Blog Profile / Language Log

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:2974
Posts / Week:7.9
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Political pitch ranges

I don't have time for much this morning, but here's a plot of the f0 quantiles of the first minute or so of each of six speeches from the 2015 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum: Here's the same thing on a semitone (i.e. log) scale:   Do these large differences reflect differences in intrinsic vocal range, or […]

How to pronounce the surname "Tsien"

A prominent scholar of early Chinese writing and books at the University of Chicago recently passed away: "T.H. Tsien, Scholar of Chinese Written Word, Dies at 105" (4/19/15) The New York Times "pronouncer" for "Tsien" is "chee-AHN".  That is very far from the mark.  Even for those who are not familiar with the niceties of […]

It's not for (lack of (not)) trying

Andrew Hood, "With second at Amstel Gold, Valverde confident for remaining Ardennes races", Velo News 4/19/2015 (emphasis added): Perhaps Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will never win the Amstel Gold Race. It’s not for trying. And for the third time in his career, he was on the final podium Sunday, behind a superb Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick-Step), who […]

In a daze

Photo taken on a lane leading from Beijing's Nanluoguxiang: The sign is difficult to interpret because, just judging from this photograph, there is not much context to figure out what's going on here. When we see slightly more of the scene, it makes more sense: kàn m?in? / f?d?i ??? / ?? ("watch the girls […]

Suffer the consequences

Sign in Guilin, China: The Chinese and the English are pretty simple. yánjìn t?u huá, wéi zh? hòugu? zìfù ??????????? ("it is strictly forbidden to slide on the sly; violators will bear the consequences") Let's see what the Korean adds. ??                            ?????         ??       ?     […]

No striding

Another photo from Dean Barrett: This one is super simple, but charming enough to merit separate treatment. jìnzh? kuàyuè ???? ("it is prohibited to cross over") "No striding" is more or less standard Chinglish for jìnzh? kuàyuè ????, but we also find more exotic variants: "Prohibition surmounts". kuàyuè ?? has, among others, the following meanings: step […]

Please micturate in the urinal

We have just emerged from a discussion of how to refer to dog excrement on public notices: "Scoop the poop" (4/15/15). The same sort of uncertainty surrounds notices concerning public urination by humans.  From a men's room in the West Beijing Railway Station: Dean Barrett, who sent in the photo, apologizes for the fuzziness: I blew it […]

Black Mighty Sub-Package

From Mia in Shenzhen, China: The Chinese name of this product on the label is: h?imài tízi b?o ????? ("rye raisin loaf") The translator misparsed the string of characters as: h?i màití z ?b?o ????? ("black mighty subpackage") In this case, the mistranslation was carried out with the help of Google Translate, which renders the […]

Couque D'asse

Nathan Hopson sent in this photograph of a package of cookies: There's even a Korean version on Amazon. ??? ?? ku-ki-ui myeong-jak, RR; k'u-k'i-?i my?ng-jak, MR ("the masterpiece of cookies") ???? Kukeudaseu, RR; K'uk'?das?, MR) But what language is it originally?  Norman? "Langue de chat"? Note the addition of "s" at the end of "D'asse" in this […]

Japanese cocktail list

Tim Leonard sent in this most intriguing Japanese cocktail list, spotted by Regular Sandwiches: M?tsuarutomiruku ??????? ?? ("Mozart Milk") Inkurediburu haruku ??????????? ("Incredible Hulk") Ronguairandoaisut? ?????????????? ("LongShow More Summary


Kelly Dwyer, "Mark Cuban on his beloved Rockets, save James Harden: 'That’s not a very good team'", Yahoo Sports 4/17/2015: What better voice than Cuban’s, a man who inherited a perennial loser in 2000 before proceeding to act as the top-of-the-fish leader of a club that has made the playoffs in 14 out of 15 […]

Wasn't haven't it

Renditions of "wasn't having it" as "wasn't haven't it" are pretty common. Some examples from web search: yeah, he tried but seen that I wasn't haven't it. Rookie wasn't haven't it. Richard wasn't haven't it today. Ms. Claudia wasn't haven't it lol you started it & Claudia finished it. And from twitter: He was trynna touch […]

Text by the bay

I'll be spending next Friday and Saturday in San Francisco at Text By The Bay, billed as "A new NLP conference bringing together researchers and practitioners, using computational linguistics and text mining to build new companies through understanding and meaning." There are 46 interesting-looking talks and a couple of panels — all in all, an excellent […]

"A year ago, we don't win tonight".

Ron Stack writes: Here is Manager Terry Collins on the Mets' victory over the Marlins last night: “A year ago, we don’t win tonight. It’s a different mentality in our clubhouse now."   I'm almost certain LL has covered this time-shifted present tense but since I don't even know what to call it I couldn't […]

Style guide

Today's xkcd: Mouseover title: "I honestly didn't think you could even USE emoji in variable names. Or that there were so many different crying ones."  

I've forgotten more Czech than Barbara Partee has learned

One of the most memorable trips of my life took place in 1994 and involved traveling as a graduate student to Prague in the company of some of the most formidable linguists of North America and Europe. It was my first return to the country of my birth since I’d left Czechoslovakia as a small […]

Adventures in ellipsis

150 years ago today, the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. America is forever indebted. — Senate Republicans (@Senate_GOPs) April 15, 2015 More discussion here.

Scoop the poop

Photograph of a sign in Taipei, Taiwan sent in by Chuck Cook: The notice in large characters reads: liú g?u xì g?u liàn, suísh?u q?ng g?u biàn ??????????? When you walk your dog, keep it on a leash; clean up the dog do as you go. The corresponding English on the sign is an example […]

Breath Clay

From a page at Chambers Wines about the VinItaly exhibition in Verona: Caption: "Some translations are more successful than others". But what, asks Francois Lang, is "Breath Clay" a (bad?) translation of? We can find a clue in this YouTube video entitled "Breath Clay", The description starts like this: Il respiro dell'argilla genera un territorio unico dove l'uomo con […]

Early Alzheimer's signs in Reagan's speech

Lawrence Altman, "Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s", NYT : Even before Ronald Reagan became the oldest elected president, his mental state was a political issue. His adversaries often suggested his penchant for contradictory statements, forgetting names and seeming absent-mindedness could be linked to dementia.   In 1980, Mr. Reagan told me […]

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