Mundolingua – Paris, France - Atlas Obscura
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Mundolingua

A museum dedicated to linguistics, from how babies learn to talk to endangered and extinct languages. 

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Mundolingua is a quirky museum of world languages, linguistics, and pedagogy tucked away in a corner of one of the more chic neighborhoods in Paris. At first glance, it looks more like an office or unusual storefront than a museum.

Mundolingua is the brainchild of New Zealand linguist Mark Oremland, who started working on the idea in 2010 to share his love of languages.  After several years of preparation, the museum opened in 2013. It consists of two floors, each exploring different elements of language.

On the ground floor, visitors learn about the vocal apparatus that allows for human speech, complete with a model that demonstrates how the apparatus moves to produce specific sounds. This floor also compares human language and the ability to speak with animal vocalizations and communication.

Another section of this floor explains how humans learn to communicate, including how babies pick up their “mother tongue,” what goes into learning second or third languages, and methods for overcoming speech impediments.  There is a “Language Lab” where visitors can listen to recordings from more than 4,000 languages. 

Climb down the museum’s Tower of Babel-themed staircase to reach the basement, which is filled with exhibits about the origin and evolution of languages. Here you’ll find family trees of languages, including information about “lost” or “extinct” languages and non-spoken languages like braille and sign.  This floor includes language games like Scrabble and an exhibit of language-recognition tools including electronic translation machines.

Know Before You Go

The museum is open on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Other days and times may be available by appointment. Check the website for more information.

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