Plus: Grading Systems

When I was in school, A+ was the best grade one could get. 90 was an A-, 95, an A and 100 = A+. Of course, grading systems vary depending on where you grow up. Here are some interesting facts about grading systems used around the world.


In 2007, Denmark replaced its age-old 13-scale grading system with a simpler, 7-step-scale system. They did this to begin to conform to a European standard called the ECTS scale, but also because, hey, 13 possible grades makes for a lot more work for teachers. Here's how the old 13-scale used to work:

13 - given for the exceptionally independent and excellent performance.
11 - given for the independent and excellent performance
10 - given for the excellent but not particularly independent performance
9 - given for the good performance, a little above average
8 - given for the average performance
7 - given for the mediocre performance, slightly below average
6 - given for the just acceptable performance
5 - given for the hesitant and not satisfactory performance
03 - given for the very hesitant, very insufficient and unsatisfactory performance
00 - given for the completely unacceptable performance

Those gaps you see between 00 & 03, 03 & 5 and 11 & 13 help signify variations between those grades. Anything under a 6 is a failing grade, while a 13 is rarely given. 00 is just about impossible to achieve, reserved for truly incompetent performance. At exams, 00 is given to students attending, but who cannot answer a single question. According to this post, "one of the reasons why the 13 scale was replaced with the 7 scale was because of the grade 13. 13s are only given to the students that have gone above and beyond the stated curriculum. To gain it you needed to know more than what was taught in class. It required truly independent study. As none other EU countries used grades above perfect understanding of the curriculum, 13 were untranslatable to other grading systems."


In the Ukraine, they've gone in the opposite direction. Whereas they used to use a simple Russian 5-step grading system, in 2000, they introduced the 12-step grading system which goes like this:

12 - given only for significant achievements or exceptionally creative work
11 - the equivalent of an 'A' in the U.S.
1 - complete fail


In the land down under, many schools and universities use a "band" grading system which looks like this:

90–99.95% BAND 6
80–89% BAND 5
70–79% BAND 4
60–69% BAND 3
50–59% BAND 2
0–49% BAND 1

How about where you live? What kind of grading system is common? Regardless of what marks you got in school, all you _flossers are A+s in our book! Have a great weekend.

The Surprising Link Between Language and Depression

Skim through the poems of Sylvia Plath, the lyrics of Kurt Cobain, or posts on an internet forum dedicated to depression, and you'll probably start to see some commonalities. That's because there's a particular way that people with clinical depression communicate, whether they're speaking or writing, and psychologists believe they now understand the link between the two.

According to a recent study published in Clinical Psychological Science, there are certain "markers" in a person's parlance that may point to symptoms of clinical depression. Researchers used automated text analysis methods to comb through large quantities of posts in 63 internet forums with more than 6400 members, searching for certain words and phrases. They also noted average sentence length, grammatical patterns, and other factors.

What researchers found was that a person's use (or overuse) of first-person pronouns can provide some insight into the state of their mental health. People with clinical depression tend to use more first-person singular pronouns, such as "I" and "me," and fewer third-person pronouns, like "they," "he," or "she." As Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Reading and the head of the study, writes in a post for IFL Science:

"This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others. Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words."

What remains unclear, though, is whether people who are more focused on themselves tend to depression, or if depression turns a person's focus on themselves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people with depression also use more negative descriptors, like "lonely" and "miserable."

But, Al-Mosaiwi notes, it's hardly the most important clue when using language to assess clinical depression. Far better indicators, he says, are the presence of "absolutist words" in a person's speech or writing, such as "always," "constantly," and "completely." When overused, they tend to indicate that someone has a "black-and-white view of the world," Al-Mosaiwi says. An analysis of posts on different internet forums found that absolutist words were 50 percent more prevalent on anxiety and depression forums, and 80 percent more prevalent on suicidal ideation forums.

Researchers hope these types of classifications, supported by computerized methods, will prove more and more beneficial in a clinical setting.

[h/t IFL Science]

Pete Toscano, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Here's the Right Way to Pronounce 'Pulitzer'
Pete Toscano, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Pete Toscano, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to top creative and scientific minds for over 100 years. Named after late 19th-century newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, the prize is a household name, yet its pronunciation still tends to trip people up. Is it “pull-itzer” or “pew-litzer”?

Poynter set the record straight just in time for today’s announcement of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners. Emily Rauh Pulitzer, wife of the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., told Poynter, “My husband said that his father told people to say ‘Pull it sir.’”

If you’ve been saying it wrong, don’t feel too bad. Edwin Battistella, a linguist and professor at Southern Oregon University, said he pronounced it “pew-lit-zer” until a friend corrected him. Battistella looked to Joseph Pulitzer’s family history to explain why so many people pronounce it incorrectly. He writes on the Oxford University Press's OUPBlog:

“[Joseph Pulitzer] was born in Hungary, where Pulitzer, or Politzer as it is sometimes spelled, was a common family name derived from a place name in southern Moravia, the village of Pullitz. In the United States, the spelling Pulitzer would have quite naturally been Anglicized as PEW-lit-zer by analogy to the other pu spellings like pure, puritanical, pubic, puce, and so on.”

Ultimately, though, it’s up to the family to decide how they’d like their surname to be pronounced. Here it is, pronounced just how the Pulitzers like it, in a YouTube video:

[h/t Poynter]


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