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  1. New Study Suggests That Human Language Is Naturally Biased Towards Happy Words

    Well, that explains Pharrell.

    According to the mathematicians at University of Vermont, the moral arc of the linguistic universe bends towards positivity. But have they been on the Internet lately? Because I feel like it's going to be a very, very long arc.

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  2. Things We Saw Today: Why You Can Smell That Petrichor After It Rains

    Here's a video from MIT laying out a bit about how the rain leaves that specific smell behind. (via HuffPo Science)

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  3. Margaret Atwood Protests Removal of Nature Words From Oxford Junior Dictionary

    In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like broadband?

    Since 2007, Oxford University Press has removed the names of at least 30 plants and animals from its Junior Dictionary in favor of modern words like "broadband" or "cut-and-paste"; and although these changes might reflect the inevitable evolution of the English language, Margaret Atwood is concerned that omitting the natural world from children's vocabularies will have dire consequences.

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  4. How Not to Overthink Your Decision to Learn Japanese

    So, you’re finally taking the big step. You’ve seen the occasional words or titles in anime or games, and now you want to dive into the “real” stuff. You want to learn Japanese.

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  5. Merriam-Webster Adds “Steampunk,” “Spoiler Alert,” and “Fangirl” to the English Dictionary

    Today in Awesome

    Merriam-Webster announced the addition of one hundred fifty new words to its celebrated dictionary of American English, from "Auto-Tune" (to adjust or alter (a recording of a voice) with Auto-Tune software or other audio-editing software esp. to correct sung notes that are out of tune) to "Yooper" (a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — used as a nickname). And, nestled in among a selection of words that seem themed around the intersection of technology and pop culture, is one we're very familiar with here on The Mary Sue: "fangirl."

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  6. Nerd Semantics Cross Language Barriers With Yaoi, Slash, & Otaku


    Words change, and words get used different ways in different places. Ask someone from the United States what word they use to refer to carbonated beverages, and you will hear at least two different answers. Sometimes three or more. English borrows words all the time from different languages, too. In anime and manga fandom, the words involved tend to be borrowed from Japanese. Words like otaku, words like yaoi.

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  7. You Guys? English Is a Really Messed Up Language [Video]

    Petition to make it so that hammers "ham."

    This video by AsapTHOUGHT, the companion channel to AsapSCIENCE, is more about colloquialisms and grammar oddities than it is about the inherent inconsistences of the English language. That being said, my brain still hurts from all of this thinking about words. And it rhymes, too!

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  8. Controversial Super Bowl Coke Commercial Adds Klingon; No Response Yet From Space Racists

    Great Moments in Advertising

    If you somehow managed to miss the latest instance of Racists Being Racist About Things, A) congratulations, I envy you, and B) this video will require a bit of explanation. It's a spoof of Coke's Super Bowl ad, which featured "America the Beautiful" being sung in different languages. Racists objected to it, because America is a country founded on the principles of equality, freedom, and that people who don't speak English are worth less than people who do. Stephen Colbert did an excellent takedown of the "controversy." And now GarlicJacksonComedy has given the video a geeky twist. No word yet from Morse Code-phobics, a group just as ridiculous as people who think Spanish shouldn't be spoken in a Coke ad. (via: io9) Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

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  9. The French Language Police Exist And Would Like You To Stop Using “ASAP” ASAP

    I'm super sure everyone is going follow their instructions immediately.

    Just because the Oxford Dictionary made "selfie" word of the year doesn't mean every language is so lax with their standards. The French even have their own word police, the Académie Française, who tell people which words are okay to use and which are as passé as "freedom fries." Their most recent target? The abbreviation "ASAP."

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  10. The French Language Now Has Its Own Word For Sexting: “Textopornographie”

    Sacré bleu!

    Languages borrow from each other all the time -- English, for example, is mostly an amalgamation of Latin, German, French, and Norse. The French language, though? It's not having any of that cross-contamination stuff. So when new technology words float over from the English language, French likes to shut it down by making up their own versions.

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  11. Researchers Have Found That “Huh” Is One of the Most Universal Words in Human Language

    Oh, also, they officially claim it's a word.

    If someone says something you don't understand, it's common to reply with, "Huh?" but we didn't realize just how common. It's so common that it's universal, say a team of researchers. They examined conversations in ten different languages, and "Huh?" or something very similar shows up in all of them.

