Showing posts with label Cambridge Univ.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cambridge Univ.. Show all posts

Dec 31, 2009


There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world and half or more of them could cease to exist by 2100.

Languages are dying out around the globe through globalization, social change, and a shift in populations from rural areas to cities. Of the 6,500 languages estimated to be still in use, only 11 are spoken by half the world's population, and 95 percent of the languages are spoken by less than five percent of the global population.

A new project, the World Oral Literature Project, by the University of Cambridge's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, aims to preserve the linguistic diversity being lost. The project is recording and documenting languages that face the prospect of dying out, with the goal of preserving their poems, chants, stories, and anything else that can be recorded. This is somewhat like the Rosetta Stone Project, which began about ten years ago and that has documented 2,500 languages for the same purpose.

The language used by most people is Chinese Mandarin, followed by English and Spanish. The language spoken by most countries is English, followed by French, then Spanish.

1.5  billion people speak Chinese, 1 billion plus speak English, and about 500 million speak Spanish. English is spoken in more countries than any other language.

English is a West Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-Saxon era. It has become common as a result of the military, economic, scientific, political, and cultural influence of the British Empire during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, and of the United States since the mid 20th century. All y'all listen up?

Oct 21, 2009

Pigs Using Mirrors

More pig news from another stupid study. A study of domesticated pigs has found that with some experimenting they can find food based on a reflection in a mirror.

In the study, four pairs of domesticated pigs were allowed to familiarize themselves with a mirror for five hours. The study was conducted at Cambridge University in the U.K. and found that, given a chance to familiarize themselves with a mirror, many pigs can find food based only on its reflection in the mirror. The findings will be published in the journal 'Animal Behaviour'.

After familiarization, each pig was placed in a pen with an angled mirror and a partition, behind which were treats such as apple slices or M&Ms. Seven of the eight pigs immediately looked behind the partition and found the food. A control group of pigs that had never seen a mirror before searched behind the mirror for the food.

A researcher said the study shows pigs have a high degree of assessment awareness, or the ability to use memories and observations to quickly learn to assess a situation and act on it. It is hoped the conditions in which pigs are raised, including overcrowding, which do not meet the needs of the animal, may be improved as a result of the study. Yeh, and maybe pig farmers will also be adding brushes and lipstick in the pig sties. Do you think this proves eating bacon makes you smart?

PS - Did you know the mirrors on motorcycles are called pig spotters?