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  • A Klingon version of Hamlet, attempts to teach chimps to speak, and mice that have been given the "language gene" are all part of Stephen Fry's exploration of the origins of language in this program. Why are human beings the only species with true linguistic ability? Topics include primate communication (at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology); the Turkana language; the acquisition of language, and feral children (with Steven Pinker); the wug test (with Jean Berko Gleason); why sign language is a true language (at the National Theatre of the Deaf); the Klingon language; and Grimm's law, philology, and the Proto-Indo-European language (with Wolfgang Klein)


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on May 16, 2013.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.


  • Stephen Fry's Linguistic Study (1:58) -- Language Around the World (3:44) -- Communication in Animal Kingdom (1:43) -- Vocalization vs. Speech in Apes (2:20) -- Limits of Language Among Apes (1:50) -- Language in Human Evolution (3:11) -- Genetics of Language (4:57) -- Language & the Brain (4:09) -- Stroke Damage & Language (1:48) -- Language & Feral Children (3:37) -- Early Language Acquisition (3:52) -- Role of Grammar (2:43) -- Children's Understanding of Grammar (1:36) -- Parental Influence on Linguistic Development (1:06) -- Invented Language: Klingon (4:05) -- Sign Language (2:55) -- Inventing Words in Sign Language (3:21) -- Grimm's Law & Proto-Indo-European Language (3:25) -- Plurality of Human Languages (2:35) -- UN Official Languages (3:13) -- Credits: Babel: Fry's Planet Word (0:34)
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