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TED-Ed, a spinoff of the wildly popular and informative TED brand, has a website with original videos on a variety of different topics along with lessons planned around those videos.  Yesterday they published a great little talk called “How Languages Evolve”:


Alex Gendler very neatly and cleverly sums up a lot of the complexities of historical and comparative linguistics.  She even touches briefly upon the reasons why something like a Swadesh list just doesn’t work for determining language relationship, which I alluded to in my last post.

The lesson web page for this talk includes a guided discussion and a quick little multiple-choice quiz (you know how I love pop quizzes!)


Recently I overheard a couple of guys wondering aloud how Welsh and English could be so different from each other.  “It’s such a small chunk of land and they live right next to each other!  How did Welsh end up being so weird?”  Obviously I was primarily offended that he said Welsh was “weird” (his friend had earlier described it as “gargling,” ugh), but it took quite a bit of self-restraint to not butt in and tell them how languages are (and are not) related to each other.  I hope one of those young men come across this video some day 🙂


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