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Tag: Language


Secret Service Seeks to Automate Social Media Message Evaluation

To help it judge whether to take specific threats online seriously, the U.S. Secret Service has offered a contract for analytics software that can be used “to detect sarcasm and false positives” on Twitter and other social media.

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 READ MORE



ST33VO (CC BY 2.0)

Male Speech Patterns Are Changing

“Uptalk,” the habit of increasing the pitch of one’s voice at the end of sentences, is on the rise among California males, new research shows.

Posted on Dec 12, 2013 READ MORE



Saad Irfan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Google’s Strange Discomfort With Sexuality

The list of words banned from the latest Android operating system is as baffling as it is odd. Apparently, the Internet giant is not OK with words like “preggers” and “uterus” but it also has something against “LSAT.” What gives, Google?

Posted on Dec 2, 2013 READ MORE



greeblie (CC BY 2.0)

‘Literally’ Is Literally Old News

The Oxford English Dictionary now includes a common yet incorrect usage of the word “literally.” The entry states the word can be employed “for emphasis rather than being actually true.”

Posted on Aug 21, 2013 READ MORE



Pink Sherbet Photography (CC BY 2.0)

Capitalism Is Changing Our Language

Researchers at UCLA put 1.5 million English-language books into a tool that catalogs phrase usage and found that “over the last 200 years there has been an ever-increasing use of particularly acquisitive words: ‘get’, ‘unique’, ‘individual’, ‘self’, ‘choose’; while over the same period ‘give’ and ‘obliged’ decreased,” Owen Hatherley writes at The Guardian.

Posted on Aug 12, 2013 READ MORE


Death of a Language

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Posted on Jun 24, 2013 READ MORE


Prairie Dog Language Translated: They Think We’re Fat

Using a “Rosetta Stone” technique, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff and his students have deciphered the language of prairie dogs and discovered that they can say things like, “there’s a fat human coming and he’s wearing green.”

Posted on Jun 4, 2013 READ MORE



Fanboy30 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Our Words Are Our Weapons

We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I’m not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 READ MORE


War on Women, From Political to Literal

In this edition of Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: Ms. magazine Executive Editor Kathy Spillar on Todd Akin and friends; Pussy Riot; Syria; keeping native languages alive; and the enduring impact of war on women.

Posted on Aug 27, 2012 READ MORE



Photo illustration from an image by Colin Grey (CC-BY)

War on Women, From Political to Literal

In this edition of Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: Ms. magazine Executive Editor Kathy Spillar on Todd Akin and friends; Pussy Riot; keeping native languages alive; and the enduring impact of war on women.

Posted on Aug 27, 2012 READ MORE



Schröder+Schömbs (CC-BY-ND)

Like, Get Over It

According to journalism prof Ted Gup, the prevalence of the word “like” in youth-speak is evidence that teachers have “condemned children to a common cluster of mediocrity.” But as linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out a decade ago, “like” isn’t a tic or filler, it’s “a word with a point of view.” (more)

Posted on Jan 9, 2012 READ MORE



AP

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

The corporate state does not have a Politburo or raving dictator, but it shares one aspect with despotic regimes and the collapsed empires that have plagued human history.

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 READ MORE



AP / Manu Fernandez

A Crisis Economy of Language

With the world economy still wallowing in crisis and social services being cut across poor and rich nations alike, it’s not surprising that the winner of Merriam-Webster’s annual “Top Ten Words of the Year” for 2010 is … austerity.

Posted on Dec 26, 2010 READ MORE



Computer Nerd Barbie

On today’s list: Speaking more than one language can delay Alzheimer’s, literary tattoos, why they hate us (hint: it’s not our freedom), and Barbie goes geek.

Posted on Oct 13, 2010 READ MORE



‘A’ Is for Afghanistan

Today on the list: Afghanistan on life support, obsessing over punctuation, and how the Supreme Court (kind of) legalized bribery.

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 READ MORE


Eyak revival

Lone Frenchman Fights to Save Dying Alaskan Language

It’s not entirely clear what, besides a love of linguistics and an apparently compelling documentary, spurred young Guillaume Leduey to launch a one-man campaign to resuscitate an Alaskan language, Eyak ... (continued)

Posted on Aug 9, 2010 READ MORE


Palin Says Refudiate Appears in Fictionary

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin defended her use of the word refudiate, telling her critics, “Look it up in the fictionary.” While claiming that refudiate is a real word, she reserved her right to make up new words in the future.

Posted on Jul 25, 2010 READ MORE



Sarah Palin Refudiates English

Move over, George W. Bush, there’s a new language butcher and she’s on a tear. Sarah Palin loved her made-up word refudiate so much she used it twice—first in an interview and again on Twitter. Realizing she blew it, Palin corrected the word to refute but then used it incorrectly. Eventually, she compared herself to William Shakespeare and called it a day.

Posted on Jul 19, 2010 READ MORE



Unsolved Mystery Edition

Why do Americans refuse to believe crime has been going down for a decade? Why are so many of them foot fetishists? And was Rene “I think, therefore I am” Descartes really murdered with a poisoned communion wafer? Answers to these questions and more on today’s list.

Posted on Feb 17, 2010 READ MORE



Stonehenge Edition

Is it time to remodel Stonehenge? Is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest movie a whitewash? Will the U.S. and China ever go to war? Answers to these questions and more on today’s list.

