultural space of the two neighbours is evident and inevitable. As an example, we talk to a … Continue reading

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Spanish language influence over English began earlier than we think.. and continues

Antonio de Nebrija. (inversolucionesmalaga.com) English language borrowings from Spanish began earlier than people might think, probably as soon as Spain became a vast Empire and its weight in the world awed European nations. Perhaps it all started in 1492 with … Continue reading

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The truth about being bilingual

In a recent news story, a first-base umpire threatened to eject players and a coach from a baseball game for speaking Spanish. His demand was not in response to any complaint being registered, rather, the English-speaking official’s objection ultimately was … Continue reading

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Worldwide Spanish Use Increasing

Within three or four generations, about 10 percent of the world’s population will understand Spanish, according to the most recent annual report from the Cervantes Institute on the state of the Spanish language. The institute, which publishes the report known … Continue reading

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Learning languages of region is critical for Thais

Experts warn if Thais don’t prepare their communication skills now, they’ll struggle when the AEC takes off Learn the languages of our neighbouring countries today or be losers tomorrow. This is not an overstatement given that the Asean Economic Community … Continue reading

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Being Bilingual Can Make You Smarter

There is a way you may avoid dementia, strengthen your cognitive skills, and heighten your intelligence. All you have to do was learn Spanish or another language.   If you’re like most you would love to be able to speak … Continue reading

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What is language?

Daniel Everett recently gave a talk on his language-as-a-cultural-tool idea at our UC Irvine Center for Language Science.  (Here‘s a decent review of his recent book.)  It was an entertaining talk but misses the point, in my view, regarding what … Continue reading

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