Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication
is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
posted by Rumple
on May 23, 2014 -
26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico and 2,150 feet underground, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
(WIPP) brings new meaning to the phrase "built to last". The world's third deep geological nuclear waste repository, WIPP was designed to house radioactive material for 10,000 years.
The primary challenge (keeping hazardous waste IN) was tackled by engineers. But for the secondary challenge - keeping living creatures OUT - the goverment recruited a team of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers. The job description included the words "the knowledge necessary to develop a marker system that will remain in operation during the performance period of the site - 10,000 years"
. Stymied by inevitable linguistic and orthographic drift
, the group has discussed a wide array of ideas, some more fabulously demented
than others (artificial moons, a nuclear containment-centric priesthood, a landscape of massive granite thorns). They intend to submit their final plan by 2028. [more inside]
posted by julthumbscrew
on May 23, 2014 -
Genie (born 1957) is the pseudonym of a feral child who was the victim of extraordinarily severe abuse, neglect and social isolation. Her circumstances are recorded prominently in the annals of abnormal child psychology. Born in Arcadia, California, United States, Genie's father kept her locked alone in a room from the age of 20 months to 13 years, 7 months, almost always strapped to a child's toilet or bound in a crib with her arms and legs completely immobilized.
"Secret of the Wild Child
" - A 1997 NOVA episode.
posted by azarbayejani
on May 18, 2014 -
Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever (average people have a vocab of 5,000 words). I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.
posted by cthuljew
on May 3, 2014 -
"Hygge" is a Danish word often associated with being cozy in winter, with candles, family and friends
, but even if Christmas is the high hygge season, there is hygge in warmer months, too
. Pronounced "hoo-gah" or "hYOOguh"
or something like that, it may be as hard for non-Danes to pronounce as it is to define, but one thing is for sure: money can't buy you hygge
(an academic article on Danish middle-class consumption, egalitarianism, and the sanctity of inner space, by Jeppe Trolle Linnet
posted by filthy light thief
on Apr 24, 2014 -
The Ket from the Lake Munduiskoye
(2008, 30 min.) The Ket people
are an indigenous group in central Siberia whose population has numbered less than two thousand during the past century. Although mostly assimilated into the dominant Russian culture at this point, a couple hundred of them are still able to speak the Ket language
, the last remaining member of the Yeniseian language group. Recent scholarship
has proposed a link between Ket and some Native American language groups.
posted by XMLicious
on Apr 16, 2014 -
We may not speak with the butter-toned exchanges of the characters on “Downton Abbey,” but in substance our speech is in many ways more civilized....
We are taught to celebrate the idea that Inuit languages reveal a unique relationship to snow, or that the Russian language’s separate words for dark and light blue mean that a Russian sees blueberries and robin’s eggs as more vibrantly different in color than the rest of us do. Isn’t it welcome, then, that good old-fashioned American is saying something cool about us for once?
- John McWhorter on colloquial American English
(SLNYTIMES) [more inside]
posted by beisny
on Apr 6, 2014 -
This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in Ireland. As the Life of a people—according to our motto—is pictured in their speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were concerned in it—Irish and English. ... Here for the first time—in this little volume of mine—our Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic classification.
P.W. Joyce's 1910 work, "English as We Speak it in Ireland,"
is a fascinating chronicle of a language's life, and no mistake. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes
on Mar 6, 2014 -
"...In this sense, doge really is the next generation of LOLcat, in terms of a pet-based snapshot of a certain era in internet language. We’ve kept the idea that animals speak like an exaggerated version of an internet-savvy human, but as our definitions of what it means to be a human on the internet have changed, so too have the voices that we give our animals. Wow.
posted by forza
on Feb 14, 2014 -
English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody
on Nov 19, 2013 -
"In linguistic circles, there is a bit of excitement over the election of Marty Walsh as Boston’s next mayor.
Not only does he have a strong Boston accent — perhaps the strongest in the city’s mayoral history — but his speech is a perfect example of the modern dialect, where the broad “a” sound is gone. He’s from Dohchestah. Not Dawchestah. And when it comes time to say pronounce his new job title, he shows the variability of the dialect, which is what actors who drop every R get wrong. Sometimes he’s a may-uh. Sometimes he’s a mare. And a lot of times, he skips both the Y and the R and he’s just a maeh..."
posted by anelsewhere
on Nov 17, 2013 -
"There are times when we should feel shame, like when we’re tempted to hunt for Communists. But nowadays one suspects that Joe McCarthy would have just accused his critics of “red-shaming.” On shaming
posted by mippy
on Oct 22, 2013 -
For several years now, Tom Scott, a young man in Britain, has mostly done silly, entertaining things on YouTube, things like, "Two Drums and a Cymbal Fall off a Cliff
," "The Matt Gray High Five Face Off
," "Robocoaster Challenge: Reciting Shakespeare while attached to a giant robot arm
," "Google Glasses: A New Way to Hurt Yourself
," and "Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers
. But recently, he's done a series of videos that are interesting
more than they're silly: eight videos
which introduce linguistic concepts like phonotactics
, clusivity & evidentiality
, and the contrast between descriptivism and prescriptivism
(he's decidedly the former, fyi).
posted by ocherdraco
on Jul 17, 2013 -
Researchers in Britain have identified twenty-three words from a postulated “proto-Eurasiatic” language spoken before the end of the last Ice Age. [Washington Post report
; original paper
] [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia
on May 7, 2013 -
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk
on Apr 26, 2013 -
Wondering about your British colleagues wearing tank tops
in chilly weather and complaining about bumf
? Trying to figure out what your American colleagues mean by poster child
or hump day
, or just where exactly kitty-corner
is? Lynneguist's Separated By a Common Language
will get you sorted
. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte
on Mar 23, 2013 -