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Can big data yield big ideas? Blend novel and familiar, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

We found that what makes an idea creative as judged by both consumers and firms' executives is a mix of ingredients (words) that includes a balance between words that commonly appear together (familiar combinations) and words that do not (novel combinations)." Thus, a creative idea is not simply an idea that includes novel ingredients, but combinations of words that are novel when appearing together balanced with combinations of ingredients that are more familiar. For example, if one generates an idea for an app that would help people live healthier lives and includes the words "running," "counting" and "steps," this would not classify the idea as creative, as all three of these words are fairly frequently used together. However, including the word "calendar" as an additional ingredient would take the idea in a more creative direction, for example the creation of a calendar app in which you could track daily movement and accomplishments. Even though the word "calendar" may not be novel with respect to the topic of health apps in and of itself, its combination with "running," "counting," and "steps" is novel.

Variations in Facebook Posting Patterns Across Validated Patient Health Conditions: A Prospective Cohort Study. - PubMed - NCBI

Significantly correlated language topics among participants with the highest quartile of posts contained health terms, such as "cough," "headaches," and "insomnia." When adjusted for demographics, individuals with a history of depression had significantly higher posts (mean 38, 95% CI 28-50) than individuals without a history of depression (mean 22, 95% CI 19-26, P=.001). Except for depression, across prevalent health outcomes in the sample (hypertension, diabetes, asthma), there were no significant posting differences between individuals with or without each condition.

The Morality of Language

In 1986, Michael Bond and Tat-ming Lai found that Chinese-English bilinguals were more open to discussing embarrassing topics, such as intimate sexual information, when chatting in their non-native language. And in 2010 Jean-Marc Dewaele found that multilinguals from the United Kingdom preferred swearing in their second language, claiming that it allowed them to escape from cultural and social restrictions.

Scientists Uncover Alzheimer’s Disease in the Novels of Agatha Christie and Iris Murdoch

As Garrard explains, a patient’s vocabulary becomes restricted, and they use fewer words that are specific labels and more words that are general labels. For example, it’s not incorrect to call a golden retriever an “animal,” though it is less accurate than calling it a retriever or even a dog. Alzheimer’s patients would be far more likely to call a retriever a “dog” or an “animal” than “retriever” or “Fred.” In addition, Garrard adds, the words Alzheimer’s patients lose tend to appear less frequently in everyday English than words they keep—an abstract noun like “metamorphosis” might be replaced by “change” or “go.”

What Learning Looks Like: Researcher Teaches Fake Words To Watch Learning Happen | KPBS

Abel has crafted more than 700 of these sentence sets so she can chart the progression in brain activity as children hear them. In this way, she can actually see learning happening. It starts with a big dip on the line graph during the first sentence, "The boys fought over the shap." That dip means Duncan is confused — his neurons aren't sure what he’s just encountered. The second and third sentences add context. "They played catch with the shap. I like to throw the shap." The dip gets shallower and shallower until it becomes a peak on the line graph. "So the third time they hear the nonsense word, it looks like their brain is processing it like it's a real word," Abel said. "The brain is responding to it the exact same way that the brain responds to a known word."

How Vector Space Mathematics Reveals the Hidden Sexism in Language

The team does this by searching the vector space for word pairs that produce a similar vector to “she: he.” This reveals a huge list of gender analogies. For example, she;he::midwife:doctor; sewing:carpentry; registered_nurse:physician; whore:coward; hairdresser:barber; nude:shirtless; boobs:ass; giggling:grinning; nanny:chauffeur, and so on. The question they want to answer is whether these analogies are appropriate or inappropriate. So they use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to ask. They showed each analogy to 10 turkers and asked them whether the analogy was biased or not. They consider the analogy biased if more than half of the turkers thought it was biased.

Drop your voice to win the debate ... hmmm

In the first of two experiments, 191 participants (ages 17 to 52) individually ranked the importance of 15 items they were told they might need to survive a disaster on the moon. They then worked in small groups on the same task. The researchers videotaped these interactions and used phonetic analysis software to measure the fundamental frequency of each utterance. They also looked at "how one person's answers converged with the group's final answer" as another way to measure influence, Cheng said. The study participants and outsiders viewing their interactions tended to rate those whose voices deepened between their first and third utterances as more dominant and influential than participants whose voices went up in pitch. None of the subjects or the outside observers was aware that the study focused on the relationship between vocal cues and status.

Some anti-words

The breadth and range of the terms can be astonishing; a lexicography of Boobslang reaches more than 200 pages, with 3,000 entries covering many areas of life. To be “under the thumb” is to be in love, a “double yoker” is an idiot, a “cue ball” is a skinhead and a “goodnight kiss” is a knockout punch. Outside of prison, each type of crime will have its own specialised vocabulary. A 1980s survey of American confidence tricksters, for instance, found a variety of colourful names for their intended victims – they are an “apple”, an “egg”, a “fink”, or, most innocuously sounding, “Mr Bates”.

