jrtom: (Default)

Among other things, apparently native Russian speakers are better at distinguishing between light and dark blue...because Russian has no word for 'blue', but one for 'light blue' and one for 'dark blue'. And so on.
jrtom: (Default)
Heard this on NPR this morning:


The gist: as most of you reading this know, a number of languages have gendered nouns. (In Spanish, for example, problems are male and surprises are female. :) ) So a scientist decided to check to see whether the gender of a noun in one's first language affects the kinds of adjectives associated with it. The answer: yes.

What's more surprising (to me, anyway) is that this appears to be true even if you've just been learning a new synthetic language, and have no previous experience of languages with gendered nouns.
jrtom: (Default)
via boingboing: http://www.boingboing.net/2007/07/08/toypography_blocks_s.html



The especially cool bit is the ability to use the _same pieces_ to render a given word in both English and Japanese (kanji).

Now if I can just figure out how to actually order these...
jrtom: (Default)
"Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer commonly caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos and litigation."

Yeah, litigation is a well-known carcinogen, it's true.

(The rest of the article isn't much better, although it's mostly just badly written in a way that isn't particularly funny.)
jrtom: (Default)
Apparently Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog.

[livejournal.com profile] lethran, this is for you. :)
jrtom: (Default)
from [livejournal.com profile] maradydd: Programming languages and their relationship styles.

Brilliant. I don't necessarily agree with all the assessments, but you don't have to agree in order to appreciate the humor.

This is one of those LJ posts that makes me consider adding the author to my friends list (which doesn't need any additions if this PhD is ever going to get finished...*rueful smile*) on the strength of it.
jrtom: (Default)
The Eggcorn Database

This site collects unusual spellings of a particular kind, which have come to be called eggcorns. Typical examples include free reign (instead of free rein) or hone in on (instead of home in on), and many more or less common reshapings of words and expressions: a word or part of a word is semantically reanalyzed, and the spelling reflects the new interpretation.

Interesting stuff. The one that's surprised me most, so far, is "be who of" (that is, what "behoove" becomes in the mouths of the confused).
jrtom: (Default)
in response to Robin's "what it means to 'speak Chinese'" post:

It's actually a bit weirder and more complicated than that. As the
article points out (and as I learned when I studied Mandarin about,
oh, 20 years ago), the _semantics_ of the written Chinese characters
are basically the same in all Chinese dialects, but the spoken
syllables differ radically. It's as if anyone that could read
English could also read, say, Italian, and vice versa...without
conferring any ability to speak or understand the other language.

This is further complicated by the fact that mainland Chinese
generally (I think) uses simplified versions of the "original"
characters, whereas Taiwanese use the original characters, but that's
not really an issue in mainland China, AFAIK. (I might possibly have
it backwards, but the difference is there regardless.)

(Incidentally, I believe that Japanese characters (not the
"alphabetic" ones) also share at least some of the semantics with
written Chinese, putting Japanese, in a sense, on a similar footing
with the various Chinese dialects.)

On a random cultural note, I believe that this linguistic oddity may
explain why it is that I have heard that some Chinese, when speaking
Chinese to other Chinese, will sometimes scribble some of the
characters on their palms with their fingers: it disambiguates.


jrtom: (Default)

May 2011

1516 1718192021
29 3031    


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 18 April 2019 12:25
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios