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Posts Tagged "language"

Anthropology in Practice

Can Geography Shape the Way We Speak?

Figure 1. Plot of the locations of the languages in the sample. Dark circles represent languages with ejectives, clear circles represent those without ejectives. Clusters of languages with ejectives are highlighted with white rectangles. For illustrative purposes only. Inset: Lat-long plot of polygons exceeding 1500 m in elevation. Adapted from Figure 4 in [8]. The six major inhabitable areas of high elevation are highlighted via ellipses: (1) North American cordillera (2) Andes (3) Southern African plateau (4) East African rift (5) Caucasus and Javakheti plateau (6) Tibetan plateau and adjacent regions. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065275.g001

There’s a pretty neat series of maps featured in Business Insider making the rounds on various social channels. They tell us about ourselves, showing how Americans speak differently from each other. My favorite is slide 17 because I have only ever owned sneakers and was absolutely confused when someone recently suggested that my concept of [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Why Are We Signing Our Emails With “Thank You”?

When was the last time you used some variation of the phrase “Thank you”? At the coffee shop this morning? While you were having dinner last night? Because someone held the elevator for you? How about online? Have you used it to sign an email recently? Did you intentionally not use that phrase? And did [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Modern Lessons From a Lost Language

he back side of the Magdalena document shows  translations for numbers from Spanish to a lost language.  Photo by Jeffrey Quilter

Note: This article originally appeared on AiP on December 13, 2010. It won a Research Blogging Award. It’s hard to imagine that knowledge could be lost today. Technology seems to have put the ability to know almost everything within our grasp. So when researchers announce they “found” a previously unknown Peruvian language, it’s a pretty tantalizing [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Editor’s Selections: Speaking In Tongues, Bi-Gendered Individuals, And The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Highlighted in my ResearchBlogging.org column this week: At Geneaology of Religion, Cris Campbell has a nice summary of dissociative speech patterns—in layman’s terms, that’s to say he breaks down different ways of “speaking in tongues.” The Neuroskeptic discusses a small, self-selected study on “bi-gendered” individuals which highlights the ways social pressures can color our identities. At NeuroDojo, Zen Faulkes [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Editor’s Selections: Sharky speedos, Local language, and Suburban livin’

Part of my online life includes editorial duties at ResearchBlogging.org, where I serve as the Social Sciences Editor. Each Thursday, I pick notable posts on research in anthropology, philosophy, social science, and research to share on the ResearchBlogging.org News site. To help highlight this writing, I also share my selections here on AiP. Quite a [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

The Animal Connection: Why Do We Keep Pets?

Pets are popular family members. / iStock image.

Ed. Note: Another favorite this Friday about those furry members of our family—no, not your Grandpa Ed, but your pet. This post was selected as an Editor’s Selection on ResearchBlogging.org. It has been slightly modified from it’s original posting. I’ll never forget the day S brought home a live chicken. When we lived in Queens, [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Oracles Past and Present: Our Means of Managing Information

Our ability to find and share information today is potentially limitless. But how did we get here? From cave paintings to the iPad—how does human innovation bring us here? Go Ask the Oracle We live in an amazing time: We never have to wait to know. At this very moment you could be on a [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Know Another Language? Help Us Globalize Science by Translating Our Video Captions

Ever wonder what the wave function is? Or what the differences are between genes, chromosomes and DNA? Or why chimps are stronger than humans? We’ve tackled these and many other questions with our Instant Egghead video explainer series. Such questions are universal, and we know many people who don’t speak English would love the chance [...]

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Dog Spies

Do Dogs Understand Our Words? The Dogs Weigh In

Chaser

“This is not your food! Don’t even think about eating it. This … is … not … your … food.” What do our words mean to dogs? Not that I’m about to stop speaking to dogs anytime soon, but I do wonder what my daily utterances signify to Millie, Piper, Upton and Finnegan, the dogs [...]

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Frontiers for Young Minds

Language: What Your Brain Remembers Even if You Forget

(Source: doi: 10.3389/frym.2014.00014)

What is the earliest thing you remember? How old were you? What was happening? Have you ever wondered about all the things from before that moment that you can’t remember? Or all the things since that moment that you have forgotten? Maybe your family says that you used to refuse to eat yellow food, listened [...]

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Guest Blog

Play, Informal Learning Cultivate Kids’ Interest in STEM

A visitor learns to solder and connect a circuit in a workshop at the New York Hall of Science's Maker Space.

When I was eight years old I couldn’t speak English. I’d been born in another country and came to the U.S. because my father’s postdoctoral medical research brought us here. Frustrated with my inability to communicate with others, I stopped trying. I didn’t want to play with the other kids anyway – at least that’s [...]

