Obviously Awesome

Language, Linguistics & Symbolism articles

Four different writing systems have been used in Algeria. Three are well known – Phoenician, Latin and Arabic – while one is both indigenous to Africa and survives only as a writing system.
What follows is a hand-picked list of what I found to be the most interesting pairs (or triplets) of words my program produced, along with a brief bit about the actual history that I researched separately. "Piano" is a shortened form of the Italian word "pianoforte", which means "soft-loud".
The Etymological Wordnet project provides information about how words in different languages are etymologically related. The information is for the most part mined from Wiktionary.
This is a map of the wheel-ruts of modern English. Etymologies are not definitions; they're explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.
The Elephant Ethogram is a uniquely detailed catalogue, or library, of the behavior and communication of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Elephants possess an incredibly rich repertoire of communication techniques, including hundreds of calls and gestures that convey specific meanings and can change depending on the context.
It’s 6:30 p.m. at a radio studio in Miaoli, a small city in Western Taiwan. Yin Chang is plugged in. Her headphones are on, and the microphone is adjusted close to her mouth. The lights are dim; a blue banner declaring “Voice of Hakka Radio 97.1 FM” hangs behind her.
Stephen R. Anderson Download this document as a pdf. The object of inquiry in linguistics is human language, in particular the extent and limits of diversity in the world’s languages.
This piece is filled front-to-back with spoilers for Project Hail Mary. You have been warned!Andy Weir's latest, Project Hail Mary, is a good book that you'll almost certainly enjoy if you enjoyed Weir's freshman novel The Martian.
And as always, there are more complex smoothing techniques (Back-off, Kneser-Ney, etc.), that I will not discuss in this post. Choosing the corpus from which you learn the language model greatly affects the final outcome. Needless to say, choosing the language of the corpus is crucial.
During the pandemic, many college professors abandoned assignments from printed textbooks and turned instead to digital texts or multimedia coursework. As a professor of linguistics, I have been studying how electronic communication compares to traditional print when it comes to learning.
The verb decide has deadly interesting origins. Though it came through Middle English deciden, Old French decider, and Latin decidere, you can tell that there's the prefix de-, kind of meaning "off".
To preserve, for historical record, the hand signals of open outcry pit trading
Picture two cartoon characters, one round and the other spiky. Which would you name Bouba, and which one, Kiki? And which do you then think is more outgoing? Perhaps surprisingly, most of you will probably attribute the same name and characteristics to each of the shapes.
While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech. What was behind his attempt to talk to us? Millions of years before we humans came along, the earth’s oceans were a vast, unbroken web of whale song.
Dr. McWhorter is a linguist who has written extensively about both race and language. He is the author, most recently, of “Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter,” from which this guest essay is adapted. This article contains obscenities and racial slurs, fully spelled out.
The French call it "voix de chambre à coucher". It's a deep, sultry "bedroom voice" that gives some speakers their powers of seduction. It's perfectly explainable too.
Disney’s 2019 remake of its 1994 classic “The Lion King” was a box-office success, grossing more than one and a half billion dollars. But it was also, in some ways, a failed experiment.
In what may be the largest interspecies communication effort in history, scientists plan to use machine learning to try to decode what Sperm whales say to one another. National Geographic reports: [Sperm whales "speak" in clicks, which they make in rhythmic series called codas.
This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. Sign up here to get it nightly. Not every great movie has a great ending.
Last summer, Tim Lomas flew from London to Orlando to attend the fourth annual congress of the International Positive Psychology Association—held, naturally, at Walt Disney World.
When I first met Carol Dana, in the spring of 2018, she told me that she was thinking of getting a parrot.
In this article, I provide a concise and to-the-point overview of the challenges of working with Arabic text in NLP projects…and the tools available to overcome them.
Ever since Orlando Raola was a boy, he harbored a curiosity that stretched across the seas. Growing up in Havana, Cuba, in the 1960s, he perused the encyclopedia sets of his elementary school and pressed his ear to his shortwave radio to listen to programs on Radio Sweden.
One of the first things I learnt to say in Dutch was ‘we beat them to death with sticks’. Not exactly standard fare for the first week of language classes, but then again this wasn’t an ordinary language class.
A crescent-shaped, wooden neck ornament from Easter Island made some time in the first half of the nineteenth century. The artifact, decorated with two bearded male heads on either end, contains a line of rongorongo glyphs along its bottom edge. Courtesy British Museum.
Welcome to Idioms Online, your free idioms dictionary! Here you can search for idioms by using the site search, by the first letter, or by individual words or theme. Before you can begin to understand the need for a website about idioms, you need to know the definition of idiom.
Not too long ago, I drove by a radio station with an apostrophe in its call sign. Reading it aloud, it seemed the apostrophe affected an actual word, but my inner Star Trek fan immediately decided it simply must be a Klingon radio station.
Handy words from other languages with no English equivalent.
Essential Japanese: The Mental Model is a guide offered with kindness from Japanese Complete. Get an intuition for the basics of Japanese! Plus, it's free. If you find it useful, share it with a friend.
(This year, we published many inspiring and amazing stories that made us fall in love with the world – and this is one our favourites. Click here for the full list). “Non, ce n’est pas possible. I keep telling you, it can’t be done,” the airline booking agent insisted.
The Armenian alphabet is a true masterpiece of its era and knows many secrets. However, there is one in particular that still blows my mind.
English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition.
How we evolved to read is a story of one creative species. The Chinese artist Xu Bing has long experimented to stunning effect with the limits of the written form. Last year I visited the Centre del Carme in Valencia, Spain, to see a retrospective of his work.
This week, a woman was strolling in my street, walking in circles and speaking out loud to herself. People were looking at her awkwardly, but she didn’t particularly mind, and continued walking vigorously and speaking. Yes, that woman was me.
By Emily Bender, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington. Natural language processing (NLP), including text analytics, text as data, etc., involves the application of machine learning and other methods to text (and speech) in some natural language.
Here are a few lucky words that have been preserved in common English expressions.
(Also posted on Medium) (03-05-20: This post got a decent amount of attention on Hacker News, Reddit, and Reddit again. Check out the links to see some discussions about the post and language learning in general, as well as my answers to some questions.
Three years ago today, the 33 members of the Bluffton University baseball team boarded a bus at their campus in Bluffton, Ohio.
The origins of language are not what inherited disorders seemed to suggest. There is a family living in Britain, known only as the KE family, with a few members that can’t quite say words like “hippopotamus.
By entering your email, you agree to our Terms of Use and consent to our Privacy policy (to summarize, we respect your confidentiality and right to privacy!). Since our lessons are sent by email, you will receive emails from us! You can unsubscribe at any time.
Above you see some popular SAAS products. This website uses alternate versions of those products, that we built from scratch in a minimalistic fashion. That is: we only built the core functionality, in a way we wanted, and left out all the rest — the “crap”.
In a fascinating look at language, a professor lays out how political parties can sway supporters with tiny tweaks in word choice.
Only the most pop culturally isolated English speakers don’t know what the word “stan” means.
In the United States, the most popular last name is Smith. As per the 2010 census, about 0.8 percent of Americans have it. In Vietnam, the most popular last name is Nguyen. The estimate for how many people answer to it? Somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s population.
We all know people who talk with their hands. Turns out there’s quite a bit of research around the relationship between language and gestures.
I just finished a summer studying Arabic at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, an enjoyable adventure that I hope to write about in more detail later.
An American friend living in Beijing once said she refused to communicate with anyone whose email address consisted of a string of numbers, such as 62718298454@163.com.
I’ve been learning Chinese now for roughly five years. Including a burst of intensive immersion during three months in China near the beginning, plus plenty of practice since, I now feel fairly comfortable with the language.
The present course serves an a practical introduction to the Rational Speech Act modeling framework. Little is presupposed beyond a willingness to explore recent progress in formal, implementable models of language understanding. G. Scontras and M. H. Tessler (2017).
Where “language” refers to spoken or written communication, visual language goes a step further to connect with a certain community. Elements from color to style to type of photos or illustrations establish what a brand or company is.
Last May, Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, flew to Malta for a week to learn Maltese. He had a hefty grammar book in his backpack, but he didn’t plan to open it unless he had to.
On rongorongo, which no one can decipher.
In an 1878 North American Review description of his new invention, the phonograph, which transcribed sound on wax-covered metal cylinders, Thomas Edison suggested a number of possible uses: “Letter writing and all kinds of dictation without the aid of a stenographer,” “Phonographic books
If aliens actually visited Earth, world leaders would bring in a scientist to develop a process for understanding their language.
In the mind’s eye of many people, Japan is a land of tranquil Zen gardens, serene temples, and exquisite tea ceremonies. Both traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture, books and magazines are the envy of designers worldwide.