Monthly Archives: January, 2011

Love to chat

A new study has found that people who speak in similar styles are more compatible. Conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, the study examined “function words” to see if their use had any correlation with the long-term prospects of a relationship. Function words are words that show how nouns and verbs(…)

State of the Union: Salmon and ‘we’

So, last night was the State of the Union address from President Barack Obama. The speech is always analysed in great detail by the press – apparently it wasn’t too noteworthy (apart from the salmon joke). The language the president uses is one of the most analysed aspects of the State of the Union. The(…)

How do babies process language?

Just like adults, according to new research. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego, have shown that babies process language in the same way as adults and can understand many words adults are saying. It was previously thought that infants evolved into processing language like adults, starting out with an entirely different mechanism of(…)

Want to learn a new language? Try Prairiedogese.

A professor at Northern Arizona University has mapped the ’language’ of prairie dogs. Professor Con Slobodchikoff has discovered that the calls prairie dogs make can be clustered into different groups. Their call sounds like ‘chee chee chee chee’, according to the professor. From the NPR article: Slobodchikoff and his students went out into the prairie(…)

Pashto? There’s an app for that.

“Hearts and minds” has been used as a military technique since the Malayan Emergency – the idea being that if soldiers win the support of the local people, it will be easier for them to effect change. But what if the people on the front line don’t speak the local language? They then become reliant(…)

Howdy folks!

The title of the post is very informal – “howdy folks” is a greeting you would perhaps use to a group of friends and family. According to the Wall Street Journal, using “dear” as a salutation is going the way of the dodo. Many people feel it is too familiar, seemingly taking “dear” in it’s(…)

The Year in Language

The beginning of a new year is always filled with round-ups of the previous one. Mostly they are in the form of lists (especially ‘word of the year’ lists), which becomes a bit tedious after the eleventh one. For that reason I recommend Erin McKean’s roundup of the year in the language at It’s(…)

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had happy holidays and you all are ready to get started with language learning again! I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions because, let’s be honest, they normally fail by the end of January (if not earlier). This year though, I’ve made a couple of resolutions that I hope are honest and(…)