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Blog Profile / Language Log

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:4260
Posts / Week:13.3
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Lake Bell and Jackie Kennedy

I was a guest yesterday on Radio Times ("What language says about who we are and where we live", 3/6/2014), and the host, Mary Moss-Coane, brought up the movie In a World, and Lake Bell's assertion that "There is a vocal plague going on that I call the sexy baby plague, where very smart women […]

WHO: 5 percent of calories should be from sugar

Even though I've been reading that headline on my portal page for 3 days now and know what it's really supposed to be saying, I still can't read it the way they intended. The first sentence of the actual article: The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5 percent of […]

Steering through the non-grasping power mongrels

Michael Janda, "Gina Rinehart takes aim at Austalia's 'entitlement' mentality, points to Thatcher", 3/7/2014: Billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart has attacked Australia's entitlement mentality and called on the nation's leaders to emulate former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. [...]Show More Summary

What're Ukraine About?

From The punch line:

Transcriptional and hybrid words in Mandarin

Like all languages, Mandarin and other Sinitic tongues have borrowed and coined words throughout their history.  But it would seem that the pace and nature of the current changes in Chinese usage are of such extraordinary amplitude that an unprecedented transformation is occurring, one that may be marked not merely by differences in quantity and […]

No more Hong Kong, no more Tibet

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has begun to refer to Hong Kong as Xianggang, the Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) pronunciation of the name. The above screen shot is from the Facebook group "Hong Kong & China NOT the SAME ?????". Needless to say, not only are the people of Hong Kong unamused by this attempt on the […]

Not So Fast with the Funny Fading Dialect Stuff

This is a guest post by Josef Fruehwald, commenting on Daniel Nester, "The Sound of Philadelphia Fades Out", NYT 3/1/2014. I might live in Edinburgh, Scotland now, but I haven’t exactly left Philadelphia yet. When I moved here this past September, it was the first time in my life I ever lived outside the city […]

Antonin and Beppe

Victor Steinbok sends in an example of pan-European taboo avoidance at the BBC ("Profile: Beppe Grillo", BBC News Europe 2/26/2013): Time magazine chose him as a "European Hero" that year, saying he used "over-the-top humour to probe the serious social issues that leaders don't want to touch".   In 2007 he organised "V-Day" – the […]

"Wicked" as an intensifier

From today's Questionable Content: The context:


Today's Dilbert: Holacracy hasn't yet had its Word Induction Ceremony at the OED, nor at any other dictionary I can find. Even the urban dictionary is still ignorant of this coinage. However, it has a website, ("Purposeful organization through social technology"), which offers a TEDx presentation, as well as a link to GlassFrog™ Holacracy […]

Guide for Authors, Editors, Printers, and Loch Fishers

In the tradition of other recent examples of amusingly crossed bibliographical wires, Google Books has F. Howard Collins, Authors' and Printers' Dictionary- A Guide for Authors, Editors, Printers, Correctors of the Press, Compositors and Typists, linked somehow with a very different work: The preface, as reproduced on the Google Books page: PREFACE. THE Author of […]

How a 40% decrease in X can be a 6% increase in non-X

And also, how 35% of the population can be above the 95th percentile…. Razib Khan, "The Obesity Rate for Children Has Not Plummeted (Despite what the New York Times tell you)", Slate 2/28/2014: Common sense tells you that if you run enough trials, by chance, you will occasionally get an unexpected outcome. When scientists deem […]

"Impossible to understate" again

MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews 2/26/2014: It's been uh nearly impossible to understate the far right's hatred of President Obama's health care law. Among our dozens of posts on misnegation — the confusions arising from our poor monkey brain's inability to deal with combinations of negations, modals, and scalar expressions — there are a dozen […]

Scholar-hegemons in China

In "Nerd, geek, PK: Creeping Romanization (and Englishization), part 2" and other Language Log posts, we have delved into the terminology for nerddom.  In the course of our discussions, we seem to have arrived at a consensus that it's difficult to find a Chinese term that conveys well the notion and nuances of the English […]

Seeing past the moment

Today's Zits: Anthony Clayden writes: It makes no sense to me (BrEng, and just old enough to be Jeremy's grandfather — supposing he really has been 16 years old all this time). Google doesn't enlighten me. (A lyric from a band Lordchain??) Is this some idiom that has passed me by? (Pierce seems to understand […]


What do the following phrases or sayings have in common? first-year experience fast-track MBA be the difference cure violence student life students with diabetes one course at a time touched by a nurse we're conquering cancer working toward a world without cancer imagination beyond measure tomorrow starts here The surprising answer is (as revealed in […]

Erdogan's phone conversations

Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has been the prime minister of Turkey for 11 years. On Monday, someone posted on YouTube what purports to be recordings of a series of phone conversations between Erdo?an and his son, discussing how to hide a billion dollars or so in cash: "Ba?çalan Erdo?an'?n Yalanlar?n?n ve Yolsuzluklar?n?n Kayd?"= "Recording of Erdogan's lying and corruption". A […]

Eighty-one Cantonese proverbs in one picture

From the "Cantonese Resources" blog: Ah To ??, a graphic designer and part-time cartoonist who is concerned about the survival of Cantonese in Canton and Hong Kong, has just published a comic called "The Great Canton and Hong Kong Proverbs" on Hong Kong independent media "Passion Times". (Click to embiggen.) From this Breughelian painting and […]

Sushi in Sochi

David Craig sent in this picture which showed up on the Facebook Armchair Linguists page; no one seems to know what it means: First of all, many people who saw this didn't know whether it was Chinese or Japanese, nor whether it read from right to left or from left to right. They also didn't […]

Your morning dose of surrealism

Another evocative juxtaposition from MedPage: Next week: Medical Marijuana and Killer Sex. Earlier hits: Obamacare Organ Harvesting, The U.S. Budget and Richard III's genome, …

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