Current Linguistics News and Events

Current Linguistics News and Events, Linguistics News Articles.
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Foreign language learners should be exposed to slang in the classroom and here's why....
Experts say English slang and regional dialect should not be banned from classrooms but when you're getting to grips with a second language how helpful is it to learn non-standard lingo? Very, says Sascha Stollhans, of the Department of Languages and Cultures at Lancaster University, who argues that standardised language norms are artificial and language learners should learn about all aspects of language, even the controversial ones. (2021-02-17)

Women's voices in the media still outnumbered by those of men - study
New research from Simon Fraser University shows that women's voices continue to be underrepresented in the media, despite having prominent female leaders across Canada and internationally. Researchers in SFU's Discourse Processing Lab found that men outnumber women quoted in Canadian news media about three to one. The findings from the team's Gender Gap Tracker study were published this week in the journal PLOS ONE. (2021-02-05)

Speaking and listening seem more difficult in a masked world, but people are adapting
People are adapting to speaking from behind, and understanding others who are wearing, a cloth face mask, University of California, Davis, researchers suggest in a new study. (2021-02-02)

A computational approach to understanding how infants perceive language
A multi-institutional team of cognitive scientists and computational linguists have developed computationally-based modeling approach that opens the path toward a much deeper understanding of early language acquisition. (2021-01-29)

Pace of prehistoric human innovation could be revealed by 'linguistic thermometer'
A physics professor has joined forces with language experts to build a 'linguistic thermometer' that can record the temperature of 'hot' or 'cold' (ie fast or slow) developments in modern linguistic features to create a computer-based model that can provide a better understanding of the development in human language and innovation stretching back to pre-history. (2021-01-27)

Stanford University study: 12 Tel Aviv University researchers among top 50 in the world
A new study from Stanford University identified 12 Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers among the world's top 50 researchers in their fields. 333 TAU faculty members were also ranked among the top 2% of researchers in their respective disciplines based on publications, citations, and impact. 155 of them are included in the top 1%, and 74 in the top 0.5%. (2020-12-21)

How do we separate the factual from the possible? New research shows how our brain responds to both
Our brains respond to language expressing facts differently than they do to words conveying possibility, a team of neuroscientists has found. Its work offers new insights into the impact word choice has on how we make distinctions between what's real vs. what's merely possible. (2020-12-07)

The surprising grammar of touch
A new study demonstrates that grammar is evident and widespread in a system of communication based on reciprocal, tactile interaction, thus reinforcing the notion that if one linguistic channel, such as hearing, or vision, is unavailable, structures will find another way to create formal categories. (2020-11-30)

RUDN University linguists: Vocabulary size affects ability to differentiate foreign language vowels
A team of linguists from RUDN University established that a person's ability to accurately differentiate between vowel sounds of a foreign language correlates with the size of their vocabulary in said language. (2020-11-10)

RUDN University linguist: learning foreign language is harder for visually impaired people
A scientist from RUDN University analysed the effect of visual impairment on a person's perception of unfamiliar sounds when learning a foreign language. The experiment showed that lack of access to visual cues makes learning difficult. (2020-10-06)

COVID-19 infects majority of bad dreams -- study
Researchers crowdsourced dream content from more than 800 people during the sixth week of the COVID-19 lockdown and found many experienced distressed dreams related to the pandemic. They used an algorithm to analyze and map the data into 33 themed clusters. The coronavirus haunted more than half of the 20 clusters classified as nightmares. The paper has implications for further studies related to mental health. (2020-10-01)

Words matter: Revealing 'how' restaurateurs land investors online
Online crowdfunding is a multibillion dollar industry, but crafting a compelling pitch that stands out among thousands of projects and lands investors is challenging, especially in the restaurant industry. Researchers at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management have identified linguistic styles that could tip the scales for restaurateurs seeking financial backing online. (2020-09-01)

Aspirated consonants may promote the spread of COVID-19, RUDN University linguist says
According to a linguist from RUDN University, the number of COVID-19 cases in a country might be related to the existence of aspirated consonants in its main language of communication. This data can help create more accurate models to describe the spread of COVID-19. The results of the study were published in the Medical Hypotheses journal. (2020-08-30)

