Birth of a language: Following up the fascinating 1999 New York Times story, "A Linguistic Big Bang," on the same topic, The Economist reports on the usual emergence of a distinct, new language form in Nicaragua. Arising spontaneously among deaf children, with seemingly no relation to the structures of spoken language, Nicaraguan Sign Language is composed of units of meaning (i.e. "words) and nuanced gestures that have evolved over time and become more sophisticated. Researchers are excited about the implications of studying NSL on all language: the question of weather humans tap into a pre-set template--i.e. whether our brains are hard-wired for language--might be answered in Nicaragua with this purely self-invented (and possibly straight-from-the-source) way of communicating.

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