All Blogs / Academics / Linguistics / New

Get More Specific:

Why Do We Delete the Initial Pronoun From Our Sentences? Glad You Asked.

Something has been mysteriously absent from many of my recent emails: Me. Hope all is well with you, I write, conveniently erasing myself as the subject of the sentence. Agree with Bob’s critiques. Would love to read a post on this. Can do in an hour. Show More Summary

Scales get in your eyes

Q: When “the scales fall from one’s eyes” to suddenly reveal the truth, are they the scales of justice? A: No, the “scales” here are etymologically related to the ones on fish, reptiles, and insects. The Oxford English Dictionary has three major meanings for the noun “scale,” with many related senses: (1) a device for... ? Read More: Scales get in your eyes

Political epistemics

Several people have asked me about how the various U.S. presidential candidates use various indicators of epistemic status. It's easy to calculate word frequencies as a proxy, so here are some numbers from this season's debates. I've tallied feel words (feel, feels, felt, feeling, feelings), think words (think, thinks, thought, thoughts, thinking), and believe words […]

grammar is not the enemy

I'm saddened these days by a lot of things going on in the UK, particularly regarding the current government's treatment of education and healthcare. But, you know, I'm not a Conservative or even a conservative, so it's not surprising I'm not too happy with them. Show More Summary

Some thoughts on racism in Algeria

(Regular readers be warned: this post has nothing to do with linguistics; it's justified only by a tenuous link to my fieldwork.) New York Times readers today had the dubious privilege of an editorial by Kamel Daoud on racism in Algeria. Show More Summary

Indiana poll bears

Reader K.N. comments on a WSJ headline "Indiana Poll Bears Good News for Trump": To my surprise, the article does concerns neither actual ursines nor pundits who feel Indiana polls will be worth less than they are now. It also fails to explain why people in Fort Wayne were cheering a glowing effigy of Mr. Trump (see […]

"Feel that" has been disappearing

The recent flurry of posts on feel as a propositional attitude verb has, I now feel, buried the lede. Kids today may have started using "feel like S" with increasingly frequency in recent years. But their elders have apparently been abandoning "feel that S" ever since the middle of the 20th century. The first clue was […]

Feeling in the Supreme Court

In a NYT Op-Ed a few days ago, Molly Worthen identified as "a broad cultural contagion" the "reflex to hedge every statement as a feeling or a hunch", and urged us instead to "think, believe or reckon". I countered that emotion has largely been bleached out of feel used with sentential complements — "feel that SENTENCE" has become a standard way to […]

????????????? ????????????

WEB?????????????????? ?????????????????? ?????????? ?????   ?????????????????????????????????????? ?????? […] ????????????? ???????????? is a post from: ???????????????????????

Celebrating the Bard’s Crudest Moments

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Four hundred years ago, Shakespeare shuffled off this mortal coil. Across the globe, bardolators are observing the date—if not the whole month, nay, year—with various celebrations of his momentous legacy. Show More Summary

Epistemological metaphors and meanings

Following up on the issues raised yesterday in "Feelings, beliefs, and thoughts",  it might be helpful to explore the etymology of the various  verbs that people commonly use to express the epistemic status of their assertions. FromShow More Summary

CREWS Project.

Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems (CREWS) is a project hosted at the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge: The aim of the CREWS project is to take an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to the history of writing, developing new methodologies for studying writing systems and their social context. The project researchers will be working […]

Is “based off” off base?

Q: As I read the papers of college freshmen, I am often stopped by usages that seem wrong to me. The latest example is the use of “based off” for “based on,” as in “based off the research of Albert Einstein.” Your thoughts? A: You’re not the first to notice the use of “based off”... ? Read More: Is “based off” off base?

Death to Chinese language teachers

In "Character amnesia in 1793-1794" (4/24/14), I described the so-called Flint Affair, which refers to James Flint (?1720-?), one of the first English persons to learn Chinese.  For his audacity, Flint was imprisoned for three years by the imperial government, and two Chinese merchants who helped him write a petition to the emperor were executed. […]

English at Rakuten.

Geoffrey Pullum has a Lingua Franca article called “The Social Consequences of Switching to English” that is bound to raise hackles, but it’s so interesting I can’t resist posting it. He writes about the consequences of a decree by Hiroshi Mikitani, the chief executive of Rakuten (which runs Japan’s largest e-commerce website): Mikitani was ruthless: […]


Kevin asked about the connection between stuffing oneself with food (gorge) and the narrow opening between hills (gorge). They definitely are connected. In each case a throat shape is involved. The word probably came from a Latin word, gurgulio, which meant the windpipe. Show More Summary

Feelings, beliefs, and thoughts

Molly Worthen, "Stop Saying 'I Feel Like'", NYT 4/30/2016: In American politics, few forces are more powerful than a voter’s vague intuition. “I support Donald Trump because I feel like he is a doer,” a senior at the University of South Carolina told Cosmopolitan. “Personally, I feel like Bernie Sanders is too idealistic,” a Yale student […]

Yuck: a borrowing from Arabic into Berber?

One of my son's first words is [x:::], "yuck!" - his attempt to pronounce the Algerian Arabic baby-talk item k?xx(i) ??? "yuck". I was surprised to learn recently that this word goes back well over a millennium: a hadith in Sahih Muslim...Show More Summary

"Believe me"

A video compilation of Donald Trump in the role of a salesman: And the evidence from the 12 Republican and 9 Democratic debates: Count of "believe me" Clinton 0 Cruz 1 Kasich 2 Sanders 0 Trump 28

Copyright © 2015 Regator, LLC