Specificity and generality in relation to friends and enemies

Describing a person's behavior concretely, using action verbs -- for example, "Sam hit her friend" -- typically signals that the behavior is a one-time occurrence and not necessarily characteristic of that person. Describing someone's behavior using adjectives and nouns, on the other hand -- for example, "Sam is violent" -- comes across as more abstract and suggests that the behavior may reflect a personal trait. Prior research has also demonstrated that we tend to use these linguistic subtleties in a favorable way when we're talking about people who belong to the same group as us: We're likely to use abstract language in discussing their desirable behaviors and concrete language in describing their undesirable behaviors. If we're talking about someone from another group, however, the pattern reverses -- we tend to use concrete language to describe positive behaviors, and abstract language to describe negative ones.

How brain architecture leads to abstract thought: Scientists link brain architecture to consciousness and abstract thought -- ScienceDaily

all cognitive behaviors exist on a hierarchy, starting with the most tangible behaviors such as finger tapping or pain, then to consciousness and extending to the most abstract thoughts and activities such as naming. This hierarchy of abstraction is related to the connectome structure of the whole human brain, they add.

Are We Different People in Different Languages?

This is part of what Mikhail Bakhtin was getting at when he wrote “…language, for the individual consciousness, lies on the borderline between ones’ self and the other… The word in language is half someone else’s. It becomes one’s “own” only when the speaker populates it with his own intentions, his own accent, when he appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic and expressive intention.”

Friendship as an idiom

Hanging out with a set of lifelong best friends can be annoying, because the years of inside jokes and references often make their communication unintelligible to outsiders. But this sort of shared language is part of what makes friendships last. In the longitudinal study, the researchers were also able to predict friends’ future closeness by how well they performed on a word-guessing game in 1983. (The game was similar to Taboo, in that one partner gave clues about a word without actually saying it, while the other guessed.) “Such communication skill and mutual understanding may help friends successfully transition through life changes that threaten friendship stability,” the study reads. Friends don’t necessarily need to communicate often, or intricately, just similarly.

Don't interview customers, walk in their shoes: almost by definition, key assumptions don't get articulated

But there are certain things participants may never think to tell us. Frequently, these are moments they don’t recognize as disruptions to their experience, but rather, they see them as small annoyances or frustrations that they have adjusted to over time. To catch a glimpse of these small but highly significant moments, we need to conduct field research. Field research, put very simply, is getting out of the lab and into the world to talk with and observe people in their environment. It’s trying our best to walk in their shoes, see their point of view, and understand the context they live and work in. By seeing it ourselves, we recognize workarounds, physical artifacts, and motivations that are essentially invisible to our participants.

Could dolphins, evolved in a tooless soup, imagine inanimate objects having names?

Herzing swims with her right arm stretched out in front of her, pointing at a red scarf she has pulled out of her swimsuit. She repeatedly presses the button for “scarf” on the CHAT box. It’s a rolling chirp that dips low and ends high, lasting about a second. One of the dolphins swims over, grabs the piece of fabric, and moves it back and forth from its rostrum to its pectoral fin. The scarf ends up hanging from the dolphin’s tail as she dives down to the bottom of the ocean. I’m in the water with Herzing, trailing a few feet behind her with a graduate student who’s recording the encounter using an underwater camera. I keep waiting for one of the dolphins to take off with the scarf, but neither of them does. They seem to want to engage us, however tentatively. They pass the scarf back and forth, circle around us, disappear with it, and then offer it back to Herzing. She grabs it and tucks it back into her swimsuit and then pulls out a piece of seaweed. Nereide swoops down to grab it between her teeth and starts to swim off. Herzing takes off after her, pressing the CHAT box’s sargassum whistle again and again, as if desperately asking for it back. But the dolphins just ignore her. “It’s not inconceivable that if the dolphins understand that we’re trying to use symbols, that they would try to show us something,” Herzing says later, back on board the Stenella. “Or imagine if they started using our word for sargassum amongst themselves.”

Dolphin names

Dolphins use distinct “signature whistles” to identify and call to one another. Each dolphin is thought to invent a unique name for itself as a calf and to keep it for life. Dolphins greet one another at sea by exchanging signature whistles and seem to remember the signature whistles of other dolphins for decades. Though other species, like vervet monkeys and prairie dogs, make sounds that refer to predators, no other animal, besides humans, is believed to have specific labels for individuals.

Dolphin talk 2

Dolphins are extraordinarily garrulous. Not only do they whistle and click, but they also emit loud broadband packets of sound called burst pulses to discipline their young and chase away sharks. Scientists listening to all these sounds have long wondered what, if anything, they might mean. Surely such a large-brained, highly social creature wouldn’t waste all that energy babbling beneath the waves unless the vocalizations contained some sort of meaningful content. And yet despite a half century of study, nobody can say what the fundamental units of dolphin vocalization are or how those units get assembled.

Mapping with must three words (of 40k)

"Precise GPS coordinates would mean 18 digits," says What3Words' founder Chris Sheldrick, "but we wanted something that humans could actually remember. People have flawless recollection for three words. A dictionary of 40,000 words is enough to fill those 57 trillion squares with unique combinations - you can't do it any other way."

