Languages

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!

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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

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.

  • Theories
  • 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

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?

  • Etymology
  • Etymological dictionaries

Ethnolinguistics / Research & finding

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

Endangered languages

Did you know that some languages are endangered? Find out how languages can become extinct and initiatives to save them.

  • Endangered languages
  • UNESCO
  • Sorosoro

Sign 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
  • Alphabets
  • The virtual dictionary
  • Signing in songs

World languages

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.

Sociolinguistics

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

Braille

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

Writing

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
  • Classification

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.

  • Graffiti
  • Calligraphy
  • Writing fonts
  • Graphology
  • Signatures
  • Genetics & writing
  • Shorthand