Truthiness. Freem. Wordinistas. These are just a few of the words coined by Stephen Colbert since The Colbert Report debuted on Comedy Central in 2005. Colbert has used the power of his audience to spread his cultural influence far and wide, even in Hungary, and Colbert has even attracted the attention of the academic world. Now researchers at Northwestern University have developed a whole new language based on the Colbert character’s style of speaking for some linguistic studies.
The Colbert language was developed by the Bilingualism and Psycholinguistics Lab at Northwestern (Colbert’s alma mater) as a way of studying how people learn new languages. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, the researchers found that “knowing multiple tongues makes it easier to learn another one.” One of the researchers said that the people who learned both English and Spanish early on “better retained the words in Colbertian.”
The study involved fusing words like Colbert does (i.e. “wikiality” into Wikipedia and reality) and seeing how well people could “recognize… invented nouns from the new language.” They concluded that people who are bilingual have more practice learning and separating different languages, which in turn gives them the advantage of applying those same skills to yet another language.
The study is available online, so if you would like to participate in it, click here.
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