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The Language of War: What sociolinguistic tension tells us about the war in Ukraine

In an address to the Russian populace on Feb. 21, Russian president Vladimir Putin made several claims about the Ukrainian government’s attempts to suppress ethnic Russians and Russian speakers living in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian Parliament is continuing to discriminate against Russians,” he said, accusing Ukraine and Eastern European NATO members, of anti-Russian sentiment. “The politics of de-Russification continue. The Russian…

Can Artificial Intelligence really help us talk to the animals?

Can Artificial Intelligence really help us talk to the animals?

A California-based organisation hopes to use machine learning to decipher animal communication on a global scale. However, there are many who have their doubts about the initiative. Raskin is the co-founder and president of the Earth Species Project (ESP), a non-profit organisation with the audacious goal of deciphering non-human communication using machine learning, making all the knowledge available to the…

Designing a new language for cars

Designing a new language for cars

Lights, sounds or screens with messages: How can self-driving cars interact with humans to make their intentions clear? Autonomous driving promises to bring lots of benefits, ranging from more safety to increased mobility. However, the introduction of self-driving cars also means that we have to come up with means to communicate the intentions of these vehicles when there is no…

Words that defined 2021

Words that defined 2021

One of the best ways to describe 2021 was through language, and how we described adjustments or communicated changes to our new way of life. The language that trended in 2021 tells a story of the most consequential moments and phenomena of the year. If 2020 was “unprecedented,” then this year was its roller coaster of a follow-up. The rise of vaccines and…

A linguistic view of Omicron

A linguistic view of Omicron

It seems likely at this point that the coronavirus variants of significance will outnumber the twenty-four letters of the Greek alphabet at some stage. Then what? And what, by the way, is this penchant for using Greek to designate disasters?   An unusual side effect of the coronavirus is the regular appearance of the Greek alphabet in newspaper headlines. The highly…

Our emotions and identity can affect the way we use grammar

Our emotions and identity can affect the way we use grammar

Study reveals how emotional context affects how we use and understand language at the neural level.   Language and social identity have been making headlines recently. Last month, Air Canada’s CEO Michael Rousseau faced scrutiny over not knowing French – his language deficit is helping support Bill 96 in Québec (which seeks to change the Canadian Constitution to affirm Québec as a nation and…