NOVA Online
NOVA menu (see bottom of page for text links)

Mysterious Mummies menu (see bottom of page for text links)

Digging into Language

Have you ever wondered why a word means what it means? If so, you might consider a career as a linguist. Linguists study the nature and structure of human speech.

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. Doesn't sound like a science? Well it is! Linguists gather data and test out ideas to make conclusions about language. So, like other scientists, they use the scientific method to answer questions.

For example, scholars discovered a mystery language written in caves and books found in western China. When linguists decoded this ancient language, called Tocharian, they found that it was unlike any of the languages spoken by the neighboring people who live there today or who used to live there long ago. This provides linguistic evidence that the Tocharian-speaking people probably came from far away to settle in what is now China.

Maybe linguistics is for you: Check out the pasta-bilities!

Thanks to the educators from the EDCO Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Newtonville, Massachusetts, for their help in developing this feature. References.

Takla Makan Mummies | Mummies 101 | Digging into Language
Resources | Transcript | Mummies Home

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated October 2000
Resources Digging Into Language Mummies 101 The Takla Makan Mummies Mysterious Mummies of China NOVA Shop Site Map Search NOVA Archive Teachers TV/Web Schedule TV/Web Schedule Feedback