Terms in Seattle-area rental ads reinforce neighborhood segregation
A new University of Washington study of Seattle-area rental ads shows how certain words and phrases are common to different neighborhoods, helping to reinforce residential segregation. (2020-08-26)

Even if you want to, you can't ignore how people look or sound
Your perceptions of someone you just met are influenced in part by what they look like and how they sound. But can you ignore how someone looks or how they sound if you're told it is not relevant? Probably not, at least in most cases, a new study found. (2020-07-22)

Researchers foresee linguistic issues during space travel
It lacks the drama of a shape-shifting alien creature, but another threat looms over the prospect of generations-long, interstellar space travel: Explorers arriving on Xanadu could face problems communicating with previous and subsequent arrivals, their spoken language having changed in isolation along the way. A new paper looks at the issues. (2020-07-06)

Spanish language increasingly more relevant to presidential elections
Discourse in and about Spanish was present on both sides of the political spectrum, more so leading up to the 2016 presidential election than in previous cycles, according to research conducted by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York. (2020-07-01)

Native Amazonians, Americans and monkeys show similar thinking patterns
Humans and monkeys may not speak the same lingo, but our ways of thinking are a lot more similar than previously thought, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University. (2020-06-29)

How the brain controls our speech
Speaking requires both sides of the brain. Each hemisphere takes over a part of the complex task of forming sounds, modulating the voice and monitoring what has been said. However, the distribution of tasks is different than has been thought up to now, as an interdisciplinary team of neuroscientists and phoneticians at Goethe University Frankfurt and the Leibniz-Centre General Linguistics Berlin has discovered. (2020-06-10)

How effective are language learning apps?
Researchers from Michigan State University recently conducted a study focusing on Babbel, a popular subscription-based language learning app and e-learning platform, to see if it really worked at teaching a new language. (2020-06-09)

No laughing matter
A new study involving a scientific analysis of the prevalence of 'LOL' in students' text messages demonstrates important potential applications for classroom learning. The study, 'Linguistics in General Education: Expanding Linguistics Course Offerings through Core Competency Alignment,' will be published in the June 2020 issue of the scholarly journal Language. An advance version of the article may be found at https://www.linguisticsociety.org/sites/default/files/LSA962101_0.pdf. (2020-05-27)

What protects minority languages from extinction?
A new study by Jean-Marc Luck from Paris and Anita Mehta from Oxford published in EPJ B, uses mathematical modelling to suggest two mechanisms through which majority and minority languages come to coexist in the same area. (2020-04-22)

How computational linguistics helps to understand how language works
Distributional semantics obtains representations of the meaning of words by processing thousands of texts and extracting generalizations using computational algorithms. Despite the popularity of distributional semantics in such fields as computational linguistics and cognitive science, its impact on theoretical linguistics has so far been very limited. (2020-03-03)

Bilingual mash ups: Counterintuitive findings from sociolinguistics
A new study exposes the fallacy of relying on pronunciation as a measure of linguistic proficiency. The study, 'Revisiting phonetic integration in bilingual borrowing', by Shana Poplack, Suzanne Robillard, Nathalie Dion (all from the University of Ottawa), and John. C. Paolillo (University of Indiana Bloomington) will be published in March 2020 issue of the scholarly journal Language. (2020-02-26)

Human language most likely evolved gradually
One of the most controversial hypotheses for the origin of human language faculty is the evolutionary conjecture that language arose instantaneously in humans through a single gene mutation. (2020-02-12)

UW research expands bilingual language program for babies
A study by the University of Washington's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) shows that a bilingual language program for babies can reach more families, and instructors, through online training for teachers. (2020-01-23)

'She' goes missing from presidential language
MIT researchers have found that although a significant percentage of the American public believed the winner of the November 2016 presidential election would be a woman, people rarely used the pronoun 'she' when referring to the next president before the election. (2020-01-08)

Words to express emotion vary greatly in their meanings across languages
Almost all humans feel the emotion of love, but does that mean the Turkish word sevgi or the Hungarian word szrelem, which both translate to love in English, convey the same feeling? (2019-12-19)

