Whether you live in Paris or are just passing through as a visitor I highly recommend a visit to Mundolingua, the Museum of Languages, in the city’s 6th arrondissement. It’s a treasure trove that invites you to discover the secrets of language and linguistics via objects, games, as well as documents and recordings on touchscreens.
The museum covers 170m2 over two floors and is divided into five ‘continents’: on the ground floor are the Language (definitions, animals, sounds, meaning, words and grammar) and Learning continents. In the basement are the Languages (myths and origins, religion, etymology, ethnolinguistic, dead languages, dialects, alphabets, sociolinguistics, etc.), Playing with Language and New Technologies continents. Even the staircase is put to use, with depictions of Babel through the ages, and a micro cinema at halfway level.
Almost all displays have information in the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish), or at the very least in French and English.
I spent less than two hours there, mainly because we were on a flying visit to Paris and arrived after 5pm (the museum closes at 7pm), but I could have spent much, much longer. My husband (a non-linguist) also greatly enjoyed himself.
On the third Thursday of every month at 7:30pm Mundolingua holds an evening event with special guests – past speakers include David Crystal. (The founder of the museum, Mark Oremland, describes it as a three-dimensional representation of the former’s Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language).
For more details (price, opening hours, address, etc. visit the website: Mundolingua).
See also “My Adventures at the Mundolingua Language Museum” on Superlinguo.