Posted on Feb 11, 2010 READ MORE



‘Invisible Things That Might Kill You (but Probably Won’t)’ Edition

Look out for those TSA body scanners and cell phones, take a minute to ponder the oddest book titles of the year (including “Bacon: A Love Story”) and read all about the political collapse of the left, right here on today’s list.

Posted on Feb 8, 2010 READ MORE


Rotten Minds, Shriveled Hearts and Human Souls

Should progressives hold themselves to a higher standard than the name-calling and intellectual violence that conservative bloggers routinely engage in? Much could rest on the answer to this question.

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 READ MORE


Colbert and Pinsky
colbertnation.com

Psychology, Metaphors and You

Can you tell your metaphors from your synecdoches? These terms may trigger bad freshman English flashbacks, but at least when it comes to metaphors, they’re more important than you might think; in fact, they might just be intrinsic to how you think.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 READ MORE



AP / Mohammed Ballas

The War on Language

Those who seek to dominate our behavior first seek to dominate our speech. They seek to obscure meaning. The English- and Arabic-speaking worlds are each beset with a similar assault on language.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 READ MORE


William Safire
White House / Shealah Craighead

William Safire Dead at 79

The conservative New York Times columnist, Nixon speechwriter and college dropout lost a battle with pancreatic cancer Sunday. In his final opinion column for The Times, Safire wrote about mortality and his intention to reinvent himself at 75.

Posted on Sep 27, 2009 READ MORE


Bilbao TV Blast
news.bbc.co.uk

Basque Militants Suspected in Car Bombing

In a continuation of the decades-long struggle between the Spanish government and those calling for independence of the Basque territories, a car bomb went off near a Bilbao television station Wednesday. No one was injured in the blast, which authorities believe was set off by the ETA, a militant Basque independence group.

Posted on Dec 31, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Tina Fineberg

America the Illiterate

The change from a print-based to an image-based society has transformed our nation. All the traditional tools of democracies, including dispassionate scientific and historical truth, facts, news and rational debate, are useless instruments in a world that lacks the capacity to use them.

Posted on Nov 10, 2008 READ MORE


Bill Clinton
Flickr / Photo Mojo

Bill Clinton Doesn’t Want ‘Any S—- From Anybody’

Speaking over the phone to Philadelphia’s WHYY, Bill Clinton defended his controversial comments following the South Carolina primary, saying the Obama campaign had played the race card against him. After the interview, apparently neglecting to hang up, the former president could be heard using language not normally aired on public radio: “I don’t think I should take any s—- from anybody on that, do you?” Update: Denial.

Posted on Apr 22, 2008 READ MORE


Merkel’s Israel Trip Off to a Rocky Start

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to speak before the Israeli Knesset to underscore her country’s strong ties with Israel, but at least one aspect of her visit is already causing controversy. Merkel will address the Israeli parliament in German.

Posted on Mar 12, 2008 READ MORE


We’re All Immigrants

The English language won’t be done in by the influx of Latin Americans.  To see the fallacy of this warning, just take a little look at American history.

Posted on Dec 4, 2007 READ MORE


From the Mind of the ‘Commander Guy’

One need only listen to the president’s definition of success in Iraq to appreciate the value of a full and immediate withdrawal.

Posted on May 4, 2007 READ MORE


With Luck, They’ll Die With the Old Year

Lake Superior State University has recommended the banishment of 16 words and phrases from the English language, including “Brangelina” and “ask your doctor.”  The annual list targets expressions that are irritating, overused or generally ill-applied.

Posted on Dec 31, 2006 READ MORE


Jabari Asim: The Stir Over Slurs

Va. Sen. George Allen, who has a history of racist behavior, incomprehensibly wants us to believe that his opponent is no better—because he has written novels whose characters use racist language.

Posted on Nov 5, 2006 READ MORE


FBI Unable to Attract Arabic Speakers

According to new FBI statistics, of the bureau’s 12,000 agents, only 33 speak even minimally functional Arabic.  It gets worse: Of the 33, none work on international terrorism.
(h/t: Think Progress)

Posted on Oct 11, 2006 READ MORE


The Double Helix and the Cross
Illustration: Karen Spector

Sam Harris: The Language of Ignorance

The bestselling secularist author of “The End of Faith” delivers a scathing review of “The Language of God,” a new book by Human Genome Project head Francis Collins that attempts to demonstrate a harmony between science and evangelical Christianity.

Posted on Aug 15, 2006 READ MORE


White House in Disarray Over English Language Directive

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims that Bush has never supported making English the national language, but White House Press Secretary Tony Snow just said the opposite. (And the Senate just voted to make it so.)

Posted on May 19, 2006 READ MORE


What? You Expected Real Lobbying Reform?

House Republican leaders have stripped a pending bill of language that would require lobbyists to disclose their fundraising activities and contacts with lawmakers.

Posted on Apr 24, 2006 READ MORE


Do-it-Yourself Iraqi Documents Search

Now that 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured in Iraq have hit the web, armchair analysts have their work cut out for them.

Posted on Mar 28, 2006 READ MORE


Mandarin Challenging English As Tongue of Diplomacy

China wants to raise the number of foreigners studying Mandarin to 100 million by 2010. | story
So-called Confucius Institutes are popping up all over the world to teach the language. | story

Posted on Jan 11, 2006 READ MORE


Bush Funds Exotic Languages in Schools

Kindergartners to learn Arabic, Farsi, Chinese. | more

Posted on Jan 5, 2006 READ MORE


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