English

How the World Talks and Sees

Curated by CLAI

7 LANGUAGE MAPS: Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.

  • If you randomly select two people in Cameroon, there is a 97% likelihood that they will have different mother tongues. In the United States, there is only a 33 percent likelihood that this is going to happen.
  • Most languages are spoken only by a handful of people. That’s why about half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century. About 3% of the world’s population accounts for 96% of all languages spoken today. Out of all languages in the world, 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 native speakers.

VERTICAL VIDEOS: We live in a horizontal world, and most action happens from left to right. Vertical videos feel claustrophobic, because often they feature one or two people occupying the full frame, and not much of the landscape to show what lies beyond. Our eyes are horizontal: the human field of vision is wider than it is tall, so it is only natural that our videos match that shape.

  • Our eyes may be horizontal, but our hands are best suited to holding objects vertically, which is why phones, tablets and, in the predigital age, our books and other documents were usually oriented in portrait mode. Watching horizontal video on a phone’s vertical screen is a minor annoyance. With a horizontal video, you have to awkwardly flip your phone sideways so the entire image fills the screen, or you can keep your phone vertical and tolerate the huge black bars displayed above and below the picture.
  • Many people didn’t reorient their phones to watch horizontal videos in full-screen mode. They found it so uncomfortable to hold the phone the other way, and they didn’t want to keep switching their phones back and forth.
  • We live in the era of personal video. Shouldn’t we celebrate videos that match the shape of our bodies?

Is it ME or I? When was “Earthquake” Invented?

Curated by CLAI

ME V. I: Is it “you and me” or “you and I”? Even the best of us get confused. Take the quiz!

  • Kim, her sister and (me/I) went shopping on Black Friday.
  • Here’s a picture of my son and (me/I) at the museum.
  • Between you and (me/I), I think he’s crazy.
  • Julie, Lisa, Michele and (me/I) are meeting up at the ballpark.
  • The lawyer told my husband and (me/I) that while we would win the case if we filed, the return wouldn’t be worth it.
English by the Book (Alexander Stegmaier, John Tomanio)

English by the Book (Alexander Stegmaier, John Tomanio)

HISTORY OF NEW ENGLISH WORDS: When did our favorite words crop up in English?

  • 14th c: university, earthquake
  • 15th c: dictionary, globe, lovesick
  • 16th c: mathematics, dictatorship, potato
  • 17th c: Americanize, hotel, womanizer, ice cream
  • 18th c: homesick, roommate, terrorism
  • 19th c: cello, bicycle, mascara, mom, photograph, rubber band, subway
  • 20th c: clone, database, inbox, neurobiology, recycle, supernova, techno, vegan

Dude – Close Your Legs. Speak Spanish Fluently – Even When You Don’t

Curated by CLAI

MANSPREADING ON THE SUBWAY: The targets of the MTA campaign, those men who spread their legs wide, into a sort of V-shaped slouch, effectively occupying two, sometimes even three, seats are not hard to find. Whether they will heed the new ads is another question.

Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Read More: A Scourge is Spreading: MTA’s Cure, “Dude, Close Your Legs” (NYTIMES)

Metropolitan Transportation Authority manspreading ad. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

INSTANT TRANSLATOR: Skype is launching a translator that provides automated, nearly simultaneous translation between Spanish and English during video calls. Basically, you just have your conversation as normal and the program will convert your words between languages automatically. You also get a written transcript of your conversation as you go.

To show off the tool, Skype set up a game between two elementary school classes: one in Tacoma, Wash. and one in Mexico City. The two groups had to figure out, Twenty Questions-style, where the other classroom of kids lived.

Read More: Skype’s New Tool Will Let You Translate Your Video Call Almost in Real Time (WAPO). And check out the YoutTube video below!

Skype Translator preview opens the classroom to the world (Skype)

Entrepreneurs: Get Over Your Fear! Students: Free Tuition Abroad

Curated by CLAI

GETTING OVER YOUR FEARS: A must-read infographic for every entrepreneur & leader

Getting Over Fear: On the Way to Becoming an Entrepreneur (Anna Vital)

Getting Over Fear: On the Way to Becoming an Entrepreneur (Anna Vital)

FREE TUITION FOR AMERICAN STUDENTS: 7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free). Click link to read more on Slovenia and Brazil.

  • Germany: Americans can earn a German undergraduate or graduate degree without speaking a word of German and without having to pay a single dollar of tuition fees. About 900 undergraduate or graduate degrees are offered exclusively in English, with courses ranging from engineering to social sciences.
  • Finland: Finland will finance your education, but not your afternoon coffee break.
  • Sweden: Only Ph.D programs are tuition-free.
  • Norway: Norwegian universities do not charge tuition fees for international students, though Norway has the highest costs of living for expats.

Culture in Words, Cheese, and Pizza

Curated by CLAI

LOST IN TRANSLATION: How different cultures express and interpret the same words.

  • Brit Says: This is an original point of view.
  • Brit Means: Your idea is stupid.
  • Dutch Understands: They like my ideas!
Cheese

Cheese (Emily Teel, Philly Mag)

EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN PARMESAN AND BRIE? European Union wants U.S. food makers to stop using European cheese names. A free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea banned the sale of U.S. feta, Asiago, Gorgonzola and fontina to Korea. Costa Rica recently decided against allowing the sale of American provolone and Parmesan.

BEST PIZZA: Chart of the cheapest pizza locations in Washington, DC, New York and other big cities.

Washington DC Pizza Chart

Washington DC Pizza Chart (Quoctrung Bui/NPR)