Imagining a World without Words

I love Radiolab’s podcasts, and I especially love this one. I’ve listened to it several times, and each time it fills me with a sense of just how crucial language is. I suspect that at least part of my fascination with language stems from the fact that my brother, who is a low-functioning autistic and really cool person, doesn’t speak or write. David’s quite eloquent with body language, though, and his circle of family and friends has learned to read it pretty well. I sometimes think about all the things that must be going through his mind that we’ll never know and wonder if his brain lets him think in ways we can’t.

David can understand all the things we say to him, though, and even taught himself to read without our realizing it. So he’s by no means without language, unlike some of the people you’ll hear about in this highly recommended hour-long Radiolab podcast called “Words.” Enjoy!

We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago. (description from the Radiolab website)

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