Blog Profile / Language Hat

Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:2673
Posts / Week:5.2
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive


One of the pleasures of my editing work is that it occasionally introduces me to new words, and I’ve just run into one such: kriging. It’s a statistical term, equivalent to Gaussian process regression (whatever that is, and don’t bother trying to explain it to me because even if I understood it at the moment […]

Being Wrong about Sámi.

The last page of the TLS is the cheeky “NB” section, which discusses things like recent used-book purchases and mentions of the TLS in novels, movies, and the like. I generally enjoy it, but this bit from the Feb. 12, 2016 issue made me grind my teeth: Lesser-used languages of Europe, an occasional series. Niillas […]


Stephen Halliwell’s TLS review of Prosopography of Greek Rhetors and Sophists of the Roman Empire, edited by Pawe? Janiszewski, Krystyna Stebnicka, and Elzbieta Szabat, starts with two paragraphs explaining the term “sophist” that I thought were useful (and entertaining) enough to post here: In his extraordinary work On the Death of Peregrinus, which recounts with […]

Zhitkov and the Modernist Novel.

I’m finally reading Boris Zhitkov‘s ?????? ????? (Viktor Vavich), and my thoughts on reading the opening paragraphs were as follows, in this order: “No wonder Pasternak liked it; this is a modernist novel; this guy has definitely read Bely.” Here is the opening (my translation, then the Russian): The sunny day poured across the city. […]

Linguistic Olfaction.

Josh Gabbatiss reports for The Independent on a study, “Hunter-Gatherer Olfaction Is Special” by Asifa Majid and Nicole Kruspe in Current Biology, in which (to quote the subhead) “Scientists use languages of indigenous groups to understand their sensory perception of the world”: Hunter-gatherers who live off the land in the forests of Malaysia are far […]


The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has put out a press release summarized in the subhead thus: “DNA analysis of present-day populations in the Chachapoyas region of Peru indicates that the original inhabitants were not uprooted en masse by the Inca Empire’s expansion into this area hundreds of years ago.” As […]

Notes from Underground.

I must have read Dostoevsky’s novella Notes from Underground in college (in English), since bits of it seemed familiar as I was reading it in Russian, but I’d essentially forgotten it, and god knows what I might have made of it back then, with my ignorance of Russian literature (not to mention of life itself). […]

Apostrophe Catastrophe in Kazakhstan.

Andrew Higgins reports for the NY Times on a linguistic development currently roiling Kazakhstan: ALMATY, Kazakhstan — In his 26 years as Kazakhstan’s first and only president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev has managed to keep a resurgent Russia at bay and navigate the treacherous geopolitical waters around Moscow, Beijing and Washington, keeping on good terms with […]

Appalled and Aghast.

David Crystal writes for the Guardian about a phenomenon he’s noticed (and has written a new book about): When I used to present programmes on English usage on Radio 4, people would write in and complain about the pronunciations they didn’t like. In their hundreds. (Nobody ever wrote in to praise the pronunciations they did […]

Uwe Bläsing, the Scholar.

Stefan Georg’s “Uwe Bläsing, the Scholar” (Iran and the Caucasus 19 [2015] 3-7) describes a remarkable man; the first paragraph nearly made me run around the house cackling with joy: Uwe Bläsing’s scholarly work can easily be described as spanning more academic fields than most of us are following as regular readers, let alone are […]

Losing Patuá.

Matthew Keegan writes for the Guardian about a blended language used in Macau, and its dwindling number of speakers: ‘Nowadays, nobody speaks much Patuá. Only the old people speak Patuá,” declares 102-year-old Aida de Jesus as she sits across the table from her daughter inside Riquexo, the small Macanese restaurant that remarkably, despite her grand […]

The Turk.

From this Wordorigins thread I learned of a great bit of sports jargon I had not been familiar with: in football, to get a visit from the Turk is to be let go, “because the Turk is the guy who gets sent to tell a player he has been cut from the team, usually quietly/privately […]

New New York Times.

Simple but brilliant: this Twitter feed automatically posts any word that the NY Times uses for the first time. Latest entry: kilimologist (if you click on the word, you get the contest, in this case “Batki is a self-proclaimed kilimologist, an expert in old weavin…”). You also get the occasional typo (“attacthed”), which is fun […]

The Rise of Doggo.

Andrea Valdez has a nice write-up for Wired about a modish word that makes people smile: The only way to explain the reaction to Merriam-Webster’s year-end announcement that “doggo” was one of the dictionary’s “Words We’re Watching” is to use another colloquialism: Twitter lost its damn mind. It wasn’t the first time Merriam, the hippest […]

Making Sense of Urban Dictionary.

I presume we’ve all used Urban Dictionary from time to time and been both enlightened (so that’s how the kids are talking today!) and amused (beer: “Possibly the best thing ever to be invented ever. I MEAN IT.”). I always vaguely wondered how useful it was from a scientific point of view, and now I […]

Our American Poets.

Allan Metcalf describes part of the furnishing of a house he lived in as a graduate student in English in the early ’60s: In a hallway that I walked through several times a day hung a wood-framed glass-fronted collection of photographs of six distinguished-looking people. And though they were mainly looking at each other — […]

More Demonyms.

Commenter cliff anderson left a comment on this LH post linking to his own post My Favorite Demonyms, and I liked it so much I’m featuring it here. “Utah – Utahn” is pretty well known, but what about these? St Kitts & Nevis – Kittitian / Nevesian Botswana – Motswana Burundi – Umurundi Lesotho – […]

Wilson on Homeric Wordplay.

Emily Wilson, whose translation of the Odyssey I posted about here, has a Twitter thread beginning: Here’s another major issues for all translators, not just of ancient Greek: what to do about wordplay, including puns. Take these lines from the Odyssey: ???? ????? ?? ??? ?????: ???? ??? ?? ????????? ???????? ??????????, ????? ?? ????????? […]

Joint Speech.

Joint Speech is a site providing “Resources for the study of joint speech,” notably a new book: Cummins, Fred (2018) The Ground From Which We Speak: Joint speech and the collective subject is a book exploring the topic of joint speech published online here. The book is available in two formats. Large is suited to […]


Back in mid-November, Nick Nicholas of ???????????????? began a fascinating series of posts about Kaliarda (?????????): I’ve namechecked Kaliarda, the gay Greek cant, several times on this blog. There is still a dearth of English-language information on Kaliarda; and since this blog is about making Greek linguistics more googlable in English, I’m going to attempt […]

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