👓 If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? | Harvard Business Review

Read If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? (Harvard Business Review)
Why you should use percentages, not words, to express probabilities.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Phil Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied forecasting in depth, suggests that “vague verbiage gives you political safety.”  

This result is consistent with analysis by the data science team at Quora, a site where users ask and answer questions. That team found that women use uncertain words and phrases more often than men do, even when they are just as confident.  

A large literature shows that we tend to be overconfident in our judgments.  

The best forecasters make lots of precise forecasts and keep track of their performance with a metric such as a Brier score.  

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👓 Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication | NPR

Read Koko The Gorilla Dies; Redrew The Lines Of Animal-Human Communication (NPR.org)
Koko fascinated and elated millions of people with her facility for language and her ability to interact with humans. She also gave people a glimpse of her emotions.
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👓 Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian? | New Yorker

Read Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian? (The New Yorker)
When bilingualism isn’t obviously valuable, you have to decide what you think of the language.

A nice essay that focuses on the personal side of raising bilingual children. In my experience needing to have a reason to speak a language is very important. Often around the age of three (or the beginning of daycare and/or school) children who realize they don’t have to speak a language will give it up (and often flatly refuse) as they begin to become more broadly socialized. It definitely helps if they’ve got a peer group who primarily speaks the language as well.

I quite liked the parts about a language “filling one up” or the ways in which language was implicated with attention. These are intriguing observations.

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👓 A New Accent Is Developing in Southwest Kansas | Atlas Obscura

Read A New Accent Is Developing in Southwest Kansas (Atlas Obscura)
The diverse young people of the town of Liberal are coming up with their own way to talk.
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👓 Trump has turned words into weapons. And he’s winning the linguistic war | George P Lakoff and Gil Duran | Opinion | The Guardian

Read Trump has turned words into weapons. And he's winning the linguistic war by George P Lakoff, Gil Duran (the Guardian)
From ‘spygate’ to ‘fake news’, Trump has turned words into weapons. The press must do more to dull their power
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👓 George Lakoff says this is how Trump uses words to con the public | CNN: Money

Read George Lakoff says this is how Trump uses words to con the public (CNNMoney)
Lakoff said the president manipulates language to control the public narrative.
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👓 I Wonder Who Wrote That Melania Trump Tweet | Huffington Post

Read I Wonder Who Wrote That Melania Trump Tweet (HuffPost)
Definitely not Donald Trump in a wig, that's for sure.

Certainly crazy, and I don’t even think they mentioned anything about her actual style or the fact that English may be a second language for her? I can’t wait to read conspiracy theories surrounding this. Is he keeping her imprisoned? Poisoning her while he keeps her “alive” on Twitter?

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👓 How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk | The New York Times

Read How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk by Josh Katz (nytimes.com)
What does the way you speak say about where you’re from? Answer all the questions below to see your personal dialect map.

I’d love to see the data sets and sources they used for these visualizations.

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👓 Johnson: Does speaking German change how I see social relationships? | The Economist

Read Johnson: Does speaking German change how I see social relationships? (The Economist)
Different languages condition different habits of mind—but perhaps not entirely different worldviews

I wonder what this same type of research looks like for pronouns of non-binary people?

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👓 A Linguist Explains Why 'Laurel' Sounds Like 'Yanny' | The Atlantic

Read A Linguist Explains Why 'Laurel' Sounds Like 'Yanny' (The Atlantic)
It’s the audio version of The Dress.

The science is far more interesting than the meme portion at least.

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👓 The Hobo Ethical Code of 1889: 15 Rules for Living a Self-Reliant, Honest & Compassionate Life | Open Culture

Read The Hobo Ethical Code of 1889: 15 Rules for Living a Self-Reliant, Honest (Open Culture)
Who wants to be a billionaire? A few years ago, Forbes published author Roberta Chinsky Matuson’s sensible advice to businesspersons seeking to shoot up that golden ladder.

Interesting to see this code laid out in detail after having been a fan of John Sturges’ films. Also interesting to see some of the language of the time: “jungling” and “boil up”.

The Hobo Ethical Code

1. Decide your own life; don’t let another person run or rule you.

2. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.

3. Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.

4. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.

5. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.

6. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.

7. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you.

8. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.

9. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.

10. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.

11. When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.

12. Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.

13. Do not allow other hobos to molest children; expose all molesters to authorities…they are the worst garbage to infest any society.

14. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.

15. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.


h/t to @codinghorror

Bookmarked on May 03, 2018 at 09:46PM

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👓 Large Cache of Texts May Offer Insight Into One of Africa’s Oldest Written Languages | Smithsonian Magazine

Read Large Cache of Texts May Offer Insight Into One of Africa's Oldest Written Languages (Smithsonian)
Archaeologists in Sudan have uncovered the largest assemblage of Meroitic inscriptions to date

This is a cool discovery, in great part because their documentation was interesting enough to be able to suggest further locations to check for more archaeological finds. This might also be something one could apply some linguistic analysis and information theory to in an attempt to better pull apart the language and grammar.

h/t to @ArtsJournalNews, bookmarked on April 17, 2018 at 08:16AM

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👓 What Makes a Vowel a Vowel and a Consonant a Consonant | Today I Found Out

Read What Makes a Vowel a Vowel and a Consonant a Consonant by Emily Upton
ou already know that vowels in the English alphabet are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y, while the rest of the letters are called consonants. But did you ever ask yourself why the letters were divided into two separate groups?
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🎧 Maggie Haberman | The Atlantic Interview

Listened to Maggie Haberman by Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic Interview
To make sense of President Donald Trump's first year in the White House, many have come to rely on Maggie Haberman. The powerhouse reporter for the New York Times talks with Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg about how her career covering New York City politics for the tabloids has given her a unique view of Trump. To Haberman, Trump's brashness and need for approval are partly products of his distinct experience of New York City.

A fascinating interview to be sure. There’s some subtlety particularly about Donald Trump that is injected here that I wouldn’t have thought about previously. I certainly don’t have more hope as a result, but I do have a lot more nuance in how he functions and interacts with others. There is some particularly fascinating discussion on language/linguistics which impinges on some of the discussion in my article Complexity isn’t a Vice: 10 Word Answers and Doubletalk in Election 2016.

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👓 Losing Count | The Paris Review

Read Losing Count by Adrienne Raphel (The Paris Review)
How do nonsensical counting-out rhymes like these enter the lexicon?

I’d read this a year or two ago for a specific purpose and revisited it again today just for entertainment. There’s some interesting history hiding in this sort of exercise.

I also considered these rhymes as simple counting games, but the’re not really used to count up as if they were ordinals. Most people couldn’t even come close to saying how many things they’d have counted if they sang such a song. I also find that while watching children sing these while “counting” they typically do so with a choice for each syllable, but this often fails in the very young so that they can make their own “mental” choice known while still making things seem random. For older kids, with a little forethought and some basic division one can make something seemingly random and turn it into a specific choice as well.

So what are these really and what purpose did they originally serve?