Week 3: Final Question Vote

Welcome to Week 3!

This week, we’re going to be voting on the final research idea. Anyone can vote whether or not you’ve signed up or commented so far!


First, if you want to help us out even more, make sure you check out our sign up page and everything we’ve got posted over there.

Next, vote for your favorite research question in the survey below!

Then, we picked some of our favorite questions and ideas that we aren’t able to do. We’ll be doing online data collection this year which changes what we’re able to do. We provided some short explanations and links if you want to learn more about any of the ideas!


Now, check out the three ideas you’ll be able to vote on!

A) When we “talk” to ourselves inside our own heads — our internal dialogue — are we really using our language?

B) How does texting influence the words we type?

C) Does the way a word sounds suggest emotions or meanings beyond what the word actually means?


Click on this link to vote!


We really liked some of your ideas, but they would be difficult to do because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of our lab in the COSI museum. We’re excited to collect our data online though! We have a great way to do online data collection and look forward to using it with you.

We gave a little explanation of what we know about some of our favorite questions and some links you could check out if you want to learn more!


Eshmoney said: I am fascinated with child language acquisition, especially in languages besides English. It leads me to wonder, are there different time frames for different languages for when a child, on average, should be able to perform certain language tasks? Do the sound-making capabilities of children come at different times depending on the phonetic system of the language, such as different “clicks,” “tones,” and even vowel and consonant sounds of non-English languages? Do different cultures have unique expectations for when their children’s speech should be able to be comprehended by others?

That is a very interesting idea! Children definitely have an easier time picking up their native language, especially when they’re younger than 5. This ideal age to learn language is called a critical period. During this time, children begin to get used to the sounds used in their language(s). Once children have familiarized themselves with their native languages, it can be difficult to hear all of the sounds used in other languages.

Check out this TED talk from Particia Kuhl to learn more about the critical period in language acquisition.


Ana said: From the day I was born I was immersed in two languages simultaneously. I was learning English in the outside world and at school (my parents just moved to the US and didn’t know much English) and Russian at home. I am now fluent in both of these languages. If I tried learning two languages at once right now, I would have a very hard time doing that; which leaves me wondering on how a child’s brain works and manages to master and learn two very different languages so easily, yet a more developed brain would have to work much harder to do that.

You raise a very interesting question about learning multiple languages! Not only are there different words, the languages have different structures that you have to figure out during learning. The critical period in language acquisition also plays a role in your question. Children are constantly monitoring the adults around them to learn more about their language, which is part of what helps them learn the language so quickly. Brain scans of babies during this period have told us a lot about how bilingualism impacts a child’s development.

Check out these talks from Dr. Ellen Bialystok and Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez to learn more about bilingualism.


Arjun said: I am interested in the role of internal dialogue in feelings of self worth. What linguistic elements of internal dialogue are most predictive of shame, anxiety, and depression?

Another interesting area to look at is emotion in language. We can communicate emotions both through the words we use and the tone of voice we use while speaking. This is often studied by comparing between different cultures (comparing cross-culturally) as the emotional message might not always translate to someone from another culture or a non-native speaker. We could use the same idea to look at how that emotional messaging, both internally and externally, relates to the negative feelings you listed.

Check out this 3-minute thesis from Pernelle Lorette to learn more.


If you want to share, tell us which question you voted for in the comments below! Next week, we’ll reveal the final voting tally and ask you to learn a little more about what we already know on the research question and to start coming up with ideas around the experiment design.

**Although we moderate every comment before it gets posted, please remember to be kind to others and mindful of your personal information before you post here!**