Mark Pagel: How language transformed humanity

Language allows you to implant something from your mind into someone else’s mind and they can attempt to do the same to you.

When you speak you are using a form of telemetry, language relies on discrete impulses of sound.

 You use language to alter the thoughts in someone else brain to suit your interests.

Languages subversive power has been recognised throughout the ages in censorship, books you can’t read, phrases you can’t use and words you can’t say.

The ‘tower of Bable’ a fable in the bible is a warning about the power of language. According to the story early humans developed their conduit that by using their language from witch to work together, they could build a tower to heaven together. God got angry and destroyed the tower and to make sure it never happened again, he scatted the people by giving them different languages and this confused them.

The wonderful irony that our languages exist to prevent us communicating with other people.

Even in this day and age we are not allowed to use certain words and phrases because if we do we will have to face some sort of punishment, be it a telling off, or even death is some countries.  

Why is it that we are the only species with coherent speech? Why don’t chimps talk? We see them to be intelligent as they use tools of grass stems to get termites out the nest, but why don’t they use a shovel? Chimps lack social learning, they lack the ability to copy others, so they just do the same things over and over again. We know this as the Homo erectus who lived in the African savannah over 2 million years ago made hand axes but they made the same axes for 1 million years, that’s about 44,000 generations.  The Neanderthals had more complicated tools but again very little change.

But we can learn, we can learn by watching other people and coping or imitating, we can then choose form a range of options to be the best we can be, it is a cumulative of ideas and adaptation.

Social learning is visual theft. A person can watch another person and take their best idea without putting in the time or energy to create the idea in the first place.

At the human Turing point we had two options, to either stay in family groups and only share ideas with them that would have led to our species dying out or to work as a community to benefit from each other, we chose the community and from that we cave created language to communicate and to stop the visual theft that was going on.

It is social technology to help with cooperation, for reaching agreements, for striking deals and coordinating.

In a developing society, language is so important, without is like a bird without wings. It is the panicle of the world, it makes things clear, and it’s what has made us advance.

Where an animal would have to stay in a certain habitat as it suits their needs, we have social learning that allows us to go where we want and change that setting to suit us.

As we evolved we created many different languages, over 8000. The greatest density of different languages is in the places where lots of people are crammed into small places. We use languages to establish identities and to protect it from other people.

EU language translation costs over 1 billion pounds a year. The EU employs 2000 official translators.

There lots of was to measure things, but the metric is used the most, with time all around the world most uses minutes seconds and hours.


ESL learning: Articles a, an & the

English Tutor Online


The article “a” (which becomes “an” when the next word begins with a vowel – a, e, i, o, u) is called the indefinite article because the noun it goes with is indefinite or general. The meaning of the article a is similar to the number one, but one is stronger and gives more emphasis.

The article “the” is known as the definite article and indicates a specific thing. The difference between the sentences I sat on a chair and I sat on the chair is that the second sentence refers to a particular, specific chair, not just any chair.

Fill in the blank with the correct article: A, an or the

1. I just had __________ great idea.
2. She had ______ house so large that____ elephant would get lost without _____ map.
3. He was doing eighty miles __________ hour on __________ motorway.

We look forward to…

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English for Chatting – Acronyms

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English for Chatting – Acronyms 

One very useful thing to know in the English language is chatting acronyms. We need to know this in order to read and understand authentic English nowadays when chatting on smart phones, making tweets, meeting over Skype or commenting on Facebook posts. Here are the most frequently used chatting acronyms that you will see, and hopefully use.


The Most Common Chat Acronyms

B4 Before

BF / GF Boyfriend / Girlfriend

BRB Be right back

FB Facebook

BTW By the way

GR8 Great

IKR I know, right?

IMHO In my honest opinion / In my humble opinion

IMO In my opinion

J/K Just kidding

LMBO Laughing my butt off

LOL Laughing out loud

OMG Oh my God

PLS or PLZ Please

PPL People

TMRW Tomorrow

TTYL Talk to you later

ic I see

My last thoughts:

If you want to improve your English for reading, writing…

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10 Good Tips to Confidently Speak English

English Tutor Online

speaking confidence

1. Expect nervousness

Don’t forget that even native speakers get nervous when speaking publicly, at least many native speakers do. Turn your nervousness into positive energy that can help you deliver your presentation more strongly.

2. Prepare in advance

Know in advance what you want to say, how to say it and why you want to say it.

3. Practice, practice & practice

Give speeches to small audiences and then begin working with larger audiences. There is nothing like practicing in front of a real audience.


4. Work on breathing

Just before you speak, take a few deep breaths through your nose and fill your stomach up with air. As you exhale out, say to yourself, “Relax.”

5. Rehearse

Stand up & move around the room practicing out loud. Never try to memorize your presentation or practice it word for word. Talk about it and tell a story, point by…

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ESL learning: Homophones (toad, toed & towed)

English Tutor Online


Homophones are words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spellings.

For example toad (relatives of the frogs), toed (a foot part) & towed (to pull by a rope).

Select the right homophone in the sentences below:

1. Although they are quite slow in trees, three-(toad, toed or towed) sloths are agile swimmers.

2. The bumps on the skin of a (toad, toed or towed) help it blend into its environment by breaking up its outline.

3. Gliders were (toad, toed or towed) behind a powered aircraft during WWII.

Please comment below with your answers..

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Dead as a Doornail

Word Stories

“Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

If you can’t guess where that well-known novel-starter comes from you might need to brush up on your Chris lit. A Christmas Carol is my favourite yuletide read and is credited with popularising many of the Christmas traditions we celebrate today. What’s more, Dickens kicked of his Christmas classic with an interesting linguistic query:

“Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

It was a fairly old expression even by Dickens’…

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