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'World of language' opens for public to ponder

By XING YI in Shanghai | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-12-08 11:13
A museum of language, the first of its kind in China, opens on the Songjiang campus of Shanghai International Studies University on Dec 7, 2019. [Photo by Xing Yi/China Daily]

"The limits of my language define the limits of my world."

In saying this, the late Austrian philosopher Lugwig Wittgenstein well summed up the importance and complexity of the human language. Yet, few people realized it while they talk, text, listen and read.

But one is sure to appreciate the language he uses after a visit to the Museum of Language, opened by Shanghai International Studies University in its Songjiang campus on Saturday.

The 1,000-square-meter museum opened to public, guiding them through every aspect of the world of language with multimedia exhibits and interactive designs.

"The museum lets language—the performing stage of human minds—speak for itself, reminding us of its existence and providing us another way to examine it." said Zhu Lei, associate professor of the Institute of Linguistics and the museum's academic consultant.

Divided into eight chapters, the museum covers topics from the mystic birth of language to the evolution of language in the digital world, from the world's major writing systems to translation and intercultural communication, from the human constructed international language Esperanto to the undeciphered Rongorongo glyphs on Easter Island.

The museum also gives an interesting quiz to test one's linguistic knowledge of phonetics, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, and projects a big map on a wall to show the different language families' distribution around the globe.

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