Trend Results : Mark Liberman

Blog Post Results (1-20 of 115)


Or the arbitrary cat, horse, or pig

I think Mark Liberman may have been concerned that perhaps my post "Pronominal reference to the arbitrary dog" hinted at being tempted toward the Recency Illusion. Not true, of course: even when surprised by some point of usage that I notice, I never conclude I must therefore be the first to have encountered it. On […]


Mark Liberman’s latest Log post features an amazing aspect of Google Translate; watch the brief video and enjoy the comments exploring it. As commenter ???? said, “I think this rabbit hole goes on forever.?”

The History of the Limerick.

I always enjoy limericks and have posted about them before (e.g., here); now, courtesy of Mark Liberman at the Log, I bring you Stephen Goranson’s suggestion as to the origin of the name: Might the English verse form have gotten its Irish name in America? Maybe, maybe not, but consider the entry on Limerick in […]

Rinse thoroughly

As Mark Liberman has often reminded us, when taking things from newspapers you have to be very careful about what to attribute to the person who allegedly said something and what to attribute to the journalist who reported it or the subeditor who futzed with what the journalist turned in. So when we read this […]

That Two-Fisted-Man-Tobacco, Prince Albert.

Mark Liberman at the Log investigates the phrase “up/out the wazoo” and its eggcorn up/out to wazoo; that’s an interesting phenomenon, but what I want to make sure gets the widest possible attention is the splendiferous 1919 tobacco ad he turned up (via OCR error) in his search. It begins “Say, you’ll have a streak […]

My first post on Language Log

As hinted yesterday, I have joined the Language Log juggernaut (thanks to Mark Liberman and Geoff Pullum for recruiting me). Here’s my first post: Justice Breyer, Professor Austin, and the Meaning of ‘Any’.

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, […]

Cunctation for Titivating.

Mark Liberman has a funny post at the Log, quoting “FLM”: A colleague (who has requested anonymity) and I have developed a fondness for perfectly innocuous words which, to the linguistically unwashed masses, sound sexual. My colleague’s example sentence is Because her husband was intestate, she sought to dilate her fungible assets; despite cunctation for […]

Don't be awkward

Mark Liberman's discussion of an absurd modifier placement rule in the Associated Press Style Book reminded me of an ancient and not particularly funny joke based on an offensive stereotype of gay men. I was going to explain on the Chronicle of Higher Education's language blog Lingua Franca a couple of months ago, but to […]

Down with vs. Up for: We have maps

From Jack Grieve, in response to "Up (for) and down (with)", 3/17/2016: By request for Mark Liberman @LanguageLog: "Down with" vs. "Up for"…a rough North vs. South pattern — Jack Grieve (@JWGrieve) March 29, 2016

Allstate in Chinese hands

In "Our hands, your mystification" (3/12/16), Mark Liberman found an English translation of the Chinese version of the iconic Allstate slogan, "You're in good hands with Allstate", in a 2003 Chicago Tribune article, and it comes out as "Turn to our hands to be worry-free." I found the Chinese version of the slogan at several […]


Over a decade ago, Mark Liberman posted at the Log about a garbled account of a “magical sounding gibberish language”; I won’t confuse you with the details, which turned out to be irrelevant, but the upshot was that the actual term was grammelot, which seems to have been invented by Dario Fo. A followup post […]

The Disappearing.

Sorry, that’s a garden-path headline: “disappearing” is not a noun but a verb. The, the definite article, is softly and silently vanishing away. And not only in English, according to Mark Liberman’s Log post: For the past century or so, the commonest word in English has gradually been getting less common. Depending on data source […]

Latin American Spanish Accents.

This Log post by Mark Liberman presents a wonderful video in which Joanna Hausmann exemplifies a bunch of Spanish accents; I can attest that the Argentine one is both hilarious and spot-on, and I have been told by a knowledgeable source that the same is true for the Mexican. Much of the video is in […]

Inuktitut, Inuttut, Inuinnaqtun.

This Log post by Mark Liberman reproduces a letter sent by Helen DeWitt to Kenn Harper, an expert on Inuit dialects, and his response, which is extremely interesting from both a linguistic and political point of view. The reason for the letter was that she wanted to make sure she used the right term for […]

How fake is a fakir?

Q: I tremble as I step on the tracks of the linguist Mark Liberman, whom you cite in your “nor’easter” post, but “faker” as an adjective of degree just doesn’t sound right to me. And it’s not in the dictionary built into my computer. A: We don’t see anything wrong with using “faker” as the... ? Read More: How fake is a fakir?

Favorite dishes from Al’s Place, Picco, AQ and more

Last week, as detailed in Between Meals,  I went to four restaurants and had tasting menus. This week the trend continued at AQ where chef Mark Liberman creates a four course menu for $65. With the way they change the decor every season and with what’s on the menu it really did feel like spring. […]


Over at the Log, Mark Liberman quotes a spiky and suggestive short story by D. Barthelme, “They Called for More Structure.” He does so in the context of an analogy to syntax in machine translation that is neither comprehensible nor interesting to me; what is interesting to me is the punchline of the story, where […]

Um vs. Uh

2 years agoHumor : Neatorama

(Photo: Elvert Barnes) We all do it when we're talking. As we're trying to come up with words to express, we say "um" or "uh." Linguists call these expressions filled pauses. Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, has been studying them for about 10 years. Show More Summary

mark.liberman.121 is not me

Earlier today, someone set up a Facebook account, with a version of my FB profile picture, and began communicating with people as if they were me. My actual FB page is, which I don't use much except to look at things that people tell me about. Show More Summary

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