Tag Archives | Language

Oxford English Dictionary Includes ‘Web Lingo’

The Oxford English Dictionary is keeping up with the times, integrating “web slang” into the dictionary. Can’t kids just these slang words up online? CNN reports:

Are years of e-mails, text messaging and status updates finally affecting the written word?

#nokidding.

The venerable Oxford American Dictionary has added a ginormous (adj., not included) list of words inspired by the interweb (noun, included).

The next time you look up a word, expect to see lots of abbreviations, webspeak and casual slang.

The New Oxford American Dictionary has added cultural slang in the past, but never as aggressively as it has in the latest edition.

Its big brother, the less frequently updated Oxford English Dictionary, is also going through major changes.

Continues at CNN

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How to Respect Sex Workers

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 or against. (And many, of course, remain undecided.) When dealing with such an emotionally volatile topic, it’s easy to inadvertently silence or even insult sex workers themselves. (As a participant in sex worker activism for the past four years, I’ve seen that in action and on the page.) There’s a way to debate commercial sex while respecting the industry’s laborers. Here are some suggestions:

1) Don’t diminish or mock sex workers’ agency. When discussing a person coerced or forced into sex work, a sensitive recognition of the violation they’ve suffered is definitely in order. However, it’s important to let individuals themselves make this distinction, rather than automatically assigning them a label that indicates lack of agency. For instance, referring to all sex workers as “prostituted” or “used” can be violating in and of itself if the person identifies their work as a free choice.

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DEA Hiring Ebonics Translators

US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-SealIn 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 for what linguists call African-American English — has long been the butt of jokes, as well as the subject of controversy.

But the agency is serious about needing nine people to translate conversations picked up on wiretaps during investigations, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Tuesday. A solicitation was sent to contractors as part of a request to companies to provide hundreds of translators in 114 languages.

“DEA’s position is, it’s a language form we have a need for,” Sanders said. “I think it’s a language form that DEA recognizes a need to have someone versed in to conduct investigations.”

The translators, being hired in the agency’s Southeast Region — which includes Atlanta, Georgia; Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and the Caribbean — would listen to wiretaps, translate what was said and be able to testify in court if necessary, he said.

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Does Language Shape Culture?

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? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?

Take “Humpty Dumpty sat on a…” Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say “sat” rather than “sit.” In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can’t) change the verb to mark tense.

In Russian, you would have to mark tense and also gender, changing the verb if Mrs. Dumpty did the sitting. You would also have to decide if the sitting event was completed or not. If our ovoid hero sat on the wall for the entire time he was meant to, it would be a different form of the verb than if, say, he had a great fall.

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Migraine Leaves British Woman Speaking with Chinese Accent (Video)

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.
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How Frank Luntz Led Health Care ‘Reform’ Opposition

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"...
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Enter Syria’s ‘Tell Zeidan': A 7,500 Year-Old Harbinger of The World’s First Cities

Truly fascinating article from John Noble Wilford in the New York Times. Is this the place where social classes — the rich and the poor — as we know them today first emerged? Reports the New York Times:
Tell Zeidan Artifacts

Archaeologists have embarked on excavations in northern Syria expected to widen and deepen understanding of a prehistoric culture in Mesopotamia that set the stage for the rise of the world’s first cities and states and the invention of writing.

In two seasons of preliminary surveying and digging at the site known as Tell Zeidan, American and Syrian investigators have already uncovered a tantalizing sampling of artifacts from what had been a robust pre-urban settlement on the upper Euphrates River. People occupied the site for two millenniums, until 4000 BC — a little-known but fateful period of human cultural evolution.

Scholars of antiquity say that Zeidan should reveal insights into life in a time called the Ubaid period, 5500 to 4000 BC.

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Smart Phones May One Day Be Universal Translators

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.
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