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Two Language Links.

1) The language landscape of the Philippines in 4 maps. Does what it says on the tin; the maps are “Language diversity across the country,” “The more multilingual provinces,” “The more monolingual provinces,” and “Top languages aside from Tagalog/Bisaya in Metro Manila.” The first-sentence hook: “If you were to randomly pick two people from anywhere […]

What the Ancient Epinikion, or Victory Song, Teaches Us About Olympic Athletes

Forget medals, Wheaties boxes, interviews on Good Morning America, or corporate sponsorships: The ancient Greeks celebrated their Olympic champions with poetry. “When anyone is victorious through his toil,” as Diane Svarlien translates...Show More Summary

Furigana-like glossing in Mandarin

On Language Log, we have often touched upon the use of furigana ruby to gloss kanji (Chinese characters) for various purposes, most recently in the comments to "Roman-letter Mandarin pronoun of indeterminate gender " (8/9/16). Indeed, the use of furigana in Japanese is a truly interesting mechanism for presenting layers of meaning of a word […]

“Near San Diego, a schism formed, and a separate supercolony was created…30 million ants die there every year.”

“Near San Diego, a schism formed, and a separate supercolony was created…30 million ants die there every year.” "Near San Diego, a schism formed, and a separate supercolony was created…30 million ants die there every year." — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) August 10, 2016

Pig Sanskrit

[This is a guest post by Jichang Lulu] Victor's recent analysis of a certain Antibacterial Lotion of Woman ("Know your bird", 7/29/16) made me wonder what other felicitous Chinglish its purveyors might have come up with. I'd like to report on one mysterious product I found. Although no Chinglish is involved, another language is, more […]

Do the Needful.

Over at, donkeyhotay asked about “do the needful,” saying “My understanding is that this is an archaic phrase and that South Asians use it because of the time period that English was introduced into their culture.” Dave Wilton said that was correct, adding: “Indian or South Asian English is a perfectly legitimate dialect of […]

And, voilà, “wallah”!

Q: I’ve noticed the increasing use of “wallah” for “voilà” in speech and writing. I suppose this because Americans are ignorant of other languages, and so use an American English pronunciation and spelling for foreign-sourced words.Show More Summary

Phonics and whole word teaching in Algeria

Just about every parent I've spoken to in Dellys is concerned one way or another about the direction the educational system has been going – over-complex curricula, excessively heavy backpacks, extramural tutoring, discipline, class sizes... Show More Summary

The Second Amendment people

The controversial words about the Second Amendment that Donald Trump uttered at a rally in North Carolina yesterday are as follows: Hillary wants to abolish — essentially abolish — the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges… [long pause] Nothing you can do, folks. [long pause] Although the Second Amendment […]

Relative Clauses, Complex Passives, and Rainbow Farts

I was reading an article in one of the issues of New Scientist magazine that that tend to accumulate around here, and came across this sentence: The benefits of unsaturated fats, traditionally seen as good for the heart, may vary due to their omega-3 content, which is thought could have anti-inflammatory effects. It seemed to […]

The Witness Set Constraint

I’ve written a short, technical paper in response to Jordi Fortuny’s just published Journal of Semantics paper “The Witness Set Constraint”: von Fintel, Kai. 2016. A problem with Fortuny’s Witness Set Constraint. Here’s...Show More Summary

"Love in Translation" (with footnotes)

In the Aug. 8 & 15 issue of The New Yorker, staff writer Lauren Collins has a "personal history" piece entitled "Love in Translation" (subtitled, "Learning about culture, communication, and intimacy in my husband's native French"). It's very nicely written and will surely be of interest to Language Log readers. But Collins relies on some linguistic research without […]

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Evliya Çelebi.

A couple days ago it was J. D. Åkerblad, now it’s another of those multilingual, multifaceted travelers I occasionally encounter and can’t resist posting about: Edward White’s “Boon Companion” (at the Paris Review Daily) tells the tale of Evliya Çelebi and his Seyahatname. It begins: According to his own recollection, Evliya Çelebi, the seventeenth-century Turkish […]

How I turned my guerilla-style language-learning method into a course you’ll find in bookshops around the world

I learned my first foreign language, Spanish, mostly by hanging out with Erasmus students during the gap year I spent in Valencia, Spain. In other words, I learned Spanish through speaking it. My second language project was Italian. And I learned it quickly -- surprisingly quickly -- in just a few months while I worked at a Youth Hostel in Rome. Show More Summary

Donald Trump Swears ... a Lot. What's His Potty Mouth Really Saying?

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. Donald Trump swears a lot, perhaps more than any other major presidential candidate in history. I’m not sure that should bother us. Most Americans swear now and then and plenty of us swear more than Mr. Show More Summary

Roman-letter Mandarin pronoun of indeterminate gender

From B JS: Some interesting uses of the Roman letter third person pronoun “TA” to sidestep genders associated with the characters t? ? ("he") and t? ? ("she"); it seems useful enough to perhaps become a permanent fixture in the language, in contrast to more faddish-seeming things like “duang” (see here and here).  I kind […]

Shoots flaming balls with reports

From Bill Benzon: "Flaming balls" and "reports" may very well be the standard technical terminology for the visual and auditory design features of roman candles. None of the rest of the visible text shows signs of translation problems. But still…

Movies Featuring Linguists, Linguistics and Languages.

At Language Crawler (“Crawling the Internet for news, books, videos & resources about languages & linguistics for linguaphiles, polyglots, and language lovers”): 25 Must-See Movies Featuring Linguists, Linguistics and Languages. “Must-See”...Show More Summary

Into titties like right here in Detroit?

Matthew Cooper, "Full text of Donald Trump's prepared remarks to the Detroit Economic Club", Newsweek 8/8/2016: Addressing the Detroit Economic Club is a mainstay for presidential candidates, and Donald Trump put a unique stamp on the event Monday. No Republican nominee in decades has given such a blistering critique of free trade and none has […]

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