Tagged With language

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The number zero is something we all take for granted, yet its conceptual origin has eluded archaeologists and historians. An updated analysis of an ancient Indian manuscript is shedding new light on this longstanding mystery, showing that the symbol that would eventually evolve into the number zero emerged at least 500 years earlier than previously thought.

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According to emails obtained by The Guardian, staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been informed that they should change their language when referring to climate change. Specifically, the staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were told to avoid using the phrase "climate change", and were instructed to alter various phrases that acknowledge the effects of man-made climate change.

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Much like the universally true advice to "never tweet", it's probably a good idea to just avoid internet language and memes when you're working in a professional capacity. Two well-intentioned researchers learned that the hard way recently when they didn't do enough research on the term "derpy".

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Merriam-Webster's dictionary has been flirting with the thin line between cheekily relevant and irritatingly attention seeking lately. The evolving compendium of the English language has garnered headlines recently with its social media swipes at the Trump administration. And now, the dictionary is trolling Apple fans by using them as an example of the term "sheeple".

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Video: Erik Singer is a dialect coach, and in this video he takes a look at the real life language inspiration behind the fictional languages of Na'vi, Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, Parseltongue, Ewokese, Shyriiwook, Divine Language, Mork Speak, Groot Speak, Malkovich, Furbish and Heptapod.

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If you often get the feeling there just aren't enough hours in the day, then the lunch break your bosses should generously afford you could be one opportunity to make more of your time (and it beats listening to co-workers talking about sports you don't watch). Give yourself thirty minutes a day five days a week and you could be well on your way to being a polymath by picking up one of these five skills.

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Video: You have to strike while the iron is hot. You can't have too many irons in the fire. It has a nice ring to it. Go at something hammer and tongs. These are all idioms that have origins in blacksmithing, so Scott Wadsworth of Essential Craftsman decided to literally show us what all those idioms look like when performed in real life and explain how they are related to their meaning.

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If you want to ensure your files are safe, it's a good idea to back them up in multiple places. And that's the basic idea behind the Rosetta Wearable Disc. Printed in microscopic text on one side is an archive of 1,000 different human languages used in 2016. By producing multiple copies, language enthusiasts can ensure that there's a better chance this archive will survive for centuries.

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Video: There are aliens out there (and if there aren't any, it's just more fun to believe that there are). But if they are out there, how do we find them? Once we find them, how do we contact them? And once we contact them, how do we actually communicate with them?

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If you've ever been to a foreign country where you don't speak the language, you know that an inability to communicate can be frustrating, if not a bit scary. But in Arrival, when 12 shell-shaped UFOs land across the world, everything seems to hinge on the skills of Amy Adams' linguistics expert, Louise — just as the movie itself hinges on making communication compelling.

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Video: South Park is unabashedly vulgar. The language can be crude and the action is sometimes, um, a little much — but the comedy is biting, the issues are relevant and it's done so much to change what television looks and sounds like today. Kaptain Kristian dives into how the language of a cartoon could affect reality and the concept of censorship in this fun look into the history of South Park.

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Have you ever wondered why Americans and Brits spell English differently? How are colour and colour the same word? Centre and center? What's up with that? It's all thanks to Noah Webster (yeah, the Webster of Merriam-Webster). When America gained independence, Webster wanted to simplify unreasonable spellings that were handed down from the British.