92 posts tagged language
go read :The Linguistics of LOL
What Internet vernacular reveals about the evolution of language
When two friends created the site I Can Has Cheezburger?, in 2007, to share cat photos with funny, misspelled captions, it was a way of cheering themselves up. They probably weren’t thinking about long-term sociolinguistic implications. But seven years later, the “cheezpeep” community is still active online, chattering away in lolspeak, its own distinctive variety of English. lolspeak was meant to sound like the twisted language inside a cat’s brain, and has ended up resembling a down-South baby talk with some very strange characteristics, including deliberate misspellings (teh, ennyfing), unique verb forms (gotted, can haz), and word reduplication (fastfastfast). It can be difficult to master. One user writes that it used to take at least 10 minutes “to read adn unnerstand” a paragraph. (“Nao, it’z almost like a sekund lanjuaje.”) To a linguist, all of this sounds a lot like a sociolect: a language variety that’s spoken within a social group, like Valley Girl–influenced ValTalk or African American Vernacular English. (The word dialect, by contrast, commonly refers to a variety spoken by a geographic group—think Appalachian or Lumbee.) Over the past 20 years, online sociolects have been springing up around the world, from Jejenese in the Philippines to Ali G Language, a British lingo inspired by the Sacha Baron Cohen character. There’s also Padonkaffsky, an aughts-era slang beloved by Russia’s self-described “scum” (they call themselves Padonki—a garbling of podonok, the actual Russian word for “scum”), with phonetic spellings, offensive language, and a popular meme involving outdoor sex and an inopportune bear. Israel has Fakatsa, a sociolect beloved by teen girls—terms from which have popped up on baby clothes and menstrual-pain products. (via The Linguistics of LOL - Britt Peterson - The Atlantic)
Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene
Neuroscientists have found that a gene mutation that arose more than half a million years ago may be key to humans’ unique ability to produce and understand speech. Researchers from MIT and several European universities have shown that the human version of a gene called Foxp2 makes it easier to transform new experiences into routine procedures. When they engineered mice to express humanized Foxp2, the mice learned to run a maze much more quickly than normal mice. The findings suggest that Foxp2 may help humans with a key component of learning language — transforming experiences, such as hearing the word “glass” when we are shown a glass of water, into a nearly automatic association of that word with objects that look and function like glasses, says Ann Graybiel, an MIT Institute Professor, member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and a senior author of the study. “This really is an important brick in the wall saying that the form of the gene that allowed us to speak may have something to do with a special kind of learning, which takes us from having to make conscious associations in order to act to a nearly automatic-pilot way of acting based on the cues around us,” Graybiel says. Wolfgang Enard, a professor of anthropology and human genetics at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Germany, is also a senior author of the study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. The paper’s lead authors are Christiane Schreiweis, a former visiting graduate student at MIT, and Ulrich Bornschein of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. All animal species communicate with each other, but humans have a unique ability to generate and comprehend language. Foxp2 is one of several genes that scientists believe may have contributed to the development of these linguistic skills. The gene was first identified in a group of family members who had severe difficulties in speaking and understanding speech, and who were found to carry a mutated version of the Foxp2 gene. In 2009, Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and his team engineered mice to express the human form of the Foxp2 gene, which encodes a protein that differs from the mouse version by only two amino acids. His team found that these mice had longer dendrites — the slender extensions that neurons use to communicate with each other — in the striatum, a part of the brain implicated in habit formation. They were also better at forming new synapses, or connections between neurons. (via Neuroscientists identify key role of language gene — ScienceDaily)
Neuroscientists test the theory that your body shapes your ideas
The player kicked the ball.
The patient kicked the habit.
The villain kicked the bucket.
The verbs are the same.
The syntax is identical.
Does the brain notice, or care, that the first is literal, the second metaphorical, the third idiomatic?
It sounds like a question that only a linguist could love. But neuroscientists have been trying to answer it using exotic brain-scanning technologies. Their findings have varied wildly, in some cases contradicting one another. If they make progress, the payoff will be big. Their findings will enrich a theory that aims to explain how wet masses of neurons can understand anything at all. And they may drive a stake into the widespread assumption that computers will inevitably become conscious in a humanlike way. The hypothesis driving their work is that metaphor is central to language. Metaphor used to be thought of as merely poetic ornamentation, aesthetically pretty but otherwise irrelevant. “Love is a rose, but you better not pick it,” sang Neil Young in 1977, riffing on the timeworn comparison between a sexual partner and a pollinating perennial. For centuries, metaphor was just the place where poets went to show off. But in their 1980 book, Metaphors We Live By, the linguist George Lakoff (at the University of California at Berkeley) and the philosopher Mark Johnson (now at the University of Oregon) revolutionized linguistics by showing that metaphor is actually a fundamental constituent of language. For example, they showed that in the seemingly literal statement “He’s out of sight,” the visual field is metaphorized as a container that holds things. The visual field isn’t really a container, of course; one simply sees objects or not. But the container metaphor is so ubiquitous that it wasn’t even recognized as a metaphor until Lakoff and Johnson pointed it out. From such examples they argued that ordinary language is saturated with metaphors. Our eyes point to where we’re going, so we tend to speak of future time as being “ahead” of us. When things increase, they tend to go up relative to us, so we tend to speak of stocks “rising” instead of getting more expensive. “Our ordinary conceptual system is fundamentally metaphorical in nature,” they wrote.
