Nearly 500 years ago, the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms was first published. Readers across the country and continent began experiencing this epic, historic tale, which is still one of the most popular novels in China today. But in many cases, these readers would not have been able to have a conversation. They could read the same book, but they could not speak the same language. Robert Hegel, professor of East Asian languages and cultures, describes how the existence of a common written language in China has affected Chinese literature across time.
In every part of the world, humans piece together sounds, gestures, and written symbols in order to organize, record, and communicate ideas. Whether expressing the deepest of emotions or jotting down a grocery list, nearly all of us use some form of language on a daily basis. Yet, though we are all immersed in language, scholars continue to approach this complex, evolving concept in new and varied ways. How do children first learn the difference between letters and pictures? Does the brain process American Sign Language differently than it does oral speech? What types of questions and problems arise when translating a piece of literature from one language to another? What is linguistic discrimination, and how can we prevent it? Join us to explore the ongoing research behind these questions and more.