How does the brain learn to read?
Associate Professor of Education Nadine Gaab explains how regions of a child’s brain work together to turn reading into learning.
The brain-changing power of conversation
The interplay between parents and children ignites the brain and boosts its response to language, stimulating lasting literacy skills.
Tracing the roots of language and literacy
Research emphasizes the importance of the first year of life for long-term language and literacy development.
Bringing a hidden language disorder to light
Experts explore how a deficit that affects the learning of one in 12 children can go undetected by parents and educators.
A way with words
Researchers investigate not only how infants acquire language, but how they gain the many complementary skills.
Language of addiction
When confronting addiction, the power of language is important to keep in mind, specialists say.
Fat shaming harms health
Students are acquiring the tools to help change the conversation around weight and health.
What are the best ways to share and respect pronouns, at work and beyond?
Students are working to jump-start conversations on the importance of inclusive language in the sciences as part of the ongoing fight for transgender rights.
Changes to our writing
Researchers found that when people use predictive text systems—programs that suggest words or phrases—their writing becomes more succinct, more predictable, and less colorful.
In 2020, the Entomological Society of America voted to remove “gypsy moth” and “gypsy ant” from a list of common names used to refer to insects.
An example of a khipu
Harvard researchers are using advanced pattern identification techniques to decipher khipus, knotted cord devices used for Inca record keeping, which may help decode the ancient language of the Incas.
When Richard Grounds began his work there were fewer than two dozen fluent, first-language speakers of Yuchi, but that’s all changing thanks to his Euchee/Yuchi Language Project.
Américo Mendoza-Mori, director of Harvard’s Latinx Studies Working Group, co-founded The Quechua Alliance, a coalition that hosts annual gatherings to promote Quechua and Andean culture throughout the U.S.
Gullah, or Geechee, was created by enslaved people brought from West Africa to Charleston, S.C., who needed a common language to communicate. It allowed them to speak freely, by way of encoded speech, in the presence of those holding them in bondage.
Many common words or phrases are rooted in the Gullah language: yam (sweet potato), bubba (brother), gumbo (okra), kumbaya (come by here).
Nahuatl was the lingua franca of the Aztecs, who ruled Mexico between the 14th and 16th centuries. It is still spoken by nearly 1.5 million Mexicans and has a growing Harvard study group dedicated to it called Nahuatl Notequixpoyohuan or “My Nahuatl Friends.”
Griko, a language of Greek origins spoken in Salento—part of the “heel” of Italy’s boot—was deemed by the Italian government to be a “language of the backward past” until 1999, when a national law recognized Griko among 12 “historical linguistic minorities” in Italy.
One of the last widely used pictographic languages in the world, the written language of the Dongba, an ethnic minority in southwest China, is being digitized by Harvard-Yenching Library and shared with scholars in China to preserve records of the customs, religious practices, and daily life of the Naxi people.
A Naxi manuscript