Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds GARRY PLAPPERT: Language is fundamental to almost all areas of human life, from simple everyday interactions to complex political and cultural institutions. So many of the things that we do as a matter of course are unthinkable without it. The same is true for thinking about language. That, too, is a fundamental part of our lives. In very everyday terms, we might wonder where someone is from on the basis of their accent. We might wonder how to word an email or text message. We might be shocked by something someone said that we considered rude, inappropriate, or taboo. We might marvel at the language development of our children. Or wonder what we can do to help them get along with their language.
Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds We might wonder how to translate a word or expression from one language to another. This course is about questions of this kind. Questions about language– what it is like. How it works. What people do with it. Specifically, we consider some of the questions asked by people who have spent a lot of their time thinking about language– linguistic researchers or linguists. We look at some of the questions that linguist have asked, the methods they have used to find answers, and the things they have found out. As well as things that they still want to know. We’ll explore questions to do with how languages vary from place to place. How human languages relate to communication of other animals.
Skip to 1 minute and 45 seconds How sign languages relate to spoken languages. And how linguistic changes reflect and perhaps, even encourage social changes. Along the way, you’ll find out about the key methods that linguists use to find out about language from close analysis of texts and spoken language, to the use of linguistic big data, from experiments that track people’s eye movements as they read, to observations of the behaviour of great apes. In all, you’ll discover how linguistic researchers attempt to turn our everyday interest in language into linguistic knowledge.