Right-handed Chimpanzees Provide Clues to the Origin of Human Language

Most of the linguistic functions in humans are controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. A study of captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Atlanta, Georgia), reported in the January 2010 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex (, suggests that this “hemispheric lateralization” for language may have its evolutionary roots More

Running Words Together: The science behind cross-cultural linguistics

While communication may be recognized as a universal phenomenon, distinctions—ranging from word-order to naming—undoubtedly remain as they help to define culture and develop language. Yet, little is understood about the similarities and differences in languages around the world. Recently, however, two studies have emerged that aid in our understanding of More

Baby Talk is Universal

A major function of speech is the communication of intentions. In everyday conversation between adults, intentions are conveyed through multiple channels, including the syntax and semantics of the language, but also through nonverbal vocal cues such as pitch, loudness, and rate of speech. The same thing occurs when we talk More

A New Language Barrier: Why learning a new language may make you forget your old one.

Traveling abroad presents an ideal opportunity to master a foreign language. While the immersion process facilitates communication in a diverse world, people are often surprised to find they have difficulty returning to their native language.  This phenomenon is referred to as first-language attrition and has University of Oregon psychologist Benjamin More