Category Archives: Language

Tongue twisters

IN 1882, linguists were electrified by the publication of a lost language—one supposedly spoken by the extinct Taensa people of Louisiana—because it bore hardly any relation to the languages of other Native American peoples of that region. The Taensa grammar was so unusual they were convinced it could teach them something momentous either about the region’s history, or the way that languages evolve, or both…

George Catlin (American, 1796 – 1872 ), Chief of the Taensa Indians Receiving La Salle. March 20, 1682, 1847/1848, oil on canvas, Paul Mellon Collection

This article was first published in Slate on 30 October 2019. To continue reading, click here.

The AI composer

COMPUTER scientist Luc Steels uses artificial intelligence to explore the origins and evolution of language. He is best known for his 1999–2001 Talking Heads Experiment, in which robots had to construct a language from scratch to communicate with each other. Now Steels, who works at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), has composed an opera based on the legend of Faust, with a twenty-first-century twist. He talks about Mozart as a nascent computer programmer, how music maps onto language, and the blurred boundaries of a digitized world….

Luc Steels presents an extract of Fausto at the Gaîté Lyrique theatre in Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in Nature on 14 September 2017. To continue reading, click here.

 

 

The shared past that wasn’t

STRANGE things have been happening in the news lately. Already this year, members of US President Donald Trump’s administration have alluded to a ‘Bowling Green massacre’ and terror attacks in Sweden and Atlanta, Georgia, that never happened…

By South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article first appeared in Nature on 7 March 2017. To continue reading, click here.

God-loving linguists

il_logoIN 1963 Barbara and Joseph Grimes sat down with their Huichol neighbours to discuss what to do about the bandits terrorising their remote community. It was clear to everyone that the Grimes themselves were the problem. Seeing Americans living there, at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, the bandits assumed the community was rich. The Grimes recognised that it would be best for everyone if they left…

This article was first published at More Intelligent Life on 19 November 2010.