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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...

Stop Using &#39;-Splain&#39; as a Suffix
 Stop Using 
 '-Splain' as 
 a Suffix 

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...

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 "...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

University of NH: Don't Use Words Like 'Rich,' 'American'

Go with 'person of material wealth' who is a 'resident of the US'

(Newser) - The University of New Hampshire has created a " Bias-Free Language Guide ," which it says "is not a means to censor but ... presents practical revisions in our common usage that can ... break barriers relating to diversity." It includes a long list of "problematic/outdated" words, along with...

Women, Stop Using This Word at Work
Women, Stop Using
This Word at Work

Women, Stop Using This Word at Work


(Newser) - Women, enough with the word "just." In a post at LinkedIn , Google alum and entrepreneur Ellen Petry Leanse makes the case that women use the word much more often than men in the workplace—to their own detriment. It's a weak word, she argues, and it makes...

Guess Which Country Has 2nd-Most Spanish Speakers

Mexico has the most, with 121 million

(Newser) - Not speaking or studying Spanish yet? Then this might inspire you: The US now has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population outside of Mexico, according to a new study reported in the Guardian . According to Instituto Cervantes , a non-profit that promotes Spanish language and culture, the US now has 41 million native...

You Guys, Stop Saying &#39;You Guys&#39;
 You Guys, 
 Stop Saying 
 'You Guys' 

You Guys, Stop Saying 'You Guys'

Vox writer says oft-used phrase promotes sexism, even if it's not intentional

(Newser) - Jenee Desmond-Harris admits that she used to start many of her social media posts with the informal and conversational "you guys" greeting, and her initial reaction to the idea of banishing the phrase was "oh, come on." But now she's ready to purge the popular phrase...

Did Science Just Discover a New Shakespeare Play?

Psych theory and text-analyzing software show 'Double Falsehood' may be Bard's

(Newser) - Did William Shakespeare pen Double Falsehood after all? Texas researchers say he probably did after comparing the play to "psychological signatures" they worked up for the Bard, Lewis Theobald (the supposed author), and Shakespeare contemporary John Fletcher. The study, published in Psychological Science , used text-analyzing software and psychological theory...

Stop Saying It&#39;s a &#39;War&#39; Against Cancer

 Let's End the 
 'War' Against 

Let's End the 'War' Against Cancer

It's time to 'lay down our weapons,' writers say

(Newser) - We can "stand up to" it, "fight" it, "beat" it, and even "survive" it, but does this macho language help us deal with cancer? No way, say David Hauser and Richard Wassersug: "Not only has the military motif not led to a cure for the...

North, South Korea Languages Drifting Apart

After 7 decades, about one-third of words are different

(Newser) - On one side of the line that has divided two societies for so long, the words arrive as fast as globalization can bring them—English-based lingo like "shampoo," ''juice," and "self-service." To South Koreans, they are everyday language. To defectors from North Korea,...

Spanish Is the Happiest Language
 Spanish Is 
 the Happiest 
study says

Spanish Is the Happiest Language

Scientists' analysis of websites suggests as much

(Newser) - If you're in a foul mood, it might be time to learn Spanish. Languages, and the people who use them, tend to favor using positive words over negatives, researchers find, and they've learned that that's particularly true in Spanish. Experts at the University of Vermont and the...

Guy Who Made 47K Wikipedia Corrections Is Wrong

Crusade against 'comprised of' is unfair: newspaper editor

(Newser) - David Shariatmadari just can't go along with the grammar guy who's correcting everyone on Wikipedia . As a newspaper editor, Shariatmadari admits to having "grammatical bugbears," but the crusade by software engineer Bryan Henderson to eliminate every "comprised of" on Wikipedia is way over the top....

What Chimps Say When They Talk to Each Other
What Chimps Say When They Talk to Each Other

What Chimps Say When They Talk to Each Other

There's a special kind of fruit that makes them all chatty

(Newser) - Chimps chat, just like we do—and like many of us, they spend a lot of time gabbing about what they want to eat and where they're going to get their next meal, Discovery reports. For a study published in Animal Behaviour , scientists camped out in the Ivory Coast'...

Why It's So Hard to Get Rid of Your Accent

Tip: Try being under 5 years old

(Newser) - Even after we've become well-versed in a second language, that native accent can be tough to shake. In short, an expert tells LiveScience , that's because you probably are older than age five. Between birth and that age, our flexible minds are good at picking up different sounds. But...

Top Threat to Rare Languages: Growing Economies

Zoologist turns from endangered animals to endangered tongues

(Newser) - There are some 6,909 languages spoken today, but many are on the decline, and the biggest reason, researchers find, is economic growth. Researchers studied the 649 languages for which growth and decline data was available to determine the leading factors driving the change, Science magazine reports. In order to...

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