Discover a new way to find and share stories you'll love… Learn about Reading Desk

All Blogs / Academics / Linguistics / New

Get More Specific:

A Silly Man, Though Lewd.

James Harbeck, “a professional word taster and sentence sommelier (an editor trained in linguistics),” has some fun with the etymological fallacy, “the idea that the true meaning of a word is whatever it ‘originally’ meant,” creating a story that uses words with their “true” meanings: Our local lord – I mean the baker, of course […]

Mutual appreciation

Today's Zits: Mutual knowledge – at least the kind of mutual knowledge involved in theories of convention, theories of reference, and so on – is generally taken to require the logical equivalent of an infinite conceptual recursion. Thus...Show More Summary

Stray Chinese characters in English language documents

Lawrence Evalyn wrote to me saying that he received the official communication below about a new student card that is being issued by his university.  He was perplexed by all the Chinese characters that got inserted in the text.  They seem to appear consistently in certain places and for certain letters.  [N.B.:  The communication has […]

The Four Thieves.

Still reading Veltman’s ???????????, ??????????? ?? ???? ?????????? (Adventures drawn from the sea of life), also called ??????? [Salomea], I hit one of those linguistic-cultural mysteries that took enough unraveling I thought I’d make a post of it. The titular Salomea Petrovna has returned in unexpected circumstances to her parents’ house and her mother has […]


In today's Bad Machinery, Shauna abandons powerviolence and decides against crustcore. Some of you will recognize that these are names of musical genres, well enough established to have Wikipedia entries. Thus Powerviolence [...], is a raw and dissonant subgenre of hardcore punk.The style is closely related to thrashcore and grindcore. Show More Summary

A moving appreciation

Q: The words “move” and “appreciate” are often used in local government in San Francisco, but not always to my liking. I hear “so moved” when a motion is approved rather than introduced. And I hear things like “I want to appreciate her advocacy” instead of “I appreciate her advocacy.” Your thoughts, please. A: We’re... ? Read More: A moving appreciation


My brother, perhaps out of sheer sadism, sent me a link to this NY Times piece (by Eric Hynes) about Strange Lands: International Sci-Fi, a Film Society of Lincoln Center series starting tomorrow. When I lived in NYC I was a member of the society when I could afford it, and if I were there […]

Experiences with Duolingo

The biggest thing in internet-based language learning in recent years is Duolingo, which offers an array of language courses for free. Their economic model depends on keeping the lessons free, but eventually having you do real translations that are sold to other companies. Show More Summary

Why learning in a group beats learning alone anytime (Case Studies)

As a fun change in pace, today we are sharing three stories from people who are in the middle of their 3-month language learning journeys. We’ll catch up with each of them in a month to see how they are doing First, I’ll hand the blog post over to Brian Kwong, who has orchestrated the Add1Challenge […]

Sondage pour les algériens bilingues arabe/français

Même si j'écris généralement en anglais, je suis sûr que ce blog a quelques lecteurs algériens qui sont bilingues arabe/français. Si vous appartenez à cette catégorie, et si vous avez quelques minutes pour aider une doctorante algérienne à l'Université de Florida en ses recherches linguistiques, vous pouvez faire ce sondage. Show More Summary

Trading Reeds and Stems.

Christopher Culver has a post on a nice little linguistic find; he starts off with Eastern Mari om??ž ‘reed,’ a borrowing from Chuvash x?m?š ‘bulrush,’ found in the Skvortsovs’ Chuvash-Russian dictionary, and continues: But a few lines above it, one finds an entry for a remarkably similar word: x?m?l ‘stubble (of cereals)’. Fedotov compares this […]

Chinese characters formed from letters of the alphabet

Tim Cousins sent in this photograph of a sign in a local mall in Dalian, northeast China. It seems that the sign, which is written with letters of the alphabet, some of which are slightly distorted and positioned in unaccustomed places. reads: liúxíng qiánxiàn ???? ("Popular Front", the name of a well-known mall in Guangzhou, […]

Geoffrey Leech, 1936-2014

Geoffrey Leech, one of the giants of corpus-based computational linguistics, passed away yesterday. With the death of Chuck Fillmore in February, the field has lost two of its pillars this year. The following tribute was posted by Andrew Hardie on the blog of Lancaster University's Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS). It is […]

The “basket case” myth

Q: I found a photo online, apparently from the early 20th century, of a disabled man in a basket chair. Could this be a clue to the origin of “basket case”? A: The man pictured in the basket chair (a three-wheeled woven rattan wheelchair) is nowhere near as disabled as the original basket case—that is,... ? Read More: The “basket case” myth

Lorem China

Brian Krebs, "Lorem Ipsum: Of Good & Evil, Google & China", Krebs on Security 8/14/2014: Imagine discovering a secret language spoken only online by a knowledgeable and learned few. Over a period of weeks, as you begin to tease out the meaning of this curious tongue and ponder its purpose, the language appears to shift in subtle but […]

Cantonese and Mandarin interwoven

Tom Mazanec noticed this ad for China Mobile by the baggage claim at the Guangzhou (Canton) Baiyun Airport a few nights ago: What in the world is going on here? As for the first line of the sign, you don't have to be Chinese to understand it. Although the vast majority of Chinese today can […]

Willing and Able

Nine years ago, I was inspired to write a post after hearing a flight attendant give the pre-flight safety presentation, and say, “Please move from the exit rows if you are unwilling or unable to perform the necessary actions without injury.” On my most recent flight, instead of listening to the attendant, I tried to […]

Who Speaks Wukchumni?

A nice little NY Times story by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee about the efforts of the family of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language of Central California, to preserve the language and the dictionary she worked on for years; it’s accompanied by a short documentary where you can hear her tell bits of […]

Obscure paired words in Mari and Chuvash

Mari, Chuvash, Tatar and Udmurt occasionally employ two paired words to denote an entire class of objects or people, often transcending the two specific items named in the paired word expression, e.g. Chuvash yïv??-kur?k ‘vegetation’ The post Obscure paired words in Mari and Chuvash appeared first on Christopher Culver.

ER and ERM in the spoken BNC

From John Coleman: Inspired by your recent Language Log pieces, I tried an analysis of "er" vs "erm" in the Spoken BNC. These are the two main transcriptions for filled pauses labelled as "UNC" in the Claws-5 tagset and also "UNC" in the richer set of pos labels used in BNC. I.e. they are distinguished […]

Copyright © 2011 Regator, LLC