language and the brain

fun bilingual things

- you know the word in second language but not first
- your notes sometimes are in both languages at once. some words are quicker to write than their equivalents
- phone autocorrects to wrong language
- the words that are the same but slightly different in your two languages are always spelled the wrong way. no matter what.
- certain memories only available in one language
- music genres?? u like maybe alternative and pop music in your first language but like rap and musical theatre in your second
- u know what verb tenses are called in your second language but not in your first
- saying bullshit like “close the lights please” because it’s idiomatically correct but not in english

Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words

It’s hard to imagine being unable to turn thoughts into words. But, if the delicate web of language networks in your brain became disrupted by stroke, illness or trauma, you could find yourself truly at a loss for words. This disorder, called “aphasia,” can impair all aspects of communication. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from aphasia, with an estimated 80,000 new cases per year.  About one-third of stroke survivors suffer from aphasia, making it more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, yet less widely known.

There are several types of aphasia, grouped into two categories: fluent (or “receptive”) aphasia and non-fluent (or “expressive”) aphasia. 

People with fluent aphasia may have normal vocal inflection, but use words that lack meaning. They have difficulty comprehending the speech of others and are frequently unable to recognize their own speech errors. 

People with non-fluent aphasia, on the other hand, may have good comprehension, but will experience long hesitations between words and make grammatical errors. We all have that “tip-of-the-tongue” feeling from time to time when we can’t think of a word. But having aphasia can make it hard to name simple everyday objects.  Even reading and writing can be difficult and frustrating.

It’s important to remember that aphasia does not signify a loss in intelligence. People who have aphasia know what they want to say, but can’t always get their words to come out correctly. They may unintentionally use substitutions, called “paraphasias” – switching related words, like saying dog for cat, or words that sound similar, such as house for horse. Sometimes their words may even be unrecognizable.  

So, how does this language-loss happen? The human brain has two hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere governs language.  We know this because in 1861, the physician Paul Broca studied a patient who lost the ability to use all but a single word: “tan.” During a postmortem study of that patient’s brain, Broca discovered a large lesion in the left hemisphere, now known as “Broca’s area.” Scientists today believe that Broca’s area is responsible in part for naming objects and coordinating the muscles involved in speech. Behind Broca’s area is Wernicke’s area, near the auditory cortex. That’s where the brain attaches meaning to speech sounds. Damage to Wernicke’s area impairs the brain’s ability to comprehend language. Aphasia is caused by injury to one or both of these specialized language areas.

Fortunately, there are other areas of the brain which support these language centers and can assist with communication.  Even brain areas that control movement are connected to language. Our other hemisphere contributes to language too, enhancing the rhythm and intonation of our speech. These non-language areas sometimes assist people with aphasia when communication is difficult.

However, when aphasia is acquired from a stroke or brain trauma, language improvement may be achieved through speech therapy.  Our brain’s ability to repair itself, known as “brain plasticity,” permits areas surrounding a brain lesion to take over some functions during the recovery process. Scientists have been conducting experiments using new forms of technology, which they believe may encourage brain plasticity in people with aphasia.  

Meanwhile, many people with aphasia remain isolated, afraid that others won’t understand them or give them extra time to speak. By offering them the time and flexibility to communicate in whatever way they can, you can help open the door to language again, moving beyond the limitations of aphasia.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words - Susan Wortman-Jutt

Animation by TED-Ed

  • other language learners: I have learned so much about my own languages from language study. I now have a greater understanding of linguistics and the nuances of grammar and sentence structure. language learning is just so good for your brain!
  • me: learning to type in Russian has made my typing in English far worse than it used to be. I am slowly becoming equally mediocre at both languages. soon I will have forgotten where all the letters are
What is Psycholinguistics?

Psycholinguistics is a field of Linguistics which deals with the aspects of how humansproduce and perceive language. It largely focusses on trying toexplain what the mental processes of de- and encoding languageinformation are.

It is closely related to several aspects of Psychology and Neuroscience, therefore dealing with a lot of questions revolving around as to how language and thinking are related, how language affects neuronal and cognitive processes and how people in general acquire language. Moreover, it is also concerned with the aspects of Aphasia, thus relating to Medical Science.

