Discover a new way to find and share stories you'll love… Learn about Reading Desk

Blog Profile / Language Log

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:4479
Posts / Week:13.2
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Can't find on Google

Max Pinton sent in this menu and said he "thought it was a refreshing approach": Cheezburger, where this menu was posted, gave it the title "Google Failed, but This Restaurant Probably Won". Actually, Google didn't fail. For ch?o shu?lián ???, which is straightforward, Google Translate, Baidu Fanyi, Bing Translator, and even iciba correctly give "fried […]

Uptalk in Devon

"The unstoppable march of the upward inflection?", BBC News Magazine 8/11/2014, quoted me referencing Daniel Hirst's idea about a possible Scandinavian origin for the long-standing pattern of default rising intonations in northern England,...Show More Summary

Ye Olde English katakana

Via HiLobrow (8/10/2014), Ben Zimmer came across this virtuoso display of Gothic katakana on feitclub's Tumblr: I must confess that I have a hard time reading off this beautiful, ornate font, which is so different from the spare, simple, Japanese katakana. From Wikipedia, here's a chart of the latter for comparison: Goj?on – Katakana characters with […]

Newspaper alleges passive voice correctly!

Today I came upon something truly rare: a newspaper article about a passive-voice apology that (i) is correct about the apology containing a passive clause, but (ii) stresses that the oft-misdiagnosed passive should not be the thing we focus on and attempt to discourage, and (iii) cites actual linguists in support of the latter view! […]

"Cladly dressed"

From reader BKS: Someone used "cladly dressed" in a comment to The Guardian, and it appears to be an up and coming 21st Century phrase. A search of didn't turn up any instances of "cladly", but as BKS noted, there are a few examples in recent books: With nakedness we find quite often the opposite […]

Rick Perlstein's alleged plagiarism

Alexandra Alter, "Reagan Book Sets Off Debate", NYT 8/4/2014: Mr. Perlstein’s new 856-page book, “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” which comes out Tuesday, is proving to be almost as divisive as Reagan himself. It has drawn both strong reviews from prominent book critics, and sharp criticism from some […]

Pulled noodles: Uyghur läghmän and Mandarin l?miàn

Some notes on the origins of the words and characters for wheat, flour, and noodles in Turkic and Sinitic languages On the Xinjiang Studies list, a number of questions about noodles and the words for them in Sinitic and other languages have come up. First of all, Sue Naquin called to my attention this article […]

Those X-ing Ys

From Stan Carey: This ambiguity in a tweet from the British prime minister may be of minor interest: I welcome President Obama's pledge to help the Iraqi government tackle this crisis and get aid to those fleeing ISIL terrorists. — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 8, 2014 In the unlikely event that the ambiguity is not […]

Male and female word usage

In a ten-year-old LLOG post ("Gender and tags" 5/9/2004),  I cited "the complexity of findings about language and gender, where published claims sometimes contradict one another, and where the various things that 'everybody knows' are not always confirmed by experiment", and warned that This happens in every area of rational inquiry, but it's especially common in cases […]

Compound semantics

Tank McNamara for 7/31/2014 explores the protean semantics of English complex nominals: And a followup strip explores some other possible sensitivities: Past LLOG posts relevant to the "Redskins" debate: "Fenimore Cooper, call your office",...Show More Summary

Eco Coke and No Smorking

While we're at it, here are two more contributions from Nathan Hopson in Japan: The Coca-Cola vending machine is interesting for the ad-speak neologism "eco?," adding the verb ending to "eco" as in "ecology" to mean "to be environmentally friendly". This reminds me of how the English verb ending -ing has been taken up in […]

Wrecking a nice beach

Under the subject line "Things you never thought you'd get to say", Bob Ladd sent me this note yesterday: You are among the few people I know who will appreciate this anecdote:   It's been unusually cool, wet, and windy in many parts of the Mediterranean this summer, including our part of Sardinia.  On our […]

No dawn for ape-language theory

As you know, I serve Language Log as occasional film reviewer. I reported on Rise of the Planet of the Apes when it came out (see "Caesar and the power of No", August 14, 2011). So I naturally went to see the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to report on the way […]


Well, Japan doesn't fall to deliver. I assume that this is meant as something like "individual," in the sense of "self-ish," but whether it's word play or misunderstanding is unclear: I'm not sure what kind of im?ji ???? (image") or nyuansu ?? ??? ("nuance") this store is trying to project, but I doubt that anyone […]

Please pee in the pool

Kenneth Yeh sent in this pair of signs from a restroom in China: The first sign is straightforward, jìnzh? x?y?n ???? …with the correct translation: NO SMOKING. It is odd, however, that the second sign declines to provide an English translation, giving only pinyin romanization: Qing xiao bian ruchi ????? With tones marked and correctly […]

Another British-to-English phrase book

"30 Things British People Say And What We Actually Mean" — worth adding to "Translated phrase-list jokes", 5/21/2011.  


[Warning: More than usually wonkish and quantitative.] In two recent and one older post, I've referred to apparent gender and age differences in the usage of the English filled pauses normally transcribed as "um" and "uh" ("More on UM and UH", 8/3/2014; "Fillers: Autism, gender, and age", 7/30/2014; "Young men talk like old women", 11/6/2005).  In […]

More on UM and UH

A few days ago ("Fillers: Autism, gender, and age" 7/30/2014), I noted an apparent similarity between male/female differences in UM/UH usage, and  an autistic/typical difference reported in a poster by Gorman et al. at the IMFAR 2014 conference. Show More Summary

I want to / two fish

In the comments to "slip(per)" (7/22/14), we have had a very lively discussion on whether or not people would pronounce these two sentences differently in Mandarin: w? yào tu?xié ???? "I want slippers." w? yào tu? xié ???? "I want to take off my shoes." Of the more than two dozen individuals having native fluency […]

Mistake or grammatical variation?

From reader B.D.: I ran across this sentence today on a news website and thought that you might find it interesting: "The accident caused for two lanes and one inbound express lane to be blocked." I was able to find a few other examples of "caused for" from news sites using Google News: "Philadelphia has […]

Recent Posting Activity


Posts per Week
Posts on Regator

Related Blogs

Copyright © 2011 Regator, LLC