Linguist Mark Liberman, who works at the University of Pennsylvania, says the use of "um" or "uh" can provide signs about the speaker’s gender, language skills and life experience.
Tagged with “language” (118)
In 1990, the federal government invited a group of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers to the New Mexico desert, to visit the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. They would be there on assignment.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is the nation’s only permanent underground repository for nuclear waste. Radioactive byproducts from nuclear weapons manufacturing and nuclear power plants. WIPP was designed not only to handle a waste stream of various forms of nuclear sludge, but also more mundane things that interacted with radioactive materials, such as tools and gloves.
WIPP, which is located deep in the New Mexico desert, was designed to store all of this radioactive material and keep us all safe from it.
Eventually, WIPP will be sealed up and left alone. Years will pass and those years will become decades. Those decades will become centuries and those centuries will roll into millennia. People above ground will come and go. Cultures will rise and fall. And all the while, below the surface, that cave full of waste will get smaller and smaller, until the salt swallows up all those oil drums and entombs them. Then, all the old radioactive gloves and tools and little bits from bombs –all still radioactive– will be solidified in the earth’s crust for more than 200,000 years. Basically forever.
A new book looks at words that self-appointed linguistic police have declared contraband, like "lunch," which should be a verb, and "balding," a participle formed from an adjective instead of a verb.
Linguists are looking to crowd-sourcing to solve the problem of translating lesser-known dialects. The plan is to use social networks to link human translators with groups like relief agencies — and even businesses. It’s a technique that worked after the Haitian earthquake.
The story of the discovery of the ancient language which gave rise to most of the languages of Europe, including English.
The year in language. Cronut. Vape. Twerk. Sharknado. We’ll look at the language that went large in 2013.
In this introductory episode, we look at the emergence of English as a global language and the evolution of the language from its Germanic origins.
Mark Pagel says early humans developed language as a tool to cooperate. But with thousands of different languages, Pagel says language also exists to prevent us from communicating outside our tribal groups.
Beauty and Brains.
Dramatizing the Internet.
A few hours north of San Francisco is the town of Boonville, nestled in the quaint Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Like Silicon Valley, this place is known for its innovations in communication – but in a completely different way.
Boonville has its own homegrown language called Boontling and only a handful of people still speak it. Among them is Wes Smoot, 81, the unofficial king of Boonville.
Smoot and his cohorts meet at the Redwood Drive-In on the central drag practically every day at 4 p.m. Smoot says it’s one of the last places that feels like the town he grew up in. Outside, Smoot says, wine and tourism have turned the friendly, close-knit community into a place full of strangers.
For Smoot, Boontling is a connection to the past. It’s said to have emerged in the late 1800s and every word has a meaning related to a person or event in Boonville. For example, to work hard is ottin’, after a man named Otto who was the hardest worker in town.
But more often than not, Boontling is used to describe salacious words unfit for print. Former Chico State University professor Charles C. Adams published a dictionary of them in his book “Boontling: An American Lingo.”Today, Boonville residents refer to Adams’ publication as “the big book.”
The little book is a pamphlet Smoot prints and distributes around town with a more child-friendly glossary. It has the definitions and origins of words like zeese (coffee) and blue-tail (rattlesnake).
“In order to speak the language and understand the people you gotta know something about the history of the valley,” Smoot says.
That history has cycled from an isolated farming town, to a logging boomtown, to a winemaker’s paradise. But when Smoot returned after several years away from Boonville as a young man serving in the Korean War, and then traveling around the state for Caltrans, he already felt like his childhood home had changed.
Boontling has been documenting those changes word-by-word. Though there’s no recorded history of where the language itself came from.
Smoot’s favorite version of Boontling’s origin is about a young San Francisco woman who became pregnant out of wedlock and was sent up north by her high society parents to have the baby.
“There’s a number of stories, it’s very interesting,” says Robert Nimmons, a volunteer for the Anderson Valley Historical Society. “We’ve heard several stories that the adults developed it so they could talk but the kids didn’t know what they were saying.”
Regardless, there are just a few fluent Boontling speakers left. And even though Smoot and his pals are sure Boonville’s homegrown language will eventually die off, they’re still contributing to the lexicon.
“Another fella and I came up with a new word now, when the salmon go up the stream and spawn,” Smoot says. “Well when you get our age we’re downstreamers, we’re getting to go back down stream. We’re downstreamers now.”
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