How minds make meaning
Meaning is central to language. But how do we combine the building blocks of thought and language to compose meaning? A special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, edited by Andrea E. Martin from the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and Giosuè Baggio from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, brings together fifteen contributions from the fields of linguistics, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and computer science to answer this age-old question. (2019-12-16)

Achieving optimal collaboration when goals conflict
New research suggests that, when two people must work together on a physical task despite conflicting goals, the amount of information available about each other's actions influences how quickly and optimally they learn to collaborate. Vinil Chackochan and Vittorio Sanguineti of the University of Genoa, Italy, present these findings in PLOS Computational Biology. (2019-12-12)

Finding meaning in 'Rick and Morty,' one burp at a time
One of the first things viewers of 'Rick and Morty' might notice about Rick is his penchant for punctuating his speech with burps. Brooke Kidner has analyzed the frequency and acoustics of belching while speaking, and by zeroing in on the specific pitches and sound qualities of a midspeech burp, aims to find what latent linguistic meaning might be found in the little-studied gastrointestinal grumbles. Kidner will present her findings at the 178th ASA Meeting. (2019-12-05)

First experimental genetic evidence of the human self-domestication hypothesis
A new University of Barcelona study reveals the first empirical genetic evidence of human self-domestication, a hypothesis that humans have evolved friendlier and more cooperative by selecting their companions depending on their behaviour. Researchers identified a genetic network involved in the unique evolutionary trajectory of the modern human face and prosociality, which is absent in the Neanderthals genome. The experiment is based on Williams Syndrome cells, a rare disease. (2019-12-04)

Researchers investigate the effects of eye movements when reading texts in different languages
The existence of language universality has been a key issue in psychology and linguistics, since the understanding of universals is crucial for the development of information perception models. In the course of their in-depth study of linguistic universality, Lobachevsky University researchers studied readers' eye movements when reading texts in different languages. The research was aimed at studying the universal and language-specific effects of eye movements while reading texts. (2019-12-02)

Molière most likely did write his own plays
Two French researchers from the CNRS and Ecole nationale des chartes disprove the theory according to which Corneille was Molière's ghostwriter -- a popular and century-old theory, defended by some academics and writers. According to their forthcoming study in Science Advances, Molière would most likely be the only author of his numerous masterpieces. (2019-11-27)

Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences. (2019-10-16)

Pro-science vs anti-science debates
Recent attacks on 'grievance' studies have occasioned renewed attention to the politics of knowledge in the academy. In a wide-ranging survey, Mark Horowitz, William Yaworsky and Kenneth Kickham revisit some of anthropology's most sensitive controversies. Taking the field's temperature since the sweltry 'science wars' of the nineties, Horowitz and colleagues probe whether anthropology is still a house divided on questions of truth, justice and the American Anthropological Association. (2019-10-15)

Linguists track impact of cognitive decline across three decades of one writer's diaries
Linguistics researchers have identified a relationship between language change and the transition from healthy to a diagnosis of severe dementia. A study of one individual's diary entries over 31 years tracking the omission and then inclusion of the first-person pronoun ''I'', found the transition occurred around the time the writer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, suggesting that individuals may revert back to a more formal, fundamental writing style when experiencing cognitive decline. (2019-10-10)

Focus on employability boosts universities' success in the Teaching Excellence Framework
Universities' Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) grades -- designed to help students choose where to study -- are being boosted for the institutions that highlight employability post-university and student outcomes in their TEF submission reports, according to a new study published in Educational Review. (2019-10-08)

Trump tweets were systematic plan of attack in Presidential campaign -- study
Donald Trump used Twitter effectively to promote his campaign, communicate policy goals and attack opponents as part of a systematic campaign ahead of the 2016 US Presidential elections -- a new study reveals. (2019-10-04)

Variation in the shape of speech organs influences language evolution
Why do speech sounds vary across languages? Does the shape of our speech organs play a role? In a computer modelling study reported in Nature Human Behaviour, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics show that variation in the hard palate -- the roof of the mouth -- leads to subtle differences in pronunciation. As newly learned vowels were passed on to next generations, these differences were amplified, showing that our anatomy can influence language evolution. (2019-08-19)

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