There’s a relatively long tradition, in the field of data visualization, of tracking the way we swear. This makes sense. Not only is it fun to track, but cursing is also conveniently specific as a data set; you’ve got your f-bombs and your double hockey sticks and your bodily functions, and, factoring in their permutations, you’re good to go. Plus, you don’t need much sophisticated sentiment analysis to ensure that your data are accurate: An f-bomb is pretty much an f-bomb, regardless of the contextual subtleties. As a result of all this, we, the public, get treated to sweary heat maps. And more sweary heat maps. And sweary interactive maps. There’s just something about big data and sailor-cursing that complement each other—like peanut butter and mothereffing jelly.
Traditionally, those maps are based on text—on swears that are typed into Facebook or, even more publicly, Twitter. Making a map of the sweariest states requires simply gathering geocoded posts, isolating the swears, and going from there.
Read more. [Image: Marchex]
And congrats to California, for being polite while swearing like sailors.
test reblogged from theatlantic
Selfie: 2013’s Word of the Year
The publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary gave their yearly top honors to the word “selfie” today, in an announcement that somehow, was not accompanied by a selfie.
So what was the organization’s rationale?
"It seems like everyone who is anyone has posted a selfie somewhere on the Internet. If it is good enough for the Obamas or the pope, then it is good enough for Word of the Year."
And for a bit of little-known trivia: The term was born in Australia, where the suffix “-ie” is commonly used. From the 2002 ABC forum posting that reportedly birthed the word, documenting a drunken accident:
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”
Photos: L’Osservatore Romano / Associated Press, NASA
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.”
By EMILY DERUY
The Los Angeles Times will no longer use the terms “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented immigrant,” the paper announced Wednesday. While the Times has generally avoided such terms for some time, the new guidelines make the policy official.
It’s true! Readers’ Rep Deidre Edgar has the full details on why we ultimately made the decision.
test reblogged from thisisfusion
Shaking up the spelling bee
The biggest spelling bee in the country, the Scripps National Spelling Bee, is introducing a major change to its proceedings. Instead of just knowing how to spell preposterous words, contestants will also have to know their definitions.
If you ask us, for those who have trained for years just on the proper spelling of words, the change is bound to be like a field full of guetapens (the word that propelled last year’s winner, Snigdha Nandipati, to victory).
The reason behind the change:
"It represents a deepening of the bee’s commitment to its purpose," Director Paige Kimble told USA Today, "to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives."
Read more from reporter Karin Klein’s rundown of the changes.
Photos: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News/MCT, Fred Watkins / ABC, Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press
Let’s discuss talking monkeys
University of Michigan researcher Thore Bergman thinks he may have stumbled upon the linguistic missing link between monkeys and humans while researching wild Gelada baboons (pictured above).
"I would find myself frequently looking over my shoulder to see who was talking to me, but it was just the geladas," said Bergman. "It was unnerving to have primate vocalizations sound so much like human voices."
Bergman thinks that communicative lip-smacking by the baboons, in alignment with rhythmic facial expressions, could represent the bridge between animal sounds and human speech.
Read more on Bergman’s study via Science Now, or check out his report in Current Biology. Or just listen to Ricky Gervais’ perfect lead-in for any and all primate news.
Photos: Associated Press
Working to save a dying language
Uchinaaguchi, an utterly unique language native to Okinawa, Japan, is on the brink of extinction, with the number of speakers dwindling across the world and at home. One Gardena classroom may be the only place left in the U.S. where the language is even taught.
But that doesn’t stop teacher Chogi Higa from trying to keep the language alive.
Famous for its military bases and World War II battlefields, the Japanese island chain of Okinawa is also home to a language as different from Japanese as English is from German. A Japanese speaker in Higa’s class would be lost from the get-go — “good morning” in Japanese is “ohayo gozai masu.”
Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Filipino nurses settle language-bias case: The $975,000 secured in a dispute with Delano Regional Medical Center is believed to be the largest such settlement in the U.S. healthcare industry.
During a 2006 mandatory meeting for Filipino staffers, nurses were told they were forbidden from using their native language at “any time in the hospital,” said Wilma Lamug, a former 10-year employee.
She said the hospital’s former chief executive vowed that “he would install surveillance cameras in nursing stations. Whoever is caught, they were threatened with suspension or termination,” Lamug said. “Sometimes, we were speaking English, but due to our accent and diction, they thought we were speaking something else.”
Although the hospital, near Bakersfield, employed a mix of bilingual employees speaking Spanish, Hindi, Bengali and other languages, managers targeted only the Filipinos and encouraged supervisors and other staffers to “act as vigilantes.”
Photo: Nurse Wilma Lamug is overcome with emotion as she recounts the discrimination she and other Filipino nurses experienced while working at the Delano Regional Medical Center in Delano, Calif. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
Think Congress is sophomoric? A study says you’re right: Oratory in the House and Senate has dropped a full grade, to the high school sophomore level, an analysis finds.
Photo: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), left, with his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). A study found the younger Paul’s oratory to be at an eighth-grade level. Credit: Ed Reinke, Associated Press
Trying to drive a stake through a conversational staple: British-born poet and journalist John Tottenham says that saying “awesome" in his presence is like "waving a crucifix in a vampire’s face."
This Valley girl says… awesome.
Photo: John Tottenham holds an anti-awesome bumper sticker at Stories bookstore in Echo Park. Credit: Christina House / For The Times
Pico Iyer says writing longer phrases is a way to protest the speed of information bites people are subjected to each day.
East L.A. speaks from its heart: The distinctive accent is heard in a cluster of neighborhoods. Its roots might be in Mexico, but it transcends race and ethnicity. And the sing-song style is GO-ween to new places.
The East L.A. accent is not as well-known as some other Southern California styles of speech — the Valley Girl accent or the surfer dude patois. But it is a distinct, instantly recognizable way of talking, associated with a part of L.A. famous as a melting pot of Mexicans, Japanese, Jews, Armenians and other ethnic groups.
This is a a fun article. Lots of trivia for your Californiphile.
In a slightly Canadian-sounding twist, some people will add “ey” to the end of a sentence, in a vaguely questioning tone: “Someone’s on the phone for you, ey.”
Shout-out from Edward James Olmos:
"It’s about identity. You wear it like a shield," said actor Edward James Olmos. "I want people to know where I’m coming from. You use that accent, and you use it very strongly. I use it with pride and self-esteem."
… For the role of Gaff in the cult classic “Blade Runner,” Olmos helped develop a fictitious street language that incorporated bits of several tongues, including Hungarian, German and French — but not Spanish.
Still, the character’s tone and rhythm — along with his flamboyant clothes and fedora, hinting at a Zoot Suiter — were reminiscent of East L.A. To Olmos, they imbued Gaff with street cred.
"Of course the Eastside was put in there. Of course. Are you kidding?" he said.
Photo: Frances Flores, 61, was born in Boyle Heights to a Japanese mother and a German-English father and was raised by a Mexican American woman. “I sound like a Mexican American,” she says. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Every time your Tumblr host travels, people ask her if she’s from California. What about you? Does your accent reflect where you’re from?
Dual-language immersion programs are the new face of bilingual education — without the stigma. They offer the chance to learn a second language not just to immigrant children, but to native-born American students as well.
But wait, there’s more — studies show bilingualism is good for the brain.
Researchers constructed evolutionary trees for four linguistic groups and concluded that cultures, not innate preferences, drive the language rules humans create –- contrary to the findings of noted linguists Noam Chomsky and Joseph Greenberg.