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Their result for The Crazy Talk Test of Human Language ...

O Ye of Silver Tongue

You scored 100% Knowledge!

You are exceptionally knowledgeable about language and how it works!  If you've never officially studied this stuff, you're really well informed and/or intuitive.  If you have, then you're well on your way to being a successful linguist.  Congratulations!

Here are the answers:

1.  From 18 months to about 15 years old, children learn a new word every hour and a half.  Imagine learning a new baseball stat, or a new phone number, or a new dance step, every hour and a half year in and year out, and remembering every single one.


2.  Until they are about a year old, babies can distinguish among all the sounds made in all the world’s languages.  After that, they can only distinguish among the sounds that exist in their own language.


3.  People who have a stroke can lose the ability to talk, or the ability to use verbs, or the ability to lose body parts, among other losses, so the answer is “all of the above”.  Some losses are even stranger, such as loss of the ability to name things found indoors, furniture, or fruits and vegetables.


4.  About 95% of right-handed people process language in the left hemisphere of their brain (specifically, in the temporal lobe).  But among left-handed people, only about 80% do.  The rest either process language in the right hemisphere, or across both hemispheres.


5.  If a person doesn’t learn any language at all by late elementary-school age (12 at the latest), s/he will never be able to speak normally, though other cognitive functions may be unimpaired.  This has happened in a few unfortunate cases where a child has been imprisoned by a deranged parent.


6.  Sign languages have every characteristic that spoken languages have, except of course the mode of expression, and in some cases they are able to express subtleties not found in spoken language.  They are emphatically not systems of gesture, and they are comparable to spoken languages in how difficult they are to learn.


7.  One characteristic that distinguishes human languages from animal communication systems is the ability to express an infinite number of ideas (sentences) using a finite number of symbols (words).  One way this is done is by allowing a sentence to be embedded within a sentence, such as “I think I’ll go home”.  No known animal communication system has that property.


8.  In the 1950’s, efforts were made to teach at least one chimp to speak English.  The attempt failed spectacularly, largely because the vocal tract of the great apes is physically incapable of making many of the sounds of human speech.


9.  To many people’s surprise, the highest percentage of grammatically correct sentences can be found in mothers’ speech to their babies.  In fact, the proceedings of scholarly conferences show the lowest percentage of grammatically correct sentences.


10.  “Standard,” “accent-free” English, such as broadcasters usually speak, is neither better nor worse than any other dialect; it’s simply different.  Our judgments of dialects other than our own usually turn out to be based on our judgments of the people who speak them, and not on the actual accent or grammar variations.

Their Analysis (Vertical line = Average)

  • Knowledge Distribution

    They scored 100% on Knowledge, higher than 99% of your peers.

All possible test results

O Ye of Silver Tongue

You are exceptionally knowledgeable about language and how it works!  If you've never officially studied this stuff, you're really well informed and/or intuitive.  If you have, then you're well o... Read more

The Smooth Talker

You're fairly knowledgeable about language and how it works.  Some of these questions weren't obvious, so not many people get them all right.  You did a good job! ... Read more

The Fast Talker

This test was a bit of a challenge for you.  Even though we use language all the time, sometimes it's not obvious how it works.  "A" for effort! ... Read more

The Cheap Talker

Language isn't your thing.  But I hope you picked up a few interesting things from the test, and maybe you'll even be inspired to learn more!  Thanks for taking the test.   span s... Read more

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