“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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
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
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 [...]
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...
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
The cipher shared by great poets and the best brand namers is essentially that the littlest things mean the most.
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
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 [...]
What am I, linguistically? I've taken to calling myself a "monolingual with benefits," but I might begin calling myself "postmonolingual." This provocative term ties together a bunch of language phenomena which don't, at first glance, seem connected.
Graeme Wood reviews Michael Erard's Babel No More: Hyperpolyglots argue that what they do is not fluent speaking but instead a sort of mechanical reproduction, a robotic trick rather than a human skill. Hale, an MIT professor who died in...
When God put the kibosh on the Tower of Babel, 72 languages were said to have been created from the one that unified those hubristic humans. In his new book, Babel No More, linguist Michael Erard seeks out the people who have put those pieces back together: hyperpolyglots, i.e., the most fluent mamma-jammas on the [...]
Michael Erard sets out on the trail of hyperpolyglots in Babel No More: The search for the world's most extraordinary language learners
Using geographical visuals to understand the brain.
Apostrophe catastrophe? The U.K. bookseller Waterstones decides to drop its apostrophe. Michael Erard on the limits of living a linguistically limitless life. If you can’t wait for Peter Jackson’s version, watch this rediscovered twelve-minute...Show More Summary