Trend Results : Michael Erard

Blog Post Results (1-20 of 34)


Why Journalism Needs A 'Language Beat'

3 months agoArts : Modern Art Notes

Michael Erard: "Immediately after the election, Masha Gessen... called for a 'language beat' to track the erosions [in the meanings of words in the current climate]. But here's a reality check that I hope isn't merely pedantic: language consists of more than words. This gives the writer interested in politics, language, and the shifting […]

Emojis and Unicode.

Michael Erard (of whom LH has long been a fan, and whose first appearance here in 2003 also concerned Unicode) has written a typically well-informed piece for the New York Times Magazine, “How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets.” He leads off with a timely reference to an obscure […]

Is there a practical limit to how much can fit in Unicode?

A lengthy, important article by Michael Erard recently appeared in the New York Times Magazine: "How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets:  Do the volunteers behind Unicode, whose mission is to bring all human languages into the digital sphere, have enough bandwidth to deal with emojis too?" (10/18/17) The […]

How English Is Changing.

Michael Erard has an Audible Range piece on how English is developing: You might think of English, which is spoken by the largest number of people on the planet, as a mighty, never-ending river, full of life and always churning and changing. If you speak the language, it’s natural to wonder where this river is […]

Erard on Australian Languages.

My favorite reporter on linguistic issues, Michael Erard, has a fine Science piece about recent studies of Australian languages and the controversies they help address; after surveying some of the problems (the members of the hypothetical Pama-Nyungan family have lots of similarities but few cognates), he writes: Now, a new generation of researchers is attacking […]

Michael Erard Wins LSA Award.

Frequent commenter bulbul has alerted me to this LSA announcement: Today, the LSA recognizes five linguists for their work to support endangered languages, promote linguistics to the public, and advance and serve the field of linguistics as a whole. Congratulations to the winners of the following LSA Awards: ? Linguistics, Language and the Public Award: […]

Can You Consciously Design A Metaphor To Change Someone’s Mind?

3 years agoArts : Modern Art Notes

“I’m here to tell you that they can, and are. … They aren’t supposed to make someone remark: ‘That’s beautiful.’ They’re meant to make someone realise that they’ve only been looking at one side of a thing.” Michael Erard (“For five years I worked full-time as a metaphor designer at the FrameWorks Institute, a think […]

Languages of Influence.

Michael Erard, a longtime LH favorite, has a good piece in Science on a paper by Shahar Ronen et al., “Links that speak: the global language network and its association with global fame“: The study was spurred by a conversation about an untranslated book, says Shahar Ronen, a Microsoft program manager whose Massachusetts Institute of […]

The global language network

Michael Erard has a nice discussion in Science magazine of a paper recently published in PNAS: "Want to influence the world? Map reveals the best languages to speak", 12/15/2014. The original paper is Shahar Ronen et al., "Links that speak: the global language network and its association with global fame", PNAS 2014. And there's a […]

The Art of Translation

In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the […]

Schwa Fire

Michael Erard's Schwa Fire is now live: The golden age of language journalism begins now. In this inaugural issue, Arika Okrent tells the story of 5,700 hours of Yiddish recordings that were almost lost ("Ghost Voices"), and Russell Cobb writes about Americans' fondness for the Englishes we used to speak and what that fondness obscures ("The Way […]


Michael Erard is a longtime LH favorite (I wrote about his book Um... in 2007 and Babel No More in 2011), and he's now trying to make a good idea happen, a general-interest magazine about language issues. I'm not quite sure why he decided...Show More Summary

You Wouldn’t Understand

How do American high school cliques get their colorful names? At The Morning News, Michael Erard investigates. Related posts: Joke Science What exactly happens to our brains when we laugh? Richard... Cruel Months Why is it “The Waste Land” and not “The Wasteland?”... Detective Michael Lewis on Goldman Sachs v. Show More Summary


I've posted about Michael Erard's Babel No More, about hyperpolyglots, a couple of times (project, book); now R.L.G. of The Economist has a wonderful interview with a 17-year-old hyperpolyglot, Timothy Doner. The interviewer is knowledgeable...Show More Summary

Rock Band Nomenclature

Michael Erard wonders if all the best band names have been taken: The main driver of the sense that band names are scarcer than they used to be is the central ritual of the naming process itself: typing a name candidate into Google and waiting breathlessly for 100 milliseconds for the verdict. Doing this is [...]

The Disgruntled Small Donor

Michael Erard recounts the big role that small donors have played in political campaigns: For Jimmy Carter, 38 percent of his money came in small donations; it was 40 percent of Gerald Ford’s. Amazingly, it was 60 percent for Ronald...

Quitting Facebook

The first thing I didn’t write about quitting Facebook was a status update to my friends saying, I’m quitting Facebook. – Michael Erard, in a 2011 essay on The Morning News on quitting Facebook

Michael Erard: “Microstyle”: A manifesto for Occupy Language or Occupy English

6 years agoArts : Design Observer

The cipher shared by great poets and the best brand namers is essentially that the littlest things mean the most.

Michael Erard Hosts Language-Spotting Contest

6 years agoMedia / Publishing : GalleyCat

Journalist Michael Erard has just published Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners. Now he’s testing readers’ language-spotting abilities with a video contest. Erard assembled a group of friends who agreed to videotape themselves reading from his book. Show More Summary

A multilingual book trailer

These days, newly published books often get promoted with video trailers, and there's one that just came out for Michael Erard's Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners. In keeping with the book's theme of hyperpolyglottery, Erard rounded up speakers of different languages to create a multilingual reading of a [...]

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