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Language Log literally changes your brain

Emily Hopkins, Deena Weisberg, and Jordan Taylor, "The seductive allure is a reductive allure: People prefer scientific explanations that contain logically irrelevant reductive information", Cognition 2016: Previous work has found that...Show More Summary

Speaking Slavic and Turkic.

A guest post at the Log by Peter B. Golden addresses a fascinating issue: to what extent can speakers of Slavic and Turkic languages understand each other? (Within each family, that is.) He describes mixed E. Slavic regional dialects, then continues: When I was a student of Ihor Šev?enko, he presumed that those of us […]

Ask Language Log: why is "inch" a family relationship in Korean?

Katie Odhner asks: I have lately been teaching myself Korean and have become quite interested in Sino-Korean vocabulary. Recently two words in particular caught my attention: samchon ?? ("paternal uncle"), from Chinese s ?n cùn ?? ("three inches"), and sachon ?? ("cousin"), from Chinese sì cùn ?? ("four inches"). I wondered how "three inches" and "four inches" could […]

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, […]

Logtext with Parameters using sqlite3

Using sqlite3 for a multi language log where logdata can contain parameters.

Furigana-like glossing in Mandarin

On Language Log, we have often touched upon the use of furigana ruby to gloss kanji (Chinese characters) for various purposes, most recently in the comments to "Roman-letter Mandarin pronoun of indeterminate gender " (8/9/16). Indeed, the use of furigana in Japanese is a truly interesting mechanism for presenting layers of meaning of a word […]

Ask Language Log: Trend in the pronunciation of Clinton

From David Russinoff: I wonder if you've done, or are aware of, any research relevant to the following observation. In the articulation of a "d" or "t" followed by a schwa, the tongue may or may not leave the alveolar ridge.  (I just did some cursory research on parts of the mouth and hope I […]

"Our poor monkey brains just can't deal with complex combinations of certain logical operators, especially with respect to the logic of contemporary American politics."

Language Log indulges in more analysis than David Frum and The Atlantic deserve for publishing the ludicrous sentence "Many wavering Republicans will come home — even if the home to which they now return has changed in ways that render it almost indistinguishable from the dwelling it used to be."

Microsoft Next Lock Screen app updated with new languages, improved performance and more

Microsoft today updated their Next Lock Screen app for Android devices to v3.6.0. This new update adds support French and Italia languages, improved performance and more. Find the full change log below. What’s New: 1. French and Italia language 2. Lock screen performance improvement when lock/unlock 3. Improves memory usage 4. Fix bug launchpad show quickly after […]

"Enter the Dangal"

Earlier this year, Language Log readers contributed to the elucidation of "South Asian wrestling terms" (3/1/16). Rudraneil Sengupta's researches on this topic have now born fruit in the form of a book titled Enter the Dangal: Travels through India's Wrestling Landscape, which is due out 8/3/16. In it, Rudraneil explores the history and culture of […]

Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 4

The last installment of this series, "Spelling with Chinese character(istic)s, pt. 3" (6/30/16), contains links to many other Language Log posts relevant to this subject. It is often difficult to fathom which English word is intended when it is transcribed in Chinese characters.  John Kieschnick called my attention to an especially challenging one:  ?rlílìj?ng ????.  […]

English-Japanese neologism

Japanese is full of loanwords from English, a phenomenon we have often discussed on Language Log, e.g.: "Too many English loanwords in Japanese?" (7/12/13) Not only does Japanese like to borrow words from English, it is fond of borrowing parts of words and combining them with Japanese morphemes to make hybrid coinages.  It's not always […]

Riot used 'League of Legends' chat logs to spot bad staff

Sadly, bad language and a general lack of respect is an expected and, now, almost accepted part of playing video games online. It's a problem that permeates not just the community around each game, but also the people that are working on them. Show More Summary

What's in a name — Pikachu, Beikaciu, Pikaqiu?

Since I began writing blogs for Language Log around ten years ago, I have never received so many tips on what to write about as I have in response to the furor that has arisen over Nintendo's plan to change the Chinese names for some of the characters in their immensely popular Pokémon (???? < […]

Ask Language Log: why is "whether or not" more frequent?

Ton van der Wouden asks: The Google Ngram viewer shows a tenfold increase in the frequency of the string "whether or not". Can the readers of language log think of any explanation for this growth? Can it perhaps be traced back to some prescriptive source? Is it perhaps accompanied by a comparable decrease of the […]

Singlish: alive and well

We've mentioned that special brand of Singaporean English on Language Log from time to time, most recently just a few days ago: "New Singaporean and Hong Kong terms in the OED" (5/12/16) So what is it, really? Singlish is the English-based creole or patois spoken colloquially in Singapore. Although English is the lexifier language, Singlish […]


Bruce Rusk thought Language Log readers might be interested in a bit of digraphia from Vancouver: an “escape room” company (on this phenomenon, see here), with several locations in Vancouver and its environs, uses the Sinograph ch? ? ("go out / forth; exit") in place of the letter E in its name, “?XIT” (where it […]

Microsoft Arrow Launcher Updated With More Wunderlist Integration

Microsoft today updated their Arrow Launcher in Google Play Store. In this update, they have added some more Wunderlist integration features, support for new languages, and more. Read the full change log below. What’s New: 1. Stronger Wunderlist integration features–all lists are displayed; set reminders. 2. Notification badge counts can now be displayed on the […]

Animal Sounds.

Via Victor Mair at the Log: Here is what claims to be “the world’s biggest multilingual list” of sounds that animals make. It has 58 animal sounds as made in 17 languages. Some of the animals are recorded as making separate sounds for different meanings (e.g., there are 10 different sounds listed for dogs) and […]

Cactus Wawa revisited

One of the most intriguing and enthralling Language Log posts is this one: "cactus wawa: the strange tale of a strange character" (11/1/14) I spent months doing the research for that post and, although it garnered 80 helpful comments, I still felt that there were some loose ends.  Consequently, I was delighted to receive last […]

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