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Julie Sedivy

  • Sedivy_HERO

    Is the Chinese Language a Superstition Machine?

    How ambiguity in language can create unique taboos.

  • Sedivy_HERO

    Is the Chinese Language a Superstition Machine?

    How ambiguity in language can create unique taboos.

  • car collision_HERO

    How Language Helps Erase the Tragedy of Millions of Road Deaths

    In the first decades of the 20th century, people around the world began succumbing to an entirely new cause of mortality. These new deaths, due to the dangers of the automobile, soon became accepted as a lamentable but normal part of modern life. A hundred years later, with 1.25 million people worldwide (about 30,000 in […]

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    Is Multilingual Rap Eroding Canada’s French Language?

    Recently a Quebec arts foundation required the Francophone rap group Dead Obies to give back an $18,000 grant they’d been awarded to record their newest album. The problem? A word count determined that the group had stirred too much English into their distinctive multilingual lyrics, falling short of the rule that 70 percent of the […]

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    This Is Why Americans Are Irrationally Anxious About Terrorism

    On September 11, 2001 I was living and teaching in Providence, Rhode Island, a town that is on the short flight path between Boston, where terrorists boarded two passenger airliners, and New York, where these planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. In the following days, the whole campus seemed […]

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    Your Speech Is Packed With Misunderstood, Unconscious Messages

    Imagine standing up to give a speech in front of a critical audience. As you do your best to wax eloquent, someone in the room uses a clicker to conspicuously count your every stumble, hesitation, um and uh; once you’ve finished, this person loudly announces how many of these blemishes have marred your presentation. This […]

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    How Our Words Affect Our Thoughts on Race and Gender

    Can a person who is biologically male really be female? What about someone who is born white but doesn’t feel that way—can she become black? Intelligent adults can disagree passionately on these questions of identity, as evident in the back-and-forth discussion over the recent cases of Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, and Rachel Dolezal, a […]

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    Can a Wandering Mind Make You Neurotic?

    I have two children, and they are a study in contrasts: My son works at a gym designing and building rock-climbing walls; In his spare time, he climbs them. My daughter is a Ph.D. student in immunology; In her spare time, she writes novels. My son is the sort of person you want around in […]

  • Sedivy_HERO

    The Strange Persistence of First Languages

    After my father died, my journey of rediscovery began with the Czech language.

  • Sedivy_HERO

    The Strange Persistence of First Languages

    After my father died, my journey of rediscovery began with the Czech language.