I personally found it a quite fascinating part of Linguistics since it touches several other disciplines such as Biology, Cognitive and Neuroscience and Information Science, and also Developmental Psychology and Social Science.

Unlike other fields of Linguistics, Psycholinguistics is based on experiments, so knowledge of Statistics is recommended. Just for the record though: Basic Statistics is not as scary as you might think, so should you consider Psycholinguistics worth a look, don’t let that scare you away.

We have just started beginning to understand how the human mind works. According to Steven Pinker Language “is a window into the human mind” and can reveal quite a lot about ourselves and the underlying processes.

To get a first impression I can recommend the following books:

Trevor A. Harley: “The Psychology of Language”
Stanislas Dehaene: “Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read”
Steven Pinker: “The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language”
Michael Tomasello: “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition”

Air is dynamic, but controlled. We have an atmosphere that is kept on Earth due to gravity. Without gravity, without any sense of containment, the atmosphere can’t be kept, and the Earth will be very vulnerable to foreign objects in space. Our atmosphere is a blanket of protection, and the air signs in astrology can serve to dynamically protect us, but they are also kept under control. The air signs represents contained chaos.

Gemini is dynamic through speech, thought, and logical intelligence. We all have the freedom to speak and think what we want, but we have restrictions. We are restricted by the languages we speak, and the physical limits of our brains. We all have the opportunity to be logically intelligent, but through early school (ruled by the 3rd House, naturally ruled by Gemini) the logical intelligence is often unintentionally limited and categorized by school subjects.

Libra is dynamic through romance, social interactions, and justice. We all have the freedom to love and talk to whoever we want and have our own sense of justice and fairness. However, we are restricted by social cues and norms. There’s only a few charm techniques that societally pass and during interactions, we have to be careful of social cues like body language and tone of voice. Our sense of fairness and justice can often be influenced by the society we live in.

Aquarius is dynamic through innovations and higher, progressive thinking. We all have the opportunity to save the world with our out-of-the-box ideas, but those ideas are limited by a practical reality created by a practical, restrictive society. We all have the opportunity to present our innovations and technology to help the world, but ironically, the world, the biggest community in the world, can stop us from progressing.

Although the air signs in this sense are restricted to where their full potentials can’t come out, it’s essential that the air signs are contained. Although society cages the dynamic potential of the air signs, it is also the nurturer. The restrictions brought on by society motivates the air signs to keep on thinking, talking, and changing. The restrictions from society in this sense keeps the air signs alive. If there were no bounds, there would be no need for change, which is what the air signs are all about.

Hardest part of a language

When you first start learning a language, your brain thinks “man, these verb conjugations are going to be the death of me.” And then it was “man, these tiny rules are going to be the death of me.” But in reality, I think the hardest part of any language is the structure. Not in the way that there has to be a subject and a verb. But how native speakers form a sentence. I can form a perfectly logical sentence in french from an English standpoint but a native french speaker would say it a lot differently than I would. And I think that is the hardest part of any language.

I know it’s been a while since I last posted my notes! Here is my psychology vocabulary for chapter 8 featuring my new stationary and my cute iPod!

Don’t forget, tag me if you want me to check out your stuff and send me asks with any questions or requests! Thanks for all the support :)


Being a polyglot, I decided to make a post about how to study any language, Without further ado, here it is:


This is the most crucial step to studying/learning a new language. In order for your brain to pick up the new words and ideas, it needs to be more immersed in the language you’re learning. Now for most of us who are learning languages in school, that’s kind of hard, especially since most language classes do most of the work in English until you build a level of fluency. This is the primary reason why immersion programs or immersion schools are so much more successful in teaching a language: you’re forced to talk, write, speak, and think in the language you’re learning. Your brain makes connections faster and thus learns faster to understand and process the language. I would suggest that when you’re learning the language, whether it’s in class time or homework, try to work only in that language. Don’t automatically translate things into English because that’s only going to inhibit your process. Even if your knowledge of the language is limited, practicing thinking in the language, reading the language without translating, and speaking will greatly improve your progress. You’ll find yourself become more fluent and the language will flow rather than be halting because your brain is trying to translate things instead of thinking fluently.


