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Public events


Festival of Ideas


Wednesday 26 October

Vikings in your vocabulary: how Old Norse words moved in


Faculty of English, 9 West Road, CB3 9DP

Richard Dance uncovers the hundreds of words that the Vikings gave to English — from the basic and everyday to the rich vocabulary of dialects and medieval poems.


Thursday 27 October

The effects of profound early deprivation on brain and behavioural development

6.00-7.00 pm

Bateman Auditorium, Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, CB2 1TA

This event will be live-streamed on Twitter @SaraBCam

In this talk, Professor Charles A. Nelson, Harvard University, discusses what happens to children whose experience after birth deviates from the norm; specifically, infants who experience profound early neglect. In the Bucharest Early Intervention Project three groups of Romanian children are being studied: infants abandoned to institutions and who remain in institutional care; infants abandoned to institutions but then placed in high quality foster care; and infants who have never been institutionalized. These three groups have been studied for the past 16 years and in this talk he discusses the findings from a variety of domains (including but not limited to IQ, attachment, and brain development). This work will be considered within the broader context of the 140 million parentless children around the world, 8 million of whom are being raised in institutional settings.

Non-bookable. A number of tickets will be available on the door on a first-come basis.

JPG RGB Small with BorderSupported by the Economic and Social Research Council.


Saturday 29 October

Bilingualism, literacy and cognition


Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, CB1 1PT

Join Cambridge Bilingualism Network for a discussion on literacy for bilingual children and the emerging evidence on bilingual cognitive advantages with Roberto Filippi (Anglia Ruskin University) and Ianthi Tsimpli (University of Cambridge). Plus, Wendy Bennett (University of Cambridge) will talk about an exciting new project on multilingualism in UK and beyond.

Speak like a Viking


Faculty of English, Room GR05, 9 West Road, CB3 9DP

Brittany Schorn charts the course of the Vikings through English words that we still use today, and helps you pick up a little Old Norse along the way.


Talks from previous Festival of Ideas


Professor Usha Goswami (Centre for Neuroscience in Education) presents research on dyslexia (starts 26 minutes in).



Dr Claire Dembry of Cambridge University Press and Robbie Love (Lancaster University) present fascinating insights from a new project to compile a publicly-accessible database of spoken British English. How has British English changed since the last time a similar project was carried out in the 1990s?  Find out how you can get involved by contributing recordings to the project.




For more audio recordings from this year's Festival, visit