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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news
Results for "May, 2008"

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  • Txtng blamed for decline of French

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy blames texting, or, as they say in French, les textos, for the decline of the French language. French teenagers, like their counterparts in the States and everywhere else, abbreviate to save space, or perhaps just to annoy adults, using forms like A2M1 ( demain, the French equivalent of TTYL), JTM, (je taime, SWAK), EDR (croul de rire, lol, or, more accurately, rotfl), or A+ ( plus, L8R).

  • Wichita's English-only school sued for discrimination

    In the Fall of 2007, St. Anne Catholic School in Wichita, Kansas, instituted an English-only policy for students: no language except English in class, in the halls, at lunch, or on the playground.  Adam Silva, a sixth-grader whose native language is English, and who had attended St. Anne’s since kindergarten, refused to sign the required English-language loyalty oath because he wanted to speak Spanish sometimes too, so he was expelled (the school insists that Silva left voluntarily).  

    Now Silva, his parents, and three other students and their families, are suing St. Anne’s in federal court for discrimination.  They seek an end to the foreign-language ban, along with Silva’s readmission, monetary damages, and court costs.

  • Read my lips: It's easier to understand someone after you've seen them speak

    Marcel Proust told us years ago that an image can summon up remembrances of things past, in his case thousands of words triggered by a single madeleine.  Now an international team of neuroscientists has shown that, just as Proust’s gateau led to a string of novels, a few spoken words can summon up an image of the speaker’s face.

    Here’s how: Test subjects watched a video of a stranger identified only by profession talking for about two minutes.  Later, when the subjects were hooked up to a functional MRI and heard an audiotape of the same speaker saying something entirely different, the part of the brain which stores the faces we have seen lit up like the Fourth of July.

  • Court rules you can't swear like a trucker in trucking office

    Swearing at work may be good for morale, but according to the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, if you want to swear like a trucker, you’d better not do it while working for a trucking company.

    Last week an appeals court panel ruled that an employee lawsuit against the transportation company C. H. Robinson Worldwide could go forward because “language and radio programming that are particularly offensive to women” create a “hostile work environment.” According to the court, even if the offending language doesn’t target the plaintiff, its persistent use violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.).