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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

Sumptus: Using natural language input to easily track expenses

The best way to stay on a budget is to keep a running log of your expenses; that (and taxation entities like the IRS) is why so many companies require their employees to keep detailed records of exactly what they spend. But many of the expense...

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 […]

BEEP vegetables

Chinglish makes an appearance in the "Translators" segment of HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (10/19): For those who may have missed my old Language Log post, this classic Chinglishism was explained at great length and with many details in "The Etiology and Elaboration of a Flagrant Mistranslation" (12/9/07), with an update and refresher […]

Intelligibility and the language / dialect problem

From Anschel Schaffer-Cohen: I'm an avid Language Log reader, and as an amateur student of language politics I'm always fascinated by your discussions of language vs. dialect vs. topolect, and the role played by mutual intelligibility. As such, I was fascinated to see this quote show up in my Facebook newsfeed: From the last sentence […]

Trending in the Media: Um, not exactly…

I like journalists, really I do. But sometimes they make it hard for me to maintain my positive attitude. The recent flurry of U.K. media uptake of Language Log posts on UM and UH provides some examples of this stress and strain. Here's Stuart Jeffries, "Um or er: which do you, um, use more in, […]

Duolingo's iOS 8 update brings interactive notifications and widgets

Duolingo, the popular language learning app, has just been updated for the iPhone and iPad with full support for iOS 8 along with a number of new features. Here is the full change log for the 4.1.0 update: Fresh and clean for iOS 8. Coach is never far from you. Show More Summary

Fan-fold ticket stock nerdview

We have not discussed any examples of nerdview on Language Log for a while. But Bob Ladd told me of one the other day. He was at the Edinburgh Airport dropping someone off, and pulled up next to the ticket dispensing machine for the short-stay car park. He pushed the button, but no ticket appeared. […]

The second life of a Language Log comment

More than four years ago, on Aug. 23, 2010, Doctor Science left the following comment on a post by Mark Liberman, "Cell phone cupertinos": I'm pretty sure I saw something several years ago about a whole dialect (argot? jargon? slang?) that had developed among young people in Japan (or possibly some other Asian country), based […]

Have We Reached Peak Kevin?

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

ER and ERM in the spoken BNC

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 […]

"Cladly dressed."

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

No dawn for ape-language theory

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 […]

Dead and alive: metaphors for (dis)obeying the law

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 […]

Trip Trak Free 1.1.0 Updated to include Spanish language-driving log

5 months agoMobile / Mobile Apps : AppCraver

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.

Beat of the person awarded

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 […]

Machine translation of Literary Sinitic

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 […]

Spelling bee champs

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 […]

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