Skip to content

Darwin and language diversity: Track 1

Featuring: Audio Audio

Can Darwin's theory of evolution be applied to languages? If so what are the analogues for natural selection and species diversification? What truths does this approach reveal and what problems does it throw up? In this album Professor Mark Pagel of Reading University and Quentin Atkinson, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, discuss the pitfalls and the up-sides to approaching language through a Darwinian model. Focussing on Indo-European languages, they show how mathematical and statistical models can be used to study the development of both particular words and of grammatical terms. Looking to the future they speculate on how language will develop in the new globalised culture. The tracks on this album were produced by The Open University in collaboration with the British Council. They form part of Darwin Now, a global initiative celebrating the life and work of Charles Darwin and the impact his ideas about evolution continue to have on today’s world. © British Council 2009.

By: The iTunes U team (Programme and web teams)

  • Duration 30 mins
  • Updated Monday 9th November 2009
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Across the Sciences
Share on Google Plus Share on LinkedIn View article Comments
Print

Track 1: Darwin and language diversity

A short introduction to this album.


© The Open University 2009


Tracks in this podcast:

Track   Title Description
1 Darwin and language diversity    A short introduction to this album. Play now Darwin and language diversity
2 A Darwinian approach to language    What happens when you apply Darwin to the development of language? Mark Pagel and Quentin Atkinson explore the parallels. Play now A Darwinian approach to language
3 Conservation and diversification    In the tree of Indo-European languages, some words are remarkably similar across several languages, whilst many other words are remarkably different. Play now Conservation and diversification
4 Revolution or evolution?    Why, when languages change, do they often do so in rapid bursts. Play now Revolution or evolution?
5 Warriors or farmers - who spread Indo-European languages?    There are two theories about the way that Indo-European languages spread - which one is correct? Play now Warriors or farmers - who spread Indo-European languages?
6 Towards a global language?    Can Darwin's theories predict the future of language? Why are languages so resilient in the face of globalisation? Play now Towards a global language?

Copyright information

Tags, Ratings and Social Bookmarking

Ratings

Share

Reload rating

Be the first to post a comment

Leave a comment
Sign in or create your OpenLearn account to join the discussion.

We invite you to discuss this subject, but remember this is a public forum.
Please be polite, and avoid your passions turning into contempt for others. We may delete posts that are rude or aggressive; or edit posts containing contact details or links to other websites.

Other content you may like

Why is 'modern language' taken to mean 'European language'? Creative commons image Icon Prince You under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license article icon

Languages 

Why is 'modern language' taken to mean 'European language'?

In education in the UK, 'modern languages' all too often means those of Northern Europe.  Dr Jieun Kiaer argues that it's an attitude that's outdated.

Article
European Day of Languages Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Council of Europe article icon

Languages 

European Day of Languages

Happy European Day of Languages! Find out more about why we should celebrate language learning.

Article
Weekend Break: Quick language courses for short trips overseas Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: photos.com article icon

Languages 

Weekend Break: Quick language courses for short trips overseas

Planning a trip overseas? Our language podcasts will give you the basics in a range of European languages

Article
Darwin Now pod 6: Language diversity Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images audio icon

Nature & Environment 

Darwin Now pod 6: Language diversity

Do languages evolve in the same way as species do in nature? If so, how can evolutionary biologists shed light on the study of language diversity?

Audio
30 mins
Why has English taken over academia? Creative commons image Icon ChristianMcCarthy under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license article icon

Languages 

Why has English taken over academia?

If English is globally squeezing out teaching in local languages, the fault isn't with the language but with economics. Anna Kristina Hultgren and Elizabeth J. Erling explain.

Article
Exploring languages and cultures free course icon Level 1 icon

Languages 

Exploring languages and cultures

Explore the multiple relationships between languages and cultures. In this free course you will learn about the benefits and challenges of meeting people from different cultures and the ways in which language and human communities shape each other. You will look at the role of intercultural competence at the workplace, reflect on the use of English as lingua franca in international contexts, and get a flavour of the skills involved in language-related professions such as translation and interpreting.

Free course
14 hrs
Learning a second language Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Languages 

Learning a second language

In this free course, Learning a second language, we will consider how students learn how to make meaning through learning additional languages which could be second, third or even fourth languages. This course is likely to appeal to teachers; that is, educators of any type.

Free course
4 hrs
How Elvish has had greater impact than Esperanto Creative commons image Icon Daniele Prati under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license article icon

Languages 

How Elvish has had greater impact than Esperanto

Why has Tolkien's fantasy language had a greater impact than those who attempted to engineer a universal language?

Article
How can statistics bring dead languages back to life? Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Gellinger audio icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

How can statistics bring dead languages back to life?

Languages long unspoken are being brought back to life through statistical models.

Audio
5 mins