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Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: English language

342

The association of volunteering with well-being has been found in previous research, but mostly among older people. The aim of this study was to examine the association of volunteering with mental well-being among the British population across the life course.

Concepts: Research methods, Sociology, United Kingdom, English language, Decolonization

303

We report here trends in the usage of “mood” words, that is, words carrying emotional content, in 20th century English language books, using the data set provided by Google that includes word frequencies in roughly 4% of all books published up to the year 2008. We find evidence for distinct historical periods of positive and negative moods, underlain by a general decrease in the use of emotion-related words through time. Finally, we show that, in books, American English has become decidedly more “emotional” than British English in the last half-century, as a part of a more general increase of the stylistic divergence between the two variants of English language.

Concepts: Dialect, English language, Emotion, Received Pronunciation, Grammatical mood, American English, British English, Hiberno-English

212

Public confidence in genetically modified (GM) crop studies is tenuous at best in many countries, including those of the European Union in particular. A lack of information about the effects of ties between academic research and industry might stretch this confidence to the breaking point. We therefore performed an analysis on a large set of research articles (n = 672) focusing on the efficacy or durability of GM Bt crops and ties between the researchers carrying out these studies and the GM crop industry. We found that ties between researchers and the GM crop industry were common, with 40% of the articles considered displaying conflicts of interest (COI). In particular, we found that, compared to the absence of COI, the presence of a COI was associated with a 50% higher frequency of outcomes favorable to the interests of the GM crop company. Using our large dataset, we were able to propose possible direct and indirect mechanisms behind this statistical association. They might notably include changes of authorship or funding statements after the results of a study have been obtained and a choice in the topics studied driven by industrial priorities.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, European Union, Research, English language, Cultural studies, Research and development

196

Foreign bodies lodged in the nasal cavity are a common problem in children, and their removal can be challenging. The published studies relating to the “mother’s kiss” all take the form of case reports and case series. We sought to assess the efficacy and safety of this technique.

Concepts: Evaluation methods, English language, Nose, German language, Nasal cavity, Case series, Case report

194

International trade deals once focused primarily on tariffs. As a result, they had little direct effect on health, and health experts could reasonably leave their details to trade professionals. Not so today. Modern trade pacts have implications for a wide range of health policy issues, from medicine prices to tobacco regulation, not only in the developing world but also in the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a case in point. A massive trade deal now reportedly on the verge of completion, the TPP has nearly 30 chapters. A draft chapter on intellectual property (IP) alone runs 77 . . .

Concepts: Medicine, Universal health care, European Union, United States, English language, Massachusetts, International trade, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

189

Crowdsourcing linguistic phenomena with smartphone applications is relatively new. In linguistics, apps have predominantly been developed to create pronunciation dictionaries, to train acoustic models, and to archive endangered languages. This paper presents the first account of how apps can be used to collect data suitable for documenting language change: we created an app, Dialäkt Äpp (DÄ), which predicts users' dialects. For 16 linguistic variables, users select a dialectal variant from a drop-down menu. DÄ then geographically locates the user’s dialect by suggesting a list of communes where dialect variants most similar to their choices are used. Underlying this prediction are 16 maps from the historical Linguistic Atlas of German-speaking Switzerland, which documents the linguistic situation around 1950. Where users disagree with the prediction, they can indicate what they consider to be their dialect’s location. With this information, the 16 variables can be assessed for language change. Thanks to the playfulness of its functionality, DÄ has reached many users; our linguistic analyses are based on data from nearly 60,000 speakers. Results reveal a relative stability for phonetic variables, while lexical and morphological variables seem more prone to change. Crowdsourcing large amounts of dialect data with smartphone apps has the potential to complement existing data collection techniques and to provide evidence that traditional methods cannot, with normal resources, hope to gather. Nonetheless, it is important to emphasize a range of methodological caveats, including sparse knowledge of users' linguistic backgrounds (users only indicate age, sex) and users' self-declaration of their dialect. These are discussed and evaluated in detail here. Findings remain intriguing nevertheless: as a means of quality control, we report that traditional dialectological methods have revealed trends similar to those found by the app. This underlines the validity of the crowdsourcing method. We are presently extending DÄ architecture to other languages.

Concepts: Linguistics, Language, Dialect, English language, Programming language, German language, Semiotics, Historical linguistics

182

To assess the extent to which stage at diagnosis and adherence to treatment guidelines may explain the persistent differences in colorectal cancer survival between the USA and Europe.

Concepts: Cancer, European Union, United States, Colorectal cancer, English language, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson

169

150

The objectives of this study were to determine if a video improved HIV/AIDS and HIV testing knowledge among a global sample of Internet users, to discern if this improvement was the same for English and Spanish speakers, and to ascertain if the video was efficacious for those with lower health literacy. A worldwide sample of English- or Spanish-speaking Internet users was solicited. Participants completed a 25-item questionnaire to assess their HIV/AIDS and HIV testing knowledge before and after watching the video. Mean scores on the questionnaire improved after watching the video for both English speakers (after: 19.6 versus before: 16.4; Δ = 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.8-3.5) and Spanish speakers (20.7 versus 17.3; Δ = 3.4; 95% CI: 3.0-3.8). There was no difference in improvement of scores between English and Spanish speakers (Δ = -0.24; 95% CI: -0.79 to 0.31), and this video was equally efficacious for those with lower and higher health literacy skills.

Concepts: HIV/AIDS, Better, Statistics, Improve, Sample size, Spanish language, South Africa, English language

148

Children and adults follow cues such as case marking and word order in their assignment of semantic roles in simple transitives (e.g., the dog chased the cat). It has been suggested that the same cues are used for the interpretation of complex sentences, such as transitive relative clauses (RCs) (e.g., that’s the dog that chased the cat) (Bates, Devescovi, & D'Amico, 1999). We used a pointing paradigm to test German-speaking 3-, 4-, and 6-year-old children’s sensitivity to case marking and word order in their interpretation of simple transitives and transitive RCs. In Experiment 1, case marking was ambiguous. The only cue available was word order. In Experiment 2, case was marked on lexical NPs or demonstrative pronouns. In Experiment 3, case was marked on lexical NPs or personal pronouns. Whereas the younger children mainly followed word order, the older children were more likely to base their interpretations on the more reliable case-marking cue. In most cases, children from both age groups were more likely to use these cues in their interpretation of simple transitives than in their interpretation of transitive RCs. Finally, children paid more attention to nominative case when it was marked on first-person personal pronouns than when it was marked on third-person lexical NPs or demonstrative pronouns, such as der Löwe ‘the-NOM lion’ or der ‘he-NOM.’ They were able to successfully integrate this case-marking cue in their sentence processing even when it appeared late in the sentence. We discuss four potential reasons for these differences across development, constructions, and lexical items. (1) Older children are relatively more sensitive to cue reliability. (2) Word order is more reliable in simple transitives than in transitive RCs. (3) The processing of case marking might initially be item-specific. (4) The processing of case marking might depend on its saliency and position in the sentence.

Concepts: Subject, English language, German language, Grammatical case, Nominative case, Accusative case, Dative case, Personal pronoun