Why are female doctors introduced by first name while men are called ‘Doctor’?

The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, looked at videos of 321 speaker introductions at 124 internal medicine grand rounds from 2012 through 2014 at Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona and Minnesota. The results showed that male introducers used professional titles for female doctors only 49 percent of the time on first reference, but introduced male doctors by their titles 72 percent of the time.

Female introducers used titles in introductions of both male and female doctors more often than male introducers (96 percent of the time vs. 66 percent of the time).

Janice Neumann, Washington Post, June 24, 2017

‘Hotter,’ ‘lesbian,’ ‘feminazi’: How some economists discuss their female colleagues

Measuring sexist attitudes and hostility toward women is difficult. But for her senior thesis in economics at the University of California, Berkeley (fittingly, the same university that rejected Strober), Alice Wu found a way.

Wu, who will begin doctoral studies at Harvard University next year, mined over a million posts on the anonymous online message board, Economics Job Market Rumors, to analyze how economists talk about women in the profession. The website, a popular forum for graduate students and faculty members to gossip about jobs and hiring, offers a window into conversations that are otherwise almost impossible to document. And as Wu explains in her paper, “Anonymity presumably eliminates any social pressure participants may feel to edit their speech, and thus creates a natural setting to capture what people believe but would not openly say.”

The 30 words most uniquely associated with women are (in order): hotter, lesbian, bb (Internet terminology for “baby”), sexism, [a vulgar term for breasts], anal, marrying, feminazi, slut, hot, vagina, [another vulgar term for breasts], pregnant, pregnancy, cute, marry, levy, gorgeous, horny, crush, beautiful, secretary, dump, shopping, date, nonprofit, intentions, sexy, dated and prostitute.

The terms most associated with men are rather different. They include: mathematician, pricing, adviser, textbook, motivated, Wharton, goals, Nobel and philosopher. Indeed, the only derogatory term in the list is a slur used against gay men.

Elizabeth Winkler, Washington Post, August 22, 2017

Sarcasm Spurs Creative Thinking: Although snarky comments can cause conflict, a little verbal irony also stimulates new ideas

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence,” that connoisseur of witticisms, Oscar Wilde, is said to have remarked. But not everyone shares his view. Communication experts and marriage counselors alike typically advise us to stay away from this particular form of expression. The reason is simple: sarcasm carries the poisonous sting of contempt, which can hurt others and harm relationships. By its very nature, it invites conflict.

And yet behavioral scientists Li Huang of INSEAD business school, Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia University and I have found that sarcasm may also offer an unexpected psychological payoff: greater creativity. The use of sarcasm, in fact, appears to promote creativity for those on both the giving and receiving end of the exchange. Instead of avoiding snarky remarks completely, our research suggests that, used with care and in moderation, clever quips can trigger creative sparks.

Francesca Gino, Scientific American, May 1, 2016

Not lost in translation: Researchers ‘teach’ computers to translate accurately

Online translators are getting better, but there’s still room for improvement. Researchers are now contributing new artificial intelligence techniques that could help accurately build full sentences.

Algorithms developed by researchers at the University of Liverpool give computers a human-like touch while translating words and languages. They believe their methods are key to improving accuracy.

Using the algorithms, a computer will be able to translate a word from an unknown language, and then provide context to it. As a result, the computer will be able to build a proper sentence by adding words around it.

Agam Shah, pcworld.com, May 6, 2016

Did The Language You Speak Evolve Because Of The Heat?

Probability in Language, Evolution –

English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.

Consonant-heavy syllables don’t carry very well in places like windy mountain ranges or dense rainforests, researchers say. “If you have a lot of tree cover, for example, [sound] will reflect off the surface of leaves and trunks. That will break up the coherence of the transmitted sound,” says Ian Maddieson, a linguist at the University of New Mexico.

Angus Chen, NPR, November 6, 2015

Wet Is Better for Tonal Languages – Humid locales foster more languages with complex tones

Probability in Language

If the amount of moisture in the air influences musical pitch, Everett wondered, has that translated into the development of fewer tonal languages in arid locations? Tonal languages, such as Mandarin Chinese and Cherokee, rely on variations in pitch to differentiate meaning: the same syllable spoken at a higher pitch can specify a different word if spoken at a lower pitch or in a rising or falling tone.

In a survey of more than 3,700 languages, Everett and his collaborators found that those with complex tones do indeed occur less frequently in dry areas than they do in humid ones, even after accounting for the clustering of related languages.

Sarah Lewin, Scientific American, March 17, 2015

Probability in Language

Did Shakespeare write his plays?

Some people question whether Shakespeare really wrote the works that bear his name – or whether he even existed at all. Could it be true that the greatest writer in the English language was as fictional as his plays? Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams show how a linguistic tool called stylometry might shed light on the answer.

Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams, Ted Ed