Start your visit with the discovery of language. What is language? How do we recognise it? How different species communicate? How do we produce sounds? … You will find the answers to these questions in this dedicated space, and don’t forget to test your knowledge before continuing your visit! Linguistics: Key definitions Everyone knows […]
You will finish your visit by delving into the world of new technologies. From the first computer to social networks accessible on your smartphone, understand the evolution of different languages and digital coding. You will finish by discovering pure linguistics and the teaching of the science of language. Enjoy!
From the passsenger pigeon to Facebook, via digital coding or a message in a bottle… Discover the modern realm of new techologies. Go back to basics to see how computer languages and voice recognition work.
- Computer languages
- Demonstration : Dragon / voice recognition software
The science of language
The science of language will reveal its secrets: academic disciplines, specialisations, well-known universities…
- The history of language science
- Great linguists
- Specialist publications
In this play area, full of surprises, “Fun with Language” offers different thematic alcoves, as well as games from around the world, including a giant Scrabble game and a relaxation area so you can enjoy a little break during your visit.
What is slang? What is its purpose? What is a magic word? Where do swear words come from? Why do neo-tribal languages exist?
- Good and bad uses of language
- Magic words & taboo words
- Fun languages invented for communication within a group
- Language games
Dive into the exciting world of codes and decoding. With or without a machine, learn to decipher the mythical codes that have played a role in history.
- The Enigma machine
- Different types of coding: Caesar’s code, the Vigenere Cipher, Morse…
- Job focus: Spy
Humour and language are closely connected, discover how these mechanisms work and examples that will make you smile.
- Humour with and without language
- Some examples
Lies & forgeries
Enter the world of forgers: lies, weasel words, irony, forgery… and foil the world-famous plots such as the case of the Queen’s necklace, the Dreyfus Affair…
- Speech acts
- The polygraph
- The blacksmith
” To take to one’s heels”, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”… Enter the amazing world of proverbs and find their origin.
Names, addresses & acronyms
We use them every day, and we still do not know their origin and meaning. Get to the heart of the history of names, surnames and acronyms.
- First names
- Different address formats
Other invented languages
In order to transport us to another world, imaginary or real, languages have been created or recreated … Discover Qenya or Goldogrin, Elvish languages, or Klingon (Star Trek) without delay…
- Catalogue of invented languages
- Gibberish / Charabia
- Recreated languages
Find word games around the world with a unique selection of game shows! Countdown or Pyramid will never be the same again!
In the basement, you will travel the length and breadth of the languages of the world: their origins, evolution (birth to extinction), their roles, their stories … From their personalities and myths, to ethnolinguistics in one short trip! Put contemporary languages under the microscope!
Myths & origins
Go back in time, right to the birth of languages. Travel from one continent to another to unravel the mysteries of creation. Native American and Aboriginal myths and even the Tower of Babel will be explained.
- The myth of the Tower of Babel
- The Native American myth
- The Aboriginal myth
- The Aztec myth
- The Indian myth
- The African myth
- The Hindu myth
Languages & religion
Discover how religion has affected languages, from before Gutenberg to today. Why are languages that are considered sacred not necessarily the languages used in everyday life? What was the historical role of missionaries?
- Gutenberg and the first printed Bible
- The role of religion in the development of language
- The role of religion in the development of writing
- The role of religion in the destruction of languages
- Speaking in tongues
- Sacred languages : the case of Hebrew
- Ethnolinguists: the role of missionaries
The evolution of words / Their parents & grandparents
Unravel the family tree of our language: what did words that we use today mean before? Did they have the same meaning? How were they used?
- Etymological dictionaries
Ethnolinguistics / Research & findings
Uncover the mysteries of language, walking in the footsteps of great explorers. Feast your eyes on the famous Rosetta Stone, and many other relics of the past.
- The Rosetta Stone
- Different research methods
- Paleolinguistiques & archeolinguistiques
- Ethical issues
- Field research
Language diversity & imperialism
There are about 6,000 languages in the world, but do they all have the same importance geographically, economically or socially? What are the consequences of linguistic imperialism? Is linguistic diversity an asset or a liability?
- Linguistic imperialism
- Language policies
- Debate: Linguistic diversity, pros and cons
Did you know that some languages are endangered? Find out how languages can become extinct and initiatives to save them.
- Endangered languages
Become a champion of sign language in this dedicated alcove! From the basis of language to songs. Travel in silent mode…
- Definitions & basic mechanisms
- The virtual dictionary
- Signing in songs
Discover the languages and dialects of the world. Learn how people adapt to languages which have been imposed on them. What is a “lingua franca”? Why are languages not all the same length? How have they changed?
- Definitions : language & dialect
- Pidgin / Creole
- Lingua franca
- The length of different languages
- The evolution of languages
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Go back in time with the Dead Sea Scrolls! The oldest manuscript in Hebrew reveals fascinating secrets.
“I found that this is a language constructed with intelligence, and which has a beautiful story”. Umberto Eco. Discover Esperanto: its creator, how it is used, how it works, how to learn it…
- The creator : Ludwik Zamenhof Lejzer
- Some works
How we express ourselves gives clues to our age, gender, social status … Learn to identify these clues and have fun with them.
- Linguistic variation
- William Labov: The father of modern sociolinguistics
- Equality in language?
Hierarchy & affection
Learn to decipher the behavioral codes of language. How do you classify information to quickly identify it? How do we show affection, respect or our social class in the way we speak?
- Signs of hierarchy and distancing
- Polite formulas
- Signs of affection
All you need to know about deciphering Braille, at your fingertips: its history, uses… from its origins to today. Meet a visionary who revolutionised the lives of blind and visually impaired.
- The inventor Louis Braille
- International Braille
Dive into the world of writing and the shapes of letters: alphabets, alphabets without vowels, syllabaries, ideograms. Where do they come from? What do they have in common? What are their differences? How do they work?
- Different types of writing
Sight & writing
Decode the different systems of written language, from writing fonts, graphology, through to the way we write and sign … Travel between art, history and psychology.
- Writing fonts
- Genetics & writing
Learning a mother tongue
Rediscover the different stages of learning a native language. From the first steps, with a few tears… Each phase has its purpose. And when communication doesn’t happen… The case of “feral children”.
- “Feral children”
- How children learn language
- How the mother tongue lasts: speaking to a pet, a baby …
Which areas of the brain are used for language and writing? And which are used to understand and recognise words?
- How the brain and different brain areas work
- Neurolinguistic problems: at birth or due to accidents
- Job focus: speech therapist
Learning a second language
When you use only one language in your daily life, it is easy to identify your second language. But what about when you are multilingual? Discover the most popular second languages in the world. Learn more about the different methods of learning foreign languages: “classic” lessons, or immersion…
- What is a second language?
- Maps of second languages
- The different methods of learning
- “Classic” language lessons
- “False friends” & “cousins”
- Semantic problems
- Phonetic problems
The language lab
In an authentic language lab from the 1980s, come back and sit on the benches again to listen to over 4,000 languages at your leisure.
To increase your knowledge, consult specialised publications in the mini-library, free access.