From the CanIL Blog

Read below for recent articles of linguistic tidbits and news from CanIL.


 

Semantic Satiation

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Have you ever focused so much on a word that it started to look and sound strange to you? As you repeated the word over and over, the association between the word and its meaning became weak, possibly even funny. Believe it or not this is an acknowledged phenomenon known as ‘semantic satiation,’ and it was first reported and studied around the turn of the century. In ‘A Beginner’s Psychology’ dating back to 1919 it is described this way: “Repeat aloud some word  — the first that occurs to you; house, for instance — over and over again; presently the sound of the word becomes meaningless and blank; you are puzzled and a morsel frightened as you hear it.”[1] The loss of meaning of a word is a subjective experience, yet some studies have shown that the rate of meaning loss patterns in a predictable manner, which is correlated with the frequency of repetition, along with other conditions.

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Faculty in Focus

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For over 30 years, Bill and his wife, Lori, have worked as linguists with Wycliffe. During that time, they’ve lived in the Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Kenya, and this past September they joined our team of faculty at CanIL.

I often tell folks I meet: “I studied electrical engineering, and it led me directly into Bible translation.” After they chuckle, I go on to say that I am only half joking. Although the two fields aren’t normally thought of as compatible, the skills I learned in engineering, e.g. how to analyze systems and use computers, have benefited me greatly in my linguistic work. If you can think like an engineer, you can think like a linguist.

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