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Summer SAVY 2017, Session 4/Day 1- Looking into Language (Rising 4th/5th)

Posted by on Monday, July 10, 2017 in SAVY.

Welcome to Looking into Language! Today we began our work as linguists and delved into the world of language. After creating our own definitions of the word “language”, we started our day discussing how babies learn language. We watched a short TED talk by Patricia Kuhl, The Linguistic Genius of Babies, in order to better understand how humans learn to speak and how linguists research babies in order to better understand the human brain. Next, we compared how Americans speak across the country and polled our fellow classmates to learn if we pronounced words similarly or differently. Words included “caramel”, “route”, “pecan” “coupon”, and more. During “Fifteen minutes of French”, students learned to introduce themselves in French and greet their friends.

In the afternoon, we hopped in the time machine to study English texts across the centuries, beginning with the Jackson 5’s “I want you back” and ending with the Physician’s portrait in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Students transcribed Middle English to Modern English, and while it was certainly a challenge, it didn’t come close to the difficulty of reading the original text of Beowulf, which was incomprehensible to our modern readers! Using our texts as a guide, we explored the history of the English language from its Proto-Germanic roots, through the Norman Conquest and the subsequent French linguistic invasion, to the development of “English” we recognize today.

Tomorrow will be another exiting day for our linguists – à demain !

Ms. Abby Broughton

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