Blog Profile / Language Log


URL :http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/
Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:3753
Posts / Week:8.8
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Slowed speech

This is pretty funny. Rob Beschizza, "Trump slowed 50%", BoingBoing 4/19/2016: Everyone sounds drunk or stoned when slowed down 50%, but doing so to Trump reveals that his bizarre, digressive speech patterns are uncannily like a drunk sped up 200%. So it seems appropriate to try the same trick on some other politicians. Here's Bernie […]

LipsyncHK

Near the Star Ferry terminal on the Hong Kong Island side, Bea Lam noticed a number of fantastic, huge, colorful posters plastered on the walls as part of a “LipsyncHK” project that showcases Cantonese phrases and encourages visitors to try them out.  Bea was (very happily) surprised to see this large and open demonstration of […]

Papi Jiang: PRC internet sensation

Tom Mazanec wrote in to call Papi? (jiàng means "thick sauce; jam-like or paste-like food") to my attention.  Tom explains: She's a big internet phenomenon in mainland China who's now in the news (BBC report, Shanghaiist post) because many of her videos were blocked from Youku and Weixin for too much swearing. A few cynics […]

Cactus Wawa revisited

One of the most intriguing and enthralling Language Log posts is this one: "cactus wawa: the strange tale of a strange character" (11/1/14) I spent months doing the research for that post and, although it garnered 80 helpful comments, I still felt that there were some loose ends.  Consequently, I was delighted to receive last […]

Turkish animal sounds

This is too cool not to share: Sounds That Animals Make Hayvan Sesleri Of the 20 animals represented in Turkish and English (with both writing and audio clips), my favorite is this one: Hindiler guruldar; "glu glu" diye ba??r?rlar. Turkeys gobble; they go, "Gobble, gobble." Note that the construction for quoting animal noises in English […]

(Not) too P to Q

Peter Howard sent in a listicle at NotAlwaysRight, "10 scams we're not too stupid to fall for", which describes ways that customers will try to fool cashiers, for example by switching price labels:  "it doesn’t take a genius to realise that a $50 bottle of liquor would not be mislabeled as $0.99 cheese-balls in any universe." Peter […]

Obama and the end of the queue

Over the past few days the British media (newspapers and BBC news programs) have been talking about a crucially linguistic argument that President Obama is being manipulated, and literally told what to say, by the UK prime minister's office. (Links seem superfluous: the Google News UK edition will give you thousands of references.) The evidence […]

Poem or list of band names?

A few days ago, we looked at a propaganda poster in Beijing: "'Dangerous love'" (4/19/16). In continuing research on this poster, I discovered that at one site where it was pasted on the wall, there was an enigmatic sequence of lines on another piece of paper pasted on the wall just to the right of […]

"Is a thing" antedated to 1783

In the comments on my post "When did 'a thing' become a thing", 4/18/2016,, James Barrett points us to a video from the Royal Society that includes the following passage from a letter, dated 1783, from one Eberhard Johann Schröter in St. Petersburg, addressed to Dr. Daniel Solander, an associate of Sir Joseph Banks: Your browser does […]

Americanism

Here's an unexpected factoid from the transcripts of the 21 debates held so far in the current U.S. presidential campaign: Despite his "Make America Great Again" slogan, Donald Trump uses the words America and American almost 13 times less often than Bernie Sanders does. In the table below, the first number in each column is […]

Character amnesia redux

This is a topic that we have frequently broached on Language Log: "Character Amnesia" (7/22/10) "Character amnesia revisited" (12/13/12) "Spelling bees and character amnesia" (8/7/13) "Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia"...Show More Summary

Firing and wiring

In discussions about the history of usage, like this one, people often bring out generic memories ("I heard this all the time back in such-and-such a time period") or even more specific recollections ("I remember so-and-so saying this back in 19XX"). I've done this myself more than once. But recently something happened that made me wonder […]

Polylingualism

I'm sitting in the San Francisco International Airport waiting for my flight to Taipei.  The guy next to me is happily chattering away on his cell phone to someone (or some people) at the other end of the "line".  What is curious is that one moment he is speaking in Taiwanese, the next moment in […]

Bad of shape

Josh Marshall, "Prep for the Overshoot", TPM 4/19/2016 (emphasis added): [P]eople had convinced themselves last week that Trump was basically done – largely on the basis of a few bad news cycles and a big loss in Wisconsin. As long as he didn't get to 1237, he was toast. But Wisconsin was obviously an outlier. […]

"Dangerous love"

In China, you may be breaking the law if you date a foreigner for the purpose of learning their language. On April 15, China observed its first annual National Security Education Day with the distribution of propaganda materials, delivery of speeches, and other activities designed to raise awareness of security issues.  A centerpiece of the campaign […]

7/11

A lovely example of a Fay-Cutler malapropism, i.e. a lexical substitution error: Your browser does not support the audio element. I think what I want to do is I want to talk just for second I wrote this out and it's very close to my heart because I was down there and I watch our […]

Debate words

As I mentioned a few days ago ("More political text analytics", 4/15/2016), I've now got more-or-less cleaned-up text from the 21 debates held so far in the current U.S. presidential campaign. If we focus on the contributions of  the five remaining U.S. presidential candidates to those 21 debates, we get 199,188 words in total, divided up like this: […]

Old Sinitic reconstructions and Tibeto-Burman cognates

[The following is a guest post by Tsu-Lin Mei.] —————- The Old Chinese reconstruction of Gong Hwang-cherng and James Matisoff is not only internally consistent, but can be shown to have a Tibeto-Burman counterpart through Sino-Tibetan...Show More Summary

When did "a thing" become a thing?

Alexander Stern, "Is That Even a Thing?", NYT 4/16/216: Speakers and writers of American English have recently taken to identifying a staggering and constantly changing array of trends, events, memes, products, lifestyle choices and phenomena of nearly every kind with a single label — a thing. In conversation, mention of a surprising fad, behavior or […]

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