What lies beneath the sentences that we say and hear? How do we know which words go together? In this episode, we talk about syntax: why we need it, and the trees that structure our words into meaningful phrases, using X' theory.
Topic 9: Language and the Brain
Where in the brain is language located, and how do we know? In this episode, we talk about neurolinguistics, the two main areas in the brain that are in charge of language, and two different neuroimaging techniques we use to look at where and when the brain does all its linguistic magic.
Topic 8: Semantic Scope Ambiguity
Why do people interpret the same sentence multiple ways? What is it about semantics that leads us to more than one meaning? We take on semantic scope, and talk about how the most innocent-seeming words in your sentence are fighting it out to bestow upon you an interpretation where they come out on top.
Topic 7: Morphemes
What are the parts of words that matter for meaning? They're not always as big as you might think. This week, we talk about morphemes, the smallest bits of meaning: how to find them, where to dig for them, and how different languages deal with them.
Topic 6: Bilingualism
What happens when babies are exposed to more than one language at the same time? You might be worried about them getting confused, but we're here to talk about bilingualism, and how kids have no trouble working out how to build their two languages right. It turns out babies, as always, are linguistically amazing.
Topic 5: Phonemes and Allophones, Part 2
When we deal with language, how do we know what sounds we hear match up to what categories? And how do we know what sounds to make ourselves? In the follow-up to our phoneme episode, we takes on allophones, the speech sounds that are driven by rules, and that define the way we hear our linguistic world.
Topic 4: Phonemes and Allophones, Part 1
With all the sounds we can make with our mouths, how do we know which ones are important for our language? We take a look at phonemes, the basic sounds of language, and how we can identify them, how we tell them apart, and how our brains react to them.
Topic 3: Prescriptive vs. Descriptive Grammar
When we're studying language, which rules are the rules that matter? We take a look at prescriptive and descriptive rules, and explains why the rules that tell you how you actually do something are more interesting and more scientific than the ones that tell you how you should do it.
Topic 2: Pragmatics and Gricean Maxims
Our conversations may not always behave entirely logically, but we still have rules to follow. In this episode, we talk about the Cooperative Principle and the different Conversational Maxims that give us the rails our interactions run down.
Topic 1: Language Acquisition and Universal Grammar
How do babies get so good at language so quickly? Because they already know a lot from the beginning about how language works. In this episode, we talk about Universal Grammar and evidence that babies are little language acquisition geniuses.