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Guest Blog

“Project Nim” Reveals a Scientific Scandal

The most important sign language study done with an ape was surely the first one back in the 1960s, with Washoe, for it established that chimpanzees can use American Sign Language (ASL). The most decisive such study, however, was probably the one a decade later, with Nim Chimsky because it put a halt to such [...]

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Guest Blog

The Dothraki response to a call for science in a created language

This is a response to an open letter from Joshua Hartshorne entitled “Fantasy TV in the service of science,” posted as a guest blog by Scientific American about Dothraki, a language created by the Language Creation Society for the HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. David Peterson (creator of Dothraki) [...]

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Guest Blog

Fantasy TV in the service of science: An open letter to HBO about “Dothraki”

Joshua Hartshorne

Editor’s note: Joshua Hartshorne is a graduate student at Harvard University’s Psychology Department interested in human behavior and language. He wrote the open letter below because HBO is currently creating a new fantasy language, called "Dothraki," for an upcoming television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. At least some fans are [...]

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Image of the Week

A Modest Mussel Is Making Waves

Trinil-shell-FEATURE

Image: A mussel shell engraved by Homo erectus between 540,000 and 430,000 years ago Credit: Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam Source: Kate Wong’s World’s Oldest Engraving Upends Theory of Homo sapiens Uniqueness on Observations These scratches may not look like much but they predate the existence of our species, Homo sapiens, and upend any claim [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Expert Cancer Care May Soon Be Everywhere, Thanks to Watson

Watson. Courtesy of IBM.

Editor’s note: This blog is the first in a series of guest posts on technology and the brain to celebrate Scientific American Mind’s 10-year anniversary. The magazine’s special November/December issue similarly highlights the interface between code and thought in profiling a future, more digital YOU. “You know my methods, Watson.” – Sherlock Holmes Even those [...]

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Observations

Brains in Boston: Weekend Recap of Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting

poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting

Greetings from Boston where the 21st annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society is underway.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with symposia, lectures and more than 400 posters.  Here are just a few of the highlights. The bilingual brain has been a hot topic at the meeting this year, particularly as researchers grapple with the [...]

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Observations

Telltale Language Reveals Who Is Keeping a Secret

secret3

Sharing a secret can forge a relationship and solidify a bond with a friend. Keeping a secret, however, can eat away at our health and happiness.  As it turns out, hiding a painful truth also changes the way we communicate with others. By analyzing big data sets such as email logs and Twitter feeds, psychologists [...]

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Observations

Oldest Arrowheads Hint at How Modern Humans Overtook Neandertals

Tiny stone points from Pinnacle Point

Archaeologists excavating a cave on the southern coast of South Africa have recovered remains of the oldest known complex* projectile weapons. The tiny stone blades, which were probably affixed to wooden shafts for use as arrows, date to 71,000 years ago and represent a sophisticated technological tradition that endured for thousands of years. The discovery [...]

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Observations

1 Big Migration Spawned Most–but Not All–Indigenous Americans

genomics show wave of first american migrations

At least 15,000 years ago intrepid Siberians crossed the newly exposed Bering land bridge to arrive in the unpeopled Americas. But was this influx the only ancient wave from East Asia? Researchers have been studying archeological, linguistic and genetic evidence for years in a quest to understand how the first Americans arrived and spread through [...]

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Observations

Oldest Cave Paintings May Be Creations of Neandertals, Not Modern Humans

el castillo hands

In a cave in northwestern Spain called El Castillo, ancient artists decorated a stretch of limestone wall with dozens of depictions of human hands. They seem to have made the images by pressing a hand to the wall and then blowing red pigment on it, creating a sort of stencil. Hand stencils are a common [...]

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Observations

The line between science and journalism is getting blurry….again

Human #1: "Hello, nice weather today, isn’t it?" Human #2: "Ummm…actually not. It’s a gray, cold, windy, rainy kind of day!" Many a joke depends on confusion about the meaning of language, as in the example above. But understanding the sources of such confusion is important in realms other than stand-up comedy, including in the [...]

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Observations

Music and speech share a code for communicating sadness in the minor third

Here’s a little experiment. You know “Greensleeves“—the famous English folk song? Go ahead and hum it to yourself. Now choose the emotion you think the song best conveys: (a) happiness, (b) sadness, (c) anger or (d) fear. Almost everyone thinks “Greensleeves” is a sad song—but why? Apart from the melancholy lyrics, it’s because the melody [...]

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Observations

Present imperfect: Is the human brain ill adapted for language?

human brain language evolve kluge marcus

The spy shot the cop with the revolver. This sentence, a favorite of linguists, appears to be simple enough. It’s grammatically correct, has a subject and a predicate and can even be easily understood by young children. Or can it? Who had the revolver: the spy or the cop? Like optical illusions, language can play [...]

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