British Universities Film & Video Council

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Speaking in Tongues: The History of Language (5 Parts)

Synopsis
Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world. This five-part series traces the history and evolution of language and attendant theories and controversies, while evaluating the scope of linguistic diversity, the dissemination of language, the expansion of language into written form, and the life cycle of language. Features prominent figures in the field of linguistics including Noam Chomsky, John McWhorter and Peter Ladefoged.



A series of five 5)-minute programmes investigating the history and evolution of human language. Individual programmes look at the origins of human language, how languages have developed, different language families across the world, the history of written language, and why so many of the world’s languages are dying out.
Language
English
Country
Canada
Year of release
2009
Year of production
2007
Subjects
Languages; Linguistics
Keywords
human evolution; language; languages; linguistic theory; writing systems

Online availability

URI
http://www.teachers.tv/series/speaking-in-tongues
Price
free
Delivery
Streamed/Download

Credits

Contributor
John McWhorter; Noam Chomsky; Peter Ladefoged

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 1 NTSC
Price
$599.95 (set)
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
250 minutes
Year
2010

Sections

Title
Let there be Words
Synopsis
A group of experts give their definition of what language is, and how we might trace the origins of human speech.Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world, with language often regarded as the skill which sets humanity apart from other species. In order to pin-point the beginnings of the human language, the experts explain it is important to first look at the history of man and how humans evolved the physical and mental capacity for speech. They then discuss the many different theories as to where and when the first language as we know it was spoken, and exactly how it spread across the globe. This is the first episode in a five part series tracing the history and evolution of language
Duration
55 mins

Title
Constant Change
Synopsis
Continuing to delve into the history of the human language, this episode focuses on where the different languages spoken across the world came from and how they evolved. Language experts share their theories, and agree that the first humans probably spoke a common language, but as they spread around the world, their language diverged and changed. Even today, language is still changing and evolving. Every child learns a slightly different variant of the language that their parents speak and across every country, regional dialects are continuing to develop.
Duration
55 mins

Title
Mother Tongues
Synopsis
This episode focuses on the different "language families". Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world, each of these belongs to a distinct "language family". Here the team of experts discuss these families, such as those found in Asia, Africa and India. They look at the similarities and differences between them, the dialects within them, and how and why they have evolved in the way they have. They also give an insight into why languages such as Mandarin, which is spoken by the biggest number of people, does not have anywhere near the same geographic distribution as English.
Duration
55 mins

Title
Civilisation to Colonisation
Synopsis
The history of the written language is explored as various experts discuss the emergence and development of writing systems from around the world. The start of the written language marks the beginning of our recording of history. Some cultures have myths surrounding the creation of writing, while others believe it came from God via their holy scriptures. As the experts discuss how spoken language has evolved into a written form, they take a look at the earliest writing systems, including those from countries including China, India and Greece. They go on to discuss the role that European colonisation, in tandem with the development of writing, had to play in the rapid spread of languages, especially English and Spanish, across the globe.
Duration
55 mins

Title
Birth and Death

Production Company

Name

Syncopated Productions

Email
syncopatedprod@rogers.com
Web
http://www.syncopatedprod.com/ External site opens in new window
Phone
+1 416- 531-0857
Fax
+1 416-531-4870

Distributor

Name

Teachers’ TV

Email
info@teachers.tv
Web
http://www.teachers.tv/ External site opens in new window
Phone
020 7182 7430
Address
6-18 Berners Street
London
W1T 3LN
Notes
Funded by the Department for Education, Teachers’ TV was a producer and supplier of over 3,600 free videos and lesson resources to support the professional development of anyone working in school, enabling them to widen their skills, develop their practice, and connect with others in the field. Previously broadcast on digital television, the service became exclusively online from 31 August 2010, with programmes being available for free online viewing or download. Thge DfE terminated the contract with Teachers TV and delivery via the website ceased on 29 April 2011, with the programmes being offered to educational distributors free online delivery. Further details from the DfE website Until 29 April 2011 programmes from Teachers Television were streamed on the website and available for download to registered users (free registration). Programmes are aimed at primary and secondary school teachers in all subject areas, as well as headteachers and governors, and include observation of teaching sessions, materials for use in the classroom and discussion of issues relevant to education. Teachers TV was funded by the Department for Education but the contract ended in April 2011 and the programmes are being offered to educational distributors to deliver free at the point of use from their websites. Details of which titles are available in this way are on the DfE website http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/toolsandinitiatives/teacherstv

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