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A pox on you!

A pox on you!

Swear words and insults in the English language have common taboo themes, most notably sex, race and ethnicity, and religion. The former are extremely offensive, while blasphemy has mostly lost its punch, although we still hear many people taking the Lord’s name into vain. But one category of profane words has mostly fallen out of […]

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Body Language: Pulling Your Leg

Body Language: Pulling Your Leg

This morning a reader emailed the following article to me: This is What the Position of Your Legs While Sitting Reveals About You. “Is it true?” she asked. The article features the following image and presents an analysis of each way of sitting. The author claims that Position A reveals “this person thinks that neglecting […]

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Where’s that accent from?

Where’s that accent from?

I was in a department store recently when the sales assistant initiated the following conversation: “Where’s that accent from?” “Oh, well I’m…” “Wait! Let me guess! You’re from England, right?” “No.” “Um…New Zealand?” “No.” “South Africa?” “No.” “Scotland? Ireland?” “No!” “Germany?” “No!” “Then where?” “I’m Australian.” “Ah! I knew it! That was gonna be my […]

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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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