All Blogs / Academics / Linguistics / Popular


Get More Specific:

The Queen’s Latin.

Ben Yagoda has a Lingua Franca post on an often-discussed phenomenon, “why, in American movies and TV shows set in foreign or imagined lands, the characters almost invariably speak in British accents, especially if they’re bad guys”: The invaluable website TV Tropes dubs the custom “the Queen’s Latin” and has this explanation for its use […]

Do spelling bees teach L-I-T-E-R-A-C-Y?

The Great Australian Spelling Bee is coming to our screens. But what place do spelling bees have in the teaching of literacy? Elisabeth Griffiths examines the impact (or lack thereof) alphabetic gymnastics has on student understandi...

Cat and mouse on the Chinese internet

Yesterday in the Washington Post, there was an enticing article by Anna Fifield:  "These are the secret code words that let you criticize the Chinese government" (7/29/15). Fifield states that she is drawing on "Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang," by authors Perry Link and Xiao Qiang.  Comment by Perry Link:  "This […]

We’re Finally Winning the Battle Against the Phrase “Battle With Cancer”

When the iconic theater actor and director Roger Rees died earlier in July, many reports quoted a gently worded press release written, it seemed, by his family: Rees, the release said, had “passed away … after a brief journey with cancer.” The diction gave me pause, even as I admired it. Show More Summary

What the fingers want

Whole-word substitutions are a common type of speech error: "Italy" for "Israel", "competent" for "confident", "restaurant" for "rhapsody", "drink" for "breathe". The substituted word is often associated with the target word or with its context, often starts with sounds similar to the target word, and often has similar syllable counts and stress patterns. An even stronger […]

Cockney Disappearing from London.

This MetaFilter post has a roundup of links pertaining to the arrival of Multicultural London English (MLE) and its gradual displacing of Cockney as the form of speech of working-class London youth. This brief BBC News story from 2010 refers to “a study by Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University.. to be […]

rule of community: any post about a controversial topic will start a discussion that recapitulates the controversy rather than resolves it

rule of community: any post about a controversial topic will start a discussion that recapitulates the controversy rather than resolves it rule of community: any post about a controversial topic will start a discussion that recapitulates...Show More Summary

Taylor Swift, Waka Flocka, and the Roots of #Squad

In the centuries before automatic weapons, when armies clashed along the Anatolian coast or at the base of medieval castles, foot soldiers fought in square formations. The compact shape repelled enemy forces on horseback, a desperate armor wrought from geometry. Show More Summary

To honor or to celebrate?

Q: Already this season, I’ve heard three people who ought to know better “celebrate” the retirement of treasured old guys. They meant to “honor” the guys, not “celebrate” their retirements. But maybe I’m the only one who notices. A: For hundreds of years, the verb “celebrate” has meant to observe or acknowledge a significant event—such... Show More Summary

Recursive philosophy of science

Today's SMBC: The rest of it: And the aftercomic:

Recursive romantics

Today's xkcd: Mouseover title: "And on the pedestal these words appear: "And on the pedestal these words appear: "And on the pedestal these words appear: "And …" This doesn't work very well with simple quotative tags: """There was a ship," quoth he," quoth he," quoth he. I don't think that this is just because right-branching structures […]

The great creak-off of 1969

In a comment on yesterday's post about Noam Chomsky's use of creaky voice ("And we have a winner…", 7/26/2015), Tara wrote At the risk of sounding like I missed the joke: creakiness in a speaker Chomsky's age is much more likely to be physiological in origin than stylistic. I checked older footage of Chomsky, and […]

A Dry Sense of Humor

Bill from Maple City, Michigan, asked about the use of the word dry in the phrase a dry sense of humor. A dry sense of humor involves delivering a joke as if it were a serious matter. There is no prompt to laugh; the humor sneaks up on you because of the emotionless delivery. Show More Summary

Familiae Rossicae.

I was looking up something else in my Russian edition (??????? ???????, Moscow: Progress, 1995) of Unbegaun’s Russian Surnames when I found myself getting lost in Boris Uspensky‘s essay “?????????? ????? ??????? ???????” [The social life of Russian family names], appended to Unbegaun’s text. I was first struck by a passage on the history of […]

How to Speak Spanish in 4 Days

While you can’t master or reach fluency in a few days, you absolutely can start to speak a language in this time. I famously aim for Day 1 (or even hour one), but experience in doing it so often has given me a big edge. Passing the speaking...Show More Summary

And we have a winner…

Back in February, Arika Okrent asked "What is vocal fry?", in her column at Mental Floss. And she pointed out that People’s voices naturally drop in pitch at the end of phrases, and in many speakers, it will drop into the fry zone at that point. The evidence that it’s a female thing is also […]

Cameron v. Wolf

Naomi Wolf, "Young women, give up the vocal fry and reclaim your strong female voice", The Guardian 7/24/2015: What’s heartbreaking about the trend for destructive speech patterns is that yours is the most transformational generation – you’re disowning your power. […] [T]he most empowered generation of women ever – today’s twentysomethings in North America and […]

@rdotinga a little disappointed that you haven’t subtweeted me yet

@rdotinga a little disappointed that you haven’t subtweeted me yet @rdotinga a little disappointed that you haven't subtweeted me yet — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) July 27, 2015 http://twitter.com/GrantBarrett/status/625754957376036864

@Hootsuite_Help In the Android app, how do I choose which Twitter account to fave with? It seems to use only the first one by alpha order.

@Hootsuite_Help In the Android app, how do I choose which Twitter account to fave with? It seems to use only the first one by alpha order. @Hootsuite_Help In the Android app, how do I choose which Twitter account to fave with? It seems to use only the first one by alpha order. — Grant Barrett […]

Copyright © 2015 Regator, LLC