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From Jack Grieve, a map of the distribution of the word the on Twitter: There's lots more such geolexicography on Jack's Twitter feed. Jamie Pennebaker has been telling us for decades that the distribution of common "function words" varies...Show More Summary

Australian Dates.

Mark Gwynn at Ozwords takes “a light-hearted look” at Australian words for the backside; the opening paragraph will explain my post title: As a kid I was often told by my dad to ‘get off my date’ when he wanted me to get off the lounge and go outside, or to help with some chore. […]

The neural basis of Chinese morphological processing

In "Chinese characters and the left-brain vs. right-brain hypothesis " (1/7/16), we read about experimental results debunking " a myth that Chinese languages were predominantly processed by the right hemisphere, compared with alphabetic...Show More Summary

Ooh! Arrgh! How We Hear Emotion in Nonverbal Noises

On May 10, 1915, renowned poet-cum-cranky-recluse Robert Frost gave a lecture to a group of schoolboys in Cambridge, MA. “Sounds in the mouths of men,” he told his audience, “I have found to be the basis of all effective expression.”...Show More Summary

#SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruitPod (Fixed the Twitter handle!)

#SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruitPod (Fixed the Twitter handle!) #SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruitPod (Fixed the Twitter handle!) — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) January 26, 2016

#SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruit

#SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruit #SupportBlackPodcasts @StrangeFruit — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) January 26, 2016

Why Tonal Languages Aren’t as Hard as You Think

Here’s my take on language difficulty: All languages are created equal. Mandarin Chinese. English. Russian. Arabic. You name it. They all have their own challenging aspects. But - here’s the kicker - humans can speak all of them. I’ve yet to hear about a language that went extinct only because it was so difficult to learn. Show More Summary

Love transformed

With the title "Yeah… that totally translates to 'love'", imgur presents the following image: As soon as I took one look at it, I thought the glyph must be some sort of stylization or deformation of the character ài ? ("love"). Perhaps I'm slower on the uptake than others when it comes to this sort […]

A new expression in Cantonese

Next Media's Apple Daily (1/23/16) had an article with this headline: G?ngdàsh?ng guà x?n xiàomíng kàng chìhuà ???????????? "Hong Kong University students hang [a banner with] the 'new school name' to resist redification" A large photograph accompanying the article shows the students hanging the banner with the following words written on it: Xi?ngg?ng shì dì […]

theatre / theater

The most obvious difference in American and British theat{er/re} is the spelling, but on top of that there are a number of meaning differences. And then the meanings interfere with the spellings again. Much fun, but this is why I can't write short blog posts. Show More Summary

Inching toward digraphia, with a note on the universality myth

The subject of digraphia in China often comes up in our discussions about the Chinese writing system on Language Log (always be sure to check the comments on the posts, because much good material is often added in them), e.g.: "Digraphia and intentional miswriting " (3/12/15) "Substituting Pinyin for unknown Chinese characters " (12/3/13) "Creeping […]

Glenn Frey and the band with the anomalous name

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Glenn Frey died two weeks ago, and I found myself reflecting on the poetry of the songs he write with Don Henley for a Lingua Franca post (see it here). Working on that caused me to bump up against the odd fact that the band Frey and Henley co-founded had a name that nobody […]

All This I Saw.

I’m reading Tolstoy’s first published work, the 1852 Istoriya moego detstva [The story of my childhood] (in 1856 published in the book Detstvo i Otrochestvo [Childhood and Boyhood] and known from then on as Detstvo [Childhood]), and I was struck by this passage, from a description of a hunt: ????? ??????, ????? ??????? ? ?????, […]

Claiming the Yid

I grew up in Moscow, speaking a surprising amount of Yiddish for a secular kid born in 1959. I could haggle with my grandmother about whether the weather required that a hat be worn, and I knew the meaning of the colorful insults myShow More Summary

Is there evil in Eve?

Q: Could there POSSIBLY be a linguistic connection between “Eve” and “evil”? Or is it just too slick an idea? A: Nope, there’s no connection between “evil,” which comes from old Germanic sources, and the name “Eve,” which is derived from Hebrew. The similarity in sound is purely coincidental. “Evil,” written as yfel in Old... ? Read More: Is there evil in Eve?

Folktale phylogeny

Over at Languagehat's place, there's been a lively discussion of Sara Graça da Silva & Jamshid J. Tehrani, "Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales", Royal Society Open Science 1/20/2016. Show More Summary

From ‘Captain’s call’ to ‘refugiado’: WOTY 2015

It's that time of year again. Linguists and wordsmiths the world over have come together to decree which word(s) should be given the top honour and crowned 'Word of the Year 2015'. Not everybody decides on the same one though, so here at Fully Sic we've collated a list for all your word-loving needs.

Universal Positivity Bias?

Another study that arouses my instinctual skepticism: “Human Language Reveals a Universal Positivity Bias,” by Peter Sheridan Dodds, Eric M. Clark, Suma Desuc, et al., PNAS Online, 112.8 (2015). The abstract: Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep […]

Englishes in action in the Sinosphere

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes has made several daring in-person investigations of China's military bases built on artificially expanded reefs and other features in contested waters far to the south of its southernmost provinces. Show More Summary

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