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What makes a language... a language? - Martin Hilpert

  • 372,768 Views
  • 1,175 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

Outside of China, Mandarin and Cantonese are often referred to as Chinese dialects, despite being even more dissimilar than Spanish and Italian. On the other hand, speakers of Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, which are three distinct languages, can usually communicate with each other in their native tongues. So, when is speech considered a dialect versus a language? Martin Hilpert investigates.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Martin Hilpert
  • Director Luísa M H Copetti, Hype CG
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Luísa M H Copetti
  • Animator Murilo Jardim
  • Art Director Luísa M H Copetti
  • Hype Producer Taíla Soliman
  • Composer Gabriel Maia
  • Sound Designer Gabriel Maia
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators
Additional Resources for you to Explore
You can find out a lot more about language on my YouTube channel. The videos are meant for university students, but I try to design them in such a way that they are accessible to everyone. Here, I just highlight three videos that my viewers have found particularly useful: 1. If you're interested in dialects, you will like this video on sociolinguistics, which expands on the topics that were covered in this Ted-Ed lesson. 2. I created a series of videos on varieties of English around the world. 3. More generally, if you are interested in linguistics and you are thinking about studying it at university, there is a video with a few thoughts on that here.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Martin Hilpert
  • Director Luísa M H Copetti, Hype CG
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Luísa M H Copetti
  • Animator Murilo Jardim
  • Art Director Luísa M H Copetti
  • Hype Producer Taíla Soliman
  • Composer Gabriel Maia
  • Sound Designer Gabriel Maia
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Cella Wright
  • Production Coordinator Abdallah Ewis
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam
  • See more creators

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