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If there existed a trophy for the ugliest-looking but prettiest-sounding language, then the 721,700 living Welsh speakers would boast more championships than Alabama’s football team. Yes, the Welsh. They of the villages Llangefni and Llanfairfechan. (To say nothing of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.) Wouldn’t it be a shame for such a language to disappear? For writing in this language to stop being published? Stanford’s Cynthia Haven thinks so.
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn’t and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
“Jealousy baffles me. It’s so mysterious and it’s so pervasive. … And yet I’ve never read a study that can parse to me its loneliness, or its longevity, or its grim thrill. For that, we have to go to fiction because the novel is the lab that has studied jealousy in every possible configuration. In fact, I don’t know that it’s an exaggeration to say that if we didn’t have jealousy, we wouldn’t even have literature.” New York Times Book Review editor Parul Sehgal takes listeners to church in her TED Talk, “Ode to Envy.”