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IDGI: Pre-Natal Wifi?

So far the Language Log folks at UPenn have not found an explanation for why the pregnant lady graphic on this Korean train priority seating plaque has wifi. Though I wouldn't be surprised if Korean signmakers expect every fetus to be taking in utero cram courses to prep for their preschool exams. Pre-Natal Wi-Fi []

Jackie Chan Campus Station

As Language Log readers are well aware, Jackie Chan recently became super famous for the amazing bounciness of his hair and the mystical syllable he proclaimed in self-admiration: "Duang " (3/1/15) and "More on 'duang'"  (3/19). Now we find that he has a bus stop named after him: Computerized translation fail at Sichuan Normal University campus bus stop […]

Ask Language Log: hippocampus

Via Jason Schrock on Twitter… Hey @LanguageLog check it out — jason (@jason_schrock) April 2, 2015 h?im? ?? ("seahorse") So where does the "Hippocampus" on the pictured language learning card come from? That's the scientific genus name for what is commonly known as the "seahorse". It derives from Greek hippos ("horse") and kampos ("sea […]

Awesome foods

Felix Sadeli sent in this list of colossal mistranslations of food names. We've already seen several of these and explained a number of them on Language Log: "Puke " (10/8/10) "Gourmet Chinese cookshop " (1/27/14) — "Soup for Sluts" (in the comments) "Combating the monolithic tree mushroom stem squid " (5/3/10) ("The jew's ear Juice" — […]

John McWhorter responds

Some clarifications about my Wall Street Journal article, which seems to have led to some misunderstandings among Language Log’s readers (as well as over at Languagehat). Since the readers here are the most well-informed audience that piece will ever reach outside of professional linguists, I thought it’d be useful to clarify what I based the […]

Simplification Isn’t Simple.

Victor Mair has a post at the Log about John McWhorter’s Wall Street Journal article “What the World Will Speak in 2115: A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent.” After a fair amount of chitchat, the thread gets quite interesting; I agree with the commenters who say that no matter […]

Happy Birthday in Biaviian?

As a mid-week diversion, let us put this to you. Language Log has been contacted by a producer for the Howard Stern show to provide an expert opinion on a purported song of alien provenance. Here's a recording: What you are hearing is another Sirius XM radio host, Riley Martin, performing what he says is […]

Obama and I, Me, My, You, We, Our

Mark Liberman at Language Log tries to set the record straight -- yet again: Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier: Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015: Count how many times Obama uses...

Travel Language

There is an interesting post on Language Log about the following image.

More bon voyage

Perry C. writes: I hope you've been well. I am an active reader of language log and often notice posts that point to odd phrases. On my way back to Penn, jetblue had a sign at LAX that read "have a more bon voyage." I'm not sure of the meaning that the sign (attached below) […]

Missing woman remains found

From the Hackney Gazette: In some other place and time, perhaps there was a headline "Missing moonshine still discovered". h/t Anton Cox, who wrote: Although I am a big fan of Language Log, I may be too much of a Brit to get much from most of the crash-blossom posts (I never read them the […]

That "moisture dripping wet feeling"

I'm pretty sure this will push some wet buttons among Language Log readers and authors.  Kira Simon-Kennedy found this stellar specimen of Chinglish in a press release from the China-sponsored section of the LA Art Show. The whole thing is pretty lackluster (what else to expect from State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and […]

Since the beginning of history

I have mentioned chinaSMACK before on Language Log, but have never featured it so directly as in this post.  The reason is that this time there's an interesting language aspect to one of their articles that is hard to pass up. chinaSMACK specializes in translating trenchant, amazing stories from the vast amount of traffic that […]

Chinese WOTY 2014

Three years ago, Language Log covered what we referred to as the "Morpheme(s) of the Year" (12/17/11). Two years ago, we advanced to "Chinese character of the year: mèng ? ('dream')" (12/25/12). And last year, we looked at "'Words / Characters of the Year' for 2013 in Taiwan and in China" (12/26/13). Toward the end […]

When puns are outlawed …

Scott Alexander ("Come ye to Bethlinkhem", 12/8/2014) does his best to generate sympathy for the Chinese authorities: China bans puns on the grounds that they may mislead children and defile cultural heritage. Language Log is on the story, and discusses the (extremely plausible) theory that this is part of a crackdown on people who use […]

Technology Brief: Machine Learning on Natural Language Text and Log Data

Skytree, “The Machine Learning Company,” has published a technology brief entitled, “Machine Learning on Natural Language Text and Log Data.” The author of the brief is Nick Pendar, PhD, who serves as NLP Data Scientist for the company. Pendar...Show More Summary

Xi Jinping: "when a car breaks down…"

Via Twitter, Matthew Leavitt asks Language Log what we think of the translation of Xi Jinping's metaphor:  “when a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to step down and see what the problem is.” This was spoken at a news conference during the Beijing summit between President Obama and Chairman Xi and […]

Two Languages in Korea?

I’ve been following the discussion at the Log with great interest, and this long comment by Jongseong Park (all of whose contributions to the thread are well worth reading) is so informative I had to share it here: The literary language in Korea was Classical Chinese until the end of the pre-Modern Era, continuing long […]

Minuum receives largest update yet, brings support for 12 more languages

Third party keyboard "Minuum" has received it's largest update yet today. The update contains support for 12 new languages, fifteen new themes, along with some new advanced customization settings. You can find the full change log below:...Show More Summary

Ben Zimmer: Linguistics Journalism Award

My first thought upon reading the following announcement is that my colleagues and I here at Language Log headquarters hasten to claim Ben as one of ours (he doesn't just belong to the WSJ!): "WSJ's Ben Zimmer receives first LSA Linguistics Journalism Award" Here's the text of the LSA announcement: The Linguistic Society of America […]

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