Language Transforms Us

There are over 6,500 languages spoken today, but of those, 2000 have fewer than 1000 speakers.

These languages can share common structures, enabling a person to learn similar ones in a shorter time frame. We attempt to learn them so that we can communicate better with those we meet. But as with any language, certain phrases and words are forbidden.

The intricacies of speech mean we can be misinterpreted and imply something that was never intended. Yet we persevere with learning languages because we want to be understood. We do not want our meaning to be construed or lost in lingo.

How a writer's voice is conveyed in a book has to be translated into multiple languages for foreign rights.

Consequently, just one paragraph can have a subtle difference to readers in other countries. Our words can travel but our voice and meaning is harder to remain constant.

In this TED Talk, Biologist Mark Pagel shares his theory about how and why language has transformed us all.

TED Talk with Biologist Mark Pagel

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