288 posts tagged with linguistics.
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Last Words

If you think that reading 1,400 suicide notes would be disheartening, you’d be right.
posted by MoonOrb on Jan 8, 2014 - 35 comments

Hickory Dickory Dock

"We began the present study by asking, as some linguists have asked before us, why the ordering of certain conjoined elements is fixed." -Cooper and Ross, 1975 (pdf) Siamese twins in linguistics: examples are "here and there (and everywhere)" and "peas and carrots." Siamese twins are also known as "binomial freezes," "irreversible binomials," or "freezes," and they can change over time, too. And that can lead to fossil words! Speaking of fossil words, did you know about cranberry morphemes? [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 10, 2013 - 40 comments

Turn the lights out and say Benadryl Cumbia three times in front of a

A Linguist Explains the Rules of Summoning Benedict Cumberbatch. The same linguist elaborates.
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Dec 2, 2013 - 333 comments

You're reading this because procrastination.

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody on Nov 19, 2013 - 163 comments

Best Boston Accent Evah?

"In linguistic circles, there is a bit of excitement over the election of Marty Walsh as Boston’s next mayor. Not only does he have a strong Boston accent — perhaps the strongest in the city’s mayoral history — but his speech is a perfect example of the modern dialect, where the broad “a” sound is gone. He’s from Dohchestah. Not Dawchestah. And when it comes time to say pronounce his new job title, he shows the variability of the dialect, which is what actors who drop every R get wrong. Sometimes he’s a may-uh. Sometimes he’s a mare. And a lot of times, he skips both the Y and the R and he’s just a maeh..."
posted by anelsewhere on Nov 17, 2013 - 62 comments

Sugar-shamed

"There are times when we should feel shame, like when we’re tempted to hunt for Communists. But nowadays one suspects that Joe McCarthy would have just accused his critics of “red-shaming.” On shaming.
posted by mippy on Oct 22, 2013 - 28 comments

Hab SoSlI' Quch! (Your mother has a smooth forehead!)

Are Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi real languages?

Dictionaries: Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki [pdf] and Na'vi
Phrases: Elvish, Klingon, Dothraki and Na'vi
posted by desjardins on Sep 27, 2013 - 41 comments

A History of Meh, from Leo Rosten to Auden to The Simpsons

The problem with tracing meh over time, as with so many fleeting interjections, is that it’s terribly underrepresented in the linguistic and lexicographical literature. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Sep 8, 2013 - 13 comments

Tom Scott's Language Files

For several years now, Tom Scott, a young man in Britain, has mostly done silly, entertaining things on YouTube, things like, "Two Drums and a Cymbal Fall off a Cliff," "The Matt Gray High Five Face Off," "Robocoaster Challenge: Reciting Shakespeare while attached to a giant robot arm," "Google Glasses: A New Way to Hurt Yourself," and "Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers" (previously). But recently, he's done a series of videos that are interesting more than they're silly: eight videos which introduce linguistic concepts like phonotactics, clusivity & evidentiality, and the contrast between descriptivism and prescriptivism (he's decidedly the former, fyi).
posted by ocherdraco on Jul 17, 2013 - 11 comments

The Sentinelese people of North Sentinel Island, an "ancient" tribe

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a string of 572 islands that run roughly north-south in the Bay of Bengal between Myanmar and Indonesia, but are formally a part of the Republic of India. Of the hundreds of islands, less than 40 are inhabited. While you can travel and visit some of the islands, but as of 2005, there are also a few that India has declared closed to outsiders to preserve these distinct cultures, living much as they have for hundreds to thousands of years, remaining distant from all outsiders. The most extreme example are the Sentinelese people who live on North Sentinel Island (Google maps). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 11, 2013 - 39 comments

The Weirdest Language in the World

Idibon, a company that specializes in language processing, decided to rank the world's languages to see which had the most unusual features. The winner was Chalcatongo Mixtec, a language spoken by 6000 people in Mexico. The most normal language? Hindi. [more inside]
posted by Tsuga on Jul 2, 2013 - 95 comments

I want to be totally confident that I’m offending the right people

F**k, I Need Some New Swear Words: Too many curse words strengthen the kind of social structures that we should be dismantling. [more inside]
posted by not_the_water on Jul 1, 2013 - 242 comments

EmPHAsis on the right sylLABle

How to pronounce Chicago street names. How to pronounce London street names. How to pronounce Austin street names. How to pronounce New Orleans street names (and a whole lot else). How to pronounce "Spuyten Duyvil," "Kosciuszko" and "Goethals." How to pronounce "Van Nuys," "Sepulveda," "San Pedro," and "Los Angeles." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 28, 2013 - 120 comments

Bears. And etymology!

An animated history of the word "bear"
posted by moxie_milquetoast on Jun 7, 2013 - 27 comments

“Well, I guess we know which one you are.”

On "Geek" vs "Nerd"
posted by cthuljew on Jun 4, 2013 - 82 comments

"I love the idea of witnessing the birth of that word."