Economic success ‘drives language extinction’
Economic development is driving the extinction of some languages, scientists believe.
A study has found that minority languages in the most developed parts of the world, including North America, Europe and Australia, are most at threat. The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The researchers say that efforts to protect these languages need to be focused on these areas. Lead author Tatsuya Amano, from the University of Cambridge, said: “World languages are now rapidly being lost. This is a very serious situation. “We wanted to know how the extinction is distributed globally and what are the main drivers of this.” Vanishing voices Dr Amano, who usually looks at extinction rates in animals, said that about 25% of languages around the world were under threat. The researchers found that the more successful a country was economically, the more rapidly its languages were being lost. They said that in North America, languages such as Upper Tanana, were now spoken by fewer than 25 people in Alaska, and were at risk of vanishing forever. In Europe, languages such as Ume Sami in Scandinavia or Auvergnat in France are fading fast. Dr Amano said: “As economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation’s political and educational spheres. “People are forced to adopt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold - economically and politically.” The team also found that languages in the Himalayas are at risk, such as Bahing in Nepal, which has an estimated eight speakers. In the tropics, too, voices are disappearing. “These countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, so in the near future these languages will face risk of extinction.” The scientists call for conservation efforts to focus on these regions. Dr Amano said that work undertaken to protect languages such as Welsh in the UK was a good example a successful strategy. (via BBC News - Economic success ‘drives language extinction’)
Yolo and binge-watch added to online dictionary
Yolo, an acronym for ‘you only live once’, is among the latest new words added to the Oxford online dictionary. The phrase, along with ‘adorbs’ - meaning cute or adorable, and ‘binge-watch’ - which means to avidly watch something - has been added to oxforddictionaries.com. The website is a catalogue of current definitions of English words as they are used today. Other new inclusions include “tech-savvy” and “clickbait”. The words have been revealed as part of the latest quarterly update of the online dictionary, and give an insight for linguists into current language usage trends. The words will not, for now, appear in the paper-version of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a more historical account of words, but they could do in the foreseeable future if they continue to be frequently used for years to come. According to the online dictionary’s language monitoring programme, use of the word ‘binge-watch’ increased fourfold in February and tripled in June, based on its average use over the last two years. There were notable spikes in its usage recorded around the latest releases of political drama House Of Cards in February and the US comedy Orange Is The New Black in June 2014.
Other informal terms entered into the online dictionary: bank of mum and dad - a person’s parents regarded as a source of financial assistance or support bro hug - another term for ‘man hug’ and is used to describe two males embracing cray - crazy hench - often used to describe a man who is strong, fit, and having well-developed muscles hot mess - a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered: mansplain - (Of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising side-eye - a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt spit-take - an act of suddenly spitting out liquid one is drinking in response to something funny or surprising (via BBC News - Yolo and binge-watch added to online dictionary)
Using the wonderful words of acclaimed writer, actor and allround know it all (I mean that in the best of ways) Stephen Fry I have created this kinetic typography animation. If you like what you hear you can download the rest of the audio file from Mr. Fry’s website. stephenfry.com and then go to the audio and video section at the top of the page and look for the file entitled language. You can also find the file on iTunes by searching the name ‘Stephen Fry’s Podgrams’.
I loved this particular essay on language and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make my first kinetic typography video. I hope you like it and even if you dont I would like to heard what you think in the comments section.
Absolutely brilliant!: Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography - Language
Also I know that at points the audio does not match the text so you do not have to write that. It is because I copied the transcript off of Stephen’s website and it was not 100% exactly what he said and i did not notice until I was well underway. However these cases are few and far between.
Just incase you were wondering the programs I used to make this were all by Adobe. Mostly After Effects but also Flash and Illustrator. Flash for the changing background colour transitions and illustrator for putting the words in to the shape of ‘language’ before loading it into After Effects to animate.