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A Justly Forgotten Poet.

Emily Bernhard Jackson begins her 2015 review of Emily Harrington’s Second Person Singular: Late Victorian Poets and the Bonds of Verse and Elizabeth Ludlow’s Christina Rossetti and the Bible with the refreshing sentence “There is, it should be admitted, such a thing as a justly forgotten poet.” I applaud the desire to rescue good writers […]

My 7 Worst Language Study Habits

Nobody is perfect… Especially not me. If I followed my own language learning advice 100% of the time I’d be a The post My 7 Worst Language Study Habits appeared first on Languages Around the Globe.


We've been having some problems with people starting to (jocular Linguist English) peeve about unrelated topics in the comments section. This has upset some readers (and also me, but I'm hardened by 11 years of blogging). More importantly is against the comments policy, so I've had to resume being a police-y person about it. Show More Summary

Seeing What’s Not There

The Science channel carries a program named What on Earth ? The program examines mysterious images captured by satellite cameras and tries to determine what is actually being seen. Last week, the program discussed what appeared to be a large face engraved on a Ukrainian field. Show More Summary

Fecal Intensifiers

[This is a guest post by Brendan O'Kane, written on the evening of 3/24/17] At a friend’s dissertation defense this morning, a certain distinguished Dutch professor emeritus, explaining the appeal of prosimetric vernacular literature to audiences in late imperial Shandong, noted that “people before about 1950 were mostly bored shitless.” This cracked the room up, […]

"Watch the predicate"

From Jonathan Lundell: Can't think of anyone to ask but LL… what on earth does this mean? I know that Nunes's Monday testimony was coordinated with WH because top WH official told me, "Watch the predicate that is set" by Nunes. — Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) March 24, 2017 The word predicate here is clearly not the grammatical […]

Aphantasia — absence of the mind's eye

You've probably heard sentences like this a thousand times:  "Picture it in your mind's eye".  How literally can we take that? "What Does it Mean to 'See With the Mind's Eye?'" (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic [12/4/14]): Imagine the table where you've eaten the most meals. Form a mental picture of its size, texture, and color. […]


There's a wonderful new podcast on linguistic matters that I highly recommend to all Language Log readers. It's called Lingthusiasm, and it's appropriately billed as "a podcast that's enthusiastic about linguistics." The podcast is co-hosted by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne. You may know Gretchen from her All Things Linguistic blog or her posts on The […]

The Greatest Book Deal Ever.

OK, that’s a little hyperbolic maybe, but the subject lends itself to hyperbole. Nina Martyris at the Paris Review writes about “of one of the riskiest—and shrewdest—deals in publishing history,” the one that brought us Les Misérables: In a new book, The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of ‘Les Misérables’, the professor and […]

When “mortify” meant to kill

Q: At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Miss Bingley is “mortified” by Darcy’s marriage to Elizabeth. I’ve read the novel umpteen times, but it just struck me that “mortify” must have something to do with death. What is the connection? A: Yes, the verb “mortify” has a deadly history. When English adopted it in... ? Read More: When “mortify” meant to kill

Cantonese sentence-final particles

Even if you don't know any Cantonese but listen carefully to people speaking it, you probably can tell that it has an abundance of particles.  For speakers of Mandarin who do not understand Cantonese, the proliferation of particles, especially in utterance final position, is conspicuous.  Non-speakers of Cantonese, confronted by all these aa3, ge3, gaa3, […]

The Merriam-Webster Word Factory.

Jennifer Schuessler takes an enjoyable look (for the NY Times) at lexicographer Kory Stamper and her inside view of the workings of the Merriam-Webster empire (now sadly diminished, like all lexicographical enterprises, but still going strong). Stamper (whom I’ve posted about before, e.g., here) has a good attitude about language: Ms. Stamper has no patience […]

Originalism 2.0

An email from Jonathan Weinberg: I’m passing along, for whatever interest it holds, Jonathan Gienapp’s new (to my mind very good) essay on originalism in constitutional law, which I thought you might appreciate.  [(myl) Jonathan Gienapp,...Show More Summary

Scraping the Mold off Meanings.

It’s high time I gave a shoutout to Amateur Reader (Tom) and his literary blog Wuthering Expectations. What impelled me to post at this particular time was his series on Benjamin and Barbara Harshav’s American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology (1986), which I now want a copy of; in this post he focuses on Jacob […]

"Bare-handed speech synthesis"

This is neat: "Pink Trombone", by Neil Thapen. By the same author — doodal:

Misunderestimation of the month

"Scottish parliament to seek new independence vote despite UK government rebuff", Reuters 3/22/2017: Holding a non-binding referendum would be damaging, argues Stephen Tierney, Professor of Constitutional Theory at Edinburgh Law School, because it would not provide certainty in a highly divisive situation. Show More Summary

How to Use Apostrophes When Writing in English

You wouldn’t imagine that a humble piece of punctuation like the apostrophe would be capable of causing so much confusion but all too often, and maybe understandably, its incorrect use is a source of annoying error. People feel so strongly about the apostrophe that it even has its own advocates...

The emperor’s cold feet

Q: Professor Wadding, a minor character in The Transit of Venus, says the expression “cold feet” comes from Emperor Henry IV’s waiting in the snow at Canossa to meet Pope Gregory VII. Is this etymology too good to be true? Yes, that’s a fictitious story, but don’t blame Shirley Hazzard, the author of the novel.... ? Read More: The emperor’s cold feet

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