Recent Posts

Learning to Communicate in the Virtual World

Screen time is playing a bigger and bigger role in children’s lives. With the rapid development of technology, not only do children spend time watching TV and playing video games, but many in-person interactions are becoming replaced by virtual communication, especially in expat families. The corona pandemic increased the need for video calls to keep in touch with relatives and friends even more. For my daughter and me, video calls with extended family became a daily routine, so much so that I started to wonder about the role this technology was playing in her language development.

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‘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.

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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.

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From sounds to meaning: Interview with dr. Greta Kaufeld

Dr. Greta Kaufeld was a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and defended her PhD titled ‘Investigating spoken language comprehension as perceptual inference’ on January 19 2021.

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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.

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