It is common for researchers to use artificial languages to test certain aspects of language acquisition. Linguists at Northwestern University cleverly took it one step further by referencing the world of pop culture with their made-up language, naming it after satirist Stephen Colbert, a man known for humorously coining his own words, such as ‘truthiness’. Colbertian was used to test whether being bilingual aids in learning another language, which the researchers say it does. You can read more of the details in the Chicago Sun-Times write-up. Furthermore, you can even learn Colbertian yourself!
A new study from La Trobe University highlights yet again the importance of bilingualism from a young age. The same way that early exposure to multiple languages increases cognitive abilities in hearing children, exposure to both spoken and sign language for deaf children has positive effects on cognition and language learning. Check out this article for more details.
While you’re at it, feel free to increase your own bilingual abilities by taking a moment to learn some basic greetings in British Sign Language (BSL), which was the sign language focused on in the study.
NPR has an interesting report on the growing trend of producing bilingual Spanish/English television programs here in the US. Although they may be following in the footsteps of the successful bilingual children’s cartoon Dora the Explorer, this new trend is not just for children. Importantly, nor is it just for bilinguals, as they mention the programs are subtitled in both Spanish and English for those less dominant in one language or the other. Listen to the story and check it out for yourself.
Literacy News has a great litle blurb on a question all of us get on a regular basis: What do linguists do? Although it mentions a wide-variety of the avenues available in the linguistics field profession-wise, it does make clear a common misconception. That is, being a linguist does not mean that you are “fluent in five languages and spend your day thumbing through dictionaries.”
Timothy Doner, a 16 year old sophomore from New York has become part of the small community of persons who are multilingual (hyperpolyglots). He currently knows over a dozen languages and has astonishingly learned them in less than five years. His quest at becoming multilingual began at 13 after learning some Hebrew for his bar mitzvah. He does not think of language entirely as a form of communication but more of as a science. Timothy Doner, among other hyperpolyglots defy the critical period hypothesis.
Check out the full video and article.