Vocab is one of, if not the, most important aspect of learning a language. I would even go as far as saying it’s about 70-80% of effectively knowing a language. Think about it this way, if you’re at a restaurant and you’re asked to read the menu or if you’re out and you’re reading signs and advertisements, will knowing hundreds of verbs and their conjugations help you get by? Most likely not. Vocab on the other hand will make the difference between understanding and being totally clueless. If that example didn’t do it for you here’s another one: when you’re speaking to someone how can you express yourself if you don’t know the words? Chances are even if you know no grammar but know key words in the language someone will understand you. Most people don’t pay that much attention to grammar anyway when you’re speaking. As long as you have a basic understanding of it, you’ll be understood. I’m not saying that grammar isn’t important, far from it, but so many people underestimate vocab and focus on grammar and that hinders your learning. Try to learn as much vocab as you can because it will bring you one more step to being fluent. The key to knowing a language is to understand it to a high degree. You can’t understand if you don’t know the words. Find a list with the most common words in the language you’re learning and try to learn them all. Have a goal to learn 10-20 new words per day and you’ll go a long way. If you’re trying to learn vocab I would recommend to have a sheet with all the words you’re trying to learn and their definitions. Hide the words and try to write the vocab by seeing only the definitions. Writing down helps you remember and this method is foolproof. I’ve used it for 6+ years in French and it’s never failed me.


When I say basic grammar, I mean the typical verb tenses and some basic structures. This doesn’t mean learning every single verb conjugated in every single tense, but rather learning the patterns of grammar and how to apply them. Work smarter not harder. Learning the patterns makes it easier to recognize them when you’re reading and remember them when you’re writing. In my opinion, one fault with the way languages are taught in school is the way they teach grammar and how much time they spend on it. Most native speakers don’t worry as much about grammar as non-native speakers do. Again, I’m not saying grammar isn’t important because it is and  you have to know it, but the way it’s taught ruins it. Try to make a chart with all the verb tenses and the patterns that go with the different types of verbs and then a list with the irregular verbs/exceptions. This should be enough to help you gain a basic mastery of grammar. If you know the basic rules, it will become second nature as you speak, write, and read more.


The language you learn at school is very very different from the language actually spoken in its native country. Most of the language you learn is very formal while in real life, formality is disregarded to a degree and slang is prevalent. In order to build a fluency, you need to read and listen to the language in its natural form to pick up the slang and words that are actually used and not the archaic words that nobody ever says. Listen to music from that language, watch the news in that language, read a book or magazine in that language etc. This will again help your brain learn and process the language better. It will also help with vocabulary and general understanding. Children’s books are the best when you’re starting out. The language is simple and the grammar isn’t to complicated. Start with children’s books and then work your way up to novels and other forms of literature. Listening to the language is also crucial. Try to find mediums where the language is spoken and just listen. Don’t translate or stress yourself out trying to understand it all because you won’t the first couple of times. Just let it sink in. Gradually, you’ll find yourself understanding more and more and you’ll improve. With the speaking aspect, speak as much as you can. Don’t be embarrassed if you stumble, can’t express yourself as much as you would like, or have an accent. I also find that watching/reading/listening to translated works is helpful. Find your favorite book and read it in the language you’re learning, it will help you understand and learn more because you already know what’s going on and can focus on the vocab and grammar. Find your favorite movie and watch it in the language you’re learning. Again, it will help you learn more vocab. The more you practice the better it will get. If you distance yourself from speaking you’ll never improve. Balancing reading, listening, and speaking is the key to being successful.


Nobody becomes fluent over night. Cliche but true. Don’t expect to instantly know everything. It’s normal to struggle and have trouble. Failing is part of the learning process and if you stop practicing because you’re afraid, you’re never going to learn anything. Let go of your fears and insecurities and go for it. If you fall down, pick yourself up and start again. Don’t be embarrassed if you mess up but rather learn from your mistakes and grow. The things we remember most are usually the things where we’ve messed up or had a negative experience with. So use the hiccups as a learning experience and your language skills will improve. 