"In 1872 two men began work on a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year. What accounts for its enduring appeal? Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary's short and mysterious title." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 27, 2013 - 10 comments

Breathy-voiced long low back unrounded vowel with advanced tongue root

A linguistic dissection of 7 annoying teenage sounds
posted by iamkimiam on May 22, 2013 - 106 comments

The enigmatic language of the new Windows 8 ads

"What was most perplexing of all to me was that, although I was certain that the ads contained Chinese phrases and sentences, every Chinese person to whom I showed them emphatically maintained that they could not understand a single word."
posted by roll truck roll on May 18, 2013 - 56 comments

These words are more than fifteen thousand years old.

Researchers in Britain have identified twenty-three words from a postulated “proto-Eurasiatic” language spoken before the end of the last Ice Age. [Washington Post report; original paper] [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on May 7, 2013 - 49 comments

International Art English

"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 26, 2013 - 45 comments

What's The Question About Your Field That You Dread Being Asked?

"Maybe it's a sore point: your field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer. Or it's a question that belies a deep misunderstanding: the best answer is to question the question."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 14, 2013 - 259 comments

Lynneguist's Separated By a Common Language

Wondering about your British colleagues wearing tank tops in chilly weather and complaining about bumf? Trying to figure out what your American colleagues mean by poster child or hump day, or just where exactly kitty-corner is? Lynneguist's Separated By a Common Language will get you sorted. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Mar 23, 2013 - 134 comments

Speak "friend" and enter.

Explaining the languages of Middle-Earth. Ever wonder how Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings writers developed lines of dialogue for the elves or dwarves when they weren't quoting directly from Tolkien? They asked David Salo, a linguist who specializes in Sindarin and the other languages of Middle Earth. [more inside]
posted by MsMolly on Feb 20, 2013 - 37 comments

Get your hi-hat on.

Real-time MRI study of human beatboxing, with lots of videos. See what snares, kick drum effects, cymbals and more look and sound like as they happen inside the head. Here's a BBC radio segment on the project.
posted by iamkimiam on Feb 15, 2013 - 7 comments

The bLogicarian

"The name "bLogicarian" may be one of the the most pretentious conglomerations of philhellenic puns I could concoct." A blog on language, poetry and translation. [more inside]
posted by frimble on Feb 5, 2013 - 1 comment

Elahi, Elahi, lema shabaqtani?

Saving a Dying Language
posted by empath on Feb 3, 2013 - 34 comments

Christmas Can Be Green And Bright

"Mele Kalikimaka" (Ukelele cords) is a Hawaiian-themed Christmas song written in 1949 by Robert Alex Anderson. The phrase is borrowed directly from English but since Hawaiian has a different phonological system - Hawaiian does not have the /r/ or /s/ of English and doesn't have the phonotactic constraints to allow consonants at the end of syllables or consonant clusters - "Merry Christmas" becomes "Mele Kalikimaka". Enjoy the canonical version with Bing Crosby And The Andrew Sisters (lounge remix) or by KT Tunstall or Bette Milder or Jimmy Buffet or Gianni And Sarah or The Puppini Sisters or Reel Big Fish or Country Western style or pared down instrumental or Celtic Rock style or performed on the Metro by Pokey LaFarge or ..whatever the hell this is.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 23, 2012 - 16 comments

Literally?

"10 Words You Literally Didn’t Know You Were Getting Wrong" [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 19, 2012 - 154 comments

Ithkuil

An amateur linguist loses control of the language he invented [more inside]
posted by boygeorge on Dec 17, 2012 - 49 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

It's Linguistastic! Or Linguistalicious!

Arika Okrent (previously here on sign language interpreters and her 352-page book about 'Invented Languages') is currently kicking ass and taking etymologies at the Mental Floss site with a flurry of listicles* on the 'invention' of today's English/American language:
The solidly informational "11 Weirdly Spelled Words—And How They Got That Way"**
The entertainingly snarky "11 Creative Suffixes That Inspire New Words"
The just plain fun "From Y’all To Youse, 8 English Ways to Make “You” Plural"
plus one non-linguistic piece of pure pedantry: "11 Movie Chess Scenes Where The Board Is Set Up Wrong"*** [more inside]
posted by oneswellfoop on Nov 16, 2012 - 52 comments

clearly and simply written but remarkably difficult to understand

In his Lingua Franca column, Allan Metcalf challenged his readers to come up with plausible but fake new grammar rules. And the winner is... [more inside]
posted by moonmilk on Oct 14, 2012 - 50 comments

OED appeals to professors and madmen

Has anyone seen a blue-arsed fly? Someone must have cooties. This is no FAQ, can you make a make a defining contribution to the OED?
posted by stbalbach on Oct 8, 2012 - 5 comments

Japanese is just weird, nahmean?

