"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality
Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics
in the NY Times. [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam
on Aug 2, 2011 -
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
De Nyew Testament. Gullah
] is a creole language spoken by about a quarter-million people in the Eastern United States. For decades, Bible translators worked
to translate the Bible into the Gullah language. The full, HTML New Testament
is available online, but a print copy can be ordered online
So den, oona mus go ta all de people all oba de wol an laan um fa be me ciple dem. Oona mus bactize um een de name ob de Fada God, an de name ob de Son, an de name ob de Holy Sperit. 20Oona mus laan um fa do all wa A done chaage oona fa do. An fa sho, A gwine be dey wid oona all de time til de time end.
--De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa Matthew Write, 28:19-20
This post was inspired by recently reading that Clarence Thomas grew up speaking Gullah, and thinking about the implications of growing up with very little written tradition in your own language.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike
on Jun 13, 2011 -
is "Crikey’s very own language blog for discerning word nerds. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Australian linguists getting all hot and bothered about the way we communicate." It's the Aussie equivalent of Language Log
, frequently linked here on the Blue. To get you started, Does Moomba really mean ‘up your bum’?
(Answer: Nobody knows for sure, but the search is lots of fun.)
posted by languagehat
on Mar 21, 2011 -
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films
distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing
Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International
, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully
re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree
(while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention
The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic
gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog
, debuted in more than forty tongues
Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes
and one-line comparisons
, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights:
"One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali,"
and "A Whole New World"
) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata,"
(The Lion King
) - "Under the Sea"
and "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
(The Little Mermaid
) - "Belle"
and "Be Our Guest"
(Beauty and the Beast
) - "Just Around the Riverbend"
) - "One Song"
) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"
) - Medley
) - "When She Loved Me"
(Toy Story 2
) - Intro
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 12, 2010 -
"Voice of San Diego
reporter Adrian Florido set out to find a family, he writes
, "whose experience could illustrate the day-to-day challenge for Burmese refugees
" in San Diego, since "more than 200 Burmese families have arrived [in that city] since 2006." In the process, Florido met a 24-year-old man named Har Sin" who was unable to hear, speak, read, write or use sign language, and wound up writing a two-part story about him: In a New Land, Hoping to Hear
and Breaking Free of a Life Without Language
. The story is available as a downloadable pdf: A Silent Journey Series. / Via The Kicker, the daily blog of the Columbia Journalism Review [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 13, 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 -
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 -
I Write Like...
Check what famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of famous writers.
posted by swift
on Jul 14, 2010 -
The Atlas of True Names
reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States. For example, Britain = Great Land of the Tattooed, New Jersey = New Island of Spears, and Chicago = Stink Onion. There's now an iPhone app
. However, at least one linguistic historian takes issue
with some of their methodology. Mefi's own languagehat responds
posted by desjardins
on Jun 17, 2010 -
How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray. The explication of the Chinese word for crisis as made up of two components signifying danger and opportunity is due partly to wishful thinking, but mainly to a fundamental misunderstanding about how terms are formed in Mandarin and other Sinitic languages... Among the most egregious of the radical errors in this statement is the use of the exotic term “Ideogram” to refer to Chinese characters. Linguists and writing theorists avoid “ideogram” as a descriptive referent for hanzi (Mandarin) / kanji (Japanese) / hanja (Korean) because only an exceedingly small proportion of them actually convey ideas directly through their shapes... [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu
on May 6, 2010 -
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 -
Ari Hoptman (his website
) explains early Germanic sound laws to his young friend Frankie, who has tossed aside his copy of Braune’s Gothic grammar in disgust. If you want to know what makes historical linguists tick, this is a great way to find out. Warning: links to seven-minute YouTube with two sequels; disclaimer: I myself have a copy of Braune’s Gotische Grammatik
within arm’s reach and I have spent time reading the Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung
, so I may be especially susceptible to jokes about William Jones, the Brothers Grimm, and Danish linguists. [more inside]
posted by languagehat
on Oct 9, 2009 -