Countdown to Christmas – Question 18: Wednesday 18th December

As many of us prepare to fly prior to Christmas Day, it’s worth remembering that the chances of being involved in a fatal air accident are 1 in 29 million. You actually have more chance of being eaten by a shark (1 in 11 million) or killed in an accident with a lawn mower (1 in 3 million).

AirplaneSo given that air travel is statistically stunningly safe, which part of the flight is most likely to be fatal?

(a) Take off

(b) Initial climb to cruising altitude

(c) Descent

(d) Landing

ANSWER: Takeoff

According to 2012 statistics, here are the percentage fatalities based on the portion of a flight:

Taxi, load/unload, parked, tow 0 %
Takeoff 16%
Initial Climb 14 %
Climb (flaps up) 13 %
Cruise 16 %
Descent 4 %
Initial Approach 12 %
Final Approach 13 %
Landing 12 %

Flying is easy – it’s not hitting the ground hard and fast that’s the tricky part ;)

An underlying issue here is that when you think about the dangers of any activity, it’s important to be prepared to look at any actual evidence that’s available to evaluate the reality. For example, although the perception of flying is that it seems more dangerous that using a lawn mower, the numbers tell us otherwise. Similarly the belief that terrorists are lurking around every  corner ready to kill you and your loved ones is stronger than the numbers. An interesting post from earlier this year showed that you are more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist (number of terrorist deaths on US soil in 2103=3; number of people shot by toddlers=5).

The point is that using evidence and statistics is to be preferred over perceptions and feelings. This is, of course, easier said than done because human beings respond at an emotional level much more intensely and frequently than they do at a rational level.  If there’s a clash between our personal beliefs and statistics, we will always blame the statistics – which is like saying we believe a sample size of 1 versus a sample size of millions.

List

Airplane crash statistics: from 2012.

Statistics Brain: a good site to explore all manner of statistical information.

Countdown to Christmas – Question 17: Tuesday 17th December

The annual Victoria’s Secret TV show took place a few days ago. This is where women who are greater than 3 Standard Deviations from the norm dress in clothing that can only be worn by Victoria’s Secret models, in an attempt to make everyone else buy underwear designed for women who are within +/- 1 Standard Deviation from the norm. So, in what year did Louis Reard invent the bikini?

(a) 1926

(b) 1936

(c) 1946

(d) 1956

bikiniANSWER: 1946

Although Louis Reard is credited with naming the two-piece bathing suit with its now generic name of bikini, another designer, Jacques Heim, actually launched his version two months earlier than Reard. He called his the Atome but Reard clearly was the better marketer and took the name bikini from the Bikini Atoll – the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test. He wanted folks to associate the effect of his product as being similar to a nuclear explosion!

The word bikini comes from a Malayo-Polynesian language called Marshallese (from the Marshall Islands) or Ebon. The original word is pikinni (/pʲɨkɨnʲnʲɨj/) and means “surface of coconuts.” We kid you not!

Links

All you need to know about Marshallese from the World Atlas of Language Structures.

A History of the Bikini from the Bikini View website.

Countdown to Christmas – Question 16: Monday 16th December

What type of verb is “have” in the sentence “Have you the time?”

(a) Auxiliary verb

(b) Lexical verb

(c) Subjunctive verb

(d) Copular verb

wrist watchANSWER: Lexical verb!

In this example, the word have is being used as a near-synonym for “to own” or “to possess.” This contrasts with its other function as an auxiliary, or helping, verb.

Links

About lexical verbs at The Tongue Untied

About auxiliary verbs at The Tongue Untied

 

 

Countdown to Christmas – Question 15: Sunday 15th December

It’s Sunday and a day of rest for many folks. For some, it’s also a religious occasion. And for Pentacostals, it may be an opportunity to indulge in “Speaking with Tongues,” a phenomenon where individuals are moved by an alleged supernatural force to articulate in an inspired – and unknown – language. But what is the scientific name for this?

