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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
Boggle gives you 3 minutes to find as many words (3 letters or more) as you can in a grid of 16 letters. You can also try the grid of 16 letters. Letters must be adjacent and longer words score better. See if you can get into the grid Hall of Fame !
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Tips: browse the semantic fields (see From ideas to words) in two languages to learn more.
Evolutionary linguistics is a cover term used to denote the scientific study of both the origins and development of language as well as the cultural evolution of languages. The main challenge in this research is the lack of empirical data: spoken language leaves practically no traces. This led to an abandonment of the field for more than a century. Since the late 1980s, the field has been revived in the wake of progress made in the related fields of psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive science.
August Schleicher (1821–1868) and his Stammbaumtheorie are often quoted as the starting point of evolutionary linguistics. Inspired by the natural sciences, especially biology, Schleicher was the first to compare languages to evolving species. He introduced the representation of language families as an evolutionary tree in articles published in 1853. Joseph Jastrow published a gestural theory of the evolution of language in the seventh volume of Science, 1886.
The Stammbaumtheorie proved to be very productive for comparative linguistics, but didn't solve the major problem of studying the origin of language: the lack of fossil records. The question of the origin of language was abandoned as unsolvable. Famously, the Société Linguistique de Paris in 1866 refused to admit any further papers on the subject.
The field has re-appeared in 1988 in the Linguistic Bibliography, as a subfield of psycholinguistics. In 1990, Steven Pinker and Paul Bloom published their paper "Natural Language & Natural Selection" which strongly argued for an adaptationist approach to language origins. Their paper is often credited with reviving the interest in evolutionary linguistics. This development was further strengthened by the establishment (in 1996) of a series of conferences on the Evolution of Language (now known as "Evolang"), promoting a scientific, multidisciplinary approach to the issue, and interest from major academic publishers (e.g., the Studies in the Evolution of Language series has been appearing with Oxford University Press since 2001) and scientific journals.
Evolutionary linguistics as a field is rapidly emerging as a result of developments in neighboring disciplines. To what extent language's features are determined by genes, a hotly debated dichotomy in linguistics, has had new light shed upon it by the discovery of the FoxP2-gene. An English family with a severe, heritable language dysfunction was found to have a defective copy of this gene. Mutations of the corresponding gene in mice (FOXP2 is fairly well conserved; modern humans share the same allele as Neanderthals) cause reductions in size and vocalization rate. If both copies are damaged, the Purkinje layer (a part of the cerebellum that contains better-connected neurons than any other) develops abnormally, runting is more common, and pups die within weeks due to inadequate lung development. Additionally, higher presence of FOXP2 in songbirds is correlated to song changes, with downregulation causing incomplete and inaccurate song imitation in zebra finches. In general, evidence suggests that the protein is vital to neuroplasticity. There is little support, however, for the idea that FOXP2 is 'the grammar gene' or that it had much to do with the relatively recent emergence of syntactical speech.
Another controversial dichotomy is the question of whether human language is solely human or on a continuum with (admittedly far removed) animal communication systems. Studies in ethology have forced researchers to reassess many claims of uniquely human abilities for language and speech. For instance, Tecumseh Fitch has argued that the descended larynx is not unique to humans. Similarly, once held uniquely human traits such as formant perception, combinatorial phonology and compositional semantics are now thought to be shared with at least some nonhuman animal species. Conversely, Derek Bickerton and others argue that the advent of abstract words provided a mental basis for analyzing higher-order relations, and that any communication system that remotely resembles human language utterly relies on cognitive architecture that co-evolved alongside language.
As it leaves no fossils, language's form and even its presence are extremely hard or impossible to deduce from physical evidence. Computational modeling is now widely accepted as an approach to assure the internal consistency of language-evolution scenarios. Approximately one-third of all papers presented at the 2010 Evolution of Language conference  rely at least in part on computer simulations.
One original researcher in the field is Luc Steels, head of the research units of Sony CSL in Paris and the AI Lab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He and his team are currently investigating ways in which artificial agents self-organize languages with natural-like properties and how meaning can co-evolve with language. Their research is based on the hypothesis that language is a complex adaptive system that emerges through adaptive interactions between agents and continues to evolve in order to remain adapted to the needs and capabilities of the agents. This research has been implemented in fluid construction grammar (FCG), a formalism for construction grammars that has been specially designed for the origins and evolution of language. The approach of computational modeling and the use of robotic agents grounded in real life is claimed to be theory independent. It enables the researcher to find out exactly what cognitive capacities are needed for certain language phenomena to emerge. It also focuses the researcher in formulating hypotheses in a precise and exact manner, whereas theoretical models often stay very vague.
"Nativist" models of "Universal Grammar" are informed by linguistic universals such as the existence of pronouns and demonstratives, and the similarities in each languages process of nominalization (the process of verbs becoming nouns) as well as the reverse, the process of turning nouns into verbs. This is a purely descriptive approach to what we mean by "natural language" without attempting to address its emergence.
Finally there are those archaeologists and evolutionary anthropologists – among them Ian Watts, Camilla Power and Chris Knight (co-founder with James Hurford of the EVOLANG series of conferences) — who argue that 'the origin of language' is probably an insoluble problem. In agreement with Amotz Zahavi, Knight argues that language — being a realm of patent fictions — is a theoretical impossibility in a Darwinian world, where signals must be intrinsically reliable. If we are to explain language's evolution, according to this view, we must tackle it as part of a wider one — the evolutionary emergence of symbolic culture as such.