language

From the Vault: The Inca Kingdom of Fibers

Welcome to the Kingdom of the Inca, where hundreds of rope bridges connect an imperial highway system and fiber-armored soldiers wield woven slings against the enemies of the Emperor. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the khipu system of knotted, colored string that served as a physical notation system in lieu of written language. (Originally published March 8, 2016)

The Alphabet and the Goddess, Part 2

What happened to the worship of goddesses? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore Leonard Shlain’s hypothesis from his 1998 book “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess,” in which the author argues that the brain-altering power of written language unbalanced human civilization in favor of misogyny, tyranny and the worship of abstract, masculine gods.

The Alphabet and the Goddess, Part 1

What happened to the worship of goddesses? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore Leonard Shlain’s hypothesis from his 1998 book “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess,” in which the author argues that the brain-altering power of written language unbalanced human civilization in favor of misogyny, tyranny and the worship of abstract, masculine gods.

From the Vault: Tip of the Tongue

Your know the feeling. You're trying to recall the name of a time-keeping musical device or the the actor who played Fredo in 'The Godfather' and all that comes to mind is a memory-hole in the shape of a metronome or John Cazale. It's on the tip of your tongue and it's a universal experience of memory retrieval. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the science of TOT phenomenon and what you can do to prevent it. (Originally published April 14, 2016)

The Chinese Typewriter (with Tom Mullaney)

Where the technolingustic systems of the west meet the non-alphabetic written characters of the east, the Chinese typewriter emerges. It’s a story of technological innovation, linguistic imperialism and China’s 19th and 20th century struggle over national identity. Join Robert and Joe as they chat with Thomas S. Mullaney about his book 'The Chinese Typewriter: A History.'

The Tower of Babel

An ancient people build a tower to touch the heavens. A vengeful god disrupts the project through the splintering of human language. Everyone’s left to pick up the pieces. The Tower of Babel myth resonates out from the Mesopotamian cradle of civilization, but what does it mean? Was there really a tower? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss everything from the art of Bruegel the Elder to 'Snow Crash.'

Euphemisms: Linguistic Transmutation

Sure, euphemisms allow us to talk about something unpleasant or taboo without actually invoking the dreaded word or words -- but what else is going on? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe explore the linguistic power of euphemisms to alter and transform the tone or meaning of everyday communication.

Tip of the Tongue

Your know the feeling. You're trying to recall the name of a time-keeping musical device or the the actor who played Fredo in "The Godfather" and all that comes to mind is a memory-hole in the shape of a metronome or John Cazale. It's on the tip of your tongue and it's a universal experience of memory retrieval. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert and Joe as they discuss the science of TOT phenomenon and what you can do to prevent it.

Talking Knots in the Inca Kingdom of Fibers

Welcome to the Kingdom of the Inca, where hundreds of rope bridges connect an imperial highway system and fiber-armored soldiers wield woven slings against the enemies of the Emperor. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the khipu system of knotted, colored string that served as a physical notation system in lieu of written language.

But, Mom! The Science of Whining

Unless you've lived your life in a childless fortress of seclusion, you've likely encountered the maddening, high-pitched whine of a complaining child. But what is whining? Is it universal? Why is it so annoying and just what's being communicated between parent and child? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe explore.