Language: Singing Land Back Into Being

Season 1, Ep. 9

* Episode title adapted from “Landmarks” by Robert Macfarlane. See ref. 19 below for quote.

In episode 9, on ‘language’, we touch on:

  • How language in humans is ever-evolving, with the power to generate new meaning, identities, and relationships, or, to undermine these, and to divide.  
  • How nature words are being lost in childhood and adopted by technology and finance.
  • Whether language is a human-only phenomenon and how this may influence how we interact with the natural world.
  • Examples of language and/or communication within and between species, including prairie dogs, trees, octopi, and swans.
  • How language, poetry and stories can help us reimagine ourselves, the natural world, and our connection to it; and how this may help us tackle climate change and promote conservation

If you'd like to explore this and other topics further, please join our private Facebook group, 'Unfurling Podcast'.



~3: “Language”, Cambridge Dictionary: “a system of communication consisting of sounds, words, and grammar, or the system of communication used by people in a particular country or type of work”, “a system of communication by speaking, writing, or making signs in a way that can be understood, or any of the different systems of communication used in particular regions”, “in computer programming, a language is a system of writing instructions for computers.”

~5: “Language”, Online Etymology Dictionary: “speech, words, oratory; a tribe, people, nation" from Vulgar Latin linguaticum; "tongue," from Latin lingua, see here.

~6: History of the word ‘poet

~6: The ’pepeha’ is a Maori way to introduce yourself. Short film here.

~7: Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted in “Landmarks”: “Language is fossil poetry…”

~8: “The History of the Countryside” by Oliver Rackham: how ‘landscape is lost’ through the loss of beauty, the loss of freedom, the loss of wildlife and vegetation and the loss of meaning, as shared in “Landmarks”.

~9: Words concerning nature culled in the 2007 “Oxford Junior Dictionary” as shared in “Landmarks”.

~10: “The Lost Words” by Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris -- https://www.thelostwords.org/lostwordsbook/ 

~14: “Speaking Nature’s Language”, The National Trust -- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/press-release/speaking-natures-language

(Research conducted by Dr Robbie Love, May-June 2019, from British language corpora)

~17: Definition and information about ‘natural resources’ here.

~19: “Landmarks” by Robert Macfarlane: “In both Lewis and Arizona, Language is used not only to navigate but also to charm the land.  Words act as compass; place-speech serves literally to en-chant the land - to sing it back into being, and to sing one’s being back into it.”

~20: “'Dreich' is named most popular Scots word by Scottish Book Trust” -- 


~23: Excerpt from “Four Quartets” by T.S.Eliot: “For last year's words belong to last year's language, And next year's words await another voice.”

~25: Excerpt from “There is a Word” by Emily Dickinson: “There is a word, Which bears a sword, can pierce an armed man…”

~25: Nonviolent Communication, see here.

~26: “Can Prairie Dogs Talk?”, The New York Times Magazine -- https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/magazine/can-prairie-dogs-talk.html

~30:  “Exploring How and Why Trees ‘Talk’ to Each Other”, Yale Environment 360, here.  

~31: “My Octopus Teacher” on Netflix.

~33: “Geoffrey Matthews Obituary”, The Telegraph -- https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/9838073/Geoffrey-Matthews.html

~34: Bushmen in Southern Africa -- https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/bushmen 

~35: “Wild Signs and Star Paths” by Tristen Gooley

~39: “Are We Losing Nature Language?”, The National Trust -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbCCR4kClIc&feature=emb_logo

~40: Audrey Hepburn: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

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