A listener in Hartland, Vermont, has a 25-year-old African parrot named Trouble, and says he’s often asked about the bird’s vocabulary and how the two of them communicate, which raises the question “What is a word?” Grant argues that the better question is “Does this bird have a language?” and the answer is no. For example, the bird might associate an object with a particular word, but wouldn’t understand pronouns, nor would the bird be able to comprehend recursive statements that contain ideas embedded in ideas. This is part of a complete episode.
- Spicy Jambalaya 06/18/2018: Teen slang from the South, and food words that are tricky to pronounce. • High schoolers in Huntsville, Alabama, told Martha and Grant about their... [more]
- Chopped Liver 06/10/2018: There's a proverb that goes "beloved children have many names." At least, that's true when it comes to the names we give our pets. "Fluffy"... [more]
- Busted Melon 06/02/2018: When writing textbooks about slavery, which words best reflect its cold, hard reality? Some historians are dropping the word slave in favor of terms like... [more]
- Truth and Beauty 05/28/2018: Malamute, kayak, and parka are just some of the words that have found their way into English from the language of indigenous people in northern... [more]
- Jump Steady 05/19/2018: To transmit information during wartime, various industries used to encode their messages letter by letter with an elaborate system--a primitive version of today's digital encryption.... [more]