All Blogs / Academics / Linguistics / New

Get More Specific:

This I Believe #34

...that in David Bowie's song "Dance Magic Dance" from the film Labyrinth, the part of the chorus that goes: Dance magic, dance... Jump magic, jump...should instead go: Pants, magic pants... Junk, magic junk Note the commas. If...

Laid Plans

Let's see, at the moment, I have: 15 books in my "to blog about" stack—that is, books I've already read but not written about, not books I have yet to read 36 entries in my "notes" file outlining additional posts,...

This I Believe #33

...that in David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", the phrase "making love with his ego" was intended to have an instrumental, rather than comitative or reciprocal, reading.

American Colonial English.

A reader writes: “I am writing a story which takes place in colonial America. Do you know of any resources for someone interested in the dialect and grammar of American Colonial English?” My answer: “I don’t, but it’s an interesting question, and I’ll post it.” So, anybody know?

Porthmeor and MAGA.

Mark Woods is featuring Ben Nicholson’s painting Porthmeor Beach at wood s lot, and I wondered how to pronounce Porthmeor. I couldn’t find anything in a brief Google search, and was about to give up when I clicked on this page (the ‘Cornwall and Cornish’ category at John Maidment’s Blog, which seems to have a […]

France Gives In to the Hashtag.

William Alexander in the NY Times has fun with “the stunning announcement that France is giving up the fight to keep English words out of the French language”: This sudden reversal of four centuries of French linguistic policy was issued by the minister of culture, Fleur Pellerin, who declared that France’s resistance to the incursion […]

Theoretical Workload Limit

This pretty much sums it up. I seem to have reached my theoretical workload limit:

Chinese translation

One of my classes (2003 undergraduate seminar on evidentiality) has been translated into Chinese.

(No) skin in the game

Whenever people (in particular, graduate students) talk to me or correspond with me about topics I have written about at some point in my career, I notice they are confused by my general attitude. Well, part of it is that I have a memory...Show More Summary


In case it wasn’t clear, Northern America is blanketed by one mega-storm right now:

What’s it like to start learning a language?: Lauren’s 6 Week Update

I’ve now been studying Russian for 2 hours a day for 6 weeks. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 weeks. In other ways, I can’t believe it’s only been 6 weeks! I’m so pleased that I’m able to actually communicate in myShow More Summary

Many worlds

[This is a slightly edited and updated repost of an old blog post of mine. Since I had to scrub my site after a spam infestation, all my old posts only live on my hard drives and are not on the net. So, as the need or occasion arises, I will repost old posts and update them where appropriate. Show More Summary

On citing well

[Crossposted from S&P Editors Blog] The journal Nature Chemical Biology has an editorial that is well worth reading and pondering for other fields as well: 2010. On citing well. Nature Chemical Biology 6:2. p.79. doi:10.1038/nchembio.310. Unfortunately, the editorial is behind a paywall. Show More Summary

Banner Year for S&P

[Reposted from S&P Editors Blog] Today marks the start of what we hope will be a banner year for our journal. We just published two articles: a main article by Sigrid Beck on “Quantifiers in than-clauses” a commentary by Uli Sauerland...Show More Summary

Farsi shekar ast

This is a quiz.  It's a short, pop quiz, but the post is going to be very long. 1. In what language is the title of this post written? 2. What does the title mean? Let me say that I have never formally studied this language, but I took one look at the sentence and […]

Could this really be the end?

..of the nonsense about narcissism and pronoun counts? Probably not, but it should be. I'm talking about Angela L. Carey,  Melanie S. Brucks, Albrecht CP Küfner, Nicholas S. Holtzman, Mitja D. Back, M. Brent Donnellan, James W. Pennebaker, and Matthias R. Mehl, "Narcissism and the use of personal pronouns revisited", Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, […]

Inside “outside”

Q: My current grammar bête noir is the American insistence on “of” after “outside.” I realize you are on the other side of the pond, but please be neutral. Which is more elegant—“outside the hotel” or “outside of the hotel”? Surely not two prepositions in tandem? A: OK, we think “outside the hotel” is more... ? Read More: Inside “outside”

Come see me and my radio partner Martha Barnette at a special “A Way with Words” live event in Dallas on April 23rd!

Come see me and my radio partner Martha Barnette at a special “A Way with Words” live event in Dallas on April 23rd!


Back in 2008, Philologos of the Forward wrote about one of the best words I’ve ever seen: Khnyok — it’s pronounced as one syllable, a feat best managed by pretending to clear your throat and blow your nose at the same time — is Yiddish. In my own enlightened Orthodox, English-speaking New York family (my […]

Copyright © 2015 Regator, LLC