Language

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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How Do Birds Stay Upright When They Are Sleeping?

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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

Grizzly bears in coastal British Columbia are more closely linked to Indigenous groups than previously realized.

Grizzly Bear Territories in Canada Match Maps of Indigenous Language Families

DNA analysis shows a distinct relationship between three distinct groups of grizzlies and Indigenous populations with different languages

Mother and pup of the bat species Saccopteryx bilineata. Similar to human infants, pups begin babbling at a young age as they develop language skills.

Baby Bats Babble—Just Like Human Infants

Both species make similar sounds as they develop language skills at an early age

A man in Laruns, southwestern France, whistling as a form of speech. Like others in the Canary Islands and elsewhere, local people have learned to whistle their language to communicate across long distances. Linguists are studying whistled speech to help understand which sound elements are essential to comprehension.

More Than 80 Cultures Still Speak in Whistles

Dozens of traditional cultures use a whistled form of their native language for long-distance communication. You could, too.

The Ifesowapo dùndún ensemble performing in Igbo Ora, southwest Nigeria

How Does the West African Talking Drum Accurately Mimic Human Speech?

A new study explores how the dùndún replicates tones and patterns of the Yorùbá language

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry, which famously depicts William the Conqueror's victory over the so-called Anglo-Saxons

The Many Myths of the Term 'Anglo-Saxon'

Two medieval scholars tackle the misuse of a phrase that was rarely used by its supposed namesakes

Historians have long thought that Slavic peoples did not develop an alphabet until the ninth century—but the new findings suggest otherwise.

Cool Finds

Runes Found on Seventh-Century Cow Bone Could Change Slavic History

The Germanic writing suggests Slavs used an alphabet more than 200 years earlier than previously believed

Peter Mark Roget compiled his influential thesaurus late in life.

Before He Wrote a Thesaurus, Roget Had to Escape Napoleon's Dragnet

At the dawn of the 19th century, the young Brit got caught in an international crisis while touring Europe

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