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"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 […]

Character amnesia redux

This is a topic that we have frequently broached on Language Log: "Character Amnesia" (7/22/10) "Character amnesia revisited" (12/13/12) "Spelling bees and character amnesia" (8/7/13) "Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia"...Show More Summary

Old Sinitic Reconstructions and Tibeto-Burman.

A guest post by Tsu-Lin Mei at the Log describes work he has been doing on Tibeto-Burman cognates and Old Chinese: The work is quite interesting. It involves the internal history of the Tibetan language, internal history of Tibeto-Burman, etc. Some of these areas have been covered by James Matisoff, and others are terra incognita. […]

Ask Language Log: German restaurant-name zum?

From Aaron Powell: I woke last night with a minor bout of food poisoning and spent some time catching up on Language Log to distract myself,and it occurred to me that you might be able to explain a German linguistic phenomenon that I don’t understand.  I have recently moved from the USA to Vienna, Austria […]

Ask Language Log: Sticked/Stuck a landing?

From Charlie Clingen: To stick a landing gone viral since last Friday. But where does it come from and which is right:   "SpaceX finally stuck a sea landing Friday, when the company's first-stage booster glided" (from an online news item) or "SpaceX finally sticked a sea landing Friday…"? I believe that the expression "stick […]


Over at the Log, a guest post by Nathan Hopson describes a really clever use of the Japanese language’s traditions of borrowings and abbreviations: Reading and watching the news in Japanese, I quickly realized that the UN is something of an exception and that the media handle the alphabet soup of international organizations by giving […]

Ask Language Log: Why are some Chinese PDFs garbled on iPad?

Mark Metcalf writes: Since Language Log addresses lots of interesting language-related issues, I was wondering if you'd ever encountered a problem with Chinese PDFs being incorrectly displayed on an iPad. I searched the LL website and didn't find it previously addressed. I also unsuccessfully searched the Web for solutions. Here's the issue: Last week I […]

Ask Language Log: Is this a sentence?

D.M. writes: A discussion on copyediting-l turns on whether one or more of the following are grammatical English sentences. "That smile scares me," she said and swallowed hard. "That smile scares me," she said and backed away. "Anything for you, man," the captain said and extended his hand. I'm in a minority that says they […]

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