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Language and Languages
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The Human Language Series

Explores human language, its origins, acquisition and evolution.
Ivy (By Request)

Language and Communication

Shows how language, the primary means of human communication, is expressed in the sounds and movements of every culture to express feelings and aspirations. Discusses the structure of language and its relationship to thought, as well as the significance of body language. Examines dialect, looking at certain Afro-American dialects. Using the example of the Nuer, whose language includes 400 words related to cattle, discusses whether thought reflects or influences culture.
Ivy (By Request)

Chimp Talk [electronic resource]

In this program, Paul Hoffman, editor of Discover magazine, explores the controversial issue of language use by apes with primatologist Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Dr. Laura Ann Petitto. The results of Savage-Rumbaugh's 20-year study with chimpanzees reveal that they can use language with the astounding accuracy of a two-year-old human, which includes a rudimentary syntactical ability. However, Petitto's research indicates that humans have a cognitive predisposition for language lacking in chimps, which leads to the conclusion that although apes communicate by associating symbols with objects and actions, they do not have language abilities in the way that humans do. If the scientific community should eventually accept language use by apes, will the last scientific distinction betwee [...]
2006; 1996

Modern Myths [electronic resource]

All communities embrace organizing principles that are indispensable to their cohesion, imposing order on chaos and allowing individuals to function in groups. Many of these principles are related through myths. In this program, the transformation of the earlier "savior" myth into the modern myth of the "hero" is examined. How social myths such as "progress" facilitate modern industrial societies, and the myth of the "star" as a social construct that provides the audience with an object on which to project its ideals, are also discussed.
2006; 1999

Language [electronic resource]

Language is a social construct. It unites the individuals of a given community through a code that is understood by those who use it, ranging from street slang to the prescribed usage of grammar by an elite. This program examines language in a historical context and as a political tool. Since the advent of the printing press and, most recently, the Internet, English has become the universal language, replacing French. This has in turn meant the loss of many languages. Today only 6,000 are still spoken, and it is estimated that by the end of the 21st century, 90 percent of these will have disappeared.
2006; 1999

Comedy [electronic resource]

Comedy is the complement of tragedy, and tragedy is one of the oldest forms of ritual in the Western world. However, while tragedy is linked to the sacred, comedy is often linked to the profane and sometimes even the sacrilegious. This program explores comedy, from Aristophanes and Cicero to the Christian ban on humor. The Feast of Fools and Carnival as Christian institutions that celebrate the profane are examined, along with the role of the Fool in the Renaissance court. The work of Rabelais as a Reformation-era text examines satire as a form of social critique and political tool that verges on the blasphemous. Literary figures such as Moliere and more recent icons, such as Charlie Chaplin, are discussed, along with societies like Japan that suppress laughter and consider it subversive.
2007; 1998

Non-Verbal Communication [electronic resource]

Explores the ability of body language to reinforce or contradict the message we are sending verbally. Students will understand the importance of how we dress and present ourselves in order to make a good impression. Differing eye expressions are examined as a powerful body language tool, as is the sense of touch. Mixed messages are also investigated.
2006; 1992

Birth of a Language [electronic resource]

Melvyn Bragg begins the story of English in Holland, finding ancestral echoes in the Frisian dialect. What follows is a chapter on survival as the English language weathers Viking and Norman invasions, vying with and eventually absorbing rival tongues. Lively settings such as village pubs and markets bring home the lasting influence of Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Old French. The connection between Christianity, Latin, and an alphabet is explored, as well as the role of the language's first champion, King Alfred the Great. Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney reads from and discusses the first epic in English, Beowulf.
2006; 2003

English Goes Underground [electronic resource]

With the Norman invasion, English became a third language in its own country, behind French and Latin. In this program, Melvyn Bragg examines the impact of Old French on the development of English. Manuscripts, tapestries, and dozens of curious etymologies help illustrate a tremendous influx of vocabulary pertaining to romance, chivalry, and, of course, food. The influence of Eleanor of Aquitaine's patronage is heard in works of poets and troubadours as the cult of courtly love flourished in England.
2006; 2003

The Battle for the Language of the Bible [electronic resource]

In late-medieval England, English quietly ousted French in law and government- but the move to make it God's language meant bloodshed. This program looks at the battle for a Bible in English, a struggle with huge impact on the language itself. Dramatic readings from successive English Bibles show the language's evolution. Location footage and original manuscripts illustrate key figures and events, such as John Wycliffe, the Lollards, and the first English Bible; William Langland's Piers Plowman; Henry V's official correspondence; the role of the Chancery or English civil service; William Caxton's printing press; William Tyndale's translation; and the King James Bible.
2006; 2003

This Earth, This Realm, This England [electronic resource]

Has any single person shaped English more than William Shakespeare? This program uses unparalleled access to some of the greatest English texts, including the first English dictionary and a rare first folio of Shakespeare's plays, to illustrate the great Bard's influence. John Barton, honorary associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, discusses the sound and accessibility of Shakespeare's words. His impact is also examined in the larger context of Elizabethan England and the Renaissance.
2006; 2003

