Sinitic for "iron" in Balto-Slavic

[This is a guest post by Chris Button]

There are a couple of brief suggestions in Mallory & Adams' Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997:314;379) that the Lithuanian word geležis and Old Church Slavonic word želežo for "iron", which following Derksen (2008:555) may be derived from Balto-Slavic *geleź-/*gelēź- (ź being the IPA palatal sibilant ʑ), could possibly have a Proto-Sino-Tibetan association.

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"Hello" sung by a Kazakh

Here is Dimash Kudaibergen singing "Hello":

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Calling (a) moose

Headline from the Bangor Daily News (Feb. 13, 2019): "Maine now holds the world record for most people calling a moose at the same time."

Screenshot for posterity:

Update: The headline has been changed to read, "Maine now holds the world record for simultaneous moose-calling."

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Contextualized Muppet Embeddings

Over the past few years, it's been increasingly common for computational linguists to use various kinds of "word embeddings".

The foundation for this was the vector space model, developed in the 1960s for document retrieval applications, which represents a piece of text as a vector of word (or "term") counts. The next step was latent semantic analysis, developed in the 1980s, which orthogonalizes the term-by-document matrix (via singular value decomposition) and retains only a few hundred of the most important dimensions. Among other benefits, this provides a sort of "soft thesaurus", since words that tend to co-occur will be relatively close in the resulting space. Then in the 2000s came a wide variety of other ways of turning large text collections into vector-space dictionaries, representing each word as vector of numbers derived in some way from the contexts in which it occurs — some widely used examples from the 2010s include word2vec and GloVe ("Global Vectors for Word Representation").

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Too few words to describe emotions

At about 22:45 of the BBC discussion program The Moral MazeNatasha Devon  asserts

Well it- I- again, one of the problems is language, actually, because in English, we have a very limited emotional vocabulary. When you look at other languages, they- they have a much broader amount of words that they can use to describe their emotions and their mental health. So, if I say to you ‘I’m feeling anxious’, that could be anything from common or garden anxiety right through to an anxiety disorder. And one is a medical issue and the other is not.

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Only the Communist Party can save the earth

Movie ticket for "Liúlàng dìqiú 流浪地球" ("Wandering earth"):


(Source)

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Portentous periods

Further developments in the indexicality (intexticality?) of punctuation:

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The consequence is proud

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Reclamation of a wasteland by an army unit

Jane Skinner received this from a friend who saw it in Chengdu, Sichuan:

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The unpredictability of Chinese character formation and pronunciation, pt. 2

Emma Knightley asks:

My background is that I grew up in Taiwan learning Traditional Chinese and now most of what I use in my professional life is in Simplified Chinese. How exactly should the character of hē, "to drink," be written?

I grew up learning that the character inside the bottom-right enclosure is 人. Now I see that it is mostly written as 匕. I don't know when this changed, and I don't think it's a matter of Traditional vs Simplified, either, as I see both versions in Traditional writing as well. This Wiktionary entry illustrates the confusion nicely. No one I know has noticed this change, which leads me to think that I'm either losing my mind or experiencing the Mandela Effect.

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Indirect question marks?

Theresa May's 2/10/2019 letter to Jeremy Corbyn includes a sentence ending in a question mark that caught Graeme Orr's attention:

As I explained when we met, the Political Declaration explicitly provides for the benefits of a customs union – no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors and no checks on rules of origin (paragraph 23). However, it also recognises the development of the UK's independent trade policy beyond our economic partnership with the EU (paragraph 17). I am not clear why you believe it would be preferable to seek a say in future EU trade deals rather than the ability to strike our own deals? I can reassure you that securing frictionless trade in goods and agri-food products is one of our key negotiating objectives (for precisely the reasons you give – protecting jobs that depend on integrated supply chains and avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland). The fundamental negotiating challenge here is the EU's position that completely frictionless trade is only possible if the UK stays in the single market. This would mean accepting free movement, which Labour's 2017 General Election manifesto made clear you do not support.

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Linguistic common ground as privilege

Below is a guest post by Christian DiCanio:


2019 was named the International Year of Indigenous Languages by UNESCO. My friends and colleagues at the recent Annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) have been on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media discussing what this means for Linguistics as a field. With respect to publishing, several journals have pushed to emphasize linguistic research on indigenous languages. The LSA's own flagship journal, Language, has put out a call for submissions on different indigenous languages of the world. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America has even put out a call for submissions on under-represented languages.

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X of Y ↔ Y(ed) X

Robert Ayers sent in this cartoon:
And asked "Was the 'colored person' fall from grace strictly a one off due to history? I see no movement from, eg, 'Asian person' to 'person of Asia'. Or 'Irishman' to 'man of Ireland'."

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