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Your search has returned 75 articles:
  • News

    The rise of farming altered our bite and changed how people talk

    Humankind’s gift of gab is not set in stone, and farming could help to explain why.

    Over the last 6,000 years or so, farming societies increasingly have substituted processed dairy and grain products for tougher-to-chew game meat and wild plants common in hunter-gatherer diets. Switching to those diets of softer, processed foods altered people’s jaw structure over time, rendering certain...

    03/14/2019 - 14:00 Language, Anthropology, Human Evolution
  • News

    Artificial intelligence is learning not to be so literal

    HONOLULU — Artificial intelligence is starting to learn how to read between the lines.

    AI systems are generally good at responding to direct statements, like “Siri, tell me the weather” or “Alexa, play ‘Despacito’.” But machines can’t yet make small talk the way humans do, says Yejin Choi, a natural language processing researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle. When it comes...

    02/05/2019 - 06:00 Artificial Intelligence, Language, Technology
  • News

    Here’s what makes satire so funny, according to science

    HONOLULU — Good news for aspiring satirists: Scientific analysis of real and joke headlines has uncovered a hack for writing witty one-liners.

    To identify the secret ingredients of satire, researchers compared farcical headlines with nearly identical, but unfunny headlines. The investigation, presented January 31 at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, revealed a strategy for...

    02/01/2019 - 14:39 Language, Science & Society, Technology
  • News

    Huge ‘word gap’ holding back low-income children may not exist after all

    A scientific takedown of a famous finding known as the 30-million-word gap may upend popular notions of how kids learn vocabulary.

    Research conducted more than 20 years ago concluded that by age 4, poor children hear an average of 30 million fewer words than their well-off peers. Since then, many researchers have accepted the reported word gap as a driver of later reading and writing...

    09/04/2018 - 05:30 Psychology, Language
  • News

    The window for learning a language may stay open surprisingly long

    Language learning isn’t kid stuff anymore. In fact, it never was, a provocative new study concludes.

    A crucial period for learning the rules and structure of a language lasts up to around age 17 or 18, say psychologist Joshua Hartshorne of MIT and colleagues.

    Previous research had suggested that grammar-learning ability flourished in early childhood before hitting a dead end around...

    05/11/2018 - 11:02 Language, Psychology
  • News in Brief

    The southern drawl gets deconstructed

    BOSTON — Some aspects of speech are as Southern as pecan pie. Consider the vowel shift that makes the word pie sound more like “pah.” While that pronunciation is found from Florida to Texas, a new study reveals a surprising diversity in Southern vowel pronunciation that’s linked to a speaker’s age, social class, gender, race and geography.

    The research, presented June 29 at a meeting of...

    06/30/2017 - 15:14 Anthropology, Language