Tag Archives | Language

NYC Schools Want to Ban ‘Loaded Words’ From Tests … Like ‘Dinosaur’

Stegosaurus

Illustration: Hgrobe (CC)

Great job, NYC! Brian Vitagliano reports on CNN:

Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.

The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department released this year’s “request for proposal” on March 8, 2010. The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.

The Department of Education’s says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word “weed” on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use “Hurricane” or “Wildfires,” according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education …

Read More: CNN

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Government Or Regime? The Language Guide

Via Parapolitical, a compare and contrast exercise in how the news media describes our world. Nations which do business with the United States, even those among the most brutally oppressive, are led by “governments”. If arms money is not flowing, the countries are ruled by “regimes”. What does “regime” imply? It sounds villainous and evil, less legitimate, more tenuous — as though overthrow (or invasion) is inevitable and warranted:

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Left-Handed? You May Be Truly Different …

Via ScienceDaily:
We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, absorbing information, weighing it carefully, and making thoughtful decisions. But, as it turns out, we're kidding ourselves. Over the past few decades, scientists have shown there are many different internal and external factors influencing how we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions at any given moment. One particularly powerful influence may be our own bodies, according to new research reviewed in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto, of The New School for Social Research, has shown that quirks of our bodies affect our thinking in predictable ways, across many different areas of life, from language to mental imagery to emotion ...
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Kids Show Cultural Gender Bias

Tabarnak graffitiVia ScienceDaily:

Talk about gender confusion! A recent study by University of Alberta researchers Elena Nicoladis and Cassandra Foursha-Stevenson in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology into whether speaking French influenced how children assigned gender to objects yielded some interesting observations. Nicoladis and Foursha-Stevenson found some differences between the unilingual English children and the bilingual French-English children they surveyed. Some of the more startling results from the Anglo crowd? Cows are boys. Cats and stars are girls.

Le culture or la culture: our bias

The researchers showed objects or images to the children participating in the study and asked them whether the objects seemed to be masculine or feminine in nature. While the unilingual children seemed to identify most objects as masculine, many younger bilingual children were willing to consider that, globally speaking, some objects could be feminine in nature even though, Nicoladis says, “their categorizations didn’t correspond very well to whether the objects were masculine or feminine in French.”

As to how Bessie may have inadvertently became Bernie, Nicoladis says that there is an explanation as to why the children may have chosen masculine more often than feminine, even for cows: it reveals a bias embedded in the language.

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The A-Z Of Occupation

o for occupyEvery social movement I have been involved with, or covered as a journalist, develops its own language of liberation, its own alphabet, and its own buzzwords, rhetoric and discourse.

Here are some of the key words I heard/retained in covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am sure there are many words, phrases, and slogans I overlooked, never heard or forgot. Send your favorites to: dissector@mediachannel.org.

These are words that power a struggle and speak to the internal processes that attracted so many to take part, as well as the issues that drive it and the obstacles that face it. They are some of the phrases, terms, sayings and expressions that the occupiers use in their conversations to define themselves and discuss their mission.

A. Adbusters, Anarchy, Arrest, Activist, Action, Anger, Angry, Atrium, Assembly (Freedom of,) Arab Spring, Autonomy, Anonymous. All Night, All Week, Austerity, Autumn Awakening.

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Jiizus: The Jamaican Patois Bible

Screen shot 2011-12-24 at 9.03.46 PMRobert Pigott reports on the controversial new Bible translation into Jamaican patois for BBC News Magazine:

The Bible is, for the first time, being translated into Jamaican patois. It’s a move welcomed by those Jamaicans want their mother tongue enshrined as the national language – but opposed by others, who think learning and speaking English should be the priority.

In the Spanish Town Tabernacle near the capital, Kingston, the congregation is hearing the word of God in the language of the street.

At the front of the concrete-block church, a young man and woman read alternate lines from the Bible.

This is the Gospel of St Luke in Jamaican patois – or more precisely, “Jiizas – di buk we Luuk rait bout im”.

The sound of the creole, developed from English by West African slaves in Jamaica’s sugar plantations 400 years ago, has an electrifying effect on those listening.

Several women rise to testify, in patois, to what it means to hear the Bible in their mother tongue.

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A Browser Extension That Flips Gender

1950s-housewife-223x300Danielle Sucher's Jailbreak the Patriarchy is a Chrome extension that substitutes the word "women" for "men" and "he" for "she" and so on within all text. The results are thought provoking -- toggle between a patriarchal and matriarchal online world with the click of a button:
Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing. This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!
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The Quest To Invent A Sarcasm Detector

science-sarcasm-Professor-Frink-Comic-Book-Guy-631Sarcasm levels are ever-increasing in our modern world — perhaps a century from now, communications will contain more sarcastic expressions than sincere ones. So what is the value of being tongue-in-cheek? It involves more intelligence and creativity than straight-talk, and machines cannot (yet) understand or imitate it with complete accuracy. Thus irony may be our last and best weapon in the inevitable war against the robots. Smithsonian Magazine reveals:

For the past 20 years, researchers from linguists to psychologists to neurologists have been studying our ability to perceive snarky remarks and gaining new insights into how the mind works. Studies have shown that exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving, for instance.

Sarcasm detection is an essential skill if one is going to function in a modern society dripping with irony. “Our culture in particular is permeated with sarcasm,” says Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California at San Francisco.

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