Topic 40: Binding Theory and Interpreting Pronouns
How do we know how to interpret our pronouns? What rules guide what meanings can go with what words? In this episode, we talk about binding theory: what a pronoun even is, where different pronouns can get their interpretation from, and what principles of syntax oversee our understanding of all the nouns we talk about.
Topic 39: Child Language Experiments
How can we get at what kids know about language? What challenges do linguists face in working with children? In this episode, we take a look at child language experimentation: why it differs from adult testing, descriptions of a couple of types of experiments, and how we need to find the right test to get at exactly what's happening with kids.
Topic 38: Phonological Illusions
Why do we sometimes hear things that aren't there? When does the way we process language leave cracks for illusions to appear? In this episode, we talk about phonological illusions: what varieties there are, the processing strategies that lead to them, and how sometimes, we even try interpreting sounds as language when they aren't linguistic at all.
Topic 37: Pidgins and Creoles
How do we communicate with groups who don't speak the same language as us? What happens when kids start learning the linguistic systems we construct? In this episode, we talk about pidgins and creoles: what pidgins tend to have in common, how pidgins are like and not like natural languages, and what happens when kids take a pidgin and change it into something new.
Topic 36: Wordplay
What kinds of games do we play with language? What do we use those games for? In this episode, we talk about wordplay: what parts of language we play with, how the languages we speak influence the fun we can have, and how, sometimes, wordplay can be used for serious goals.
Topic 35: Word Learning
How do we learn new words? What guidelines do we follow for picking up new terms? In this episode, we take a look at vocabulary development: the difficulties in deciding what sounds go with what meanings, the assumptions we make to help us solve those challenges, and what kinds of morphemes get stored where. Hodor!
Topic 34: Implicatures, Entailments, and Presuppositions
How do we puzzle out what meanings lie beyond our sentences? What different flavours of extra meanings are there? In this episode, we talk about implicatures, entailments, and presuppositions: how to define them, what the differences are between them, and how they enrich our understanding of the world.
Topic 33: Linguistics as a Science
How do we define what qualifies as a science? Does linguistics fit the definition? In this episode, we look at linguistics as a science: whether it fits the scientific method, how scientifically sound different parts of the field are, and why studying linguistics is a great tool for introducing people to how science works.
Topic 32: Gender and Language Processing
How do we deal with gender when we process language? Do we take it into consideration when we hear words and sentences? In this week's episode, we talk about gender and language processing: the different kinds of gender in language, how gender influences our ability to retrieve words from our mental dictionaries, and how our views on gender temporarily keep us from considering otherwise legitimate interpretations of sentences.
Topic 31: Theta Roles
How does a word know what role it should play in a sentence? How can we match up our verbs and nouns so that everything makes sense? In this episode, we talk about theta roles: how they keep us from overstuffing or underfilling our sentences, the different kinds of roles there are, and how it keeps X' Theory from running out of control.