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Month: September 2022

Silly Linguistics Magazine Preview – Issue #29

When Alex the African grey parrot was asked “What shape?” about a triangle, he’d correctly
reply “three-cornered”. If Alex was shown a collection of three red, five blue and four green
blocks and asked “What colour five?”, he would correctly say “blue”. Alex even understood the
concept of zero, because when asked “What colour bigger?”, he’d say “none” if the two
objects were the same size. I find it surprising and impressive that a bird can understand us so
well.

Parrots are well known for being good at mimicking human words. In fact, they are so good at repeating human phrases that one can get easily get confused about whether a parrot or a person is talking. For example, Boris the parrot, owned by the Speaker of the UK House of Commons, has surprised train passengers by shouting “Order, Order” and “Lock the doors. Lock the doors”. Passengers have reportedly looked around and even replied in confusion “Who’s shouting lock the doors?”.


Read more in our magazine Silly Linguistics and get access to all previous issues at no extra charge

What if William the Conqueror never existed?

William the Conqueror, as he was later known, is famous for invading England in 1066 and setting up a dynasty that has lasted until today. He came from Normandy which was French speaking and so the Normans brought a lot of French to England. 1066 is commonly regarded as the end of the Old English period and the beginning of the Middle English period. French became the dominant language after 1066 and English became merely the language of the peasants. It wasn’t until 1200 that English start reemerging as a written language.


Read more in our magazine Silly Linguistics and get access to all previous issues at no extra charge

Silly Linguistics Magazine Preview – Issue #28

This month’s dispatch, after a brief summer hiatus, is from Italy as Aisla McArthur discusses her experience
of language learning in Florence, during the pandemic, as she also learns the role of non-formal language
acquisition.

A trip to Florence in 2020 seemed like a pipe dream just a few weeks ago. This year was hardly the prosperous start to a new decade that most of us had anticipated. Having been cooped up in quarantine, like the other responsible citizens of the UK, I was understandably itching to get out of the house. Between endless quizzes, cocktail nights
and gardening, the days had really started to blur together. The plan to return to Italy became a real possibility, and a strong desire, when my university sent me extra work to do as reparation for not spending the required time in Italy.


Read more in our magazine Silly Linguistics and get access to all previous issues at no extra charge