I’m not advocating the abolition of grammar, but rather its justification. I’m not quite sure what that will entail in the end, but I’m starting out by pointing out grammar rules that just don’t make sense, don’t work, or don’t have any justification. All I want is for our rules of grammar to be well-motivated.
posted by Joe Beese
on Sep 10, 2010 -
Victor Borge (previously
, gtwo but not fivegoteleven
) was well known five his "inflationary language"
routine. The fivemula: number sounds in ordinary language are "inflnined" to the next-highest numbers -- "twoderful" becomes "threederful," "threelips" become "fourlips," "fivefathers" become "sixfathers," and so on.
is a twoderful web toy that will inflnine arbitrary text, or inflnine the language of any website. An example
, using a story Borge crenined five this purpose. [more inside]
posted by grobstein
on Sep 2, 2010 -
: Even if your Alphabet Conspiracy succeeds and you destroy the books, machines have no minds of their own. They are easily confused by different voices and different accents. It is the brain of man that tells them what to do. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Aug 20, 2010 -
Climate change and the vuvuzela leave mark on Oxford Dictionary of English.
Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include 'toxic debt', 'staycation', 'cheesebal' and 'national treasure'. To balance them out among the 2,000 or so new items there are a few more left-field choices.
Among them are 'cheeseball', which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality, and the more disturbing phenomenon of 'hikikomori', the Japanese word for the acute social withdrawal that occurs in some teenage boys.
posted by Fizz
on Aug 19, 2010 -
The Language of Food
is a blog with only four entries, but each one is an excellent, well-researched essay on, yes, food and language: ketchup
, and ceviche
. The author, Dan Jurafsky, teaches a parallel course at Stanford, the syllabus for which you can peruse here
. via (mefi's own) honestengine.blogspot.com
posted by Rumple
on Aug 14, 2010 -
A web debate on cursing in private, public and online
, part of a series of multiple perspective posts on the NYT called Room for Debate
, has several experts, including Georgetown U. Professor and author of You just don't understand
, Deborah Tanner
, yet no one mentions George Carlin and his take on the seven words you can't say
. Some claim we've always cursed
, while others claim we curse on the web about as much as we do in real life
and there is data people, on average, swear .3% to .7% of the time
and frequency per person has more to do with personality than class.
posted by Berkun
on Apr 13, 2010 -
The late William Safire
left behind a language-column vacancy that the NY Times
has been filling with a rotating crew of language experts, some better than others. Now they've announced
their choice for a permanent replacement, and it could hardly be better: Ben Zimmer
, an actual linguist. Reading "On Language" will be slightly less enjoyable for us nitpickers but a lot more informative.
posted by languagehat
on Mar 12, 2010 -
Anglophone Montrealers open and close lights, fall pregnant, get a coffee, go to vernissages, eat on the terrasse, and get cash at the guichet. Francophone Montreals, if they are lucky, have un chum or une blonde who is not only smooth but also le fun. Basically English (and its three main 'ethnolects' here, British, Jewish, and Italian) and French get all interestingly mixed up
. [more inside]
posted by Salamandrous
on Feb 14, 2010 -
An Omnivorous Google Is Coming.
"Imagine what it would be like if there was a tool built into the search engine which translated my search query into every language and then searched the entire world’s websites," she says. "And then invoked the translation software a second and third time – to not only then present the results in your native language, but then translated those sites in full when you clicked through.” Marissa Mayer
, Google's vice president for search products and user experience, shares her unparalleled insights into the future of internet search engines. [more inside]
posted by netbros
on Dec 14, 2009 -
is perhaps the internet's most infamous hack
, digi/net artist
. His work
stands for a growing culture
of artists who run wildly
through animated GIF landscapes populated
with corrupted data-compressed
bunny rabbits and tinny, MIDI renditions
of Savage Garden ballads. As the Lisson Gallery
, London, opens its archives to Arcangel's curatorial eye, could digi/net art
be set to infect
the real, fleshy world
, like a rampant Conficker Worm
? Has YouTube become
the truest reflection of our anthropological
selves? Are we destined to roam the int3erw£bs like the mythic beasts of yore
, hoping, in time
, that digi art can free us
from the confines of this fleshy void?
posted by 0bvious
on Dec 8, 2009 -
Dell Hymes, a giant of sociolinguistic theory, has died.
"He didn't have much patience for wasting your time in academic endeavors that wouldn't have a direct relevance for the world and for righting some of the inequalities in the world," [Dr. Nancy] Hornberger said. Or as Dr. Hymes himself put it, describing his approach to anthropology: "I am always interested in combating elitism and narrowness. . . . The justification for the existence of anthropology is to find out about the world, not produce third-rate philosophers." [more inside]
posted by fourcheesemac
on Nov 20, 2009 -
The Survey of American Jewish Language and Identity
reports on the results of an online survey of 25,179 American Jews and 4,874 American Gentiles. Non-Jews say "klutz" but not "schmutz." The more Orthodox you are, the more likely you are to say "Good Shabbos" instead of "Shabbat Shalom." And so much more you'll plotz.
posted by escabeche
on Nov 10, 2009 -