If you follow these steps, I’m confided that you’ll be better in no time :) The key is to enjoy what you do and have fun! Good luck!

requested by @brain-tyre-fire​ - sorry for the delay!! i’ve definitely forgotten something, but the list was getting ridiculously long – tho if there’s anything specific you’d like me to add, don’t hesitate to ask!! c:




Menneskekroppen - The human body

(en) Kropp - Body
(en) Kroppsdel - Body part
(en/ei) Hud - Skin
(en) Muskel - Muscle
(en) Nerve - Nerve
(en/ei) Sen/Sene - Tendon
(en) Nakke - Neck
(en) Hals - Throat
(en/ei) Skulder - Shoulder
(et) Bryst - Chest (or Breast)
(en) Mage - Abdomen
(en) Rygg - Back
(en) Albue - Elbow
(en) Arm - Arm
(en/ei) Hånd - Hand
(et) Håndledd - Wrist
(en) Knoke - Knuckle
(en) Finger - Finger
Lillefinger - Little finger
Ringfinger - Ring finger
Langfinger - Middle finger (lit. “Long finger”)
Pekefinger - Index finger (lit. “Pointing finger”)
(en) Tommel - Thumb
(en) Negl - Nail
(en) Bak - Behind
(en/ei) Rumpe - Butt
(en) Rumpeball - Buttock
(et) Kjønnsorgan - Genitals
(et) Ben/Bein - Leg
(et) Lår - Thigh
(et) Kne - Knee
(en) Ankel - Ankle
(en) Legg - Shin
(en) Hæl - Heel
(en) Tå - Toe
Storetå - Big toe
Lilletå - Little toe
(en) Fot - Foot

Hodet - The Head

(et) Hode - Head
(et) Ansikt - Face
(en/ei) Panne - Forehead  
(et) Øre - Ear
(et) Øye - Eye
(en/ei) Nese - Nose
(en) Munn - Mouth
(en/ei) Tunge - Tongue
(en/ei) Tann - Tooth
(en) Kjeve - Jaw
(en/ei) Hake - Chin

Indre organer, kjertler, osv. - Internal organs, glands, etc.

(et) Organ - Organ
(en) Hjerne - Brain
(et) Hjerte - Heart
(et) Hjertekammer - Ventricle
(en/ei) Blodåre - Blood vessel
(en/ei) Pulsåre - Artery
(en/ei) Lunge - Lung
(en/ei) Lever - Liver
(en/ei) Nyre - Kidney
(et) Spiserør - Esophagus/Food pipe
(en) Magesekk - Stomach
(en) Tarm - Intestine
(en) Tynntarm - Small intestine
(en) Tykktarm - Large intestine
(en) Endetarm - Rectum
(en) Spyttkjertel - Salivary gland
(en/ei) Galleblære - Gallbladder
(en) Bukspyttkjertel - Pancreas
(en/ei) Blære - Bladder
Urinveiene - Urinary tract

Skjelettet - The skeleton

(et) Skjelett - Skeleton
(et) Ben/Bein - Bone
(et) Ledd - Joint
(en/ei) Ryggrad - Spine
(en) Ryggmarg - Spinal cord
(en) (Hode)skalle - Skull
(et) Kragebein - Clavicle 
(et) Bekken - Pelvis
(et) Lårben - Femur
(et) Brystbein - Sternum
(en/ei) Brystkasse - Rib cage
(et) Ribbein - Rib

Kroppsvæsker - Body fluids

Fostervann - Amniotic fluid
Galle - Bile/gall 
Magesyre - Gastric acid
Morsmelk - Breast milk (lit. “Mother’s milk”)
Avføring - Feces  
Puss/Verk - Pus
Snørr - Snot 
Spytt - Spit/Saliva
Svette - Sweat
Tårer - Tears   
Urin - Urine
Ørevoks - Earwax 

Systemer - Systems

(et) System - System
Fordøyelsessystemet - The digestive system
Lymfesystemet - The lymphatic system
Muskelsystemet - The muscular system
Nervesystemet - The nervous system
Ekskresjonssystemet - The excretory system
Sirkulasjonssystemet - The circulatory system
Respirasjonssystemet - The respiratory system
Immunsystemet - The immune system



A video from thelingspace about how you can use EEGs to analyze language in the brain. (Things to do this weekend: catch up on all 19 Ling Space videos so far.)

EEGs use electrodes outside the brain, and look like this (image source):

External image

The electrodes mean that EEGs give us good time resolution but poor spatial resolution; by contrast, MRIs give us good spatial resolution but poor time resolution, so they’re useful for investigating different questions.