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Welcome to Crash Course Linguistics! Linguistics is everywhere and is super useful for pretty much everyone. Over 16 episodes, Taylor Behnke will teach you all about language, from its structure, to the relationship between language and our identity, the brain, and computers, to writing, language acquisition, and the diversity of human languages!

Want even more linguistics? Check out the Lingthusiasm podcast, hosted by the writers of Crash Course Linguistics: https://lingthusiasm.com/

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Hi!

I’m Taylor Behnke, and welcome to Crash Course Linguistics! Language is everywhere.

It’s what we use to order a pizza, talk on our phones, tell jokes, and make sense of the world around us. We’ve used language to learn about every other subject on Crash Course, and now it’s time to learn linguistics — how language itself works! Over the next 16 episodes, we'll look at the structure of language from the smallest building blocks of sounds and hand shapes, to the structure of words and meanings, to how words go together to make sentences and conversations.

Along the way, we’ll also look at the relationship between language and our identity, the brain, and even computers. We’ll learn about writing, language acquisition, and the diversity of human languages. There are actually over 7000 identified languages in the world today!

That includes thousands of spoken languages and hundreds of signed languages. They can be found in small communities or span across multiple countries. They can be written or unwritten.

And they can be learned through family, formal schooling, or broader social networks. Each one is a living experiment into how humans communicate. Throughout this series we’ll be sharing examples from widely-known languages, as well as some you may not have encountered before.

But we won't be learning one language in particular. Instead, we'll be looking at similarities and differences across many languages, learning how to think like a linguist about the languages we encounter in our everyday lives. We’re excited to produce a series on linguistics because it is super relevant to lots of fields, including speech recognition and natural language processing, speech pathology, lexicography, and communications.

It’s also useful if you are teaching or learning languages, not to mention for journalists, poets, translators, interpreters, and other people who work with language. And if that sounds like basically everyone, it kind of is. More generally, understanding linguistics helps us understand how our own minds and bodies work, and the hidden patterns in our interactions with other humans.

It's also really fun! Regardless of what part of language we’re analyzing, or which language or languages are our focus, a linguist is interested in language as it’s actually used. Linguistics is not about trying to establish and enforce one variety of language as better than another.

After all, if we were studying rabbits, we wouldn't go around telling some rabbits that their hopping style is better than others. But this increased understanding of language does come with an ethical responsibility to be kind and compassionate with it. Before we get into it all, let me introduce myself.

My name is Taylor Behnke, and I’m a writer, video maker, and digital organizer. I studied linguistics in college, alongside writing and Spanish. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by how language works, and how it shapes our identities.

I think a lot about the power of language as a tool for communication, both in my work with digital communities and on my YouTube channel ItsRadishTime. I’m excited to keep learning about linguistics with you. See you in the first episode!