English in America [electronic resource]

When Massasoit hailed the Plymouth settlers in their own language, they might have taken it for a sign that English would dominate the New World. Packed with surprising etymologies and intriguing stories, this program traces the dynamic relationship between English and America, exploring the linguistic influence of westward expansion, cowboy culture, slave culture, and encounters with the French and Spanish languages. Key works examined include The New England Primer and Webster's The American Spelling Book.
2006; 2003

Speaking Proper [electronic resource]

This program follows English through the 18th and 19th centuries, from attempts at reforming and standardizing the tongue in the Age of Reason to the soaring verse of Romanticism and the verbal prudishness of the Victorian era. Linguistic milestones are highlighted by original editions of critical texts, including Newton's Opticks, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, Thomas Sheridan's British Education, and George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Other key figures discussed include Jonathan Swift, Robert Burns, Jane Austen, and William Wordsworth.
2006; 2003

The Language of Empire [electronic resource]

Amok, "boomerang," "bungalow," "bangle," "dumdum," "plonk," "assassin"-these are some of the many words that have entered English by way of colonial expansion. This program explores how the British Empire in its heyday exported its language around the globe and how different forms of speech and vocabulary, as well as different attitudes to English, developed out of that colonial expansion. Rich variations of dialect, accent, and slang are heard in many samples from India, the Caribbean, and Australia.
2006; 2003

Many Tongues Called English, One World Language [electronic resource]

This program explores how America's rise as an economic power made it the driving force behind the spread of English in the 20th century. A world tour illustrates how English has mixed with other languages-from "Franglais" in France to "Singlish" in Singapore-and how the dollar's power, coupled with the lure of consumerism, has made English the international trade language. Bringing it full circle, host Melvyn Bragg returns to the British Isles to survey English as it is spoken there now, measuring the influence of American slang and vocabulary from other languages.
2006; 2003

Sign, Symbol, and Script [electronic resource]: Origins of Written Communications and the Birth of the Alphabet

Written language is arguably humankind's most important invention. This delightfully accessible documentary uses maps, tables, artifacts, and copious examples to trace the progression of communication through its six stages: gestures, picture writing, pictograms, ideograms, phonograms, and acrophonic characters. Through detailed narration, the program explores topics such as the function of tokens, wall paintings, and wampum; the flowering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mesopotamian cuneiform, and Chinese ideograms; the influence of Ugaritic cuneiform and Sinaitic script; and the metamorphosis of the Phoenician alphabet into the Latin characters used today.
2005; 1996

Why Do We Talk? The Science of Speech [electronic resource]

The average person will speak approximately 370 million words in his or her lifetime-a simple fact. And yet the underlying structures-sociological, anatomical, developmental, intellectual-have proved to be some of science's most impenetrable mysteries. This program spotlights researchers who are unlocking the deepest secrets of speech: Deb Roy and the Human Speechome Project; Tecumseh Fitch and his study of vocal tract positioning in animals; Cathy Price, who is piecing together a speech-related map of the brain; William Fifer and his study of the roots of language reception in babies; Ofer Tchernichovski, who is conducting The Forbidden Experiment with zebra finches; Faraneh Vargha-Khadem and the isolation of speech gene FOXP2; and Simon Kirby, whose Alien Language Experiment illust [...]
2010; 2009

Art and Design [electronic resource]: Insights Into the Visual Arts

Where do abstract painters and fashion designers find their muses? To what extent does the creative process differ between video artists, sculptors, and fine art embroiderers? How do illustrators and mixed media artists handle the business side of their work? Using capsule interviews with contemporary figures on the U.K. visual arts scene, this program draws viewers into the studio space and immerses them in the hands-on processes and limitless possibilities of art and design. Section one, "Artists and Ideas," explores sources of inspiration, the foundational importance of drawing, and a variety of functions for sketchbooks and journals. Section two, "Art Practice," considers contextual referencing in art, the development of ideas, artistic materials and techniques, the relative meri [...]
2010; 2009

How Science Works [electronic resource]: Bad Vibes

What's the worst sound in the entire world? It's a question that's certain to produce more than one opinion. To get as many answers as possible, acoustic engineer Trevor Cox created an Internet experiment that generated millions of responses to the query. Cox also developed a system of compiling, organizing, and interpreting the results, and he describes his investigation in this fascinating video. Viewers will gain insight into the collection and analysis of scientific data, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and the role of the peer review process-the scientific community's time-tested way of validating new findings.

Whole Language Movement [electronic resource]: From Teacher to Teacher

This program provides teachers, administrators, parents, and university students with a clear and informative introduction to Whole Language-an innovative teaching movement that is generating much enthusiasm in the educational community. The program goes into the classroom to see Whole Language in action and speaks to teachers who employ Whole Language methods, and to students who are benefiting from them, to find out what this approach to teaching and learning offers that others do not. Viewers learn how Whole Language serves the needs of educators and administrators, as well as students, and gain an appreciation of both the philosophy and the techniques of this rapidly spreading approach to teaching.