Speaking in tongues

(a) Glossolalia
(b) Linguaphilia
(c) Lexiosynthesis
(d) Grammatologosia

ANSWER: glossolalia

From the Greek glossa meaning “tongue” or “language” and lalein meaning “to talk or prattle,” glossolalia is a type of fluent speech that is devoid of meaning. It sounds like language but turns out not to be. People tend to use their native phonology to create glossolalic utterances – so if you’re a native English speaker you are unlikely to use /ps/, /ts/, or /ks/ at the beginning of a syllable boundary, but if you are a native Greek speak, you will. In a classic study fron the 1970′s, William Samarin concluded that glossolalia is “unintelligible babbling speech that exhibits superficial phonological similarity to language, without having consistent syntagmatic structure and that is not systematically derived from or related to known language.” [1]

Links

Interesting article from a religious perspective. Holm, R., Wolf, M. and Smith, J.K.A. (2011). New Frontiers in Tongue Research: A Symposium. Journal of Pentacostal Theology, 20, 122-154.

Short video of an example of glossolalia – unfortunately titled [2]:

Notes

[1] Samarin, W.J. (1972). Variation and Variables in Religious Glossolalia:  Language in Society, ed. Dell Haymes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pgs. 121-130.

[2] The example here is used because it’s brief and illustrates the point. The title of the video, “Crazy hat lady” is unfortunate because it’s linguistically ambiguous; does it means a lady wearing a crazy hat, or a hat-lady who is crazy? It also shows why hyphens are needed so we can work out if it’s a “crazy-hat lady” or a “crazy hat-lady.” It’s also wrong to insinuate she is crazy because many people of faith are quite sane and sincere people – just misguided in their belief in a non-existent supernatural being.

Countdown to Christmas – Question 14: Saturday 14th December

Are you done with finals… Good.  If not, sorry to hear that.   So today’s question has nothing to do about speech pathology, audiology, neurology, or famous people.  No puzzles, multiple choice, fill in the blank, or diagrams… just a test of your creativity.  In fact, it’s open until Christmas Eve – that’s December 24th for those of you who want to set your Google Calender to beep at you.

Write a haiku about the Holiday Season and the Speech Dudes.  If you don’t know much about the Speech Dudes, that really doesn’t matter.  Make it up.  (Mark Twain once said, “Never let the Truth get in the way of a good story.”)

Be creative.  Work in your favorite Christmas or Holiday message.  We know we’re not WestJet (http://youtu.be/zIEIvi2MuEk) so we can’t promise big screen TV’s,  bikes, or socks.  Just coffee or your favorite Starbucks treat.

So break out your best creative mind; scrawl away on a few napkins; jot it down in notepad; but just let us see your best mix of Japanese Culture and the Holiday Season.  Our favorite Haiku will win.  This contest will stay open all the way through to the 24th and then we’ll announce a winner on Christmas Day – the only tweet we’re likely to send!

Email your answer to speechdudes (at) gmail.com – we’re not going to limit you to 140 characters – and as this will be our Christmas Day finale, it’s open to ANYONE who is following us on Twitter – and who can use a Starbucks $5.00 eCard.

Countdown to Christmas – Question 13: Friday 13th December

It’s a topical vocabulary question today. What’s the word used to describe “the fear of the number 13?” Hint: fear of the number 13 is different from the fear of Friday the 13th itself. 

Fear of the number thirteen

ANSWER: triskaidekaphobia!

The word triskaidekaphobia is a relatively new word – and for lexicographers, anything from the early 20th century is “new” – and was coined from the Greek treiskaideka, which means “thirteen” and phobos, meaning “fear.” The Oxford English Dictionary has the first published use of the word in Isador Henry Coriat’s Abnormal Psychology in 1911.

The specific fear of Friday 13th has two words: paraskevidekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia. The latter is simply triskaidekaphobia with the prefix, frigga, which is the name of the Norse goddess after whom Friday originates. It’s origin is obscure but certainly recent i.e. 20th century. The former, appears to be traceable to Dr. Donald Dossey in his 1992 book Holiday Folklore, Phobias, and Fun, is also a Greek coinage: paraskevi meaning “Friday,” dekatria meaning “thirteen,” and again, phobia means “fear.”

But wait, you eagle-eyed readers exclaim, how come both treiskaideka and dekatria both mean “thirteen?” Well, treis on its own means “three” and deka means “ten, and the Greek word for “and” is kai. So, the former is literally “three and ten” whereas the latter is simply “three ten.”  Score another point for the Dudes as being “edutainers” – you may not realize it, but reading our blog is an education; we just do it oh so subtly ;)

Links

Article on paraskevidekatriaphobia from the Macmillan Dictionary Buzzwords blog.

