Found in translation!

Found in translation: USC scientists map brain responses to stories in three different languages

New brain research by USC scientists shows that reading stories is a universal experience that may result in people feeling greater empathy for each other, regardless of cultural origins and differences.

And in what appears to be a first for neuroscience, USC researchers have found patterns of brain activation when people find meaning in stories, regardless of their language. Using functional MRI, the scientists mapped brain responses to narratives in three different languages — Americanized English, Farsi and Mandarin Chinese.

The USC study opens up the possibility that exposure to narrative storytelling can have a widespread effect on triggering better self-awareness and empathy for others, regardless of the language or origin of the person being exposed to it.

“Even given these fundamental differences in language, which can be read in a different direction or contain a completely different alphabet altogether, there is something universal about what occurs in the brain at the point when we are processing narratives,” said Morteza Dehghani, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.

Dehghani is also an assistant professor of psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and an assistant professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

The study was published in the journal Human Brain Mapping.


a hora do planeta – 30 de março de 2019 às 20h30

A Hora do Planeta é um movimento voluntário de sensibilização para as questões de mudanças climáticas e seu impacto na biodiversidade e na vida das pessoas. Ela é conhecida por aquele momento em que pessoas, cidades e empresas são convidadas a demonstrar sua preocupação com a questão ambiental (e como isso está relacionado com nossas vidas) por meio de um ato simples: apagar as luzes por uma hora, em um dia específico. Porém, é muito mais!

Os sessenta minutos de celebração são um lembrete pontual de que nossos hábitos têm interferência direta na natureza. O símbolo 60+ mostra que todas as horas devem ser a Hora do Planeta.

O movimento nasceu em 2007, na cidade de Sydney, na Austrália, e desde então vem ganhando o mundo, com cada vez mais adeptos. Em 2018, a Hora do Planeta teve a participação de cidades e municípios em 188 países e territórios, contabilizando mais de 17 mil ícones ou monumentos apagados. O Brasil tem uma grande participação nessa história, envolvendo mais de cem cidades e 1500 monumentos!

Em 2019, o auge da Hora do Planeta será no dia 30 de março, das 20h30 às 21h30. E, você, como vai participar?

Deaf ears and high horses: everyday idioms in newspapers

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Sunphol Sorakul/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Today we’re looking at idioms and expressions from a range of national newspapers that were published on the same day. We do this every couple of months as a way of supplying you with up-to-date, frequently used idioms.

One newspaper describes the UK Prime Minister’s plans for leaving the EU as ‘a leap of faith’. Leap of faith refers to the act of believing in something when you have no real reason to believe that it is true or will happen.

In the news pages of a different paper, a journalist remarks that the Prime Minister’s advice to members of her own party will ‘fall on deaf ears’. If a suggestion or warningfalls on deaf ears, no one listens to it.

Another tabloid is confident that the plans for Brexit will succeed and says it will be ‘full steam ahead’ for the UK…

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Don’t hold your breath! The language of planning, part 2

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Utamaru Kido/Moment/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Last month we looked at the language of planning and making arrangements. Sadly, not everything in life goes according to plan (=happens as intended) and it is wise to keep this in mind when making arrangements! This post, then, focuses on planning words and phrases that relate to problems.

A contingency is something that you know might happen in the future which would cause problems and require further arrangements:

We must prepare for all contingencies.

A contingency plan is a plan that can be used if a problem arises (=happens):

Fortunately, a contingency plan was in place for dealing with such emergencies.

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Setting up and mapping out – the language of planning part 1

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Cavan Images/Cavan/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

January and February seem like the right months of the year for a post on the language of planning. Since there’s so much useful vocabulary in this area, this will be a two-part blog post.

Starting with near-synonyms for ‘arrange’, a handy phrasal verb is set up. To set up a meeting or similar event is to organize it:

We need to set up a meeting.

I’ve set up interviews with both candidates.

You might also say that you line up an event or number of events: We’ve lined up some great speakers for you this week. 

To schedule a formal or an official event is to arrange for it to happen at a particular time:

The flight was scheduled to arrive at 8:45.

We have a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m.

If you reschedule something, you agree on a new and later time…

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Hangry and bromance (Blend or portmanteau words)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog


by Kate Woodford

Our Cambridge Dictionary Facebook page recently featured a post on portmanteau words or blends. These are words formed by combining two other words, such as Brexit (short for ‘British exit’) and brunch (a combination of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

Some blends have existed for a long time. ‘Brunch’, for instance, originated as long ago as the late 19th century. Others were invented more recently. (Although it sometimes seems as if the word ‘Brexit’ has existed forever, it was actually invented as recently as 2012!) Here we look at relatively recent blends in the English language.

Let’s start with food and eating. The blend flexitarian (=flexible + vegetarian) reflects a recent trend away from meat eating. It refers to a person who eats mainly vegetarian food and only now and then eats meat: On page 5, ten health benefits of a flexitarian diet.

The word mocktail

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Manoel de Barros

A 43ª Ocupação homenageia o poeta Manoel de Barros

O poeta Manoel de Barros (1916-2014) é tema da 43ª edição do programa Ocupação Itaú Cultural. Com manuscritos e outros materiais selecionados do acervo pessoal do homenageado, a exposição passeia por toda a trajetória do autor – que brincava com a norma culta da língua e monumentava as coisas e seres (o humano, inclusive) desprezados por uma sociedade focada na velocidade, no consumo, no descarte. “O que é bom para o lixo é bom para a poesia”, escreveu ele em “Matéria de Poesia” (1970).

Além da mostra, o programa deu origem a uma publicação impressa, distribuída gratuitamente na recepção do instituto, e a uma série de conteúdos on-line, como entrevistas em vídeo com parentes e colegas de Manoel – confira, a partir do dia de abertura da exposição, em