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Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Max­Planck­Research Magazine

Issue 2016

MaxPlanckResearch 3/2016

A Cinch for the Brain
Our bodies, our behavior and even our brains are anything but symmetrical. And this seems to be an important factor in the seamless functioning of our thought, speech and motor faculties. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen are currently searching for genetic clues to this phenomenon. They want to decode the fundamental molecular biological mechanisms that contribute to asymmetry in the brain, and to identify possible causes for neurological disorders.

MaxPlanckResearch 2/2016

Talk First, Think Later
During everyday conversations, we often begin to speak before we have decided exactly what we want to say. Antje Meyer and her team at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen are investigating how we plan sentences and what obstacles may stand in the way. To this end, the researchers test volunteers on a treadmill, construct virtual environments and travel to India to study whether illiterate individuals process language differently.
Issue 2015

MaxPlanckResearch - 1/2015

Forever speechless?
Around 7,000 languages are currently spoken worldwide. Quite a number of them are at severe risk of dying out though, as they are spoken by only a small number of people and are no longer being passed on to future generations. Scientists therefore anticipate that a third, at most – but perhaps only one-tenth – of the languages spoken today will still exist by the end of the 21st century. The significance people attach to their own language depends heavily on social and economic circumstances. Particularly under threat are the languages of population groups with a low social reputation. Even worse is the fact that, with each language that disappears, cultural and intellectual identity is also being lost. In order to at least document languages and dialects under threat and preserve them for posterity – and for future researchers – the DOBES Program was launched in 2000. As part of this project, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics are conducting research in many parts of the world. In northern Namibia, for example, they are focusing on the Khoisan language ǂAkhoe Haiǀǀom, which contains many click sounds. In standard orthography, these are represented by the symbols !, ǀ, ǀǀ and ǂ. In preparation for a workshop on minority languages in southern Africa, one of the project’s local staff members, teacher Mariane Kheimses, interviewed Abakup ǀǀGamǀǀgaeb about his thoughts regarding his mother tongue. The members of the community couldn’t imagine allowing just a single representative to speak for everyone at the workshop. Instead, a series of video interviews was shown at the event, enabling all possible opinions to be represented.
Issue 2010
Issue 2008

MPR 3 /2008

Beauty Beyond Measure
Experts from various disciplines discuss whether what is widely perceived as beautiful can be expressed in universally applicable formulas.

MPR 2 /2008

The Disappearance of Magic
A psycholinguist has been visiting the Trobriand Islands for 25 years and has experienced dramatic changes in the inhabitants’ language and culture.
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