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Welcome to the only film series ever made on what language is and how it works.

The Human Language is a series of three films, for sale to schools and colleges. Over 1700 colleges in the United States are now using it.

This is an invitation to join them. Below is a summary of each film, some quotes from people who know them, and a note from the producer. There is an order form at the end.

Noam Chomsky asks, "You meet somebody, say, at a bus stop, and you start having a conversation. How do you do it?" How does anyone know what word to say next? Program one is about words, sentences, and something unique to our species: syntax.

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Are children wrong when they say "he drived" and "two gooses?" How does anyone know what a word really means? Do we inherit grammar? Program two is about how children "acquire" language without seeming to be taught.

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Why chimps can't talk and we can. How language must be a biological phenomenon. How the human Larynx "fell" and we acquired new vowels. How we inherited body language, gestures, and facial expressions from our animal past, but only we have the most human thing there is about being human.

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Scroll Down for a few words
about "The Human Language"

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"This film series, with its own unique contribution of erudition and entertainment, is the best introduction we could hope to have to this most important of all subjects."
Stephen Jay Gould

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"The Human Language Series cleverly explains difficult concepts, often surpassing our best textbooks, with great wit and fun. An outstanding accomplishment."
Steven Pinker, M.I.T., "The Language Instinct"

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"No resource like this has been made before."
Mark Aronoff, editor of LANGUAGE

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"...a terrific achievement."
Lila Gleitman, U. of Pennsylvania

"I'm impressed."
Noam Chomsky, M.I.T

"...dynamite... "
Dan I. Slobin

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"Science with a sense of humor."
John Leonard

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" extraordinary series."
Ursula Bellugi, The Salk Institute

"Watch this series!"
Columbus Dispatch

"...serious fun..."
New York Times
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mans head program on the human language ever.
Victoria Fromkin, UCLA

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"...another PBS first."
Philadelphia Enquirer

"...endlessly fascinating..."
Toronto Star

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"...terrific, original TV..."
New York Daily News

"Super. Brilliant."
Russell Baker

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"...playful, patient, never patronizing..."
Chicago Tribune

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A note from the producer:

By "language" we don't mean learning French or Japanese, but the extraordinary ability humans have to talk to one another.

The Human Language seeks to explain language by observing how people speak and listen. In three 55-minute films we see and hear the enormous complexity of language which, however, children seem to have no difficulty learning.

Nobody lectures us, but the nature of language itself is revealed by over 50 linguists (including Noam Chomsky), philosophers, Papua New Guinea head hunters, archeologists, writers, publishers, Eskimos, baseball players (including Hank Aaron), actors, comedians (including Sid Caesar and George Carlin), and hosts of "real people," including a great many children.

By good fortune, that made these films possible, it turns out that both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation have "linguistics" in their lists of approved subjects. And neither of them had ever funded anything on the subject before. Both of them gave us generous grants, which encouraged others to do so. In the end, we were financed by the NIMH (The National Institutes of Mental Health) as well as the NEH and the NSF, and by PBS and CPB, three state humanities councils, and four private foundations including the Annenberg Foundation.

We were determined to be simple without over simplifying, to be entertaining on a high level, and never to leave important things out just because they seemed too difficult.

The series of three films was broadcast on PBS. It won the Language, Linguistics and the Public Interest Award of the Linguistic Society of America.

The Human Language fills a gap in television as an educational medium. Does it have a message?

Yes. That language is the most human thing there is about being human.

If you have questions about how we made the films, just drop me a line at

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What more can we say?

Send orders to:
Film Library
PO Box 1084
Harriman, NY 10926
Fax: (201) 652-1973

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Make checks payable to:
Ways of Knowing, Inc.
Please include your
purchase order.
Or telephone

spacer gifThe Series (all three films)$545 
spacer gifAny One Film195 
spacer gifAny one film75 
spacer gifAll three films25 
spacer gifAny one film10 
Shipping & Handling, per order 15
Total Due$

Click Here to Open a Printable Version of this Form
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