Disability, language, history, and per se &. May 16, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: language, Richard Scarry, translation, words
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“It’s a person’s right to identify however the hell they want. If they’re more comfortable as a ‘person with a disability’ than as a ‘disabled person’ then that’s nothing to do with me. […] ‘Disabled’ is the best word in the world for describing the barriers I confront and no non-disabled person has the right to try and take that from me.”
Discussions about what non-native English speakers think of the English language.
Quiet updates made to the latest edition of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. Good ones! Gender-neutralizing ones, for starters.
“In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the &. It would have been confusing to say ”X, Y, Z, and.” Rather, the students said, ‘and per se and.’ ‘Per se’ means ‘by itself,’ so the students were essentially saying, ‘X, Y, Z, and by itself and.’ Over time, ‘and per se and’ was slurred together into the word we use today: ampersand.”
Science!: toothy dinosaurs, adapting our brains to Google, language of whistling, Earth with rings, and more January 26, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: astronomy, everything old is new again, language, SCIENCE!, words
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“The dinosaur’s jaw was lined with at least 1,000 teeth with coarse surfaces perfect for pulverizing plants. U. kuukpikensis belongs to the hadrosaur group of duck-billed dinosaurs. It was 25 to 30 feet long, six or seven feet high at the hip, and probably covered with scales.”
“With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Where the so-called “brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.”
“This effort appears to have backfired for the organization—whose mission is to raise awareness about how certain environmental exposures may be linked to autism—since the study SafeMinds supported showed a link between autism and vaccines does not exist.”
“We’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” That’s the art of storing information in the people around us. We have begun to treat search engines, Evernote, and smartphones the way we’ve long treated our spouses, friends, and workmates.”
“Unlike all other spoken languages, a whistled form of Turkish requires that “speakers” rely as heavily on the right side of their brains as on the left side, researchers have found.”
“Instead of using ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language. One isn’t ‘better’ than the other per se, it’s all about when it’s appropriate to use one form or the other. It’s ‘this is how you talk in school,’ rather than ‘don’t talk like that.’ Craig calls it ‘a slight change’ that makes a big difference in kids’ attitudes about their own language.”
What would Earth’s skies look like with Saturn’s rings? Awesome, gorgeous renderings.
And one (more) big science-based reason why everyone should be able to make a comfortable living wage:
“If just one Einstein right now is working 60 hours a week in two jobs just to survive, instead of propelling the entire world forward with another General Theory of Relativity… that loss is truly incalculable. How can we measure the costs of lost innovation? Of businesses never started? Of visions never realized?”
How technology shapes new English accents (1930-present) January 5, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: everything old is new again, language, linguistics, words
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Saw these two links in quick succession, wanted to put them next to each other.
The Trans-Atlantic accent, recognizable from newsreels and films from the ’30s and ’40s, influenced by the need to be understandable to listeners with low-tech radio receivers
The YouTube voice, recognizable mostly in vloggers whose videos are just talking heads, influenced by the need to keep viewers’ attention in a market full of flashy visual effects
Tags: linguistics, words
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“Linguists call these categories “genders” because that’s always been the term for this sort of noun class. This makes more sense when you learn that grammatical gender came long before the idea of psychological gender, which we will definitely cover in a future column, because oh my god, talk about blowing my mind.”
“When it came to bilingual speakers, they seemed to switch between these perspectives based on the language context they were given the task in.”
“Knock-knock. Who’s there? A gang of vigilantes armed with machine guns, leather straps and brass knuckles to thump the breath out of anybody who persists in playing this blame fool knock-knock game.” Quote from 1936. Knock-knock jokes have a long and controversial history, apparently.
Reflections on what a bunch of people have said about their passwords, including the memories, codes, jokes, and secrets embedded in them. (Other than the secret of “what is my password”, that is.)
“Revealed for the first time, thanks to the big data generated by gazillions of tweets: the geography of dudeness.”
Neat stuff. (Paralysis implants, a Bill Watterson art cameo, cool maps, language stuff, diamond planets.) August 27, 2014Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: astronomy, Bill Watterson, language, maps, Pearls Before Swine, SCIENCE!, words
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“The Neurobridge technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user’s brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translates neural impulses from the brain and transmits new signals to the paralyzed limb. In this case, Ian’s brain signals bypass his injured spinal cord and move his hand.”
“Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.” Pearls Before Swine gets the most awesome guest artist imaginable.
A globe laid out by Voronoi diagrams, where all the territorial lines are drawn based on which national capital the land is closest to. Overlaid on our world’s current borders, so you can check out the difference.
US language maps, based on Census Bureau data. Most commonly-spoken languages in all the states based on different parameters, starting with “other than English” and “other than English or Spanish.”
Constructive reduplication, found all over the world, from English to Finnish to Hungarian to the Bantu languages. (Or, the linguistic explanation for the difference between “salad” and “salad salad”.)
A bunch of awesome animals (as well as some terrifying lamprey pictures; be ready to scroll; they’re after the Tufted Deer). Teeny armadillos, skinny canids, deer with awesome horns and hind-legged stances, and what looks like a rabbit-capybara.
Python swallows a three-foot-long crocodile whole. Nature is awesome.
The most amazing of the 3500+ exoplanets we’ve discovered, including the diamond one, the burning-ice one, the one with a day-long year, and the incredibly dark one (lit by a sun, though).
Dyslexia fonts, Native American names, irregular words preserved, DNA word preservation October 15, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
Tags: dyslexia, maps, names, SCIENCE!, technology, things made of awesome, words
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“Although Dyslexie is not the first font out there to help aid dyslexics, it has received much fanfare from sufferers thus far, including participants from the aforementioned University of Twente study, who commented that the font allowed them to read with improved accuracy, and for a longer time before tiring.”
The locations that generate the most hateful tweets across the US, broken down by various slurs, mostly racist and homophobic.
“We get a lot of questions about the meaning of Native American names found on the Internet, so here is a list of many of them and what (if anything) they really mean.” Beautiful etymology research all over this page.
“There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries.” My favorite: “wend” used to have the past tense of “went”, and its synonym “go” used to have the past tense of, basically, “goed”, and instead of dropping one regular verb but keeping the other, English created a totally irregular frankenverb by keeping half of each.
“A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world.”
Related: “[This method should] be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10^15) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry.“
Five things make a post (tech support, TCR, and turduckens edition) September 2, 2013Posted by Erin Ptah in Personal.
Tags: Fake News, Night Vale, Stephen Colbert, tech support, words
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(1) I’m having the most aggravating computer trouble.
It freezes. Unpredictably. And in a way I’ve never seen on any other computer: the sound doesn’t cut out, it gets stuck endlessly repeating the last fraction of a second it was on. That means a different droning hum every time, depending on what song or video it was in the middle of when it locked up.
The machine is under warranty, and tech support has been trying their hardest, but it’s not doing much good. So far it’s had the hard drive, the memory, and the motherboard replaced. And something unrelated was botched during the motherboard replacement, so that’s going to be replaced again.
I’m trying to get in the habit of saving things (art, writing, whatever) every minute or two. It really sucks when I forget.
Tech support is still trying to come up with more things to try — here’s hoping one of them takes. Or that they decide to put the whole thing out of its misery and send me a replacement computer.
(2) Welcome to Night Vale is doing its best to yank my heart out, I swear.
I’ve been doing episode reaction posts over at Night Vale Dog Park, if you’re interested in hearing about the shock and love and fear and wonder in greater detail.
(3) I got a plant!
It sits on the cabinet next to where I work. Grows toward the light from the window. I get to watch it putting up new leaves in realtime. It’s a pretty good companion.
(Anyone know what species it is? It didn’t come with an ID.)
(4) My Firefox spellcheck didn’t recognize “turducken” as a word, so it suggested “turnbuckle” instead.
How do you get a dictionary that’s expansive enough to know “turnbuckle” is a word, but that’s never heard of turducken? It’s kind of a silly concept, sure, but it isn’t uncommon.
(5) So happy for Stephen and the Report staff, finally winning themselves an Emmy.
It still doesn’t make sense that they didn’t win the year they broadcast from Iraq. Or the year they did such amazing things with SuperPACs. This year was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t one of the years where they so clearly blew it out of the water in comparison to everyone else.
Honestly, I think the Academy just wanted to give TDS the glory of a ten-year streak. With a possible side of “oh, geez, we can’t snub Colbert this year, his mom just died.”
But even if they were awarded it for the wrong reasons, they did deserve it, and I’m glad they got it.