Blog Profile / Language Log


URL :http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/
Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:3580
Posts / Week:8.6
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Women's words

In Wired (2/1/16), Liz Stinson has an article titled "This Little Red Book Confronts Sexism in the Chinese Language" (the text is accompanied by a total of 8 slides). It begins: Activism can take many forms. In the case of Women’s Words, it takes the form of a little red dictionary. The tiny book is the work of […]

Pygmalion updated

Peter Serafinowicz has updated George Bernard Shaw's dictum that "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him", by re-voicing Donald Trump to demonstrate that emotional reactions to British accents are easily evoked in Americans as well. There's "Sophisticated Trump", posted on YouTube 12/17/2015: And […]

Madame Curry

Mark Swofford called my attention to this Taipei restaurant, noting the risqué pun in its name:  g?lí niáng ??? (lit., "curry mom").  The restaurant also has the Frenchified Western name "cari de madame". It could conceivably be a pun for ji?l? niàng ??? ("home brew"), but I suspect that Mark had something else in mind.  […]

Missing G's

Michael Cannings sent in this photograph of a package of shelf mushrooms aka bracket fungi used in Chinese traditional medicine: j?ngxu?n y?sh?ng língzh? piàn ??????? ("selected wild Ganoderma slices") There's nothing much to add except to observe that: all the G's on the package have been turned into C's except for the space between LINC […]

"It eats salty": middle voice on "Top Chef"

On a recent episode of Bravo's competitive cooking show "Top Chef" ("Spines and Vines," 12/10/15), the contestants had to make a dish with uni (sea urchin) and pair it with a wine. One contestant, Angelina Bastidas, received the following less-than-glowing appraisal of her dish from the show's host, Padma Lakshmi, and guest judge Dana Cowin, […]

What does "Schmetterling" sound like to a German?

I'm prompted to ask this question in response to the very first comment on this post: "'Butterfly' words as a source of etymological confusion" (1/28/16) The comment supplies a link to this YouTube video, in which russianracehorse tells "The Butterfly Joke".  A Frenchman, an Italian, a Spaniard, and a German each pronounce the word for […]

Decisive undecideds

From Arthur Stock, a picture of a headline in an actual paper newspaper:

Solaar pleure carrément?

In my limited experience of French hiphop, I've gotten the impression that it's rhythmically rather "square", in the sense that the syncopations or polyrhythms that are common in the corresponding American genres are relatively rare....Show More Summary

Totally Word Mapper

Jack Grieve Twitter-based Word Mapper (see "Geolexicography", 1/27/2016) is now available as a web app — like totally: Or in terms of local frequency: I mean, literally: You know, like What does it mean? Um… …it's obvious, right? Two small criticisms — First, it seems that the underlying wordlist is somewhat prescriptive as to spelling, […]

Strong language

I have no context for this photo, but the character on the car and sign behind make the situation pretty obvious. Courtesy of Josh Ellis on Facebook, via Michael Cannings on Twitter: The vertical sign on the door in the background reads: s?rén t?dì q?ng wù tíngch? ???????? ("private land; please do not park") The […]

N Cultures

From Jason Eisner, a diagram of "The Three Cultures of Machine Learning": Jason cites Leo Breiman, "Statistical Modeling: The Two Cultures", Statistical Science 2001, and also mentions the "three competing philosophies" in Bradley Efron, "R. A. Fisher in the 21st century", Statistical Science 1998. But the idea of distinguishing small integer numbers of cultures in […]

"Butterfly" words as a source of etymological confusion

Nick Kaldis writes: I've started buying English etymology books for my 8-year-old daughter and I to explore; today we discovered that "butterfly" comes from "butter" + "shit", because their feces resemble butter. This sounded suspicious to me.  Why wouldn't it just be "butter" + "fly"?  After all, it is a flying insect, and it might […]

Waste bin misnegation

I saw a sticker on the lid of a pedal-operated hospital waste bin that said this: THIS SACK HOLDER IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO BE FOOT OPERATED ONLY. THE LID MUST NOT BE HAND OPERATED AND PUSHED PAST THE POINT WHERE IT WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY RETURN TO THE CLOSED POSITION. Everyone who uses the bin sees […]

Aspects of the Theory of Disney Princesses

At the recent LSA annual meeting in Washington DC, Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer presented a paper with the title "A quantitative analysis of gendered compliments in Disney Princess films". The abstract: Recent studies find that children use animated films in constructing their gender identities (e.g. Show More Summary

Geolexicography

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

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

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 […]

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 […]

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