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Blog Profile / Literal Minded


URL :http://literalminded.wordpress.com/
Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:440
Posts / Week:1.3
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Changing History

So, about that news-related idea for a post that my mother had last week… Another of the reporters talking about the Kennedy assassination said something along the lines of: Fifty years ago today, Lee Harvey Oswald changed history. Mom’s observation (eagerly seconded by Dad): No, he didn’t. You can’t change history unless you have a […]

A Handful of Language Links

Learn to read Korean in 15 minutes, in comic form, by Ryan Estrada. (Hat tip to All Things Linguistic.) Written by psycholinguist Jessica Love, Psycho-Babble is the Thursday flavor of the Daily Scholar column, which is part of Phi Beta Kappa’s online magazine American Scholar. In what I take to be a misguided attempt to […]

Adverbial Nouns in the News

Listening to the various news stories observing the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I heard one reporter talking about a commemoration going on in Dallas. She said, The ceremonies will take place at the very location he was killed. In my grammar, location doesn’t work this way. I can say either […]

Conditional Imperfection

“Rocco was doing it again today,” Adam told Doug at supper one night. His classmate Rocco has a habit of making contrarian claims, seemingly just for the purpose of arguing about them. “He was saying that Jews can be atheists.” Maybe Rocco had some kind of idea that an atheist Jew would be something like […]

All of Which

Last week was the last football game of the season for Doug’s high school. As such, it was “senior night,” when the seniors on the football team received a pre-game recognition. As I looked on, I heard the announcer say …our senior players, all of which are donning their uniform for the final time tonight. […]

Trick or Trunk or Treat

Two years ago, I wrote about the history of the phrase trick or treat. This year, I’ve become aware of a new variant on trick-or-treating. The online version of the Philadelphia Inquirer summed up the concept in an article last week: Trunk-or-treat — the All Hallows’ Eve version of tailgating — appears to be increasing […]

Bibbers

One day in August, I picked up Doug and a couple of his friends from band rehearsal (remember Ken and Holt?). It was a special day, because after a couple of weeks of anticipation, the band members’ bibbers had come in. Doug, Holt, and Ken were each carrying a plastic bag with a folded black […]

We and They

I was asking Doug about his classes a couple of weeks ago, and a little tingle of anticipation went up my spine when he told me that in English class that day, his teacher had been talking about grammar. Yes! It was about time for some grammar, after all that business with their summer reading […]

Wet Hornets

Last Saturday morning, I drove out to pick up Adam from a sleepover at his friend R.J.’s house. It’s just inside the Columbus city limits, at the end of a dead-end street. I parked on the street, and as I got out of the van, there it was. Among the honeysuckle and poison ivy, tipped […]

Bradbury RNW

I heard a snippet from the beginning of the above video on NPR a few days ago, which consisted of this line: They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang […]

Three Off-Blog Pieces

In this post from January, I mentioned a secret project in which I had been called upon to distinguish adjective-participles from verb-participles. That same project also inspired my next post, in which I explained how to distinguish adjectives, present participles, and gerunds. Well, the secret project isn’t secret anymore. It was some part-of-speech consultation work […]

Sublime

“What’re you listening to, Holt?” Ken asked as Holt climbed into the back of the van. Longtime readers may remember Doug’s friend Holt from this one post back in 2008. You may also remember Ken, who once told Doug “I’ma kill you!” and played the straight man in Doug’s impromptu bit of lunchroom comedy involving […]

Before You Drink That

As Adam was getting the DVD cued up and the subtitles turned on, I saw Doug walk in with his movie snacks: a bowl of chips and a tall glass of milk. A tall glass of milk! I had to speak up, fast: Hey, Doug, before you drink that milk, you want to go for […]

Old Pictures, Naked Pictures

As those of you who follow me on Twitter may have gathered, I have a gig for the next week and a half as one of the PA announcers at the Ohio State Fair. In all my years in Ohio, I have never been to the State Fair until yesterday, and after one day, I’ve […]

Review: Talking Hands

Margalit Fox, who writes obituaries for the New York Times, accompanied a team of linguists about 10 years ago to visit a remote “signing village” somewhere in Israel, where many of the inhabitants were hereditarily deaf, and most of them (i.e., many hearing people as well as deaf) regularly used an as-yet undocumented homegrown sign […]

What’s Happening with Because?

My brother Glen send me a link to this article on the best Disney Pixar movies as rated by children. He’d noticed something about the kids’language, and was wondering if I would notice it, too. I did. It had to do with their use of because. Here are all the children’s comments that used because: […]

Gay or Shtraight?

One of my posts from 2011 has been gathering some new comments recently, and not spam comments, either. The post was about the pronunciation of “str” clusters as [?tr], and a reader named Andrew Leitch left this comment earlier this week: I first noticed it when my sister in law returned to Canada from grad […]

Headless Aviators

I didn’t even know “aviator sunglasses” were a recognized type of sunglasses, but apparently they are, and so much so that the full compound aviator sunglasses has become the headless compound aviators. My discovery of this was a bit startling, because it didn’t happen simply by me hearing someone talking about wearing aviators. Instead, when […]

How Bad Girls Get

Last night I got to meet Bill Walsh, the Washington Post copy editor and book author, whom I’ve mentioned in several blog posts. He was in town promoting his latest book, Yes, I Could Care Less, and had a reading and Q&A session at the home of his colleague Mark Allen. During the talk, Walsh […]

Only One Cause

“Whoa, Dad,” Doug said, turning away from his online summer English class. “Ambiguity strikes!” Of course, I couldn’t ignore that. I went over to check out his computer monitor. As it turned out, he was right. Here was the question from the quiz in the unit on “Plot”: “Effects do not occur within a bubble”? […]

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