Around the Web

This week Around the Web is all about language and the mind. Let’s kick things off with another of those clever RSA Animate features, this time starring Steven Pinker as he discusses what language can tell us about social relationships.


  • The phenomenon of Alien Hand Syndrome: after doctors cut her corpus callosum to treat her epilepsy a patient finds that her left hand often acts against her will. “I’d light a cigarette, balance it on an ashtray, and then my left hand would reach forward and stub it out.” She was featured in the BBC series, The Brain: A Secret History.
  • Anthropology in Practice takes a pinch of folklore mixes a little evolutionary psychology and stirs in a heaping helping of Disney World.

“Come to my senses sometimes”

Artificial Intelligence

  • NYT on the Jeapordy trouncing computer Watson. Mind Hacks has the run down.
  • In the Atlantic linguist Ben Zimmer, for one, welcomes out new computer overlords. More links here.

Politics of Language

  • Language Log writes on the deliberate affectation of a Southern accent in Republican Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty. There’s a follow up here.
  • In my General Anthropology class I used selections from this PBS series, “Do you speak American?”. I might write up a full review on it at a later date.

An Evolutionary Perspective

Wor(l)d History

  • Does Language Log even know what they are talking about? Contemporary use of the word “even” reflects 16th Century origins.
  • BBC on the spread of “OK” as documented by Allan Metcalf in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word. Incidentally I had a professor in grad school who held that the word “okay” was African in origin.

Language on the Internet

“This year Halloween fell on a weekend”

Seen something around the web that you’d like to share with the Savage Minds communtiy? Email your links to mdthomps AT

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is Project Cataloger at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and currently working on a CLIR ‘hidden collections’ grant to describe the museum’s collection of early 20th Century photography. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in information science from the University of Tennessee.

One thought on “Around the Web

  1. Thanks for this! I always enjoy the ATW features, but this one is particularly useful because I’m TAing an undergrad course on language and cognition. I’ll be using some of these as teaching examples (the Pinker video for sure!)

Comments are closed.