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Displaying 16 - 30 of 33 news clips related to this topic.

Scientific American

Scientific American reporter Veronique Greenwood highlights a study by MIT researchers examining why some people seem to have an aptitude for languages. The researchers explored the structure of neuron fibers in white matter in beginning Mandarin students and found that students “who had more spatially aligned fibers in their right hemisphere had higher test scores after four weeks of classes.”


Prof. Michel DeGraff speaks with WGBH reporter Judith Kogan about why people around the world use different words to describe animal sounds, such as a turkey’s distinctive “gobble.” “Your native language formats your mind to perceive animal sounds based on your own native language," DeGraff explains.


MIT has been named the top university in the world in the latest QS World University Rankings, reports Nick Morrison for Forbes. This is the fifth consecutive year that MIT has earned the number one spot in the QS rankings. 

Boston Globe

MIT researchers have developed a database of annotated English words written by non-native English speakers, reports Kevin Hartnett for The Boston Globe. The database will provide “a platform for the study of learner English and also make it easier to develop technology like better search engines that supports non-native speakers.”

The Boston Globe

In an article for The Boston Globe, Kevin Hartnett explores a study co-authored by Prof. Danny Fox that examines why children confuse the words “and” and “or.” The researchers found that “children may conduct exactly the same logical process as adults, but arrive at different conclusions because they run that process over a narrower set of alternative sentences.”


In an article for The Huffington Post about why virtual assistants have trouble understanding accents, Philip Ellis highlights how researchers from MIT have compiled a database of written English composed by non-native speakers. Ellis explains that the aim is "to create a richer context for machine learning” systems.


MIT researchers have developed what they believe to be the toughest English-language tongue twister, writes Justin Kitch for The Huffington Post. The tongue twister “pad kid poured curd pulled cold” is difficult to say because “it’s an example of alternating repetition, where consonant sounds are repeated at the beginnings of every other word,” Kitch explains.

CBC News

CBC News reporter Paul Cote Jay writes about a new study co-authored by MIT researchers that examines why children often have trouble distinguishing the words “or” from “and.” Jay explains that the researchers found that while adults and children go through a similar process to interpret statements, “children are just missing one step.”


Professor Edward Gibson speaks on Huffington Post Live about his research, which indicates that all human languages share a common link. “It turns out that across all languages people tend to put the words that go together to make the bigger phrases close together linearly in the sentences,” said Gibson.

Chronicle of Higher Education

Geoffrey Pullum writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education about the re-release and 50th anniversary of Professor Noam Chomsky’s book “Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.” “Every page presents bold new ideas and strikingly original insights; every section inspired new research programs,” Pullum writes. 

BBC News

In a piece for the BBC about birdsong, Angela Saini highlights Prof. Shigeru Miyagawa’s research that shows human language could have evolved from birdsong. Miyagawa's theory suggests that "human language relies on two distinct systems, both of which had previously evolved in simpler animals." 


Brett Smith reports for redOrbit on a new study by Prof. Shigeru Miyagawa on the development of human language. Miyagawa explains his finds that the brain “at some point 75,000 to 100,000 years ago, hit a critical point, and all the resources that nature had provided came together in a Big Bang and language emerged pretty much as we know it today.”


Shankar Vedantam of NPR reports on Dr. Boris Katz’s new research examining how errors in written English can reveal clues about other languages. “By analyzing the patterns of mistakes that native speakers of two languages make in English, the computer can say, look, these two languages might actually be related to one another,” Vedantam explains. 

New York Times

In a piece for The New York Times, Prof. Michel DeGraff and Molly Ruggles write of the need for Haitian students to learn in their native Creole, as opposed to French. “Creole holds the potential to democratize knowledge, and thus liberate the masses from extreme poverty,” DeGraff and Ruggles explain. 

Financial Times

Gill Plimmer of The Financial Times interviews Professor Graham Jones about how social media has influenced how people gossip. “English speakers are increasingly talking not just about what other people say and do, but about the thoughts and feelings behind their words,” writes Plimmer.