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Keith Chen animated

Jason Merchant sent me a link to this animation of Keith Chen's ideas about tense marking and future-orientation in financial and health behaviors:

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Keith Chen at TED

"Saving for a rainy day: Keith Chen on language that forecasts weather — and behavior", TED Blog 2/19/2013: Back when my first paper on this topic circulated, many linguists were appropriately skeptical of the work. Their concerns are concisely explained in two well-thought out posts (here and here) by the linguists Mark Liberman and Geoffrey […]

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Keith Chen, Whorfian economist

Language Log has been asked more than once to comment on an unpublished working paper by Yale economist Keith Chen that is discussed in various online sources, e.g. here and here, and most recently David Berreby's post at Big Think. Briefly, Chen's paper alleges that a certain simple grammatical property of languages correlates robustly with […]

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On pronoun typology and economic measures

Below is a guest post by Bob Kennedy. This post is adapted from a letter I wrote to the editors of the journal Kyklos, in response to the recent publication of “Do Linguistic Structures Affect Human Capital? The Case of Pronoun Drop”, by Prof Horst Feldmann of the University of Bath.

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The latest on the Whorfian morphology of time

Take a look at Astghik Mavisakalyan, Clas Weber, and Yashar Tarverdi, "Future tense: how the language you speak influences your willingness to take climate action", The Conversation 3/7/2018, which is a re-presentation for a general intellectual audience of a technical paper by the same authors that appeared a month earlier,:Astghik Mavisakalyan, Yashar Tarverdi, and Clas Weber, […]

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Apps for casual sex

There are so many people out there designing apps.  It's potentially a very lucrative business, since, if you come up with the right app to fill a need for millions of people, you can strike it rich.  Consequently, with thousands of people coming up with new apps all the time, there seems to be an […]

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One for Diogenes

The philosopher Diogenes of Sinope was eccentric, to say the least — he begged for a living, slept in a large ceramic jar in the marketplace, and discarded the wooden bowl that was his only possession, deciding that it was excess baggage. He refuted the Platonic definition of human as "featherless biped" by exhibiting a plucked […]

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High-altitude ejectives

Caleb Everett, "Evidence for Direct Geographic Influences on Linguistic Sounds: The Case of Ejectives", PLoS ONE, 2013: We examined the geographic coordinates and elevations of 567 language locations represented in a worldwide phonetic database. Languages with phonemic ejective consonants were found to occur closer to inhabitable regions of high elevation, when contrasted to languages without […]

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Individual discount rates and future reference in English

Doonesbury for Sept. 12: I'm probably the only Doonesbury reader who saw this strip in terms of variation in future time reference.

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Response to Jasmin and Casasanto's response to me

For the background of this discussion, see "The QWERTY effect", 3/8/2012; "QWERTY: Failure to replicate", 3/13/2012; and "Casasanto and Jasmin on the QWERTY effect", 3/17/2012. In their reply to me, C&J make three basic points: "We’re not concerned with Liberman’s subjective evaluation of the QWERTY effect’s size or of our study’s importance." "The QWERTY effect is […]

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You use the present tense, you persuade people to save money

We've had some discussion lately about the sports subjunctive/baseball conditional/bare paratactic conditional. I'm going to stay out of any naming controversies, but I do want to pick up on the fact that this construction typically involves using a present tense verb form to describe a future event. Like this: We've also been discussing Keith Chen's […]

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Thought experiments on language and thought

Keith Chen's recent proposal that the grammar of tense marking in a language has a causal effect on future-oriented financial and health behaviors is too intriguing to resist talking about. In fact, it reminds me of the words of a prominent linguist who once announced during his talk: "The explanation in question is almost certain […]

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Whorfian Economics

[This is a guest post by Keith Chen.] Mark and Geoffrey were kind enough not only to write thoughtful columns on a recent working paper of mine here and here, but to invite me to write a guest post explaining the work. In the spirit of a non-linguist who’s pleased to be discovering this blog, […]

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