The power of language

The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal from January 1st:

Either you find the story in the first four panels fascinating (in which case you might enjoy a beginning linguistics course) or you find it unspeakably boring (in which case you should probably stay away).

(To be picky: in the second panel, it should be mucous membranes; the mucous membranes and glands secrete the slimy substance mucus.)

On the story in the second panel. The first part, from Wikipedia:

The vocal folds, also known commonly as vocal cords or voice reeds, are composed of twin infoldings of mucous membrane stretched horizontally, from back to front, across the larynx. They vibrate, modulating the flow of air being expelled from the lungs during phonation.

The second part, from the ASHA site:

The cochlea is a bony structure shaped like a snail and filled with two fluids (endolymph and perilymph). The Organ of Corti is the sensory receptor inside the cochlea which holds the hair cells, the nerve receptors for hearing. The mechanical energy from movement of the middle ear bones pushes in a membrane (the oval window) in the cochlea. This force moves the cochlea’s fluids that, in turn, stimulate tiny hair cells. Individual hair cells respond to specific sound frequencies (pitches) so that, depending on the pitch of the sound, only certain hair cells are stimulated. Signals from these hair cells are changed into nerve impulses.

And then we go on to psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, stylistics, and discourse analysis.

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