In the Guardian today, Paula Cocozza writes about her effort to hunt down the origin of the phrase "peak X." She turned to linguist Mark Liberman, who runs the Language Log blog, but he says it's a hard idiom to track: There is some good news, though. Show More Summary
From John Coleman: Inspired by your recent Language Log pieces, I tried an analysis of "er" vs "erm" in the Spoken BNC. These are the two main transcriptions for filled pauses labelled as "UNC" in the Claws-5 tagset and also "UNC" in the richer set of pos labels used in BNC. I.e. they are distinguished […]
A strange new phrase has appeared on the language landscape, and it's funny because it's so clearly wrong, and yet it's so easy to understand where it came from and what it means. As Language Log says: "Presumably it's a garbled memory...Show More Summary
As you know, I serve Language Log as occasional film reviewer. I reported on Rise of the Planet of the Apes when it came out (see "Caesar and the power of No", August 14, 2011). So I naturally went to see the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to report on the way […]
Many Language Log readers are probably aware of the food scandal at OSI in Shanghai, the implications of which have spread throughout much of East Asia, to parts of Southeast Asia, and even beyond, wherever shipments of Chinese meat products have reached. In reporting this, CNBC made the following point: "The rules are dead, and […]
Ron Boyd Design today is pleased to announce the latest update of Trip Trak, an app for iPhone and iPod touch that makes it easy to record and store mileage and more. Users can now use in Spanish language.Trip Trak also records routes traveled, expenses, and gives turn by turn driving directions all in one place.
Steven Marzuola writes: I am a technical translator and amateur linguist, and Language Log is part of my regular reading. So is reddit, and tonight it led me to this link, which is a set of pictures taken by a young couple living in China. They're all interesting, but the one I wanted you to […]
Here on Language Log, we've often talked about the great difference between Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) and the various other Sinitic languages (e.g., Cantonese, Taiwanese, Shanghainese, etc.). The gap between Classical Chinese and all modern Sinitic languages is even greater than that between MSM and the other modern forms of Sinitic. It is like the […]
We have often discussed spelling bees and related phenomena on Language Log, e.g.: "Spelling bees and character amnesia" "Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia" "Of toads, modernization, and simplified characters" Especially in the first post cited above, we have noticed the amazing domination of students of Indian descent in spelling bees. Even though we […]
Commenting on Facebook about Ben Zimmer's Language Log post on the Iraqi "Paul is dead" buffet sign, Anne Erdmann shared this buffet sign from China: The Chinese says zh?ng t?ch?n ???, for which Google Translate gives "steamed native", while Bing Translator gives "steam products" and Baidu Fanyi gives "steamed products". But what could zh?ng t?ch?n […]
(NSFW: Language) A mercenary company’s accountant looks at the video log of a missing rookie. Ferand Peek’s riveting short plays like a series pilot. More please! Pay what you want for a 1080p stream or download here.
From M.S., we learn that Gary Marcus has joined Lila Gleitman, Chris Matthews, Mark Aronoff, and many others: Language Log may not need another example, but Gary Marcus' book The Birth of the Mind contains this sentence at the top of page 128: “Whether language is a medium for thought or just for communication, its importance in […]
Over at Lingua Franca, fellow Language Log author Geoffrey Pullum has an excellent article entitled "There Was No Committee". Here's a key paragraph: Some people talk as if Mandarin Chinese was gaining on English. It is not, and it never will. A Tamil-speaking computer scientist explaining an algorithm to a Hungarian scientist at a Japanese-organized […]
Email from D.D.: After reading an article in The Economist about Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists on my subway to work today, I asked an Oxford-educated Nigerian co-worker a question: if people from Nigeria are call Nigerians, what are people from the nation of Niger, to the north, called? The guy was stumped! Wow. (I have […]
Language Log embarrasses The Wall Street Journal (European edition) by pointing at this headline which has 2 bad spelling errors:"Prosector to Oscar Pistorius: 'You're Version's a Lie'"! (By the way, I think Language Log has a punctuation...Show More Summary
Jonathan Marballi explains how we developed a lightweight, flexible and useful logger class for our back end PHP framework.
Sometimes I look at the informed and insightful comments below Mark Liberman's technical posts here on Language Log, and I find myself thinking: These people are smart, and their wisdom enhances the value of our site. Maybe I should try opening comments again myself. But then something awful happens to convince me never to click […]
A Language Log reader in Hong Kong sent in the following photograph: Cantonese: 20?????????????????? Ji6 sap6 seoi3 gei3 nei5 zou6 gan2 me1? Toi4 wan1 daai6 hok6 sang1 zim3 ling5 gan2 lap6 faat3 jyun2. Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM) translation: 20??????????????????? Èrshí suì de n? zài zuò shénme? Táiwàn dàxuésh?ng zài zhànl?ng lìf?yuàn. English: "What is 20-year-old […]
Today's Zits: This strip, not for the first time, presupposes the stereotype that women talk a lot and men don't listen. If you believe that, you haven't been following Language Log, and you must not listen to much talk radio…
You would be wrong if you thought Language Log hadn't taken note of the beautician in Blackpool, UK, who unwisely ventured into the geopolitical realm with this tweet: You are also wrong if you think Language Log has decided what comment it could possibly make about an quasi-eggcorn this plangent (quasi- because "barraco" and "barner" […]