Okay so we were in math class today getting homework on parabolas (curvy line graphs) and the math teacher wanted to be very clear that we weren’t supposed to put all our lines on the same graph.
To enforce the point, she says “I don’t want you guys drawing your parabolas on top of each other! No sexy parabolas!”
The class died laughing. And she just stood there looking at her notes for a moment and said “Did I actually say that out loud? I always think that in my head but I never say it!” So she burst out laughing too.
But hands down the best part was when my friend turned to me and said “Parabolas have great curves though.”
(I swear I never felt like more of a math geek then when I was laughing at that joke).
The graph reveals a striking pattern. After adjusting for inflation, income was basically flat for households in the bottom half of the economic ladder. Right around the middle, income starts to pick up — and the higher you go up the income ladder, the more income growth you see.
The WALS Sunburst Explorer is a new and fun way of exploring the different features of languages in the World Atlas of Language Structures using interactive, clickable, scrolling wheels.
Above, for example, is a graph and wheel of which languages make gender distinctions in their independent personal pronouns: the darkest shade is no gender distinctions, the lightest one is in both third and first/second person, and the various shades in between are in some persons but not others. English, which distinguishes in the third person singular only (s/he), would be right about in the middle, but we can see that the darkest shade (no gender distinction in pronouns) is by far the most common around the world.
The second two images show the same sunburst wheel zoomed in, first by clicking on the section for African languages, and then zooming in further for Afro-Asiatic, which in turn includes the subfamilies Semitic (e.g. Arabic and Hebrew) and Amazigh (called Berber on the map), both of which have the maximum number of pronominal gender contrasts, and Hamer, which has the least. (Note that yeah, it’s a bit weird that Afro-Asiatic is just under African, but I suppose that duplicating it under Asian might would also have led to weird duplication. Anyway, humanswhoreadgrammars has more on the groupings.)
The language explorer is also a great way to realize how many languages WALS doesn’t have information on. For example, when I was looking at syllable structure, I noticed four Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Romansh) but not Italian, and for several topics I noticed only three or languages represented for Algonquian languages and Mayan languages, despite the fact that they have around thirty languages each listed on Wikipedia.