You read it here first
recent news reports, this year's Ig Nobel Prize in Linguistics went to Juant Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Barcelona University, "for showing that rats cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards".
Regular Language Log readers will already know this research well, because we covered it (twice) back in January of 2005, with audio waveforms and sound clips.
I'm ashamed to say that we missed the research by Glenda Browne of Australia, who was awarded the prize in Literature "for her study of the word 'the' and the problems it causes when indexing". On the other hand, we have devoted quite a lot of attention to the word "the", and I would tell you about it if only I could figure out how to search our old posts to find the ones that are relevant.
[Update -- John Cowan deployed some strong search-fu, or perhaps just a great deal of patience, and came up with this list:
[And David Beaver points out that John's search for "definite article" missed
The the the and the thee the
The The, the The The, and The Who
[Update -- Julia Keenan points out that Glenda Browne's "The Definite Article: Acknowledging 'The' in Index Entries" is available online.]
Posted by Mark Liberman at October 5, 2007 02:47 PM