🎧 Lectures 4 and 5 of The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter

Listened to The Story of Human Language by John McWhorterJohn McWhorter from The Great Courses: Linguistics

Lecture 4: How Language Changes—Building New Material
Language change is not just sound erosion and morphing, but the building of new words and constructions. This lecture shows how such developments lead to novel grammatical features.

Lecture 5: How Language Changes—Meaning and Order
The meaning of a word changes over time. Silly first meant "blessed" and acquired its current sense through a series of gradual steps. Word order also changes: In Old English, the verb usually came at the end of a sentence.

Some great examples of words changing over time:
eke name – nick name
(my) mine Ellie – Nellie and (my) mine Edward – Ned
brid (bird) / fowl
silly (blessed)
verb endings and conjugations
n’est verb pas in French in which pas means literally “step”

🎧 Lectures 2 and 3 of The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter

Listened to The Story of Human Language by John McWhorterJohn McWhorter from The Great Courses: Linguistics

Lecture 2: When Language Began
We look at evidence that language is an innate ability of the human brain, an idea linked to Noam Chomsky. But many linguists and psychologists see language as one facet of cognition rather than as a separate ability.

Lecture 3: How Language Changes—Sound Change
The first of five lectures on language change examines how sounds evolve, exemplified by the Great Vowel Shift in English and the complex tone system in Chinese.

Interesting to hear him describe Chomsky first for his politics. I’ve always thought of him as a linguist first and only secondarily for his politics.

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🎧 The Story of Human Language | The Great Courses

Listened to The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter from The Great Courses: Linguistics
Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct. Now you can explore all of these questions and more in an in-depth series of 36 lectures from one of America's leading linguists. You'll be witness to the development of human language, learning how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today and gaining an appreciation of the remarkable ways in which one language sheds light on another. The many fascinating topics you examine in these lectures include: the intriguing evidence that links a specific gene to the ability to use language; the specific mechanisms responsible for language change; language families and the heated debate over the first language; the phenomenon of language mixture; why some languages develop more grammatical machinery than they actually need; the famous hypothesis that says our grammars channel how we think; artificial languages, including Esperanto and sign languages for the deaf; and how word histories reflect the phenomena of language change and mixture worldwide.

I had started this some time in the past, but starting over again from the beginning.

Listened to the first 15 minutes tonight.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: How the Opioid Crisis Started | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: How the Opioid Crisis Started from New York Times
As prosecutors go after doctors, drug dealers and users, those who made billions of dollars from sales of a painkiller at the center of the epidemic have gone largely unpunished.

This is such a massive public health care issue, I’m shocked we haven’t gone to heavier regulation of the direct source.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: A High School Assault | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: A High School Assault from New York Times
The allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh prompted Caitlin Flanagan, a writer for The Atlantic, to share her own story.

What a great story this is with a fantastic moral. This gives me some hope for the world.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Assigning Blame in the Opioid Epidemic | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Assigning Blame in the Opioid Epidemic from New York Times
U.S. prosecutors are looking to hold people criminally accountable for overdose deaths. They’re settling on unexpected targets: other users.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Susan Collins on Roe v. Wade and the Next Justice | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Susan Collins on Roe v. Wade and the Next Justice from New York Times
The Republican from Maine is among few senators willing to break from their parties on major issues — and who may decide the makeup of the Supreme Court.\

She’s usually pretty sound and logical, but I don’t suspect she’s actually going to stand up given the current political climate.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: The F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Investigation | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Investigation from New York Times
How the agency’s findings could affect the confirmation vote on the Supreme Court nominee, and why the tone of the controversy has shifted.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Kavanaugh’s Classmates Speak Out | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Kavanaugh’s Classmates Speak Out from New York Times
Former acquaintances of the Supreme Court nominee say that the image he’s been presenting doesn’t quite match the Brett Kavanaugh they knew in school.

It would certainly seem that Kavanaugh has deliberately lied and misled the Senate on his background and drinking. As a job interview he has failed spectacularly and can’t possibly be the best person for this job regardless of his other qualifications.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: The Anguish of Jeff Flake | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The Anguish of Jeff Flake from New York Times
The Republican senator’s 11th-hour decision to delay a vote on a Supreme Court nominee could wind up defining his legacy.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: How Trump Really Got Rich | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: How Trump Really Got Rich from New York Times
We don’t have President Trump’s tax returns. But we have his father’s.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: How Trump Withstands So Many Controversies | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: How Trump Withstands So Many Controversies from New York Times
As President Trump faces a hailstorm of criticism over his meeting with Russia’s president, his supporters are doubling down. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before.

We really need some people to stand up to all the non-sense.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Trump Sides With Putin | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Trump Sides With Putin from New York Times
In a remarkable news conference, President Trump avoided criticizing the Russian president, and instead aimed his sharpest barbs at the United States.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: Justice Kennedy’s Last Decision | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Justice Kennedy’s Last Decision by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

With Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court, little attention was paid to his final ruling — one that could forever alter labor unions.

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🎧 ‘The Daily’: The Supreme Court Loses Its Swing Vote | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: The Supreme Court Loses Its Swing Vote by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, often considered the Supreme Court’s ideological center, could fundamentally change its direction.

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