Misplace apostrophes – miss out on med school?

The perennially thorny issue of apostrophe misuse has been correlated with lack-of-success at medical school. Researchers Dr Michael Cop and Dr Hunter Hatfield of the University of Otago, New Zealand, decided to test whether undergraduate medical students’ abilities in handling apostrophes might be linked to their (future) career prospects : “We therefore examined the placement […]

Umpteen reflections on Indefinite Hyperbolic Numerals

With apologies to our readers who might already know, Indefinite Hyperbolic Numerals* (IHNs) are words like zillion, jillion, and umpteen. Or, to be exact : “Indefinite hyperbolic numerals (IHN) are words that (1) resemble numerals morphologically, and (2) act as numerals morphosyntactically within numeral phrases, yet (3) whose direct numerical referent remains indefinite.” For an […]

Speaking whilst breathing-in (not restricted to ventriloquists)

Humans mostly tend to ‘breathe out’ whilst speaking (or making other vocalisations). Mostly but not exclusively. So-called Ingressive Speech is quite prevalent worldwide – and not just amongst ventriloquists. Take for example, a Scottish male saying “Aye aye I ken” (“Yes, yes I know”). [.wav audio file here] http://www.ida.liu.se/~robek28/audio/ingressive-Eklund_JIPA_2008_Fig_7b_ingr-aye_egr-aye-i-ken_male.wav Robert Eklund, who is Associate Professor […]

This is your brain on Scrabble™ : an fMRI study

It almost goes without saying that Improbable endeavours to keep our readers up-to-date with current fMRI research projects. In respect of which, may we recommend : ‘This is your brain on Scrabble: Neural correlates of visual word recognition in competitive Scrabble players as measured during task and resting-state’ published in the journal Cortex, Volume 75, […]

Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring

Rhyme monitoring offers countless opportunities for a watchful person. A few of those opportunities were seized, resulting in this study: “Orthographic effects on rhyme monitoring,” Mark S. Seidenberg [pictured here] and Michael K. Tanenhaus, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, vol. 5, no. 6, 1979, pp. 546-54. Here’s detail from the study:  

“Like” a linguistics study

“Discourse marker like (DML) is recognized as a highly stigmatized feature of American English, one with strong ideological ties to inarticulate, ‘Valley Girl’ speech. Previous work suggests that individual listeners form impressions that both reference and perpetuate DML’s status, as DML- containing speech is judged as friendlier and less intelligent than controls.” But what about […]