There are a few grammar items in the news today, so here is a round-up:
The University of Tasmania has followed on from previous work on the link between severe iodine deficiency in mothers and children with mental disabilities. They now find children of that mothers who have only a mild iodine deficiency perform 6 to 10 percent worse than their 9 year old peers.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends an average adult consume 150 micrograms (mcg) of iodine every day. Pregnant women are advised to get 220 mcg of iodine, & the recommended level for women who are breastfeeding is 290 mcg.
Detecting Bad Grammar
Meanwhile at the University of Oregon, a study of native-English speaking people captured changes in brain electrical activity as they were presented with short sentences. The task given to the participants was to listen for a 50 millisecond audio tone played at some point while short sentences were presented visually, one word at a time. They were asked to respond to the tone as quickly as they could, indicating if the tone’s pitch was low, medium or high.
- When tones appeared after the errors, 89 percent of those errors were detected.
- When the tones appear before the grammatical errors, subjects detected only 51 percent of them, because the tone before the event created a break in their attention.
- Even when the participants did not notice these errors, their brains responded to them, and the undetected errors also delayed participants’ reaction times to the tones.
“Even when you don’t pick up on a syntactic error your brain is still picking up on it,” said lead author Laura Batterink. “There is a brain mechanism recognizing it and reacting to it, processing it unconsciously so you understand it properly.”
An example of the bad English used in the experiment is “We drank Lisa’s by brandy the fire in the lobby”.
Sorry, Ma’am, but bad grammar is no excuse for vandalism
The Columbia Journalism review has an article “Grammar Police – Zealousness over correctness” which includes the lovely line “Grammar is not as immutable as disciplines like physics.” Which is a nice link to the scientific theme of the day!
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