Definition of triskaidekaphobia in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Countdown to Christmas Quiz – Question 12: Thursday 12th December

Another anatomy question. What’s the name of the nerve missing from the diagram below?

Cranial Nerves

ANSWER: Vagus!

If nerves were animals, the vagus would be a work-horse. It’s critical for breathing, speaking, sweating, eating, and keeping an eye on your heartbeat. With this in mind, damage to the vagus can have severe consequences.

The word “vagus” comes from the Latin vagus, which means wandering, inconstant, or uncertain. The words vague and vagrant come from the same root. In the case of this nerve, it certainly wanders around the body from the head down to the colon! The “wandering nerve” is the longest of all the 12 cranial nerves.

And in case you were curious, there is no link between the vagus and Las Vegas. The latter comes from the Spanish vega meaning “an extensive, fertile, grass-covered plain or tract of land.

Links

A Most-Multitalented Nerve: ASHA article from Dec, 1, 2013

“Map” of the vagus nerve and where it wanders!

Countdown to Christmas Quiz – Question 11: Wednesday 11th December

In 1978, ASHA changed its name to become what it is today – the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. But what was its original name back in 1925? Was it;

(a) American Speech Correction Association,

(b) American Society for the Study of Disorders of Speech,

(c) American Academy of Speech Correction, or

(d) American Speech and Hearing Association.

ANSWER: (c) The American Academy of Speech Correction!

ASHA Logo

ASHA developed from the National Association of Teachers of Speech, way back in 1925. The aim was to create an organization that promoted  “scientific, organized work in the field of speech correction.” Since then there have been a number of name changes;

 1925: American Academy of Speech Correction.

1927: American Society for the Study of Disorders of Speech.

1934: American Speech Correction Association.

1947: American Speech and Hearing Association.

1978: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Links

A great short summary of the history of ASHA is at the ASHA website.

The UK’s Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is much younger – but being able to say “I’m a member of the Royal College” is pretty cool ;)

Countdown to Christmas Quiz: Question 10 – Tuesday 10th December

A puzzling one today ;)  First, follow this link to a jigsaw and then once you’ve completed it, see if you can guess which famous Speech and Language Therapy pioneer it it. The person was particularly active in the treatment of stuttering.

http://five.flash-gear.com/npuz/puz.php?c=v&id=4332499&k=31845081

ANSWER: Charles van Riper!

Charles van Riper

Charles van Riper

Charles van Riper was born in 1905 in Champion Township, Michigan. His family nickname was Cully, which he used later in life as his pen name, Cully Gage, for a series of stories known as The Northwoods Reader about life in Northern Michigan.

His Ph.D. thesis was written in 1934 and titled An experimental investigation of laterality in stutterers and normal speakers, which pretty much set him up for his life-long dedication to helping folks with dysfluency. He founded Western Michigan University’s speech, hearing and language clinic in 1936, which was renamed after him in 1983.

In 1939, his book, Speech Correction: Principles and Methods, was first published, and went on to become a standard in the field of Speech and Language Pathology.

Speech Correction by van Riper

On November 19th at the 1956 Annual Convention in Chicago, Illinois, he received the Honors of the Association Award from ASHA.

Van Riper died on September 27th, 1994, at his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Links

All things Van Riper at Judy Kuster’s web page.

Books by Cully Gage at Amazon.

Countdown to Christmas Quiz: Question 9 – Monday 9th December

What is the three-letter acronym we use to describe the integration of:

(a) clinical expertise/expert opinion,
(b) external scientific evidence, and
(c) client/patient/caregiver perspectives to provide high-quality services reflecting the interests, values, needs, and choices of the individuals we serve?

ANSWER: EBP – Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-based practice elementsSometimes, evidence-based practice seems – and sounds – complicated, especially when you’re trying to make sense of statistical data presented in peer-reviewed articles. However, the basic principles are simple and all you need to ask yourself is one question: “Is what I am doing with my client based on the best information available to me?” If the answer is “yes,” then you’re on the right track; if the answer is “no,” then your next question is “Where do I get the best information about what I am doing?”

Links

Position paper on EBP in Communication Disorders from ASHA’s Joint Committee on Evidence-based Practice.

The Handbook for Evidence-Based Practice in Communication Disorders by Christine Dollaghan published by Brookes Publishing.