By good fortune, that made these films possible, it turns out that both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation have “linguistics” in their lists of approved subjects. And neither of them had ever funded anything on the subject before. Both of them gave us generous grants, which encouraged others to do so. In the end, we were financed by the NIMH (The National Institutes of Mental Health) as well as the NEH and the NSF, and by PBS and CPB, three state humanities councils, and four private foundations (Annenberg, Arthur Vining Davis, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer, and Geraldine R. Dodge).
We were determined to be simple without over simplifying, to be entertaining on a high level, and never to leave important things out just because they seemed too difficult.
The series of three films was broadcast on PBS before the network’s second largest audience. It won the Language, Linguistics and the Public Interest Award of the Linguistic Society of America.
The Human Language fills a gap in television as an educational medium. Does it have a message?
Yes. That language is the most human thing there is about being human.