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Get inspired with these 4 TED talks on the evolution of languages

Where do all languages come from? What makes a language real? Why should we preserve traditional alphabets and why should we make up new words?

Get your boost of inspiration and dive into the magical evolution of language with these four inspirational TED and TEDx Talks.

Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?

Genevieve von Petzinger studies European cave art, old between 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. Her research discovered geometric signs that appeared on 75% of the sites she visited. That means 32 geometric signs appeared all over a whole continent in a 30,000 year span. Where did early writing systems come from and how did they develop into our modern alphabets? What did our ancestors want to inscribe and what makes a language?

Ingenuity and elegance in ancient African alphabets

Saki Mafundikwa is a designer, passionate about typography. In his talk, Mafundikwa explains the importance of sankofa or how to “learn from the past”. Furthermore, he points out the beauty of alphabets found across the African continent and the best way to capture inspiration. In addition, we discussed the versatility and magic of different writing styles
previously in a blog post.

Go ahead, make up new words!

Eran McKean is a lexicographer, encouraging people to create new words. In this short but fun talk, she demonstrates how you can enrich your language every day and how our everyday enriches the languages.

Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na’vi real languages?

John McWhorter narrates this talk on fantasy constructed languages or conlangs. These languages were created to solidify the fantasy worlds, to give more substance to fictional cultures.

Klingon is a hallmark of Star Trek, Dothraki stems from A song of ice and fire, later popularized through HBO’s TV Show Game of Thrones. On the other hand, Tolkien’s Elvish went through an evolution, just like many modern languages we know. Lastly, Avatar’s Na’vi completes the argument – are conlangs real languages? What even makes a language real?