Tag Archives | Language

‘I literally cannot even. I can’t even. I am unable to even.’

Can you even? In an essay for the New York Times Magazine entitled “When You ‘Literally Can’t Even’ Understand Your Teenager,” Amanda Hess ponders the significance of today’s teenagers having no concept of selling out. They literally cannot even…

A little paradox of Internet celebrity is that a YouTube personality can amass millions upon millions of young fans by making it seem as if he’s chatting with each of them one to one. Tyler Oakley, a 26-year-old man who identifies as a “professional fangirl,” is a master of the genre. He has nerd glasses, pinchable cheeks, a quiff he dyes in shades of blue and green and more YouTube subscribers than Shakira. Some of his teenage admirers have told him that he is the very first gay person that they have ever seen. He models slumber party outfits and gushes over boy bands, giving the kids who watch him from their bedrooms a peek into a wider world.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

When The Language Of Freedom Dies

When The Language Of Freedom Dies, Freedom Dies With It

Freedom is in peril stencil
Image by Leo Reynolds

Back in March (2015) a UK parliamentary select committee published a report [1] which expounded, amongst other things, its views on the police uploading arrest photographs, including those of people not subsequently convicted, into a facial recognition database. The police started doing this on the quiet, without any public announcement or public debate on their reasons for doing it or its impact on individual freedoms.

Here is what the Select Committee had to say:

“We fully appreciate the positive impact that facial recognition software could have on the detection and prevention of crime. However, it is troubling that the governance arrangements were not fully considered and implemented prior to the software being `switched on’. This appears to be a further example of a lack of oversight by the Government where biometrics is concerned; a situation that could have been avoided had a comprehensive biometrics strategy been developed and published.”

[‘Current and future uses of biometric data and technologies’ report, House of Commons Science and Technology select committee, 2015]

Oh boy, strong words, they must have been pretty annoyed – oh no, hang on a minute – “fully appreciate the positive impact”, “governance arrangements were not fully considered”, “lack of oversight”… There must have been a mistake at the printers, they appear to have accidentally printed a sermon on the merits of doing nothing other than producing yet more administrative red tape.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

New Scrabble Words Make You Fear For The English Language

Fo’ shizzle, the Scrabble lords are really going off the deep end with their slang additions to legitimate Scrabble words. I mean come on, people, “obvs” is way too “cazh”! The Independent shares my indignation:

Lolz, shizzle and cakehole – just three of 6,500 new words to have made it into the Scrabble lexicon.

Dirty Scrabble!

Photo: Brandon C

 

The new additions to the Collins Scrabble word list draw heavily from social media slang and text-speak and include obvs (obviously), ridic (ridiculous) and dench (excellent).

Other new words in the list reflect modern society, trends and events, such as twerking, devo (short for devolution, as in Devo Max), vape (to inhale from an electric cigarette), onesie, shootie (fashionable shoe that covers the ankle), cakeages (restaurant charges levied for serving cake brought in from outside), and podiumed (often used at sporting events, particularly the Olympics).

The new word list also recognises the role technology continues to play in our lives with the addition of facetime, hashtag, tweep, and sexting.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Esperanto — continuing where the Babylon Empire left off

Tour_de_babel

Something to look into for those who love to spend hours in front of a computer.

What is Esperanto? From the wikipedia page:

Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language. It is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (“Esperanto” translates as “one who hopes”), the pseudonym under which physician and linguist L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, on 26 July 1887. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language that would transcend nationality and foster peace and international understanding between people with different languages.

Between 100,000 and 2,000,000 people worldwide fluently or actively speak Esperanto, including perhaps 1,000 native speakers who learned Esperanto from birth. Esperanto has a notable presence in 120 countries. Its usage is highest in Europe, East Asia, and South America. lernu!, the most popular online learning platform for Esperanto, reported 150,000 registered users in 2013, and sees between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors each month.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How a PhD in linguistics prepared me for motherhood

peasap (CC BY 2.0)

peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Annabelle Lukin

Unlike most newborns, on his arrival into the world, my newly-minted son found himself in the arms of someone well-versed in the the most fiercely contested question in contemporary linguistics: is language innate?

Are babies born with grammar hard-wired into their brain? Or is language something bestowed by culture and socialisation?

The early exchanges of gaze, attention and vocalisations with my baby in his first hours, days and weeks were experienced against the melodrama of modern linguistics’ greatest schism. This happens to revolve entirely around the role of mothers and significant others in the development of a child’s language.

In the story of how language emerges in the child, as told by Noam Chomsky, nature is largely the lone hero. The child comes with a “language organ” already installed in her or his brain, as a sudden and isolated gift of evolution – out of nowhere, all-at-once, fully formed and forever unchanging.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Linguist Claims that 90% of Languages Will Be Extinct in 100 years

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Sarah Griffiths writes at The Daily Mail:

Sci-fi visions of the future may focus on soaring skylines and flying cars, but the world in 100 years may not only look different, but sound different too.

While there are more than 6,000 languages spoken globally at present, less than 600 are likely to endure in 2115, and they could be simplified versions of what we recognise today, one linguist has claimed.

He told MailOnline that the advent of technologically-advanced translating tools will not be enough to save the diversity of Earth’s languages either.

Writing in a piece for The Wall Street Journal, Dr John McWhorter said that in a century from now there will be ‘vastly fewer languages,’ which will be less complicated than they are today – especially in the way they are spoken.

The American studies, philosophy and music expert at Columbia University, predicts that 90 per cent of languages will die out to leave around 600.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Humans, Baboons Share Cumulative Culture Ability

Gelada Baboon  A.Davey (CC BY 2.0)

Gelada Baboon
A.Davey (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

The ability to build up knowledge over generations, called cumulative culture, has given mankind language and technology. While it was thought to be limited to humans until now, researchers from the Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive (CNRS/AMU), working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh (UK), have recently found that baboons are also capable of cumulative culture. Their findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on 5 November 2014.

Humankind is capable of great accomplishments, such as sending probes into space and eradicating diseases; these achievements have been made possible because humans learn from their elders and enrich this knowledge over generations. It was previously thought that this cumulative aspect of culture — whereby small changes build up, are transmitted, used and enriched by others — was limited to humans, but it has now been observed in another primate, the baboon.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Direct Brain Interface Between Humans

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Via ScienceDaily:

Sometimes, words just complicate things. What if our brains could communicate directly with each other, bypassing the need for language?

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

At the time of the first experiment in August 2013, the UW team was the first to demonstrate two human brains communicating in this way. The researchers then tested their brain-to-brain interface in a more comprehensive study, published Nov. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a research assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences.

Read the rest
Continue Reading