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Weird Languages

24 Aug

South Korean students always complained that English grammar and vocabulary is riddled with annoying inconsistencies. it’s not freakishly weird, but still comes in at #33 (via The Daily Dish).

A recent study by a language-processing company called Idibon tried to establish not which languages are “hard”, but which are “weird”. It used a resource called the World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (WALS). WALS indexes hundreds of languages across hundreds of different features (from whether verbs precede objects to whether the language uses click-sounds as consonants). The Idibon study tried to find which languages use the greatest number of unusual features—ie, those features shared with few other languages. But for tricky methodological reasons, the study had to limit itself 21 features. The languages that have the least “normal” values of these 21 features are the “weirdest”.

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Reaching Out To Young Men

25 Apr

Boston Deals With Aftermath Of Marathon ExplosionsThe scary part in Dan Drezner’s post about the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers is this: “The reason the capture of Tsarnaev felt so good is that it provided a sense of closure.”. What about stopping terrorists? Being safe?

In the span of four days, there was a bombing, an identification, a shootout that left one of the bombers dead and a capture of the other one. Game over. That’s feels like victory.

Now, that’s obviously a simplification and an exaggeration. There’s still the fifty-eight victims in critical condition in Boston-area hospitals. There’s still the question of how the judicial system will cope with Tsarnaev. There’s still the unanswered question of why they wanted to do it. And there’s still the public policy issues that will be touched by the past week’s events.

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Why We Don’t Want Kids

27 Feb

Global Baby BustIf I had to answer why I don’t want kids – and I can’t speak for my wife who just believes kids are a burden on savings – I have two responses.

Firstly, the decision was mostly forced on me by my wife’s miscarriage. But, of course, we could adopt. The emotional ripper that was my wife’s miscarriage just forced the two of us to consider issues most couples discuss in a more reasonable frame of mind – or, perhaps more romantic situations. My wife and I didn’t mull these issues over wine and dinner; she was on too many meds and was actively despising my existence at the time. There’s nothing like a miscarriage to puncture the ridiculous fantasies advertising agencies concoct for the media of fat-faced babies, tikes on bikes, and idyllic portraits of old people and grandchildren. Have you heard – or smelled – how horrible women become in a maternity ward? Honestly, I’ve been in fights in alleys that made more sense and seemed more pleasant. Why would anyone choose that carnage?

According to Joel Kotkin and Harry Siegel, postfamilialism is here to stay.

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