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Sleeping jaguars run furiously

Roger Lustig sends in this trending-on-facebook headline: Police Find Jaguars Running Back Asleep Inside Car Sinking Into a Pond, Reports Say Roger traces the first few steps down the garden path: –Police find jaguars –Police find jaguars running –Police find jaguars running back (from where?) –Police find jaguars running back asleep (talk about "second nature"!) For […]

STD, STI, and more infections

Is a Manchester sexual health clinic trying to tell me something? I just feel that I should say this up front: there is nothing autobiographical about this post. There. Got that out of the way. The topic only came up because I was in a conversation that involved an allusion to leaflets in doctors' (AmE) offices/(BrE) surgeries. Show More Summary

Build Your Own Nacho

As I walked into the family-friendly, casual restaurant, this sign was on display: “Build your own nacho”? As I wondered in a tweet a little later, what if you want more than one nacho? Do you have to go through the line again? Or are these really big nachos? Looking at the sign closer, I […]

Begging the Question III.

Two more language-related Wondermark cartoons by David Malki ! (previous Wondermark here, previous begging the question here and here): BBB…eing wrong. Containing multitudes. As always, be sure to read the mouseover text. (Thanks, Sven!)

Character conversion blues

Mike Miller writes: I recently stayed in a hotel in a smaller city in Shandong and was surprised to see what they are calling a hair dryer these days. Here's a photograph that Mike sent along: Several things to note. First, the brand name is in Pinyin, with no Chinese characters to match. Second, they […]

Little Free Library owner unwittingly recapitulates warez-admin anti-leech laments and solutions:

Little Free Library owner unwittingly recapitulates warez-admin anti-leech laments and solutions: Little Free Library owner unwittingly recapitulates warez-admin anti-leech laments and solutions: — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) July 5, 2016

"Krup You!" No More: How Broadway Learned to Swear

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. When Stephen Sondheim was writing the lyrics for “Gee, Officer Krupke,” to be sung in the 1957 musical West Side Story, he was hoping to be the first person...Show More Summary

On this day

Paul Ryan's July 4 statement (emphasis added): On this year’s Fourth, we can celebrate the historic document that was signed—and the self-evident truths it declared. We can celebrate the historic battles that were fought so that those truths would embrace all of our people. We can remember the extraordinary men and women, so dedicated to […]

Penguin Classics and Elda Rotor.

Don Jaucian has a nice piece on Penguin Classics publisher Elda Rotor (what a wonderful name: Elda Rotor!) that starts by pointing out that she took the job in 2006, the same year Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere was published under the Penguin Classics banner; she has been promoting the literature of her native […]

She calls herself Angelababy

That's what practically everybody else calls her too. There's a great article by Qian Jinghua in Sixth Tone (Fresh voices from today's China) titled "Call Me Angelababy, Maybe:  Ban on foreign names in Chinese-language press reveals fear of cultural fragility." (6/30/16) It's about a phenomenally popular 27-year-old actress, model, and singer whose Chinese name is […]

McCrum's 100 best ways to ruin the 4th of July

The many Americans in the University of Edinburgh's community of language and information scientists had to celebrate the glorious 4th on the 3rd this year, because the 4th is an ordinary working Monday. I attended a Sunday-afternoon gathering kindly hosted by the Head of the School of Informatics, Johanna Moore. We barbecued steadfastly in the […]

Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 4

The last installment of this series, "Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 3" (6/30/16), contains links to many other Language Log posts relevant to this subject. It is often difficult to fathom which English word is intended when it is transcribed in Chinese characters.  John Kieschnick called my attention to an especially challenging one:  ?rlílìj?ng ????.  […]

Ex-physicist takes on Heavy Metal NLP

"Heavy Metal and Natural Language Processing – Part 1", Degenerate State 4/20/2016: Natural language is ubiquitous. It is all around us, and the rate at which it is produced in written, stored form is only increasing. It is also quite unlike any sort of data I have worked with before. Natural language is made up […]

the fourth of July

When I (or a guest blogger) have talked about dates here, it's mostly been about how dates are written. (One exception was about how we say the year.) One thing we've not really talked about is how we read dates out loud.I've been struck by the mismatch a couple of times when British people have tried to "go American" and put the day after the month. Show More Summary

Yves Bonnefoy est mort.

I report with sadness that the great French poet Yves Bonnefoy died July 1; the only English-language source to cover the event appears to be BBC News, though I trust the NY Times, Guardian, and other big guns are preparing substantial obits. (In French, Libé gives its piece the nice title “Yves Bonnefoy disparaît en […]

A new polysyllabic character

Here it is, folks: Magnifique! I'll explain the pronunciation, construction, and meaning of this marvelous creation after providing some linguistic background about the Sinitic lexicon and Chinese script. Not all Sinitic words are monosyllabic.  Indeed, the average length of a word in Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) is just about two syllables.  Even in Literary Sinitic […]

"Linguistics has evolved"

From alice-is-thinking on tumblr, three weeks ago, forwarded by a 20-year-old correspondent: The accompanying note: this seems toShow More Summary

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