Constant Change
The Spread of Language
Part of the Series: Speaking In Tongues

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Let There Be Words - What is Language?
Part of the Series: Speaking In Tongues
What precisely is language and how did humans acquire it? In an effort to answer these essential questions, this program journeys back to prehistoric times in search of languages origin. But this is not a passive discussion, as Noam Chomsky; Brown Universitys Philip Lieberman; Johanna Nichols, of U.C. Berkeley; Stanford…
Civilization to Colonization - Written Language
Part of the Series: Speaking In Tongues
Writing is a relative latecomer to the history of language. This program tracks its emergence in Mesopotamia, China, and Mesoamerica and its down through the millennia via conquest--usually violent, sometimes benign--and colonization. The creation of creoles and pidgins resulting from the interaction of specific populations is also addressed, and speculation…
Mother Tongues - Global Languages
Part of the Series: Speaking In Tongues
This program travels the globe as it surveys a large portion of the worlds languages--25 percent of which are spoken by a mere 0.1 percent of the Earths population. Moving from Africa to Oceania and up to Asia and then west to Europe and across the ocean to the Americas,…
Life and Death - Language Preservation
Part of the Series: Speaking In Tongues
It is predicted that within a century more than half of the worlds languages will become extinct, but as languages are lost, new ones emerge naturally or are constructed. In this program, Noam Chomsky; Esperantist Thomas Eccard; endangered languages researcher Peter Ladefoged, and others provide insights into the language life…
Tongues of Heaven - Saving Native Languages
This film explores the challenges facing young indigenous people as they struggle to learn the languages of their forebears before they go extinct. Set in Taiwan and Hawai'i, territories where languages of the Austronesian family are spoken, this experimental documentary focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous…
Yeah You Rite! - Language in New Orleans
The culture of New Orleans represents the mixing of many rich traditions: French, Spanish, African, Irish, Italian. At the heart of this unique culture lie its speechways, the subject of Yeah You Rite!, a close-up video profile of a single language community. New Orleans English has been influenced by the…
Hanzi - Exploring Language and Culture through Chinese Typography
How does language shape identity? What role does handwriting play in the digital age? HANZI encourages audiences around the world to revisit and rethink their own culture, language and identity. HANZI explores international design, visual culture, and identity through the lens of modern Chinese typography. Winner of Best Film at…
Mosquitoes and High Water - The Islenos of New Orleans
In the bayous and swamps east of New Orleans reside members of one of America's least-known ethnic group, the Spanish-speaking "Islenos" of St. Bernard Parish. Their ancestors came to this country over two hundred years ago from the Canary Islands off the West coast of Africa, and today their descendants…
American Tongues - Linguistic Attitudes in the U.S.
Southerners talk too slowly. New Yorkers are rude. New Englanders don't say much at all. Anybody who lives in the U.S. knows the cliches about how people in the various parts of the country handle the English language. American Tongues is the first documentary to explore the impact of these…
Poto and Cabengo
Grace and Virginia are young San Diego twins who speak unlike anyone else. With little exposure to the outside world, the two girls have created a private form of communication that's an amalgam of the distinctive English dialects they hear at home. Jean-Pierre Gorin's polyphonic nonfiction investigation of this phenomenon…
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At a time when thirty one states have passed "English Only" laws, four pioneering families put their children in public schools where, from the first day of kindergarten, their teachers speak mostly in a foreign language. Speaking in Tongues follows four diverse kids on a journey to become bilingual. This…
Speaking In Tongues - The History of Language
Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world. This five-part series traces the history and evolution of language and attendant theories and controversies while evaluating the scope of linguistic diversity, the dissemination of language, the expansion of language into written form, and the life cycle of language.…