Lectures on DVD
#1
I recently began watching lectures on DVD. I purchased my first few from The Great Courses. This place seems to always have part of it's inventory on sale. This is good, because they're a little pricey. Here's one I watched.

Story of Human Language
Taught By Professor John McWhorter, Ph.D., Manhattan Institute

Dr.McWhorter has a very relaxed style of presentation that flows smoothly. He is extremely articulate and very easy to follow.

He started by pointing out that etymology is no longer of great interest to linguists, and so his course would not concentrate on this. Unfortunately, he failed to say what the course is about. Instead, he just started talking, which left me wondering how his content fit into the study of Linguistics.

He then explained how languages developed at different times and in different parts of the world, and the level of evidence we have for this kind of research. He focused on Indo-European languages, but also covered other language groups. At first it was fascinating to see how different languages developed according to somewhat predictable patterns, but by lesson 18 I wondered if he was going to cover other areas of linguistics. I began to grow tired of what I saw as just more illustrations for the same dynamic of change. Finally in lesson 34 (of 36) he wrapped up this discussion. And the odd thing was, I felt grateful that he had dragged me along for this ride. Because by the time he got to the end I understood what he was doing. He was covering all these cases, not just to give illustrations, but to expose a broader range of languages and circumstances.

In lesson 35 he covered artificial languages. You've probably heard of Esperanto. But more interesting was a case in Nicaragua where deaf children (who knew no sign language) were brought together in a new school for the deaf, and within a year the children had developed their own complete sign language.

In the last lesson he took one sentence and did a complete etymological analysis of it. He stated it made sense to do this as an extension of earlier lessons.

Bottom line: Despite some annoying traits, I think Dr. McWhorter is an excellent teacher. I think the course was well worth the time I spent watching it. I would buy another course by McWhorter if I was certain it didn't overlap this one. But be advised, he gets into such detail on some things that it becomes nerd level coverage. It's not like watching a Nova or BBC special. It's like taking a college course.

Interesting tidbits: Because of the way language changes, small isolated populations develop the highest levels of grammatical complexity. There are approximately 6000 living languages. Several languages use the same word for blue and green. At least one language divides yellow into two colors.

You can read a description and other people's comments here: http://www.teach12.com/tgc/courses/cours...x?cid=1600
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Messages In This Thread
Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 04-12-2011, 04:19 AM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 10-31-2011, 07:29 AM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 06-14-2012, 05:23 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Aiona - 06-15-2012, 04:13 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 06-15-2012, 04:49 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Bunny - 06-16-2012, 05:28 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Bunny - 06-16-2012, 05:35 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 06-17-2012, 02:33 AM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Bunny - 06-17-2012, 10:35 AM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 06-17-2012, 12:00 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Aiona - 06-20-2012, 07:18 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Bunny - 06-17-2012, 04:12 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 08-27-2012, 03:48 AM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Aiona - 12-24-2012, 09:40 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 12-25-2012, 01:31 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Aiona - 12-25-2012, 04:16 PM
RE: Lectures on DVD - Andrew - 12-26-2012, 06:48 AM

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