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June 15

What Makes Languages Different from One Another? – FREE Public Talk

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About The Event

King William Court, Old Royal Naval College
Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS United Kingdom
June 15, 2019
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm
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What Makes Languages Different from One Another? – with Dr. Maria Arche


The fact that all humans can speak a language but, at the same time, languages look so different from one another is a puzzle. How can the natural products that emerge from the same biological ability have such a different appearance from one another? This question has been at the core of the Linguistics enterprise for decades and we now have some answers.


Dr. Arche will talk about the ability to speak that we usually take for granted and discuss where the differences across languages reside. In particular, she will focus on the curious properties that the verb “be” in English and equivalent ones in other languages have. Even though it may sound a very simple word and the first lesson of any foreign language class, she will show that we can learn very much about how language is designed in our brains from looking into “be” in different languages. “Be” shows extremely different appearances and behaviours; some languages have only one form, like English, while others have two (Spanish, Portuguese), others have up to five (Bantu) and others (Polish) show two of them at the same time in the same sentence.


How can something apparently so simple manifest itself in such disparate shapes?


Dr María J. Arche has a PhD in Theoretical Linguistics and Language Acquisition. Her research falls within the syntax-semantics interface focusing on Tense, Aspect, Argument Structure and copular verbs. She has studied these topics in the grammar of Spanish and has also investigated their crosslinguistic variation and acquisition. She is an Associate Professor of Linguistics & Spanish at the University of Greenwich.


Age: 12+


This event will be held in room KW003, University of Greenwich, King William Court, Old Royal Naval College. This is a FREE public talk but all attendees are required to register for their free ticket.


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