Can language describe reality? with Nick Enfield

This episode is with Nick Enfield. He is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. Nick's research on language, culture, cognition and social life is based on long term field work in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos. His books include Natural Causes of Language, Distributed Agency, and How We Talk. His latest book is 'Language vs Reality: Why language is good for lawyers and bad for scientists'

In this conversation we talk about evolution of language and How well it can describe reality?, Can language nudge our thoughts?, Maths as a language, evolution of human reason and rationality.

Guest info:

Website Twitter Google scholar

Episode links:

Website Youtube Spotify Apple podcast Google podcast

Follow Reason with Science:

Website Youtube Spotify Apple podcast Google podcast


00:00:00 Introduction

00:01:07 What is language?

00:04:01 When does a communication system becomes a language?

00:08:02 How language got started?

00:13:31 Do sapiens have an advantage which helped us to start a language?

00:17:30 Language is too blunt for scientists and good for lawyers

00:23:40 We simplify the complexity of the world

00:28:23 Why language was evolved?

00:30:52 On Donald Hoffman's work

00:35:36 Brute reality and social reality

00:36:59 Yuval Harrari's imagined reality

00:40:38 Power of all the languages

00:44:29 Language in an AI society

00:47:25 Complexity of a language

00:56:18 Can complexity of a language affect psychology?

01:00:08 Sapira-Whorf hypothesis

01:04:07 Co-evolution and evolution of languages

01:08:05 Desmond Morris' work on neoteny

01:10:54 Purpose of a language

01:16:04 Rationality, reasoning and language

01:22:35 Truth and rationality

01:27:45 Fighting misinformation

01:30:19 Confirmation bias

01:31:55 Should we care if a language is dying?

01:38:06 Is mathematics a language?

01:44:26 Thank you!

#reasonwithscience #languages #evolution