language

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Oxford Dictionary Boasts a New Final Word

'Zyzzyva' has been added, as have 'post-truth,' 'unclick,' and a word describing sperm

(Newser) - And you thought "covfefe" was hard to pronounce. The Oxford English Dictionary has added more than 1,200 new "words, phrases, and senses" to its tome, per a blog post , and among them is an entry that nabs the spot as the last word in the book. "... More »

App Helps You Get Smarter During Your Wasted Time

MIT software teaches vocabulary during each day's idle moments

(Newser) - How much "wait-learning" have you done lately? That's the term MIT scientists have for picking up knowledge while lingering in an elevator, waiting for a reply to your text, or doing other things that would normally have you simply staring off into space—and now they've got... More »

She Coined 'On Fleek,' Wants You to Pay Her for It

Internet hit Peaches Monroee is crowdfunding for planned cosmetics line

(Newser) - If you've ever used the term "on fleek," Kayla Lewis is hoping you'll see fit to pay her for it. Lewis, better known by her Vine moniker Peaches Monroee, was a teen who broke onto the internet scene in 2014 after supposedly being the first person... More »

How Scientists Are Cracking One of the World's Oldest Codes

Cognitive science and complex statistical processes are both playing into it: the Verge

(Newser) - Since the late 1800s, scientists have been stumped over small pieces of stone found buried in India and Pakistan, each carved with a line of symbols over a depiction of an animal—all evidence of the since-IDed Indus Valley Civilization, said to be the oldest Indian civilization known to exist.... More »

Canadian PM Rapped for Speaking French

He should've responded to questions in English, critics say

(Newser) - How do you say "he stepped in it" in French? Though he leads an officially bilingual country, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was rapped for slipping into the language of Moliere instead of sticking to Shakespeare. No fewer than three official complaints were lodged with Canada's Commissioner of... More »

Women Swear More Than Men —and That's F---ing Great

It's a sign of equality, say researchers

(Newser) - Men will now have the perfect response the next time someone tells them to watch their language around ladies. A new study finds women—British women, at least—are more likely to utter the F-bomb than men. Surprised? Researchers aren't. As part of a larger study of the English... More »

Enjoy Your 'Th' Sounds Now, They'll Be Gone by 2066

According to a new report from British linguistic experts

(Newser) - The Queen's English as spoken in the UK is under attack by immigrants, computers, American television, and youths. Or should we say yoofs? In a report published Thursday, linguistic experts at the University of York predict major changes in Brits' pronunciation of the English language by 2066, the Sun... More »

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 »

Doling Out Fake Praise? Your Dog Knows

They consider words, tone when processing language: study

(Newser) - Score one for the "dogs are better than cats" camp: New research suggests dogs truly understand their owners—not just the words they speak, but also their tone of speaking. Researchers at Hungary's Eotvos Lorand University measured the brain activity of 13 pet dogs as a trainer repeated... More »

You Don't Know as Many Words as You Think You Do

Maybe about 42K if you're a 20-year-old, slightly more if you're older—but definitely not 200K

(Newser) - You don't have to be a lexicographer to have a pretty ample lexicon—but your word knowledge still may not be as ample as you think. At least, that's according to a Ghent University study published in the Frontiers in Psychology , said to be the largest ever of... More »

Our Presidential Candidates All Sound the Same

New research shows they're saying different things in basically the same way

(Newser) - Think there aren't a lot of similarities between a Trump speech and a Clinton speech? Think again. Rosario Signorello, who's spent two years studying what makes for charismatic speech, analyzed 36 speeches from Trump, Clinton, Sanders, and Fiorina, according to a press release . He found that politicians sound... More »

This Stone May Be Key to Mysterious Yet Influential Ancient Culture

Little survives of the Etruscans, who helped shape ancient Rome and Greece

(Newser) - The Etruscans, a massively influential culture admired by both ancient Greeks and Romans, are largely a mystery to us today because much of their writing has perished, Ars Technica reports. That may change with a 500-pound slab of sandstone containing 70 letters and punctuation marks from the Etruscan language discovered... More »

Regardless of Language, We All Understand This Face

The 'not face' is universal sign of disapproval: scientists

(Newser) - You've seen it when someone disagrees with you: a furrowed brow, tight lips, and raised chin. It's a face that means, basically, no—and it's actually universal. The same team of researchers that identified these 21 facial expressions say the "not face" is used so instinctively... More »

Stop Using '-Splain' as a Suffix

It's a 'lazy joke,' Katy Waldman writes for Slate

(Newser) - "Mansplain"—the act of a man explaining something to someone, typically a woman, "in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing"—has been a part of our vernacular for a few years now. But writing for Slate , Katy Waldman says "-splain" itself has since become... More »

French Outraged by Spelling Shake-Up

Officials changed the spellings of 2,400 words to make them easier for children

(Newser) - France is in uproar over reports that the official spellings of 2,400 words are being changed to make them less confusing for schoolchildren just learning the language, the Guardian reports. For example, "ognon" is now a fine way to spell onion in addition to the more familiar "... More »

Linguists Spot Surprising Trait in Disney Princesses

Today's speak less of the dialogue than in the classic films

(Newser) - It might seem like an easy generalization to say that female characters in modern Disney films are a more enlightened bunch than those of the Snow White and Cinderella variety. Which is why two linguists who are crunching data on a dozen of the animated movies going back to the... More »

Why Australians Talk Funny: Drunk Forefathers?

Professor makes his case

(Newser) - A communications professor in Australia has caused quite a stir Down Under with a public complaint that almost everyone there talks like drunks. In tracing the origins of the Australian accent in the Age , Dean Frenkel of Victoria University describes its Aboriginal, English, Irish, and German roots. So far, so... More »

Whistled Language Brings Surprising Brain Discovery

People must use both sides of their brain to understand it, a first

(Newser) - The rapidly disappearing "bird language" that is spoken—or whistled, actually—by about 10,000 residents in the mountains of Turkey is changing the way scientists think about language and the brain. The left hemisphere has always been dominant when interpreting language, be it spoken, written, signed, or even... More »

This Man Speaks More Languages Than Most People Can Name

Translator Ioannis Ikonomou knows 32 languages and isn't done yet

(Newser) - In English, it's polyglot. In Greek, or Hindi, or Hebrew, the word for someone who knows several languages is, well, ask Ioannis Ikonomou. The New Statesman profiles the 50-year-old translator for the European Commission in Brussels: He knows 32 languages, and that's just the living ones. After learning... More »

Bonobos Have This in Common With Human Babies

They too use identical noises that function in various contexts

(Newser) - Humans aren't the only species to speak baby talk, apparently. A new study published in the journal Peer J finds our closest living relatives communicate using high-pitched calls or "peeps" strangely similar to the sounds made by human babies before they can talk. Researcher Zanna Clay of the... More »

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