2 Open Questions About the Past That Still Puzzle Linguists
Linguist Noam Chomsky presents two very basic questions about language that are still open for debate.
“Well, as in most sciences, especially the human sciences, almost every major question is open,” says noted linguist Noam Chomsky. He says that for all we think we know about human development of language, for example, there are still a couple of very basic questions we can’t definitively answer.
Chomsky says in the video that human speech began 100,000 or 200,000 years ago, and even that isn’t so clear. A recent study in PLAS ONE pushes the date way back, to 1.75 million years, and also offers a possible reason for its sudden emergence: The same physical development that led to using tools may be what enabled speech. The study by Natalie Thaïs Uomini and Georg Friedrich Meyer suggests that around the same time hominids began using tools, they found their (speaking) voice. fTCD brain imaging revealed that "common cerebral blood flow lateralization signatures" occurred in subjects’ brains during two previously unlinked activities: wielding an axe, and performing linguistic exercises.
As far as the differences between languages, minor as Chomsky finds them, they may simply be the result of populations developing their own local variants in isolation from other groups developing their own combinations of the same hominid, and later human, sounds.
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The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."
- A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
- In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
- The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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