Learning to Distinguish Between Literal and Contextual Meaning [Study]

March 11, 2012 coms 0

When a speaker makes a truthful statement that implies an untruth, what do listeners hear? Are they able to see beyond the false implications and uncover the unvarnished truth? Can people divorce themselves from the context of a statement well enough to hear what is really being said, or do some words carry such strong implications that people cannot see past them?

Shakespeare’s Grammar Is What Sets Him Apart, Researcher Concludes

February 1, 2012 coms 1

Shakespeare used many ingenious techniques and devices in his work, and scarcely one of them has escaped being declared the root of his genius at one time or another. Now, new research points to Shakespeare’s unique and masterful use of grammar as the key to both his contemporary success and his lasting place in literature.

Ambiguity Makes Language More Efficient, Say Scientists

January 20, 2012 coms 0

A new study by MIT cognitive scientists argues that ambiguity may be the most efficient way to communicate after all. Instead of speakers having to invent new sounds for single-use words or memorize a large vocabulary, they can simply reuse small words that listeners can easily disambiguate through social or verbal cues.

Even in Tough Times, Language Remains Positive [Study]

January 17, 2012 coms 0

In this age of natural disasters, chronic unemployment, terrorism, public protests and housing foreclosures, one might expect newspapers and social media sites to be flooded with a deluge of negative words. Surprisingly, however, that is not the case. Researchers at the University of Vermont have found that the English language contains a natural positivity, meaning that even in troubled times, people use more happy words than sad ones.

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Five Best Commencement Speeches of 2011

June 6, 2011 coms 0

This collection of speeches hosts a wide range of speakers who reach into their own life experiences and lessons to deliver commencement addresses that are eloquent, humorous, and moving. Each speech was chosen for their inspirational nature, because they not only have the power to motivate upcoming and recent graduates, but also those of us who need a reminder of what it feels like to be wide-eyed twenty-something-year-old.

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Most Commonly Used Words In Children’s Toy Ads Reinforce Gender Stereotypes [Infographic]

April 16, 2011 coms 0

New research by Crystal at The Achilles Effect looked at vocabulary used in television commercials for children’s toys. She found that the most commonly used words reinforced gender stereotypes. After analyzing 658 words from 27 commercials for boy’s toys and 432 words from 32 commercials for girl’s toys, Crystal was able to create a word cloud showing the most commonly used words in these TV adverts.

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Stanford study shows how metaphors shape the debate about crime fighting

March 4, 2011 coms 0

Imagine your city isn’t as safe as it used to be. Robberies are on the rise, home invasions are increasing and murder rates have nearly doubled in the past three years. What should city officials do about it? Hire more cops to round up the thugs and lock them away in a growing network of prisons? Or design programs that promise more peace by addressing issues like a faltering economy and underperforming schools?

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Swear Words Less Offensive on Cable Than Broadcast TV

February 7, 2011 coms 0

Four letter words may offend you more depending on which television channel you watch, according to a recent study out of Florida State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This study, published in the January issue of Mass Communication and Society, found that some TV viewers believe swearing on premium channels and cable is less offensive than vulgarity on broadcast channels. Similarly, viewers are more tolerant of swearing on the premium channels than they are on the advertiser supported cable channels. This differs from previous research, which found that how swear words reach people does not affect how offensive they are.

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The Language of Young Love: The Ways Couples Talk Can Predict Relationship Success

February 1, 2011 coms 1

We know that people tend to be attracted to, date, and marry other people who resemble themselves in terms of personality, values, and physical appearance. However, these features only skim the surface of what makes a relationship work. The ways that people talk are also important. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who speak in similar styles are more compatible.