Talking Is Throwing Fictional Worlds at One Another
A linguist exposes the inner truths about language.
What Trump’s Simplified Language Means
“There is a predictive relationship that speeches that are expressed using very simple basic language tend to precede very authoritarian acts like the use of executive orders.”Photograph by Gage Skidmore / Flickr Acouple years ago, I was surprised that a panel called “The Press and President Trump,” held at the Columbia Journalism School, didn’t broach […]
This Simple Structure Unites All Human Languages
Language builds meaning through self-similarity.
Mind the Gap Between Science and Religion
Have you heard that we may be living in a computer simulation? Or that our universe is only one of infinitely many parallel worlds in which you live every possible variation of your life? Or that the laws of nature derive from a beautiful, higher-dimensional theory that is super-symmetric and explains, supposedly, everything? I’ve heard […]
Language Both Enraptures and Deceives Us
An interview with linguist and writer Julie Sedivy.
The Communication We Share with Apes
Hand gestures signal the emergence of human language.
When Words Fail
Where our minds go when words let us down.
The Strange Persistence of First Languages
After my father died, my journey of rediscovery began with the Czech language.
Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language
The confounding consistency of color categories.
Angst and the Empty Set
We can experience nothingness, but does it actually exist?