Linguists in “Arrival” and other pop culture

Linguists in “Arrival” and other pop culture

In the new movie Arrival, gigantic spaceships touch down across the globe. To analyze the alien species that emerges from the spacecraft, a special team is assembled, which is headed by…a linguist! Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) successfully deciphers their complicated alien writing system. The film explores a theoretical field known as xenolinguistics, in which […]

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Do A Harold Holt

Do A Harold Holt

Karl Mamer recently invited me onto his podcast The Conspiracy Skeptic to discuss conspiracy theories from the Land Down Under. One of the cases we discussed was the disappearance of former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt. On December 17, 1967, Holt visited Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, with some friends. He went into the water […]

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Body Language
By September 17, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

Body Language

Over the past few days a number of articles about body language have been appearing in my social media feeds. Forbes featured the piece 15 Body Language Blunders Successful People Never Make while Business Insider published 11 horrible body language habits that are hard to quit, but you’ll be glad you did. If we are […]

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Texan woman sounds “British” after surgery

Texan woman sounds “British” after surgery

The Washington Post recently reported that A Texan went to the hospital for surgery. She woke up with a startling British accent. In December 2015, 33-year-old Texan Lisa Alamia underwent surgery on her jaw to correct an overbite. The surgery was a success, except for the fact that when she awoke she spoke with a […]

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What is an ocker?

What is an ocker?

Who or what is an ocker? In Australia, there is a cultural stereotype of a working-class Aussie who might be found at the pub, at a barbecue, working on his V8, or sitting at home in front of the television watching the footy (football). He – for the archetypal ocker is usually a bloke – […]

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The Real Babel Fish?

The Real Babel Fish?

New York-based company Waverly Labs have announced their new invention: The Pilot – the world’s first translation earpiece that translates conversations between people speaking different languages in real time. The company is planning to release versions for English, Spanish, French and Italian, while versions for East Asian, Hindi, Semitic, Arabic, Slavic and African languages will […]

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Effect vs. Affect

Effect vs. Affect

I was grading papers recently and several students used the word affect when they meant effect, and vice versa. This is a very common error that I see often and I thought it’s time that I share my tricks for differentiating between the two words. Effect and affect look and sound similar but they behave […]

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Make A Name For Yourself

Make A Name For Yourself

Recently, we received a wedding invitation that was addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Baxter”. I’ll have to give the invitation to Mrs. Matthew Baxter when I find her. When I got married in 2012 I decided to keep my last name (or surname, as people call it in Australia, New Zealand and Britain). Why? […]

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What’s up with Uptalk?

What’s up with Uptalk?

Some speakers make a sentence sound like a question? This is a phenomenon called a High Rising Terminal, but is also known popularly as Upspeak, Uptalk, or Valley Girl speech. Let’s look at the ups and downs of “Uptalk”. The High Rising Terminal (HRT) is a speech pattern in which the speaker ends a phrase […]

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Bad English?

Bad English?

Do you use prepositions to end a sentence with? Do you believe it is wrong to ever split your infinitives? And do you start your sentences with conjunctions? You are not alone. When people find out I’m a linguist they often become extra careful around me. They believe linguists are strict guardians and arbiters of […]

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