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  12. [Updated] Squee, srsly, Girl Crush, Derp Added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. Also (Sigh) Twerk

    Elsewhere on the internet

    Four times a year the Oxford English Dictionary Oxford Dictionaries Online chooses new words to be allowed into its hallowed (digital) pages. In the past, those words have included geekery, hentai, tweet, sexting, dad dancing, and doh (as in Homer Simpson). This time around we get… twerking. Man, it's almost exactly like they timed this to the ongoing controversy over Miley Cyrus. Some new words that are now totally legit to use in formal essays (because if we can't trust the dictionary, whom can we trust?) are behind the cut, as are their brand spankin' new definitions. Oh, and also a video of Morgan Freeman explaining twerking. Update: We were incorrect in saying that the words are being added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It's actually the Oxford Dictionaries Online, which "focuses on current English and includes modern meanings and uses of words." Apologies.

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  13. Official Illinois State Department Website Offers Klingon Language Accessibility

    Make It So

    Know any unemployed Klingons living in Illinois? Then you should probably go tell them their lives have become considerably easier. But since they don't have a word for "unemployed," you might have some difficulty explaining it, so bring a phaser in case things escalate.

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  14. Google Literally Just Said Literally Now Also Means “Figuratively”

    Inside of a dog it's too dark to read

    ... and I have literally (in the literal sense) no problem with it. Language nerdery, activate!

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  15. Singing in a Foreign Language Helps You Learn Better Than Just Speaking It

    Lundi matin, L’empereur, sa femme et le petit prince sont venus chez moi, pour me serrer la pince.

    There's a new study by the University of Edinburgh Reid School of Music that shows singing in a foreign language is a better way to learn it than simply repeating phrases. One test even showed that people who sang foreign phrases performed twice as well as their non-singing counterparts. Everyone sing along with me now: Zut alors!

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  16. Germans Have Adopted “Shitstorm,” Didn’t Even Say Thanks

    I'll Allow It

    You can barely get through a sentence in English without using a word derived or straight up borrowed from French or Latin, so it's somewhat ironic that our own mongrel language should be producing words that get borrowed by German, a language that we actually share linguistic roots with. And frankly, I couldn't be prouder about the German adoption of our "shitstorm."

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  17. What Difference Do Words Make?


    Warning: This article will contain spoilers for The Walking Dead comic book and the television show as well as references to adult themes. Do you pay attention to adverbs, adjectives, or verbs in what you read? They’re just words, right? Except that they can be used to frame a narrative in a certain way. I was struck by this doing research for a Walking Dead-related short story contest. I decided to give words to a woman who has been mostly denied them on the show, Michonne. Given that my Walking Dead compendium will arrive soon and I’ve faithfully followed the show, I thought I could safely take a peek at her Wikipedia page. The character arcs vary widely between the two mediums (which I was expecting) but I came across something else that was intriguing-the language used to describe her story.

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  18. Oof: Google Search Thinks “Worst” Is a Possible Synonym for “Gayest”

    the internet is serious business

    This looks an awful lot like the Google search results for "worst school mascots" doesn't it? Actually, it's a search I just made (in an incognito tab, because that's where any blogger worth her salt does their investigatory Google fiddling) that does not include the word "worst" at all. Turns out, enough people out there still casually use "gay" as a blanket pejorative term for pretty much any kind of thing that Google's algorithm also thinks that it's a pejorative term. And Google doesn't seem inclined to do anything about it.

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  19. 10 Pieces of British Slang I’d Like to See Stay in the U.K.

    Earlier this week, I confessed to watching much too much British television. So much so that I lobbied for 10 pieces of British slang to be adopted here in America, but just because I like some of it doesn't mean I like it all. Some British slang is confusing, distasteful, or forever marred for me by weirdly personal reasons. There were a few I liked that didn't make that list, but instead of adding more I think my time is better served by sharing 10 British slang terms I'd like to see stay on the other side of the Atlantic.

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  20. Twitter Adds LOLcat Language Setting If That’s Something You’re Interested In

    Look, I'm not going to try and convince you that LOLcats are high art or anything, but they can certainly be amusing when the right moment strikes. Look at that cat over there on the left! Isn't it hilarious how he can't spell? Given that the phenomenon originated on the Internet, it only makes sense that the Internet should embrace it. In that vein, Twitter has now added a LOLcat language option to their service. No, I'm not joking.

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