Why we say “OK”
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How languages evolve
Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.
Where do new words come from?
There are over 170,000 words currently in use in the English language. Yet every year, about a thousand new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Where do they come from, and how do they make it into our everyday lives? Marcel Danesi explains how new words enter a language.
How computers translate human language
Is a universal translator possible in real life? We already have many programs that claim to be able to take a word, sentence, or entire book in one language and translate it into almost any other. The reality, however, is a bit more complicated. Ioannis Papachimonas shows how these machine translators work, and explains why they often get a bit mixed up.
Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na’vi real languages?
What do Game of Thrones’ Dothraki, Avatar’s Na’vi, Star Trek’s Klingon and LOTR’s Elvish have in common? They are all fantasy constructed languages, or conlangs. Conlangs have all the delicious complexities of real languages: a high volume of words, grammar rules, and room for messiness and evolution. John McWhorter explains why these invented languages captivate fans long past the rolling credits.
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