All posts filed under: Science of Language

The Language Fossils Buried in Every Cell of Your Body

Just stopping by to say that I am very much alive and still learning Korean despite the horrors rigors of graduate school.  How is everyone doing? :) A couple months ago, I stumbled across this interesting article in Discover Magazine that I think is worth sharing: The Language Fossils Buried in Every Cell of Your Body (click to read the article). The article is about a certain gene known as FOXP2 which may, at least in part, be involved in the acquisition of language in humans.  As the article states: FOXP2 didn’t give us language all on its own. In our brains, it acts more like a foreman, handing out instructions to at least 84 target genes in the developing basal ganglia. Even this full crew of genes explains language only in part, because the ability to form words is just the beginning. Then comes the higher level of complexity: combining words according to rules of grammar to give them meaning. First of all, this is exciting.  I don’t care if you don’t like science but the idea that scientists …

Biology of the language-learning brain

A lot of my friends are neuroscience majors so, out of curiosity and because I had some extra space in my schedule, I decided to take an intro-level behavioral neuroscience course this semester. BIG MISTAKE. I have never experienced a class so frustratingly boring in my life.  And it’s a real pity because I know that neuroscience can and should be somewhat interesting (it’s the brain, for heaven’s sake) but… it’s not. Except for today. (Source) We started talking about language and cognition and of course my ears perked up because I’ve always had a fascination for the science behind learning a foreign language.  How does the brain comprehend new phonemes and new grammar structures?  Where and how does it form a new “dictionary”?  How does it affect other parts of behavior?  To what extent is language a learned behavior and to what extent is it innate? If anyone else is interested in this topic, I suggest NOT taking a neuroscience class.  Instead, try perusing The Language Instinct by Harvard professor, cognitive scientist, and linguist Steven Pinker. …