Talking about Talking

Talking about Talking

By Br John Bernard Church, O.P In the second episode of our series on Dominicans and their peculiar pursuits, we speak with Fr Richard Ounsworth OP, a scripture scholar, about his love of all things linguistic.


Dominican life has always encouraged a healthy eclecticism and a zeal for the peculiar; a living out of St Paul’s maxim to “take every thought captive” for Christ. Not just Theologians is a new series in which we will explore some of these peculiar pursuits and passions of the friars, to see where a mind in pursuit of truth might be led.

In this second episode, we speak with Fr Richard Ounsworth OP, who teaches scripture and New Testament Greek at Blackfriars, Oxford, about his love of all things linguistic. We cover the evolution of language, linguistic instincts among children, and enjoying what makes you joyful.

The observant among you might notice a small error that crept into our conversation – it was in fact Nicaraguan sign-language invented spontaneously by children, not American sign-language.

There’s also some bonus material:


Br John Bernard, raised a Catholic by an English father and Dutch mother, first encountered the Dominicans at Blackfriars while studying Classics at the University of Oxford, and entered the noviciate in 2018. An attraction to religious life initially grew out of time spent working with the Missionaries of Charity, which then crystallised into a Dominican vocation through a desire to integrate the contemplative life with preaching and study. Based on his recent reading, he looks forward to delving further into St John of the Cross and the Carmelite mystics, as well as combining his preaching vocation with a love of the outdoors.

Comments (2)

  • A Website Visitor

    Fascinating. Fr Richard mentions Cantonese. A language, like all the Chinese languages [dialects as the written language is the same?], which is tonal so the tone of a word can alter the meaning. Being tone deaf made it hard to learn and I was told I spoke it with a strong Pakistani accent! Go figure. I have friends who can switch from Cantonese to English in mid sentence also but often don’t realise they are doing it.

  • A Website Visitor

    Very much enjoyed this very interesting discussion on linguistics. Thank you. MC

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