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Nahuatl in LA.

Peggy McInerny writes about a Nahuatl program for the Latin American Institute: The language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl [pronounced na’ wat], is alive and well today in Los Angeles. Beginning and intermediate classes in modern Nahuatl are offered at UCLA, with an advanced class slated to launch next year. A few miles due north at […]

Bruria Kaufman

The Annual Reviews have a tradition of featuring retrospective articles by or about senior figures, and the Annual Review of Linguistics has followed this pattern with pieces featuring Morris Halle in the 2016 volume and Bill Labov in 2017. For 2018, we’ll be featuring Lila Gleitman. As background, Barbara Partee, Cynthia McLemore and I spent the last couple […]

EasyPronunciation.com.

Timur Baytukalov has created what looks like a useful site for language learners, EasyPronunciation.com; he says: I created this website with phonetic transcription converters – https://easypronunciation.com/en/. They can convert text into IPA phonetic transcription. Show More Summary

Purging Western Words from Turkish.

Over at the Log, Victor Mair posted about the latest silly governmental attempt to control language, in this case Erdo?an’s campaign against foreign influences in Turkish; he quotes an article in The Economist: Mr Erdogan started by ordering the word “arena”, which reminded him of ancient Roman depravity, removed from sports venues across the country. […]

Chinglish with tones

4th tone – 3rd tone, it would appear: Well, maybe not; the diacritics are probably meant to indicate vowel quality, but I don’t know what system (if any) they are using. Ben Zimmer writes: The diacritics may be intended to evoke pinyin tone marks, but they’re also reminiscent of dictionary-style phonetic respelling and stress marking. […]

Ask Language Log: “assuage”

Query from a reader: Is it correct to use the word assuage to indicate a lessening of something? That is, it is often used in the realm of feelings, i.e. assuage hunger, assuage grief, etc. But would it be acceptable to use to indicate the lessening of something more tangible, such as assuage criminality, assuage […]

My summer

.. or at least six weeks of it, will be spent at the 2017 Jelinek Summer Workshop on Speech and Language Technology (JSALT) at CMU in Pittsburgh. As the link explains, this … is a continuation of the Johns Hopkins University CLSP summer workshop series from 1995-2016. It consists of a two-week summer school, followed by a […]

Foreign to Familiar: How to “Language Proof” Your Immediate Environment

Sometimes, when you’re surrounded by a new language it can overwhelm your capacity to pick up new things. It’s almost too much newness, and you just draw a line. Everything from the toothpaste to the billboards to the TV is filled by...Show More Summary

The lowdown on ‘crescendo’

Q: Is “crescendo” a lost cause? I hardly ever hear it used properly to mean a gradual increase in sound. As a music lover, it pains me to hear it mean a climax. A: Most standard dictionaries now accept both uses of “crescendo”: (1) a gradual increase in intensity, and (2) the highest point of... ? Read More: The lowdown on ‘crescendo’

Genetic evidence for the spread of Indo-Aryan languages

My own investigations on the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age peoples of Eastern Central Asia (ECA) began essentially as a genetics cum linguistics project back in the early 90s.  That was not long after the extraction of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) from ancient human tissues and its amplification by means of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) […]

Conversation Exchange: How an Online Language Buddy Took Me from Fear of Speaking to Confident Conversations

This is my story of how I found an online language buddy for a conversation exchange, which took me from feeling terrified of speaking a new language to having real conversations in that language. My heart was pounding when I received...Show More Summary

Dauvit Horsbroch on the Scots Leid.

Dauvit Horsbroch, of the Scots Language Centre, has a video lecture (just under 20 minutes) on the Scots language (“leid” in Scots) that’s a fascinating experience for an English speaker; the more you listen the more you understand, and it’s a linguistically informed talk about language — what’s not to like? Via MetaFilter, where Happy […]

Paul Zukofsky

This strikes me as an unusual obituary: Margalit Fox, “Paul Zukofsky, Prodigy Who Became, Uneasily, a Virtuoso Violinist, Dies at 73“, NYT 6/20/2017. It massively violates the precept de mortuis nil nisi bonum, describing its subject at great length as an “automaton” who was “deeply ill at ease with world”, an “arch-bridge troll”, full of […]

Faimly Lfie

When the parents are psycholinguists, the children get exposed to some weird stuff at sensitive ages. (Also, sensitive stuff at weird ages.) For example, the Stroop effect (words interfere with naming colors, e.g. GREEN RED BLUE) makes a great 4th grade science project; 9 year olds think it’s hilarious. There are lots of fun versions […]

Common day occurrence

Q: I don’t hear “common day occurrence” a lot, but the expression does crop up from time to time, and the other day I found myself using it. A friend questioned me and I couldn’t recall where I’d picked it up. Any idea where or when this phrase originated? A: The expression “common day occurrence”... ? Read More: Common day occurrence

“balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to”

Adrienne LaFrance, “What an AI’s Non-Human Language Actually Looks Like“, The Atlantic 6/20/2017: Something unexpected happened recently at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab. Researchers who had been training bots toShow More Summary

On Interviewing Translators.

Well, it’s not really about interviewing translators, it’s about interviewing coders, using translators as a stand-in: What if companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders? by Jose Aguinaga. But how can I resist something that has questions like “how did the Arabic invasion in the Iberian Peninsula between the years of 711 and 1492 […]

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