Are Some Languages “Faster” Than Others? from Slate's Lexicon Valley podcast series. Transcript included!
posted by Panjandrum on Oct 4, 2012 - 26 comments

"This is the best time. The next 2 or 3 thousand years will be fantastic!"

In 2005, the Discovery Channel aired Alien Worlds, a fictional documentary based on Wayne Douglas Barlowe's graphic novel, Expedition: Being an Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV." Depicting mankind's first robotic mission to an extrasolar planet that could support life, the show drew from NASA's Origins Program, the NASA/JPL PlanetQuest Mission, and ESA's Darwin Project. It was primarily presented through CGI, but included interviews from a variety of NASA scientists and other experts, including Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku, John Craig Venter and Jack Horner. Oh, and George Lucas, too. Official site. Previously on MeFi. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 21, 2012 - 12 comments

Medicine Wheel / Wagon Wheel

In 2005, Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks produced a 6 episode miniseries that spanned the period of expansion of the United States into the American West, from 1825 to 1890. Through fictional and historical characters, the series used two primary symbols--the wagon wheel and the Lakota medicine wheel -- to join the story of two families: one Native American, one White settlers, as they witnessed many of the 19th century's pivotal historical milestones. The award-winning Into The West can now be seen in its entirety on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 20, 2012 - 12 comments

Well, nobody's perfect. But at least we have cameras.

What makes a memorable movie quote memorable?
A news summary of how they went about it.
A short audio version (via NPR) of the story and research summary.
A Wikipedia list: AFI's 100 years, 100 quotes.
A short list of advertising slogans that fit the research model for movie quote memorability.
The research paper (automatic PDF download). [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Aug 15, 2012 - 65 comments

Indigenous Tweets, Indigenous Blogs

Indigenous Tweets: Catalogue of Twitter users writing in minority or endangered languages. From that list, it is an easy couple of links to the inevitable Friday Night Lights recaps written in Breton. (Subsite: Indigenous Blogs.)
posted by joeclark on May 22, 2012 - 9 comments

A Database of Metaphor

The Mind is a Metaphor. A database of thousands of metaphors organized by category, like 18th century, Liquid, or Jacobite. It's maintained by University of Virginia English Professor Brad Pasanek.
posted by shivohum on Mar 27, 2012 - 19 comments

The Santorum Strategy

The Santorum Strategy Linguist George Lakoff explains how Santorum is helping reinforce right wing beliefs.
posted by drezdn on Mar 13, 2012 - 121 comments

Yo Lady G, wassup?

The makers of Downton Abbey take great care to recreate the look and feel of the period in which it is set. But occasionally anachronisms in the dialogue slip through.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 13, 2012 - 123 comments

Adventures with an Extreme Polyglot

“Most of the languages I’ve studied I’ve never spoken, and I probably never will,” he told me. “And that’s okay with me. That’s nice if you can do that, but it’s rare that you have an interesting conversation in English. Why do I think it would be any better in another language?
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 12, 2012 - 70 comments

My Word

The Corpus of American Historical English is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour.
posted by Miko on Jan 7, 2012 - 23 comments

Blame Brit for pitch shift!

American Woman: Vocal fried. On the partial glottalization of speech in young English speaking American women.
posted by emilycardigan on Dec 12, 2011 - 181 comments

Playing with both cats and language

I can has language play: Construction of Language and Identity in LOLspeak. A presentation by Jill Vaughan and Lauren Gawne of the University of Melbourne at the Australian Linguistics Society annual conference 2011.
posted by bjrn on Dec 10, 2011 - 29 comments

Hidden Meanings : Datamining Early English Print

Datamining Shakespeare --- Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy: when the hero makes a terrible mistake of judgment, his once promising world is led into ruin. Computer analysis of the play, however, suggests that the play is a comedy or, at least, that it does the same things with words that comedies usually do. On October 26, 2011, Folger Shakespeare Library Director Michael Witmore discussed his recent work in Shakespeare studies which combines computer analysis of texts, linguistics, and traditional literary history. Taking the case of Shakespeare's genres as a starting point, Witmore shows how subtle human judgments about the kinds of plays Shakespeare wrote — were they comedies, histories or tragedies? — are connected to frequent, widely distributed features in the playwright's syntax, vocabulary, and diction. (approx. 30 minute lecture.) [more inside]
posted by crunchland on Dec 8, 2011 - 29 comments

Ashta

Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
posted by cthuljew on Nov 15, 2011 - 12 comments

Shapecatcher: draw to explore Unicode characters

Shapecatcher let's you draw a picture to find the matching Unicode characters. via
posted by Foci for Analysis on Nov 11, 2011 - 33 comments

Local Twitter Slang, And All That Jawn

The Awl takes a look at how Twitter has allowed local slang to go global, and the unhappiness this causes for some.
posted by reenum on Oct 28, 2011 - 34 comments

A Queens Garbageman and an Endangered Language

Ed Shevlin Polishes His Irish While Collecting The Trash
posted by jason's_planet on Oct 23, 2011 - 30 comments

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