Language




Via The First Church of Mutterhals: The phrase ‘the personal is political’ always bugged me, but I could never articulate why. There’s just something off about it, like conflating religious belief and…



Personally I would have voted for “like,” as more people than I care to think of are incapable of voicing a thought without using that once useful but now despicable word. “Whatever”…






Cultures about to be lost, are still being found. The new language discovered in India, Koro, leaves more questions than answers. From Discovery News:

A team of linguists announced Tuesday that they have discovered a new and unique language, called Koro, in northeastern India, but immediately warned that it was highly endangered.

Only around 800 people are believed to speak the Tibeto-Burman language, and few of them are under the age of 20, according to the researchers who discovered Koro during an expedition as part of National Geographic’s “Enduring Voices” project.

The language, they said, has never been written down.

Continues at Discovery News

From National Geographic:



Monica Shores on Alternet writes a great short piece with links for further research on how to respect sex workers: Most women have strong feelings about the sex industry, be they for…


In the ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ category, via CNN: Wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration: Ebonics translators. It might sound like a punch line, as “Ebonics” — the common name…


New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world. Lera Boroditsky reports for the Wall Street Journal: Do the languages we speak shape the way we think?…



Weird. Never heard of Foreign Accent Syndrome before. Via the Telegraph:

A British woman who suffers chronic migraines was struck by such a severe headache it left her talking in a Chinese accent. Sarah Colwill used to speak with a broad West Country accent. She is thought to have sustained brain damage during her last migraine which left her with Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) — an extremely rare condition which causes speech to change.


The reason I am sharing this is not because I think the so-called health care “reform” that passed actually qualified as such, but to point out one of the maestros (or Dark Lord of the Sith, depending on your take) behind the scenes of the opposition to such legislation.

Know who Frank Luntz is. He manages to influence the public discourse in the United States, on a regular basis:

P.S. It took the Democrats until April 15th to come up with this video? And you wonder why it took over a year to pass bullshit “reform”…


Teabonics is a Flickr set exploring the vibrant and exciting new brand of English language emerging from the Tea Party protests. Don’t worry, it’s easy to get started on a sign of…



Babel FishSure beats inserting a Babel Fish into the ear. Ryan Kim writes in the San Fransisco Chronicle:

In science fiction, characters often turn to a portable universal translator to help bridge the linguistic divide, either among humans or with aliens.

But the concept doesn’t just exist in the imagination of “Star Trek” writers or the pages of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Researchers are actually closing in on the technology and foresee its application in the coming years in a very familiar device: the smart phone.

Imagine walking into a restaurant in Beijing and ordering off the menu and talking with waiters in Chinese. It’s a future that is on the way to becoming a reality.



Arabic Study CardsRAW Story is reporting today the ACLU is filing a lawsuit on behalf of the student. Here’s the original report from Dave Davies in the Philadelphia Daily News:

EIGHT YEARS after 9/11, we’re used to changes in our routines. We show ID to get into office buildings, and take off our shoes at airports. But should a college student flying back to school be handcuffed and held for five hours because he has Arabic flash cards in his backpack?

That’s the way Nick George, a senior at Pomona College, in California, sees what happened to him at the Philadelphia airport two Saturdays ago. George, of Wyncote, Montgomery County, was about to catch a Southwest flight back to school when stereo speakers in his backpack caught the eye of screeners at the metal detector.



AreciboMessageStephen Battersby writes in New Scientist:

The cosmos is quiet. Eerily quiet. After decades of straining our radio ears for a whisper of civilisations beyond Earth, we have heard nothing. No reassuring message of universal peace. No helpful recipe for building faster-than-light spacecraft or for averting global catastrophes. Not even a stray interstellar advertisement.

Perhaps there’s nobody out there after all. Or perhaps it’s just early days in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), and we’re listening to the wrong star systems or at the wrong wavelengths.

There is another possibility, says Douglas Vakoch, head of the Interstellar Message Composition programme at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, which ponders the question of how we should communicate with aliens. “Maybe everyone’s listening but no one is transmitting. Maybe it takes an audacious young civilisation like ours to do that.”

So should we start sending messages into the void? And if so, how can we make ourselves understood to beings we know nothing about?