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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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Bering in Mind

Retro Science Jargon: Negroes, Retards, Morons, Feeble-Minded Idiots and Perverts

Back when I was a graduate student in Louisiana studying chimpanzees, I came across a chapter from an old book called The Speech of Monkeys. First released in 1892, it was a pioneering text in animal behavior and the study of nonhuman communication, published by the very respectable Charles L. Webster and Company, the house [...]

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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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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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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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The Thoughtful Animal

Ronan Fights Back! Scrappy Sea Lion Might Reclaim the Title of First Non-Human Mammal Dancer

Peter Cook with Ronan

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a new study by Peter Cook and colleagues from the Pinniped Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In their study, Cook claimed that Ronan the California sea lion was the first non-human mammal to show evidence of “rhythmic entrainment,” or the ability to synchronize the movements of [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Ronan the Sea Lion Dances To The Backstreet Boys. So What?

Ronan was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center while walking down Highway 1 in October 2009, her third stranding incident, and was deemed unreleasable. She was then transferred to the Pinniped Lab at UCSC.

Ronan is the name of a the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) who can bob her head in time to music. She apparently dances to Boogie Wonderland, and the Backstreet Boys song Everybody. She can move her head in rhythm with the beats of a metronome. She’s in the news this week because a new [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Koalas and Bison Use the Same Rules for Choosing Mates

koala

While natural selection works operates over an individual’s ability to survive, sexual selection operates over an individual’s ability to mate and successfully sire offspring. In other words, sexual selection is a process through which individuals of a given species struggle to be more reproductively successful. It works in two primary ways, first identified by Charles [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

For Word Learning, Size Matters If You’re A Dog

Gable and Toys

In 1988, a three-year-old child is led into a brightly colored testing room in a psychology department in Bloomington, Indiana. A small toy is brought out and put onto a table in front of the child. The toy was wooden, blue, about two inches square, and U-shaped. “This is a dax.” The researchers picked a [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Sesame Street and Child Development

Television has a bad side. According to a report from the University of Michigan, the average American child has seen sixteen thousand murders on TV by age 18. Indeed, programs explicitly designed for kids often contain more violence than adult programming, and that violence is often paired with humor. Every single animated feature film produced [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Singing Mice May Join Humans and Songbirds As Vocal Learners

mouse-crop

My high school biology teacher once told me that nothing was binary in biology except for alive and dead, and pregnant and not pregnant. Any other variation, he said, existed along a continuum. Whether or not the claim is technically accurate, it serves to illustrate an important feature of biological life. That is, very little [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Book Review: Babel’s Dawn

Babel’s Dawn, a book that grew out of a blog about the natural history of speech, is probably not like any other book you’ve read. That’s because it’s not really a book about the natural history of speech: it’s a book about a (fictitious) museum that tells the story about the natural history of speech. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Animal Imagination: The Dog That Pretended to Feed a Frog (and Other Tales)

Can dogs pretend? This is the question I asked yesterday, prompted by Sheril’s story: …this afternoon Happy did something unusual. She carried a toy frog over to her water bowl, and gently put it down as pictured. Given its orientation, I’m skeptical that her placement was an accident. The frog continues to sit like this [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Monday Pets: How Do Dogs Learn New Words?

ResearchBlogging.org

…and what can word-learning in dogs teach us about the evolution of language in humans? What is involved in the learning of a single new word? Consider the word “tiger”, being learned by a child with already a modest vocabulary, at least for animal words. First the child must make a new entry in the [...]

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