Do children have an easier time learning a second language than adults? What paths do kids travel for acquiring new languages? In this episode, we talk about child second language acquisition: how it differs from first language acquisition by babies, how it differs from adult second language acquisition, and from what ages we start seeing transfer effects from the first language showing up in little kids.
Topic 29: Writing Systems
How long have we been writing? What sorts of character systems do we use? In this episode, we look at our written languages: where they came from, the varieties of systems that we developed, and how different alphabets have evolved over time.
Topic 28: Allomorphy
How do our words change on their way out of our mouths? What kinds of rules cover their variation? In this week's episode, we talk about allomorphy: the way our morphemes change, the types of variation we find in their pronunciation, and the methods that allow us to decide what the underlying morpheme is.
Topic 27: Vowels and the IPA
How do we define vowel sounds? What are all the different vowels we can make? In this episode, we return to the International Phonetic Alphabet to look at vowels: what parameters we use to define them, what variation we see across languages, and some ways we can play with them to create more categories of sound.
Topic 26: Semantic Shift
How do the meanings of words change over time? In this episode, we look at semantic shift: how the senses of words drift over time, and how we can describe the different patterns we find across languages.
Topic 25: Principles and Parameters
How much do languages have in common underneath? Are there some rules all languages follow? In this episode, we talk about the Principles and Parameters approach to Universal Grammar, and look at some principles that all languages obey, as well as some parameters that offer a choice between two options for your language.
Topic 24: Aphasia
What happens when we lose our ability to use language? What difficulties do we run into when studying language loss? In this episode, we look at aphasia, and particularly Broca's aphasia: what symptoms occur, why it's hard to make sweeping generalizations about what to expect, and what aphasia can tell us about how language works.
Topic 23: Syntactic Movement and Traces
What elements move around when we make our sentences? Is it the same in all languages? In this episode, we look at syntactic movement: how we know that words move around, what remnants get left behind, and how we can use these phenomena to explain surface differences between languages.
Topic 22: Linguistic Determinism
Does our language determine how we can think, or can we think about things our language can't frame? In this episode, we talk about linguistic determinism: who came up with the hypothesis, what its implications are, and whether a stronger or weaker version best matches the facts.
Topic 21: The Wug Test
What do we have to memorize for our language? How can we know if kids learn the same things as adults? In this episode, we talk about the wug test: why it's important, how it works, and what it shows us.