‘I am Groot’: Ambiguity is a superpower

Superheroes are fascinating, also for researchers. A philosopher can contemplate how Superman is related to Nietzsche’s ideas of Übermensch. A historian can investigate how the superheroes change together with society, from the white male Superman to Wonder Woman and Black Panther. For a linguist, superheroes are interesting because they help to understand the limits of human language. In a previous post, I wrote about Yoda from Star Wars. His word order is truly alien because it breaks all possible rules. Today it’s the turn for Guardians of the Galaxy, which features several characters from Marvel Comics.


Reviving long-forgotten knowledge

For most of us, the languages that we are — primarily or exclusively —exposed to as a child, becomes our native languages as an adult. This, of course, does not come as a surprise, nor as breaking news. It is almost always the case that, from the moment children are born until they start school, they are raised in a natural environment where they are constantly in interaction with the languages of their parents, and, if different, the languages of their society. Thus, their birth languages as infants become their dominant languages as adults. However, for some children, namely adoptees, this is not the case.


Diagnosis: Aphasia – what?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to say something, but simply could not find the words you were looking for? This might happen when speaking a foreign language, in which you are not (yet) very proficient. However, this can also happen in your native language, for example when you are distracted or tired. Most of us have probably already experienced such or similar situations with temporary communication difficulties. Luckily, these are usually just short-lasting moments, and we manage to find the right words eventually.


Screens and kids: is screen time bad for language development?

Children are born into a world where technology is all around us. This raises questions about children’s screen time habits, and the effects of screen time on their language development. Research suggests that the content as well as how children view screens are important, and that social interaction during screen time is crucial in helping young children learn from videos.