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Hi, you now have some of the basic
concepts of language in the brain. And I want to focus now on one
specific topic, on reading, on reading in the brain. How does reading work in the brain? Where is it located in the brain? What different kinds of
writing systems do we have and how is that related to
reading in the brain? Now we have to understand that reading
is something of a strange topic for many linguists because it seems
to be less natural, less natural than many of the other things we have
talked about, in the following sense. First, there's many languages in the world
which are never written or read. As a matter of fact probably most
of the languages in the world don't have a writing system at all. Secondly, even if a language
does have a writing system, there will always be people who
don't know it, who are analphabetic, who don't know how to read and write. But there are no languages where there are
people, who can read, and write them, but not speak them. That, basically, doesn't exist. And thirdly, even if you are a person who
can read, and write in your language, you have learned that, in a different way,
from the other aspects of your language. Because you haven't just picked
it up from your mom like that or from your parents like that, you have gone
to school and learned it specifically. So it is kind of different. There's also a lot of
variation in writing systems. There's a lot of variation. The English writing system or the writing
system of the Latin alphabet which is used in many European languages is one which
seemed to be based mostly on sounds. It's a connection between one symbol and
one consonant or vowel. But that's not the only
way which it can be done. In Japanese for
instance the connection seems to be more, at least in some Japanese systems
between one syllable and one symbol. In Chinese, Chinese character system the connection seems to be one
of one morpheme to one symbol. At least more or less. And in Korean,
Korean is a very nice writing system, which seems to connect
one phonological feature. Remember phonological
features from module two. One phonological feature to one symbol. So all of that is possible, and you can
also write in different ways, right? So you can write from left to right,
or from right to left, or from top to bottom or from bottom to top. All of that is possible. So in English, you would typically
write from left to right and then from top to bottom. In Arabic you write from right to left but
also from top to bottom etc. But intriguingly no matter how you write,
so which kind of writing system you have and
whether you write from top to bottom or the other way around,
it doesn't seem to matter for the brain. All of our brains seem to put
the symbols for writing, the letter, the characters for writing in
exactly the same part of the brain. So, how come that everybody
who learns how to read and write decides to put these symbols,
these letters, these characters in exactly
the same area of their brain. Exactly the same area, how come? Typically the answer to such a question
would be, because it's innate. It's just we are born with some kind of part of our brain which is specifically
designed for doing that task. In our case, for storing letter symbols. But that just cannot be the answer here,
because reading and writing is not a very natural
task as I explained before. And furthermore,
we human beings we know how to read and write only for about 5000 years. And that's too short for evolution to
grow a specific organ in our brain. A specific reading and
writing organ in our brain. So we have to find the answer somewhere,
differently. And we're going to find the answer in
the different symbols which are used in the writing systems. That seems very strange, because those
writing systems are so different. But let's just have
a look at a few of them. Let's have a look at,
well the Latin script first. But then the Arabic writing system or
the Korean writing system or Devanagari writing system which
is used for many Indian languages or Cyrillic, a writing system which is
used for Russian and other languages, Slavic languages, and other languages
spoken in and around Russia. They all look very different, but
if we apply linguistic methodology, the kind of methodology which you remember
from the second module where we took consonants and vowels and we split them
up into smaller parts called features. If we do that to letters as well,
we discover something. We try to find the smallest building
blocks of letters and characters. And we find that, actually,
they do have certain things in common. One example of that is the T shape. The capital T shape, like this. We find that in all of these
different writing systems somewhere, especially if we allow ourselves to
twist around these Ts a little bit. We find them all. And why is that? Well, maybe that's related to the fact
that this area which we use for storing letters and characters is also
an area which we use for 3D vision. For watching three-dimensional things or
seeing things in their dimensions. This T shape seems to be important for
that. So it's important to be able to
see that why, what's a T shape? Well a T shape signals that
there is some kind of line, some kind of straight
object going like this. But there's something else
hiding that object, right. So that's a capital T. It's very useful to be able to see that. It's probably innate that
we are able to see that. And it's probably stored here. So the new question now is why
did we decide to use our 3D vision area for
storing letters and characters. Because you have other types of vision
which are probably also innate, were also very good for
instance in recognizing human faces. And we have some area which is also
specifically designed for that. But we don't seem to use that and as a
matter of fact, if we look at the writing systems, we don't seem to use
face shaped elements in there. There are smileys nowadays, but they're
not used in letters or in characters. So that's the question now. Why do we use this 3D vision area for
storing our letters and characters? And the answer to that probably is that
this is the vision area which is closest to where we put out phonology. Where we put our sounds. Where we put our consonants and vowels. So those vision areas which
are closest to the sounds. We have all decided,
we've all converged, we as human beings, we have all converged on
the same solution for a problem. We have to store certain things
which have to do with vision But as close as possible to those things which
have to do with the sounds of language, and that's the 3D area. It's not innate,
it's just the best possible solution and we have all gone for
that best possible solution. Now here's a paradox. What about Chinese? I told you, Chinese seems to
connect symbols to morphemes and morphemes are not necessarily
about sounds, are they? Well, in Chinese they often are, in
the sense that one symbol can be used for different morphemes, provided that
those morphemes sound the same. So, also in the Chinese writing system, sounds are important,
and as a matter of fact, there are no writing systems in which
the sounds of language do not play a role. And that's why we all seem to
have converged on the same area. And here's where you can see we can
connect knowing the structure of the brain from looking inside in
the structure of the brain. And looking at behavior, how we read and
write, what we read and write. Connect those two things and learn something about language, learn
something about language in the brain. We're going to see more of
that in the next video. As a matter of fact,
