I quite enjoyed the first episode (“Babel”) of Stephen Fry’s new series on language, Planet Word, which screened tonight on BBC2. It’s not hard-hitting science, but it doesn’t set out to be. Highlights include a discussion with Wolfgang Enard about the FOXP2 “language” gene; an interview with editor and writer Robert McCrum on his recovery from a stroke that severely impaired his speech (documented in his novel, My Year Off); and what I thought was a rather disturbing conversation with d’Armond Speers, who attempted to raise his son to speak Klingon—though it is interesting that it didn’t really work. It also mentioned MIT’s Deb Roy, who fitted his house with cameras to capture his child’s acquisition of language, which prompted me to revisit his fascinating TED talk.
Planet Word is currently available on iPlayer (again, I’d guess this is U.K. only, sorry, but the clip below seems to be freely available on YouTube).