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August 27, 2020

Eric Trump seems tired of the coronavirus — not tired of the toll it's taken on American lives, jobs, and norms, but tired of talking about it.

President Trump's son, who previously promised to stay out of politics and stick to running the Trump Organization when his dad took office, appeared on Fox News on Thursday. After declaring the Republican National Convention far superior to the Democratic National Convention last week ("we blew them out of the water"), Trump pivoted to criticize Democratic messaging.

His summary of Democratic priorities included a "total lack of law and order," "defunding police," and, particularly, the coronavirus. "All they can talk about, Steve, is COVID. COVID, COVID, COVID," Trump told host Steve Doocy.

The COVID-19 pandemic topped 180,000 recorded deaths on Thursday, and experts have said leaving the pandemic response to vary by state, rather than operating under a federal plan, has helped contribute to the sky-high number of cases in the country.

Trump's son praised the president for focusing on issues he views as more pressing than the pandemic, namely building the "greatest military in the world," and "stopping illegal immigration," and "preserving God in this country."

Watch the full interview below. Summer Meza

October 7, 2016

Linguists have spent three years poring over audio to study the way Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks, Time reports. But rather than focus on the content of her words, NYU linguistics professor emeritus John Victor Singler and researchers Nathan LaFave and Allison Shapp analyzed the change in Ginsburg's accent between 1970 and the early '90s, up to present day. In her earlier speech, Ginsburg's New York accent — her "thought vowels" and "R-vocalizations" — is less pronounced. As time goes on, even accounting for her aging voice, Ginsburg's Brooklyn accent creeps back into the way she talks.

What the researchers discovered could give important insight not just into Ginsburg's speech development, but into the complicated social, political, and linguistic shifts in the way each and every one of us pronounces words, even if said words are as non-threatening as "coffee."

[The linguists'] theory, reported here for the first time, is that "conscious or not," the lawyer was doing something everyone does, what is known in linguistics as accommodation: adapting our ways of communicating depending on who we're talking to. Accommodating can be done through word choice, pronunciation, even gestures. A common example would be when someone returns to the town where they grew up and their accent comes roaring back as they talk to friends and family who sound that way, too.

[…] Noting that Ginsburg moved to Washington, D.C., in 1980, the linguists argue that the sounds of her youth have come back in part because one of the most powerful women in America doesn't have to fret so much about what people think these days. "Justice Ginsburg no longer needs to worry about whether she seems threatening to the Court," they write in a working paper. "She is the Court." [Time]

"Everybody actually has more than one accent," linguist David Crystal added for Time. "Everybody modifies their accent. Some people are so proud of a particular point of origin that they try their damnedest not to modify their voice, but this pressure to accommodate, as it's called, is in everybody." Compare Ginsburg's speech below, and read a full report of the study in Time. Jeva Lange

August 17, 2015

An ancient whistling language "spoken" by about 10,000 people in the mountains of northeastern Turkey has a distinct advantage over the lumbering mouth-speech the rest of us use — it uses the entire brain.

Until recently, researchers believed that language was isolated to the left side of the brain, but to fluent Turkish whistlers, the right side, known for its importance in understanding music, has an equal role, the New Scientist reports. Researchers suspect that in a case of a stroke affecting the left side of a whistler's brain, they'd likely be able to compensate for language loss with their right hemisphere.

But while whistlers are using their brains more fully than the rest of us, take solace in the big advantage spoken language has over whistling: "You can gossip with a mobile phone, but you can't do that with whistling because the whole valley hears," lead researcher Onur Güntürkün explained. Jeva Lange

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