Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Grammar: eventually the brain opts for the easy route

13.08.2015

Languages are constantly evolving – and grammar is no exception. The way in which the brain processes language triggers adjustments. If the brain has to exert itself too much to cope with difficult case constructions, it usually simplifies them over time, as linguists from the Universi-ty of Zurich demonstrate in a study on languages all over the world.

The grammar of languages keeps reorganizing itself. A prime example of this is the omission of case endings in the transition from Latin to Italian. And in some instances, case systems are remodeled entirely – such as in the transition from Sanskrit to Hindi, which has completely new grammatical cases.


If the first noun in a sentence without a clear case marker («Bertram») does not refer to the agent, the brain activity is stronger (see blue curve).

UZH

Simplifications found in all languages

An international team of researchers headed by linguist Balthasar Bickel from the University of Zurich conducted statistical analyses of the case systems in more than 600 languages and recorded the changes over time.

They then tested these adaptations experimentally in test subjects, measuring the brain flows that become active during language comprehension. The scientists were therefore able to demonstrate that the brain activity is stronger for complex case constructions than for simple ones.

«Certain case constructions tax the brain more, which is why they are eventually omitted from languages all over the world – independently of the structural properties of the languages or socio-historical factors,» explains Bickel, a professor of general linguistics at the University of Zurich.

In other words, biological processes are also instrumental in grammatical changes. «Our findings pave the way for further studies on the origin and development of human language and a better understanding of speech disorders.»

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.mediadesk.uzh.ch/articles/2015/grammatik-mit-der-zeit-macht-es-sich-d...

Evelyne Brönnimann | Universität Zürich

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>