Language is a strange thing. We use it every day, but we often forget it’s there; it’s easy to learn as a child, but fiendishly difficult as an adult; and, for reasons that are hard to define, certain words can evoke strong emotions or even downright offend.
Below, 5 TEDx Talks (and one TED Talk!) on the wonders of language and linguistics, from the secret life of pronouns to why we’re so offended by curse words.
John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!
Since its invention, many people have railed against the rise of “txt spk,” believing its use will eventually lead to the demise of English. John McWhorter begs to differ. At TED2013, he explains that texting is merely a new dialect of English and that we should rest assured that the language we speak isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The Secret Life of Pronouns: James Pennebaker at TEDxAustin
The words you use most say a lot more about you than you may intend. At TEDxAustin, James Pennebaker introduces you to the secret life of pronouns and demonstrates what your speech, emails and tweets say about you.
How Does The Brain Interpret Language?: Steve Nikolidakis at TEDxCooperUnion
In this short and sweet talk, Steve Nikolidakis explains the basics of neurolinguistics and its insight into how the brain processes language at TEDxCooperUnion.
Euphemisms: Kate Burridge at TEDxSydney
What is it about a word that makes it taboo? At TEDxSydney, Kate Burridge explains the mysterious phenomenon of some words being ruder than others.
Grammar, Identity, and the Dark Side of the Subjunctive: Phuc Tran at TEDxDirigo
At TEDxDirigo, Phuc Tran takes you on a fun romp through grammatical mood, debunking the often misunderstood subjunctive, with some interesting examples using Darth Vader thrown in for good measure.
Walk the Talk: Simon Denoth at TEDxZug
At TEDxZug, polyglot Simon Denoth expands on the importance of plurilingualism and the benefits it can bring to society — besides just being a good party trick.
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