This year's Reith Lecturer is Jean Aitchison, a Professor of Language and Communication in the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.
In her third lecture, Professor Aitchison examines the predictable way in which the language web develops. Language has a biologically organised schedule with children everywhere following a similar pattern. Children learn to talk so readily because they instinctively know in advance what languages are like; the outline is pre-programmed and the network is built up in a pre-ordained sequence. Professor Aitchinson looks at how adults can help and sometimes slow down a child's progress.