Family Trees in Other Languages: our world’s 7 kinship systems

Translating your family tree into another language should be simple, right? Just pick a family member and look up the kinship term. So in Sāmoa your sister is your “uso”. Unless you are her brother in which case she’s your “tuafafine”. And for the Ashanti your parent’s nephew is your cousin, except your father’s sister’s […]

Agriculture May Have Changed How People Speak | SciShow News

Thank you to Brilliant for sponsoring this whole week of SciShow! [ ♪ Intro ] Humans have been talking to each other for hundreds of thousands of years. And for the most part, researchers have assumed we’ve all been making the same basic sounds, no matter what language we’re speaking. We’re all working with the […]

Syntactic Trees and X’ Theory

So let’s talk about trees. But not the kind with flowers or fruit or leaves. No, I mean the trees that underlie our sentences, the ones that build up the structure that our words slot into and let us build bigger meanings. Every time you build a sentence, every time someone talks to you, you’re […]

What “Ancient” Chinese Sounded Like – and how we know

China has a long linguistic tradition. Did you know Chinese scholars were digging into old pronunciations centuries before Europeans were reconstructing proto-languages? This is the tale of how they uncovered their ancient imperial language. I struggle with Chinese pronunciation. I have ever since the dictionary and cassettes my Grandad once gave me for my birthday. […]

Simple Sentence Trees

Welcome avid learner of linguistics! I thought it was about time I made a video about syntax. So here’s something very basic: How to draw simple sentence trees. Let us first take a look into what we would need for such a tree. When we draw tree diagrams and syntax, we can classify pieces of […]

Why Kevin Spacey’s accent in House of Cards sounds off

Kevin Spacey grew up in California, but in House of Cards, he plays a politician from South Carolina. “As we used to say in Gaffney…” The first thing you’ll notice about Spacey’s accent when he’s playing Frank Underwood is what happens to a lot of his Rs. “Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts […]