Language

The project started eight years ago, when artists Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott had no words to describe the anxiety they were experiencing over California’s drought.

Art Meets Science

How Two California Artists Can Help Personalize Your Eco-Grief

Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante founded the Bureau of Linguistical Reality to create words to help describe people's feelings about climate change

“The first people to look at the Rosetta Stone thought it would take two weeks to decipher,” says Edward Dolnick, author of The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone. “It ended up taking 20 years.”

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Two Hundred Years Ago, the Rosetta Stone Unlocked the Secrets of Ancient Egypt

French scholar Jean-François Champollion announced his decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs on September 27, 1822

The artificial intelligence has looked for patterns between audio recordings and the brain activity of people listening to those recordings. 

By Reading Brainwaves, an A.I. Aims to Predict What Words People Listened to

The research is a long way off from practical use, but researchers hope it might one day aid communication for people who experienced brain injuries

By studying the throats of 43 primate species, researchers found they all had vocal membranes that destabilized their voices. Humans, on the other hand, do not.

The Evolutionary Trait That May Have Led to Human Speech

“Vocal membranes” in primates make their speech grating and unpredictable, study suggests. Humans have no such thing

Captive gorillas make a novel sound that's a cross between a sneeze and a cough when zookeepers are nearby with food.

Gorillas Make a New ‘Snough’ Noise to Grab Their Keepers’ Attention

Researchers have never observed gorillas making the unusual sound in the wild, suggesting that captive gorillas can learn to make new noises

Over the past century, archaeologists have uncovered more than 1,600 Proto-Elamite inscriptions, but only about 43 in Linear Elamite, scattered widely across Iran.

Have Scholars Finally Deciphered a Mysterious Ancient Script?

Linear Elamite, a writing system used in what is now Iran, may reveal the secrets of a little-known kingdom bordering Sumer

A meeting of the Soviet Republics’ Esperanto Union, held in Moscow in 1931

Why Hitler and Stalin Hated Esperanto, the 135-Year-Old Language of Peace

Jewish doctor L.L. Zamenhof created Esperanto as a way for diverse groups to easily communicate

Translator Daisy Rockwell and author Geetanjali Shree hold their International Booker Prize awards.

For the First Time, a Hindi Author Has Won the International Booker Prize

A novel about borders garnered Geetanjali Shree the prestigious award

Perhaps the most prolific of the group, split-gill mushrooms produced "remarkably diverse" signal patterns.

Mushrooms May Communicate With Each Other Using Electrical Impulses

A computer scientist found the average fungal lexicon contains 50 words

An image of the original 1970s Arecibo message. 

These Space Scientists Want to Update Earth's Message to Extraterrestrials

The broadcast builds on the 1974 Arecibo message and portrays information about science, math and human life

The results of the analysis—that society’s concept of “person” prioritizes men over women—suggests a “fundamental bias in our species’ collective view of itself,” write the researchers in the paper.

Gender-Neutral Words Like 'People' and 'Person' Are Perceived as Male, Study Suggests

Researchers found that society's concept of "person" and similar terms prioritizes men over women

Just as Wordle has its share of detractors today (a phenomenon only magnified by social media), a look back at newspaper reports from the 1920s shows that the crossword faced its own number of critics.

A Century Before Wordle Went Viral, Crossword Mania Swept the Country

In the 1920s, puzzling inspired a Broadway musical, built a publishing house and counted the queen of England as a fan

One reader wonders how birds stay balanced on tree branches while they’re asleep. 
 

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Medieval manuscripts featuring stories about King Arthur and Camelot

Art Meets Science

How Much Medieval Literature Has Been Lost Over the Centuries?

A new analysis suggests that just 9 percent of manuscripts produced in Europe during the Middle Ages survive today

A great tit sitting on a post in Suffolk, England, calls out.

Do Birds Have Language?

In the cheeps, trills and tweets of birdsong, scientists find some parallels with human speech

Ingeborg Hornkjøl poses with a piece of wood inscribed with Nordic runes. 

Cool Finds

Archaeologists Discover—and Start to Decode—Rare Medieval Runes

One of the newly unearthed objects, an inscribed bone, is the first of its kind found in Oslo in decades

Dogs may even be able to suss out which sounds are words and which are just nonsense.

Good News

Dogs Can Tell the Difference Between Human Languages

Canines in the study could differentiate between Spanish, Hungarian and nonsense words

The term “Crusade” has always been an anachronism—a way of looking back at complex, often disconnected movements with a wide array of motivations, membership, tactics and results and organizing them into a single coherent theology or identity. Pictured: A 19th-century painting of the 1177 Battle of Montgisard by Charles-Philippe Larivière

The Many Myths of the Term 'Crusader'

Conceptions of the medieval Crusades tend to lump disparate movements together, ignoring the complexity and diversity of these military campaigns

Researchers are hoping to decipher the communications of sperm whales.

Could We Chat With Whales?

An ambitious project is attempting to interpret sperm whale clicks with artificial intelligence, then talk back to them

The Tuxtla statuette, discovered in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1902, now resides in the National Museum of Natural History.

What Secrets Does This 1,800-Year-Old Carved Stone Hold?

The Tuxtla Statuette illuminates an endangered Latin American culture

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