Radiolab: Words

„It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But this hour, we try to do just that. We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago.“


What is it that happens in human beings when we get symbols and we start trading symbols? It changes our thinking. It changes our ideas of—it is no longer the thing, a table that we eat on but there's something about symbol table that makes the table look different. Ildefonso was in love. He was in love. He was like, everything has a name. And for the first couple weeks he had this list of names that kept growing and growing. […]

ROBERT KRULWICH: And that, you know, once you have begun to put words onto things you can look at a thing, say this symbolic sound, table, and the person opposite you knows what you are talking about.

JAD ABUMRAD: But she seems to be saying something deeper though, when you get the word for table than suddenly the table, like this table right here (knocking on the table), looks different. Like it’s somehow the word changes the world, in some fundamental way.

Be excellent to each other.