Themes Words About Words

Words About Words

Language is the stuff of thought -- the more we know about it, the better we will understand ourselves. These speakers are trying to crack the mystery.

Linguist Steven Pinker inspects the structure of sentences -- and discovers insight into human nature. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh finds a key to human language in the behavior of bonobo apes -- just as paleoanthropologist Zeresenay Alemseged shows us a set of 3.3-million-year-old hominid fossils that offer clues to the origins of speech. Erin McKean, meanwhile, gleefully collects and catalogs the products of modern wordmakers into a dictionary without limits.

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Play_iconDeb Roy: The birth of a word

Deb Roy: The birth of a word

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