I've a surprise in store for you.Hi, you now have some of the basic
concepts of language in the brain. And I want to focus now on one
specific topic, on reading, on reading in the brain. How does reading work in the brain? Where is it located in the brain? What different kinds of
writing systems do we have and how is that related to
reading in the brain? Now we have to understand that reading
is something of a strange topic for many linguists because it seems
to be less natural, less natural than many of the other things we have
talked about, in the following sense. First, there's many languages in the world
which are never written or read. As a matter of fact probably most
of the languages in the world don't have a writing system at all. Secondly, even if a language
does have a writing system, there will always be people who
don't know it, who are analphabetic, who don't know how to read and write. But there are no languages where there are
people, who can read, and write them, but not speak them. That, basically, doesn't exist. And thirdly, even if you are a person who
can read, and write in your language, you have learned that, in a different way,
from the other aspects of your language. Because you haven't just picked
it up from your mom like that or from your parents like that, you have gone
to school and learned it specifically. So it is kind of different. There's also a lot of
variation in writing systems. There's a lot of variation. The English writing system or the writing
system of the Latin alphabet which is used in many European languages is one which
seemed to be based mostly on sounds. It's a connection between one symbol and
one consonant or vowel. But that's not the only
way which it can be done. In Japanese for
instance the connection seems to be more, at least in some Japanese systems
between one syllable and one symbol. In Chinese, Chinese character system the connection seems to be one
of one morpheme to one symbol. At least more or less. And in Korean,
Korean is a very nice writing system, which seems to connect
one phonological feature. Remember phonological
features from module two. One phonological feature to one symbol. So all of that is possible, and you can
also write in different ways, right? So you can write from left to right,
or from right to left, or from top to bottom or from bottom to top. All of that is possible. So in English, you would typically
write from left to right and then from top to bottom. In Arabic you write from right to left but
also from top to bottom etc. But intriguingly no matter how you write,
so which kind of writing system you have and
whether you write from top to bottom or the other way around,
it doesn't seem to matter for the brain. All of our brains seem to put
the symbols for writing, the letter, the characters for writing in
exactly the same part of the brain. So, how come that everybody
who learns how to read and write decides to put these symbols,
these letters, these characters in exactly
the same area of their brain. Exactly the same area, how come? Typically the answer to such a question
would be, because it's innate. It's just we are born with some kind of part of our brain which is specifically
designed for doing that task. In our case, for storing letter symbols. But that just cannot be the answer here,
because reading and writing is not a very natural
task as I explained before. And furthermore,
we human beings we know how to read and write only for about 5000 years. And that's too short for evolution to
grow a specific organ in our brain. A specific reading and
writing organ in our brain. So we have to find the answer somewhere,
differently. And we're going to find the answer in
the different symbols which are used in the writing systems. That seems very strange, because those
writing systems are so different. But let's just have
a look at a few of them. Let's have a look at,
well the Latin script first. But then the Arabic writing system or
the Korean writing system or Devanagari writing system which
is used for many Indian languages or Cyrillic, a writing system which is
used for Russian and other languages, Slavic languages, and other languages
spoken in and around Russia. They all look very different, but
if we apply linguistic methodology, the kind of methodology which you remember
from the second module where we took consonants and vowels and we split them
up into smaller parts called features. If we do that to letters as well,
we discover something. We try to find the smallest building
blocks of letters and characters. And we find that, actually,
they do have certain things in common. One example of that is the T shape. The capital T shape, like this. We find that in all of these
different writing systems somewhere, especially if we allow ourselves to
twist around these Ts a little bit. We find them all. And why is that? Well, maybe that's related to the fact
that this area which we use for storing letters and characters is also
an area which we use for 3D vision. For watching three-dimensional things or
seeing things in their dimensions. This T shape seems to be important for
that. So it's important to be able to
see that why, what's a T shape? Well a T shape signals that
there is some kind of line, some kind of straight
object going like this. But there's something else
hiding that object, right. So that's a capital T. It's very useful to be able to see that. It's probably innate that
we are able to see that. And it's probably stored here. So the new question now is why
did we decide to use our 3D vision area for
storing letters and characters. Because you have other types of vision
which are probably also innate, were also very good for
instance in recognizing human faces. And we have some area which is also
specifically designed for that. But we don't seem to use that and as a
matter of fact, if we look at the writing systems, we don't seem to use
face shaped elements in there. There are smileys nowadays, but they're
not used in letters or in characters. So that's the question now. Why do we use this 3D vision area for
storing our letters and characters? And the answer to that probably is that
this is the vision area which is closest to where we put out phonology. Where we put our sounds. Where we put our consonants and vowels. So those vision areas which
are closest to the sounds. We have all decided,
we've all converged, we as human beings, we have all converged on
the same solution for a problem. We have to store certain things
which have to do with vision But as close as possible to those things which
have to do with the sounds of language, and that's the 3D area. It's not innate,
it's just the best possible solution and we have all gone for
that best possible solution. Now here's a paradox. What about Chinese? I told you, Chinese seems to
connect symbols to morphemes and morphemes are not necessarily
about sounds, are they? Well, in Chinese they often are, in
the sense that one symbol can be used for different morphemes, provided that
those morphemes sound the same. So, also in the Chinese writing system, sounds are important,
and as a matter of fact, there are no writing systems in which
the sounds of language do not play a role. And that's why we all seem to
have converged on the same area. And here's where you can see we can
connect knowing the structure of the brain from looking inside in
the structure of the brain. And looking at behavior, how we read and
write, what we read and write. Connect those two things and learn something about language, learn
something about language in the brain. We're going to see more of
that in the next video. As a matter of fact,
I've a surprise in store for you.

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