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Archive for the ‘Linguistic’ Category

Can I make some copies? Maybe.

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Remember the story about how giving someone a reason, even if it’s a nonsense reason, gets them to say “yes”? We got it from Robert Cialdini, if I remember correctly.

Thanks to a recent post on Language Log entitled Generalization and Truth, I’ve learned that the cited study is here: “The Mindlessness of Ostensibly Thoughtful Action: The Role of ‘Placebic’ Information in Interpersonal Interaction”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(6): 635-42, 1978.

I’ve also learned that the study didn’t exactly say what we’ve been told it says:

What I discovered was frequent misunderstanding of the 1978 paper’s results, involving both a different conclusion and a strikingly overgeneralized picture of the observed effects. Kahneman 2003 was merely the most prominent of these. So as part of my on-going exploration of scientific rhetoric…

For the details, go read Generalization and Truth at Language Log.

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 3rd, 2009 at 3:05 pm

A Revolutionary Approach to Learning Languages

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A January article from the Victoria News, published by the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, shares some research by Paul Sulzberger, PhD into the teaching of languages:

Dr Sulzberger has found that the best way to learn a language is through frequent exposure to its sound patterns – even if you haven’t a clue what it all means.

“However crazy it might sound, just listening to the language, even though you don’t understand it, is critical. A lot of language teachers may not accept that,” he says.

Now, people who are good at learning languages have long said that immersion makes a massive difference, but they’ve never talked about why that’s the case. Dr. Sulzberger asserts that aural exposure to the language actually changes the brain, re-wiring it to understand what is being said:

Dr Sulzberger’s research challenges existing language learning theory. His main hypothesis is that simply listening to a new language sets up the structures in the brain required to learn the words.

“Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language—which is how babies learn their first language,” Dr Sulzberger says.

It’s an interesting idea, and it makes a lot of sense to me. You can read the rest of the article here.

And in the spirit of this snippet from the article:

“Teachers should recognise the importance of extensive aural exposure to a language. One hour a day of studying French text in a classroom is not enough—but an extra hour listening to it on the iPod would make a huge difference,” Dr Sulzberger says.

…by way of Lifehacker, here is a master list of free online language lessons.

Written by Michael DeBusk

April 5th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Dinosaurs and Metaphors

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Arnold Zwicky at Language Log pointed us to this great episode of Dinosaur Comics which explains the use and misuse of metaphors. Entertaining and educational!

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 10th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Posted in Linguistic

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Confessions Corrupt Eyewitnesses

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Security guru Bruce Schneier brings us one of those things that flies in the face of conventional wisdom:

People confess to crimes they don’t commit. They do it a lot. What’s interesting about this research is that confessions—whether false or true—corrupt other eyewitnesses…

Yep. People will believe someone’s confession over their own experience.

How can we put this to work?

Schneier on Security: Confessions Corrupt Eyewitnesses

Written by Michael DeBusk

February 4th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

A Pointer to a Hard-To-Find Book

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Regarding the book, Advanced Language Patterns Mastery, by Larry McLauchlin: I tried to buy a copy of this book a few months ago and learned that the author had died and that his family had sold the rights to someone. They had no stock, and used copies are very difficult to find (and very expensive when one is for sale).

I have what may be good news. I just bought a copy from NLP Comprehensive’s online store. In an online chat with a CSR, I learned that they have more copies. $35 plus shipping.

The reason I say it may be good news is that I made the mistake of telling them how difficult it is to get copies of this book. The CSR, “Sharon”, said she’d have to check to make sure their stock was not “on hold for anybody”. So get Advanced Language Patterns Mastery while you can!

Written by Michael DeBusk

December 12th, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Books,Linguistic

Ouch… Wait… What?

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Read this headline from the Fox News Web site:

Skydiver Dies in Second Fatal Jump at Virginia Airport in 2 Months

Are you, like I was, wondering what happened to him in his first fatal jump? Or how he managed to make a second fatal jump?

I had to read the article to make sense of it.

I think they do that on purpose.

Written by Michael DeBusk

November 5th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Linguistic

R. I. P., Linguist Edward Klima

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If you or someone you care about is deaf, or if you love language, take note. This week’s edition of Randy Cassingham’s excellent newsletter, This Is True, reports the death of renowned linguist Edward Klima:

A linguist at the University of California, San Diego, Klima got interested in a languages that other linguists had dismissed because they were not spoken: sign languages used by the deaf. Signing was thought to be simple gesturing of spoken language concepts, but…

Read the rest at Edward Klima — an Honorary Unsubscribe, and read Edward Klima’s obituary in the New York Times.

Written by Michael DeBusk

October 6th, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Posted in Linguistic,Neuro

Sentences saturated with similar sounds seem to stimulate synapses

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Alliteration is the way English poetry used to be done. If you read Old English or Middle English poetry (even if you don’t understand it) you won’t find rhyming; you’ll find alliteration. If I recall correctly, rhyme didn’t come into English poetry until after the Norman Conquest.

I find alliteration to be rather hypnotic, and I’ve noticed Richard Bandler uses it sometimes in his presentations. (I’ve heard him use rhyme as well.) A recent bit of research, outlined at Cognitive Daily, indicates that it may stimulate memory as well:

Some scholars have suggested that alliteration makes a poem easier to remember: an important skill back in the days when books were so expensive that it might be cheaper to pay a bard to recite a poem than buy a written copy. But there has been little research about whether alliteration actually acts as a way to spur memory. More to the point, alliteration is rarely used throughout a poem: some of the words have to start with different letters. So alliteration might help you remember some of the poem, but it can’t help you remember the parts that aren’t alliterative. Or can it?

Go read more at Cognitive Daily: Alliteration improves memory performance

Previous posts of this particular persuasion:

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 29th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Linguistic,Psych

Like him, love him, laugh at him, loathe him…

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No matter what your response to Barack Obama, you’ve got to admire his amazing skill with language. His ability to stay both engaging and content-free is astounding.

Here’s a transcript of his convention address. I was just working through it. It’s got everything a hypnotist could want in a trance induction. I wish now that I’d watched it so I could experience his paraverbal and nonverbal stuff too.

(Edited to add: Bert Decker over at Create Your Communication has posted his critique of Obama’s presentation, and it’s worth a look.)

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 29th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

A wonderful toy for the verbivore: Visuwords™

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This post from Dumb Little Man pointed me to this beautiful toy: Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary and thesaurus

Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.

Enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. Click and drag the background to pan around and use the mouse wheel to zoom. Hover over nodes to see the definition and click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections.

Go play!

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 10th, 2008 at 12:39 am

Posted in Linguistic