Porridge is Funnier than Oatmeal, and Booty is Funnier Still

Ha! Photo by Getty Images    By Dr. Thomas Hills (left) and Tomas Engelthaler (right) / 11.20.2017 Hills:  Professor of Psychology Engelthaler:  PhD Candidate in Psychology University of Warwick ‘Which word is funnier: porridge or oatmeal?’ This is the question one of us recently posed to the other. Clearly, the notion was insane. Surely finding something funny requires context[…]

Primate Vocalizations are Much More than Gibberish

Chimpanzees use alarm calls to inform each other of danger. / Ronald Woan, Flickr Nonhuman primates clearly do more than just screech meaningless sounds at each other, but what are the limits of their communication? By Jay Schwartz / 08.25.2017 PhD Candidate in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior Emory University A chimpanzee is strolling along a[…]

The Language of the Undead: Zombie Narrative and Linguistics, Who Knew?

Jamie Thomas, AB ’06, studies zombies, language, race and othering at Swarthmore College. Photo by Jennifer Weisbord By Alana Hauser / 10.16.2017 In 2003, bestselling author Max Brooks published the Gray’s Anatomy of survival guides. The Zombie Survival Guide took readers on a journey through the anatomy of the living dead: their physical attributes, behavioral patterns and historical origins.[…]

The Unexpected Benefits of Getting Lost in Translation

‘You can never, in American public life, underestimate the advantages of complete and total incomprehensibility.’ Kissinger meets Anwar Sadat in 1976. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Edward Gibson / 09.25.2017 Professor of Cognitive Science Massachusetts Institute of Technology About 20 per cent of the United States population (60 million out of 300 million people) are[…]

Languages don’t All have the Same Number of Terms for Colors – Scientists have a New Theory Why

Everyone sees them all, but we don’t all give them the same distinct names. lazyllama/Shutterstock.com   By Dr. Ted Gibson and Dr. Bevil R. Conway / 09.18.2017 Gibson: Professor of Cognitive Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Conway: Investigator at the National Eye Institute’s Sensation, Cognition, Action Unit, National Institutes of Health People with standard vision can see[…]