6 Stories

Our Languages May Have More in Common Than We Thought

New findings challenge long-held theories about languages forming independently

(Newser) - About 100 years ago, one of the founders of modern linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, wrote that the relationship between the sounds we make and the concepts they signify are arbitrary. Many have long agreed. But now the inherent randomness of human language is being challenged by a large new study... More »

200 Linguists Make Chelsea Handler's Dirty Jokes Funny

Netflix explains it hired an army

(Newser) - "I think we can all agree that sleeping around is a great way to meet people," or so jokes Chelsea Handler. But how to make the joke hit in Japanese? With the help of an army of linguists, naturally. At least, that's the path Netflix has taken... More »

Linguists Study Dying Languages—With Ultrasound

Technology helps them watch the moving tongue

(Newser) - It's not a tool generally associated with linguists, but ultrasound scans are proving to be invaluable to them, reports Scientific American . The same device that gives doctors a glimpse of a fetus is also pretty good at capturing images of the moving tongue. For linguists documenting rare languages in Africa,... More »

Scientists Discover New Language

But India's Koro is in danger of becoming obsolete

(Newser) - Two linguists have discovered a language new to science, spoken by only about 1,000 people in the foothills of the Himalayas, the LA Times reports. Koro, as it has been named, was found among residents in a remote area of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Instead of being... More »

Thousands of Avatar Fans Learning Na'vi

Educational website even has study guides

(Newser) - If you’ve already mastered Klingon, you might want to turn your language learning talents onto Na’vi next. Yes, obsessive Avatar fans are learning the fictional language, most notably at the appropriately named , where 4,300 people have already contributed to the discussion forums. One commenter, during... More »

Pungle, Nebby, Oh My! Folksism Dictionary Is Almost Done

Experts fear Twitter's effect on local lingo

(Newser) - Do you know what a “mumble squibble” is? How about a “elbedritsch”? When the final volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English comes out next year, a decades-in-the-making collection of odd vernacular from across the country will be complete at last, NPR reports. "It's very... More »

6 Stories