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:4579
Posts / Week:13.2
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Stronzio Bestiale, Galadriel Mirkwood, Crosley Shelvador, …

"The true story of Stonzio Bestiale", Parolacce 10/5/2014: Would you read a paper written by Stronzo Bestiale (Total Asshole)? A dose of mistrust would be justified: the name says it all. Yet, in 1987, professor Bestiale, supposedly a physicist in Palermo, Sicily, authored major papers in prestigious scientific peer reviewed journals such as the  Journal […]

X is the Y of Z: Infectious Death Cult Edition

The MedPage Today Tweet of the Week: This is the Katrina of ISIS analogies — Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 6, 2014 Some LLOG background: "X as the Y of Z", 7/28/2006 "X as the Y of Z, again", 3/25/2008 "Obama is the Y of Z", 11/5/2008 "X is the Y of Z: pop music […]

The magical fecundity of the Japanese verb suru ("to do") and verb ending -ru

The Agency for Cultural Affairs' annual survey on Japanese usage is out. This year's results as reported in the media: % of people who use chin suru ???? ("to 'nuke' something in the microwave") = 90.4% ("chin" is the sound your microwave makes to let you know your food is ready) cf. "Microwave display" saboru […]

Overtone singing

Anna-Maria Hefele: The fundamental frequency is about 273 Hz (which is a bit flatter than C#4), and as the spectrogram below shows, the "scale" that she sings picks out the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th harmonics (confusingly, these are the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th overtones, since the fundamental frequency […]

A black-belt crash blossom

Posted by Alex Bledsoe on Twitter: Copy editors…I miss them. — AlexBledsoe (@AlexBledsoe) October 9, 2014 The photo of the news article showed up on Imgur/Reddit a few days ago with the subject line, "That tumour has skills." But the article itself dates back to Dec. 27, 2013, when it appeared in the Daily […]

UH / UM in Norwegian

A short summary of the filled-pause saga so far: If we call nasal-final filled pauses UM and non-nasal varieties UH, younger people use UM more than older people, and women use UM more than men. We've found this to be true in several varieties of English (sampled all over the U.S., sampled all over the U.K., from Philadelphia, […]

Trending in the Media: Um, not exactly…

I like journalists, really I do. But sometimes they make it hard for me to maintain my positive attitude. The recent flurry of U.K. media uptake of Language Log posts on UM and UH provides some examples of this stress and strain. Here's Stuart Jeffries, "Um or er: which do you, um, use more in, […]

Mutual unintelligibility among Sinitic lects

By chance, I came across this most revealing section of a perceptive book by Linda Jakobson entitled A Million Truths: A Decade in China (pp. 175-177), which shows how people from different parts of China often don't really understand each other.  That includes people who are supposedly speaking different varieties of Mandarin.  I know this […]

Um, there's timing information in Switchboard?

We start with a psycholinguistic controversy. On one side, there's Herbert Clark and Jean Fox Tree, "Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking", Cognition 2002. The proposal examined here is that speakers use uh and um to announce that they are initiating what they expect to be a minor (uh), or major (um), delay in […]

Multilingual Jiang Zemin

This is an old video of Jiang Zemin berating a female reporter and defending the right of the central government in Beijing to handpick the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, in this case the first, Tung Chee-hwa. The video, which is an amazing display of Jiang's verbal pyrotechnics, is getting a lot of circulation these […]

A record-setting pangrammatic window

A few months ago, I posted here (and on Slate's Lexicon Valley blog) about @PangramTweets, a bot created by Jesse Sheidlower that combs Twitter for tweets that include all 26 letters of the alphabet. I mentioned that it would be interesting to see if PangramTweets turns up any particularly short "pangrammatic windows," i.e., pangrammatic strings […]

Plural data

Today's xkcd: Mouseover title: "If you want to have more fun at the expense of language pedants, try developing an hypercorrection habit." That should be "…developing another hypercorrection habit", since making data plural in that situation is exactly analogous to using whom in "Whom are you, anyways?"

Translating the Umbrella Revolution

Far from prohibiting translation (see the last item here), the young demonstrators in Hong Kong are offering free translation services for the media and others who may be in need of them. The following photograph was shared on Twitter by Newsweek's Lauren Walker: While I'm not sure I'd fully rely on the guy on the […]


From David Donnell: "Not for nothin'," as the native NY'ers say, but I saw this commercial on the idiot-box tonight and was tickled by the play on words. Surprised to google and discover "half-fast" has been around for some time. But the TV ad still makes me laugh!

Tasteless coffee

From "Signspotting around the world: Funny fails", a "Lonely Planet travel signs" feature of CNN Travel, I have selected an ensemble of four signs to illustrate different types of translation difficulties. The first was spotted in a Beijing cafe: X?láitè k?f?i ????? That would be "X?láitè Coffee", with "X?láitè very much having the look of […]

Must-read for Wednesday afternoon

Josef Fruehwald, "America's Ugliest Accent: Something's ugly alright", Val Systems 10/1/2014.  

Failure not to make payment

From Dick Margulis, for the misnegation files: The source is a Facebook post, which you may or may not be able to read. Another picture of (another copy of?) the sign is here.


This is another one of those posts that I wanted to write long ago (actually almost a year ago), but it got lost in the shuffle until now, when I found it going through my old drafts. It was prompted by an article that Christine Gross-Loh wrote for The Atlantic (October 8, 2013) titled "Why […]

UM / UH in German

We've previously observed a surprisingly consistent pattern of age and gender effects on the relative frequency of filled pauses (or "hesitation sounds") with and without final nasals — what we usually write as "um" and "uh" in American English, or often as "er" and "erm" in British English. Specifically, younger people use the UM form […]

Recent Posting Activity


Posts per Week
Posts on Regator

Related Blogs

Copyright © 2011 Regator, LLC