Blog Profile / Language Log

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:4708
Posts / Week:9.6
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

On the short periods of Trumpian time

On Friday, at a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Donald Trump begrudgingly took questions from Jon Karl of ABC News. Karl asked whether there are indeed recordings of Trump’s conversations with former FBI director James Comey, as Trump once suggested on Twitter. Here is how he replied (emphasis mine): KARL: And you […]

Cantonese is not dead yet

Not by a long shot, judging from several recent articles in the South China Morning Post: “American professor speaks up for Cantonese to preserve Hong Kong’s heritage: Robert Bauer from HKU is writing a Cantonese-English dictionary that...Show More Summary

Implicatures on Capitol Hill

Those of us who teach introductory Linguistics courses owe a special debt to James Comey’s testimony yesterday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. This two-hour exchange offers us a broad and deep source of evocative and consequential real-world examples of the ways that what is said, what is meant, and what is communicated may be different. […]

Don’t forget to pay pay pay pay pay the rent

Recently, signs like this one showed up in the Shanghai subway: Some of the signs stretch along corridors for tens of feet and have the same character repeated dozens of times.  You can see photographs of them in this article. The sign in the photograph above says: Z?fáng fù fù fù fù fù fù fù […]

“This is a whole new life for me now”

Following up on yesterday’s post about Rona Barrett’s 10/6/1980 interview with Donald Trump, here’s a sample from Lesley Stahl’s 12/13/2016 interview: Your browser does not support the audio element. LesleyStahl: well congratulations...Show More Summary

Four candles for Ronnie Corbett

The long-planned memorial service for Ronnie Corbett (he died March 31, 2016, a year after contracting Lou Gehrig’s disease) was held a couple of days ago in Westminster Abbey, an honor reserved for only the most important figures in British life. At the front of the church was the famous armchair in which he always […]

“I think it’s a very mean life”

Rona Barrett interviews Donald Trump in 1980: This is one of 55 interviews with Donald Trump, between 1980 and 2017, that I’ve found on youtube or vimeo. I’m planning to look at the evolution of his rhetoric — both content and performance — over the years. This is the first installment. Your browser does not […]

Sorry, my Chinese is not so good

Music video by a trio of English musicians singing about learning Chinese: The video begins with some playful banter between a cook in a dumpling shop and one of the musicians.  They both adopt the faux foreign Mandarin accent described here: “‘Ni hao’ for foreigners” (10/11/16) Cf. “‘Have a good day!’ in Mandarin” (9/5/12) That […]

“Donald” in Scottish Gaelic

A one-second audio of “Dòmhnall”. It’s the that nasalizes the vowel. Supposedly this nasalizing effect is still found in some Irish Gaelic. If you have 4 minutes, a great animation of a folktale in Nova Scotia Gaelic with a main character named “Dòmhnall”. Very peculiar sounding! The English of the story: There once was […]

Yet again on the mystery of the national spelling bee

This year’s champion, Ananya Vinay, is a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Fresno, California.  The runner-up, Rohan Rajeev, is a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Edmond, Oklahoma.  One of the co-champions from last year, Nihar Janga of Austin, Texas, was 11 and the other, Jairam Hathwar, of Painted Post, N.Y., was 13. Speaking of youthfulness, this year home-schooled Edith […]

Blizzard Challenge: Listeners wanted

From Simon King: We need your help with the Blizzard Challenge listening test for 2017. Please take part yourself, and encourage your colleagues and students too. Feel free to forward this message to your local mailing lists. Speech Experts (you decide if you are one!) take part here. Everyone else, do it here. It’s a […]

Coral reef, dead or alive

June Teufel Dreyer noticed that the People’s Daily and other official outlets refer to Okinotori as a ji?o ?, reef, which fits her understanding of the geology involved.  The Japanese, hoping for a larger Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), say it is an island. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) definition […]

Another misunderestimation

Devin Henry, “Globe heaps scorn on Trump for Paris exit“, The Hill 6/3/2017: “I really think that is the major consequence of today: it’s not about the Paris agreement,” said Christiana Figueres, the former head of the United Nation’s climate change mission.   “I think the real problem today and the real sadness is the […]

Chinese Trumpistas

Their legions grow with each passing day.  This post is about what they are called in Chinese (see below). The Chinese people were fascinated with Trump even before he was sworn in as POTUS: “Year of the cock” (1/4/17) See also the references in the second half of the third post cited below. Now that […]

Ask Language Log: cow evolution in Hong Kong

From Hwa Shi-Hsia: I have a question for Language Log. My sister in Malaysia recently bought an MP3 player with a feature listed as “The fire cow charging”. My father figured out that it meant a transformer or power adapter, but he couldn’t come up with a plausible explanation. An acquaintance from Hong Kong responded […]

A prosodic difference

In “Political sound and silence II” I noted a large difference in measures of speaking rate across the Weekly Addresses of the past three American presidents:  N Speech (sec.) Silence (sec.) Total (sec.) Mean Duration % Speech Words WPM (overall) WPM (excl. silence) Bush 2008  48  8262  1976  10237 213  0.807  24483  166.9  206.9 Obama […]

More covfefe

The covfefe fun continues. My personal favorite is the covfefe recipe: And then there’s  Riane Konc, “Covfefe…For Her“, The New Yorker 6/1/2017: Covfefe is for the flat-earthers. For the woman who doesn’t just believe what she’s told. We salute you, freethinker. We see you on the basketball court, trying to dribble a Frisbee. You’re a […]

Slightly unfair, but funny

Today’s xkcd: And it’s not just maps, of course…

Trends in presidential speaking rate

In a comment on “Political Sound and Silence II“, 5/30/2017, and referencing “Trends in presidential pitch II“, 5/21/2017, unekdoud asked Are there are any trends over the Weekly Addresses for these measures? In particular, is speech...Show More Summary

June 4, 198brew 2.0

Many people have called my attention to this article by Didi Kirsten Tatlow in the New York Times: “A High-Proof Tribute to Tiananmen’s Victims Finds a Way Back to China” (5/30/17) The article begins: It’s a big journey for a little bottle, even one so potent in alcohol and symbolism. The liquor bottle — whose […]

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