Automated analysis of free speech predicts psychosis

The semantic coherence feature that best contributed to classification of subsequent psychosis onset was the minimum coherence between two consecutive phrases (i.e., the maximum discontinuity) that occurred in the interview. The syntactic measure included in classification was the frequency of use of determiners (‘that’, ‘what’, ‘whatever’, ‘which’, and ‘whichever’), normalized by the phrase length. Because speech in emergent psychosis often shows marked reductions in verbosity (referred to clinically as poverty of speech), we also included the maximum number of words per phrase in the classification.

A few key signs betray betrayal

When they used a computer program to compare exchanges between players whose relationships ended in betrayal with those whose relationships lasted, the computer discerned subtle signals of impending betrayal. One harbinger was a shift in politeness. Players who were excessively polite in general were more likely to betray, and people who were suddenly more polite were more likely to become victims of betrayal, study coauthor and Cornell graduate student Vlad Niculae reportedJuly 29 at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics in Beijing.

How brand-new words are spreading across America

You can see, for example, how on fleek exploded almost simultaneously across the country last year. The phrase, which roughly translates to perfect or on point, was a linguistic surprise hit. It didn’t start with a celebrity or brand trying to coin a new phrase. What set it off was Kayla Newman, a not-yet-famous Vine user, saying, “Finna get crunk. Eyebrows on fleek.” From there it took off, fast. On fleek got picked up by IHOP, Taco Bell, and Kim Kardashian. Now it is fully in the lexicon, used regularly on Twitter as though it existed for many years, not just one. It is fundamentally a borderless word, native to the internet. The same is true of some other emerging words identified by Grieve, like amirite (“Am I right?”) and faved (to favorite a tweet).

your language is your reality | Bloomberg

Tell me that you program in Java, and I believe you to be either serious or boring. In Ruby, and you are interested in building things quickly. In Clojure, and I think you are smart but wonder if you ship. In Python, and I trust you implicitly. In PHP, and we sigh together. In C or C, and I nod humbly. In C#, and I smile and assume we have nothing in common. In Fortran, and I ask to see your security clearance. These languages contain entire civilizations.

People with Similar Views Mirror Each Other’s Speech Patterns | Psych Central News

For example, during the experiment, participants heard phrases such as “Congress is giving too much money to welfare moochers.” Others heard the same ideologically-loaded idea, but  expressed in a different sentence structure: “Congress is giving welfare moochers too much money.” (Notice the order of the phrases “too much money” — which refers to the thing being given — and “welfare moochers” — the recipient.) Those who heard the first version, “Congress is giving too much money to welfare moochers” (the recipient is mentioned after the thing being given), for example, were more likely to describe a picture as “The waitress is giving a banana to the monk” rather than “The waitress is giving the monk a banana” when they agreed with the speaker’s views. Furthermore, participants who described themselves as compromising in conflict situations, showed even more linguistic alignment with the speaker. On the other hand, when listeners disagreed with the opinion expressed by the speaker, they aligned less or not at all.

Italy can't be translated

Catholicism’s great allowance for human frailty has translated into a great propensity for forgiveness, as evinced in the Italian justice system, but also resistance to the notion of accountability. It’s a word, Hooper adds, that has no counterpart in the Italian language.On the other hand, Italian employs a number of words that express distinctly Italian concepts foreign correspondents have struggled to translate for their readers. Hooper offers some illuminating samples, from menefreghismo (not caring a damn) to lottizzazione (the distribution of power among political parties) to dietrologia (“literally,” Hooper writes, “behind-ism,” a conviction that nothing is ever as it seems). There’s also mammismo, the propensity of young Italians to remain too closely tied to the maternal apron strings.

Newspeak: Hungary's Ministry of Human Affairs rewrites the dictionary

“Tuition” does not exist. There is no suggested alternative. Employees of the ministry are simply supposed to repeat: Hungary has “tuition-free higher education.” Of course, this is an outright lie. About half of the university and college students pay a steep tuition fee. Or, here is another easy task: “reform” is out. In its place they suggest “structural reconstruction, “fine tuning,” or simply “implementations.” The word “szegény” (poor) is a word this regime does not want to see anywhere. “Poor settlement” is out, and instead ministry employees are supposed to say “underdeveloped settlement.” And now we come to a concept change that will be difficult to explain. A “poor person” is no longer poor but needy (rászorult). Why “rászorult” is better than “szegény” I’m not quite sure. Perhaps because “szegény” indicates a level of permanence whereas a needy person’s situation might be temporary? Instead of “szegénység” (poverty) there is another suggestion besides “rászorultság” (in need)–“nélkülözés,” which literally means something like going without; the dictionary definition is privation, indigence, need. Instead of saying “to decrease poverty,” from here on we should talk about “societal convergence.”

Vonnegut on the death of everyday eloquence

I just don’t think people get off on language anymore. Language used to be an elevated art. It used to be for people what music can be. But people don’t learn to do that anymore, so eloquence is merely a matter of waste now. Who needs a good vocabulary and proper English? Eloquence — it’s dead and who needs it? We use shorthand nowadays. Fuck you — you know what I’m saying? [Laughs]