Trend Results : Geoff Pullum

Blog Post Results (1-20 of 62)


On when listening is better than talking: A call for contemplation and empathy

The following is a reply from Emily M. Bender, Natasha Warner and myself to Geoff Pullum’s recent posts (A letter saying they won, 12/4/2017; Courtesy and personal pronoun choice, 12/6/2017). Respected senior linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum recently used the widely-read platform of Language Log to remark on the fact that his grammatical tolerance of singular […]

If you can't say something nice…

This is a guest post by Kirby Conrod. I'm sorry to see that the venerable Geoff Pullum is so desperately behind the times. I don't mean to be snarky, I genuinely am sad about it. It's not just a matter of being un-hip to the cool new language change in progress (singular "they" is making […]

Linguistic tools for the supervillain

In celebration of Geoff Pullum's 700th LLOG post, "World domination and threats to the public", we'll be meeting for a quiet (virtual) drink this evening. But meanwhile I'll quietly suggest that Geoff has been too hasty in joining Randall Munroe at xkcd in assigning to the field of Linguistics a "low likelihood of being a […]

Too cool to care

Today's xkcd: Mouseover title: "It's hard to train deep learning algorithms when most of the positive feedback they get is sarcastic." See also Geoff Pullum, "Robots gossiping in a secret language?", Lingua Franca 8/7/2017. In fact, I suspect that Microsoft Research might be making some progress on the "too cool to care" algorithm. Thursday and […]

Unmasking Slurs

I'm sympathetic to many of the arguments offered in a guest post by Robert Henderson, Peter Klecha, and Eric McCready (HK&M) in response to Geoff Pullum's post on "nigger in the woodpile," no doubt because they are sympathetic to some of the things I said in my reply to Geoff. But I have to object […]

Response to Pullum on slurs

This is a guest post by Robert Henderson, Peter Klecha, and Eric McCready in response to Geoff Pullum's post of July 10. My only role was offering in advance to post a reply if the authors would like me to. I'm a good friend of Geoff Pullum and a friend of the authors. What follows […]

Polysemous Pejoratives

Geoff Pullum suggests that the flap over an MP’s use of nigger in the woodpile is overdone: Anne Marie Morris, the very successful Conservative MP for Newton Abbot in the southwestern county of Devon, did not call anyone a nigger.… Ms. Morris used a fixed phrase with its idiomatic meaning, and it contained a word which, […]

The N-word Yet Again

The following is a guest post by Tony Thorne of King's College London, originally appearing on his blog. It provides an alternative view to that expressed by Geoff Pullum in his post, "Tory uses N-word… not." On July 10 Samir Dathi tweeted: "Anne Marie Morris suspended for using N-word. Good. But why is someone who […]

Becoming a modifier

In an update to his post "Becoming an adjective", Geoff Pullum notes that the existence of name-derived adjectives like Shakespearean and Kafkaesque might have been what "Jane Jacobs … is an adjective" was meant to mean. But he doesn't also note that there are at least two semantic domains where it's long been common to use […]

Active agent avoidance

In a long list of LLOG posts over the years, we've observed the widespread (and false) folk-linguistic view that the grammatical term passive means "vague about agency". (You can learn what it really means from Geoff Pullum's 2011 post "The passive in English".) This confusion arises partly because passive verbs can sometimes be used to […]

The over/under on linguistic discovery

Geoff Pullum, "The world's greatest grammarian", Chronicle of Higher Education 4/3/2017 [emphasis added]: We mostly did 11-hour days, starting as soon after 7 a.m. as we could and working till 6 p.m., breaking for a short lunch at 1 p.m. to discuss the morning’s work. Virtually every day we would find over our sandwiches that […]

On Dropping Apostrophes.

Geoff Pullum has a typically witty and provocative post about the CIA report-writing style guide, Style Manual and Writers Guide for Intelligence Publications. There’s other stuff of interest (for instance, the CIA uses the Oxford comma), but what I want to highlight here is this passage: Before I go on, though, I wonder if you […]

My first post on Language Log

As hinted yesterday, I have joined the Language Log juggernaut (thanks to Mark Liberman and Geoff Pullum for recruiting me). Here’s my first post: Justice Breyer, Professor Austin, and the Meaning of ‘Any’.

An Ill Wind.

Geoff Pullum has been investigating the origins of the witticism that the oboe is “an ill wind that nobody blows good”; having chuckled at it repeatedly myself over the years (in an earlier post Geoff calls it “one of the funniest quotations I’ve ever studied”), I was extremely interested in his findings. He enlisted the […]

Trump's debate denials

As Geoff Pullum noted, in last night's presidential debate, many of Trump's interruptions of Clinton (or shall we say his "manterruptions") involved on-the-fly denials of what Clinton was saying. Geoff describes one such denial: "'Not!' he snapped at one point while she was talking, like a 9-year-old." Let's go to the transcript: CLINTON: Well, Donald, I […]

Internecine strife at Language Log?

Are we seeing the first signs of discord at Language Log Plaza? Mark Liberman seems to be flatly rebutting Geoff Pullum's "no structure at all" remark about what he calls "Trump's aphasia." Mark maintains that Trump's speaking style is no different in kind from any other human's spontaneous speech, even crediting him with "eloquence." Geoff, […]

It begins.

Geoff Pullum to me: What the hell is going on with all the years except 1920 being labeled "11 PM"? [link] Me to Geoff Pullum: You mean on the x axis? I'm not seeing it — must be a special feature for Scottish readers. Geoff Pullum to me: Yep.   1920  11 PM  11 PM […]

Which is worse?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post with with the title "English or Mandarin as the World Language?" (5/2/14).  The purpose of that post was basically to call attention to Geoff Pullum's fine Lingua Franca article titled "There Was No Committee" (4/30/14).  It was all about English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) […]

Trump's eloquence

Geoff Pullum uses terms like "aphasia", and phrases like "I don't think there's any structure in there", in describing a quoted passage from Donald Trump's 7/21/2015 speech in Sun City SC. But in my opinion, he's been misled by a notorious problem: the apparent incoherence of much transcribed extemporized speech, even when the same material […]

Moar Verbs

A couple of days ago, Geoff Pullum noted that William Zinsser's On Writing Well echoes the Strunkish advice that "Most adverbs are unnecessary" and "Most adjectives are also unnecessary" ("Awful book, so I bought it", 3/21/2015). I share Geoff's skepticism about this anti-modifier animus, and indeed about all writing advice based on parts of speech. But it […]

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