Where in our mouth do we pronounce our sounds? In what ways do we let the air escape? In this episode, we talk about places and manners or articulation: all the different places in the vocal tract we can make sounds, the different methods for restricting air flow that we use, and some of the variation we see between languages for making consonants.
Topic 19: Constructed Languages
How long have we been inventing languages? What can those languages look like? In this episode, we talk about constructed languages, or conlangs: their history, their populations, and what it means for something to be considered a language.
Topic 18: Neurolinguistic Processing
What steps does our brain go through when we encounter language, and how can we measure what those steps are? In this episode, we talk about event-related brain potentials (ERPs): the small electrical changes that we can see when the brain responds to stimuli. We also go over some of the basic steps in processing language that ERPs can show us, for sounds, meaning, and syntax.
Topic 17: Roots and Affixes
How do we put together our words? What pieces are the most important, and where does everything go? In this episode, we talk about root morphemes and affixes: what the most meaningful bits are, all the different places we can put morphemes in and around each other, and some of the variation we see between languages.
Topic 16: Linguistic Tests for Babies
How can we find out what babies know about language before they can tell us themselves? What methods can we use? In this episode, we look at some of the experimental techniques linguists use to get into those infant heads, and discuss some of the discoveries we've made about what's going on in there.
Topic 15: The History of English
Where did English come from? How has it changed and evolved over time to become the powerhouse language it is today? In this episode, we talk about the history of English: what it looked like when it was more Germanic, how it became more French in Middle English, and the changes that happened to make it the Modern English we speak today.
Topic 14: Syllable Structure
How do we put together our syllables? Where do the consonants and vowels go inside our words? In this episode, we talk about syllable structure: how we fit the sounds together, how we decide what consonants go where, and how we know what makes words rhyme.
Topic 13: Transfer in Second Language Acquisition
How does our first language influence learning new ones? What gets moved over from the old languages to the new? In this episode, we talk about transfer in second language acquisition: how we know that the foundation of our new language is the one we knew already, and what the effects are of having that old language knowledge around.
Topic 12: The International Phonetic Alphabet
How can we track all of the sounds of language, exactly how we hear them? Why aren't our regular writing systems up to the challenge? In this episode, we talk about the International Phonetic Alphabet: what it is, why we need it, and how the charts are arranged. Plus, we made our own IPA charts!
Topic 11: Sociolinguistics and Dialects
What kinds of variation do we see in language? What does it mean for a linguistic system to be classified as a dialect or its very own capital-L Language? In this episode, we talk about linguistic variation: the ways in which dialects can differ, what underlies different grammars, and why every version of a language is okay.