Shows
Episodes
Oops, no results. Check out what we have on All Shows.

History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The Story of Human Language, From Proto Indo-European to Ebonics English—John McWhorter

00:00 55:18
More Ways to Listen
However you tune in, don't forget to subscribe so you'll never miss an episode.
Language not only defines humans as a species, placing us head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators, but it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries. For example... How did different languages come to be? Why isn't there just a single language? How does a language change, and when it does, is that change indicative of decay or growth? How does a language become extinct?   In today's episode I speak with Dr. John McWhorter, a linguist from Columbia University. He, addresses these and other issues, such as how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago has evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today. We go broad and deep. For the broad, we explore language families, starting with Indo-European, comprising languages from India to Ireland including English. Other language families discussed are Semitic, Sino-Tibetan, Austronesian, Bantu, and Native American. This gets us into the heated debate over the first language. For the deep, we get into pidgins and creoles. When people learn a language quickly without being explicitly taught, they develop a pidgin version of it. Then if they need to use this pidgin on an everyday basis it becomes a real language, a creole. Some people argue that Black English is a creole, and Professor McWhorter really gets into this issue.    
December 04, 2017
Share this episode
See all episodes
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
Home Shows About Us Contact Us What is a Podcast? Advertise With Us