63 posts tagged language
Our surroundings can trigger figurative thinking and influence behavior
Look around. Do you see four walls or an expansive vista? The answer could influence your ability to think creatively. A growing body of research suggests that our sensory experiences can trigger metaphorical thinking, influencing our insights and behavior without us even realizing it. New research reveals ways we might be able to harness these subconscious forces.Consider, for example, the metaphorical idea that the heart is warm and emotional and the head is cool and rational. In a study in August in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers led their subjects to believe they were investigating how people answer questions when using their nondominant hand. To ensure they did not use their dominant hand, the participants were instructed to place their dominant index finger either on their temple or on the left side of their chest. Participants who pointed at their head answered test questions more accurately, and those who pointed at their heart were more likely to let emotions sway their decisions in a moral dilemma. The finding adds to a rapidly growing list of metaphor effects: past studies have found that seeing forward motion can propel us to “move forward” in a metaphorical sense and that feeling smooth textures makes a difficult social interaction feel easier (or go more “smoothly”).
'Selfie' named by Oxford Dictionaries as word of 2013
"Selfie" has been named as word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. The word has evolved from a niche social media tag into a mainstream term for a self-portrait photograph, the editors said. Research suggested its frequency in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the last year, they added. Other shortlisted words included "twerk" - a raunchy dance move performed by Miley Cyrus - and "binge-watch" - meaning watching lots of TV. "Schmeat", meaning a form of meat synthetically produced from biological tissue, was also a contender. (via BBC News - ‘Selfie’ named by Oxford Dictionaries as word of 2013)
"Whoever owns the language, owns knowledge," Pattberg says. "If you think back in history, when St. Jerome translated the Hebrew bible into Latin, he basically ended the Hebrew world order." Similarly, Pattberg argues, Martin Luther’s translation of the Latin bible into German opened the way for the German Empire. Today, think of the global power that is evinced by words such as ‘Coca-Cola’ or ‘Microsoft,’ which Pattberg says "enjoy greater legal protection that the entire output of, say, the Indian and Chinese civilizations." Sure, European languages have incorporated some Hindu words like dharma, karma, yoga and guru, Japanese words like tsunami, sushi and sashimi, and even a few Chinese words such as kung fu and yin and yang. And yet, Pattberg points out that Chinese words are largely underrepresented in the English language. There are a number of reasons for this, which Pattberg explores in the video below. What Pattberg has us consider, first and foremost, is "how much more beautiful and authentic and sophisticated and accurate" our world would become if we could appreciate the key terminologies of all cultures. So what does that mean? Pattberg advocates for a global language, and by that he has something very specific in mind. We need to continue to translate, of course, in order to communicate. But when it comes to the key terminologies of a culture, "we should not translate them but rather we should adopt them," Pattberg says. "The only way, as I see it, to create the global language is really to find a scientific way to adopt as many key terminologies as possible and to unite all the languages’ vocabularies into one." (via Knowledge is a Polyglot: The Future of Global Language | Big Think TV | Big Think)
The Na’vi tongue was invented by Paul Frommer, a clean-cut linguist and professor emeritus of management communication from California. Na’vi is melodious and fast flowing, composed of unusual syntax and consonant clusters that sound beautiful and exotic to an Anglophone ear. It is one of many so-called constructed languages, or conlangs: a man-made language authored for a purpose. From world peace, as in the case of perhaps the most widely-known conlang, Esperanto, to expanding our capacity for logic, like the unwieldy Loglan, constructed languages have captivated us for centuries. Na’vi is a conlang subtype known as an artlang: It was created with a specific aesthetic goal, as an integral part of a piece of art. Like other famous artlangs (J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish, Star Trek’s Klingon, and the languages spoken in the HBO television series Game of Thrones, Dothraki and Valyrian) Na’vi was intended solely for fiction.
"The new technique does not rely on versions of the same document in different languages. Instead, it uses data mining techniques to model the structure of a single language and then compares this to the structure of another language. “This method makes little assumption about the languages, so it can be used to extend and reﬁne dictionaries and translation tables for any language pairs,” they say.”
Moving in time to a steady beat is closely linked to better language skills, a study suggests.
People who performed better on rhythmic tests also showed enhanced neural responses to speech sounds. The researchers suggest that practising music could improve other skills, particularly speech. In the Journal of Neuroscience, the authors argue that rhythm is an integral part of language. “We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills,” said Nina Kraus, of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois. More than 100 teenagers were asked to tap their fingers along to a beat. Their accuracy was measured by how closely their responses matched the timing of a metronome. Next, in order to understand the biological basis of rhythmic ability, the team also measured the brainwaves of their participants with electrodes, a technique called electroencephalography. This was to observe the electrical activity in the brain in response to sound. (via BBC News - Moving to the rhythm ‘can help language skills’)
Striking Patterns: Study Suggests Tool Use and Language Evolved Together
When did humans start talking? There are nearly as many answers to this perplexing question as there are researchers studying it. A new brain imaging study claims to support the hypothesis that language emerged long before Homo sapiens and coevolved with the invention of the first finely made stone tools nearly 2 million years ago. However, some experts think it’s premature to draw sweeping conclusions.Unlike ancient bones and stone tools, language does not fossilize. Researchers have to guess about its origins based on proxy indicators. Does painting cave walls indicate the capacity for language? How about the ability to make a fancy tool? Yet, in recent years, scientists have made some progress. A series of brain imaging studies by Dietrich Stout, an archaeologist at Emory University in Atlanta, and Thierry Chaminade, a cognitive neuroscientist at Aix-Marseille University in France, have shown that toolmaking and language use similar parts of the brain, including regions involved in manual manipulations and speech production. Moreover, the overlap is greater the more sophisticated the toolmaking techniques are. Thus, there was little overlap when modern-day flint knappers were making stone tools using the oldest known techniques, dated to 2.5 million years ago and called the Oldowan technology. But when knappers used a more sophisticated approach, called Acheulean technology and dating to as much as 1.75 million years ago, the parallels between toolmaking and language were more evident. Stout and Chaminade have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, although not on the same subjects at the same time. (via Striking Patterns: Study Suggests Tool Use and Language Evolved Together - Wired Science)