Another passive-hating Orwell wannabe

I'm grateful to Peter Howard and S. P. O'Grady, who within an hour or so both mailed me a link to this extraordinarily dumb article by James Gingell in The Guardian. As Howard and O'Grady pointed out, Gingell's wildly overstated rant illustrates a point I have made on Language Log many times before: that when language is the topic you can pother at will in a national daily despite visibly having no knowledge or understanding of your subject, and failing to get your facts right, and lacking any defensible point. No editor of a national newspaper would let drivel of this sort get by if it were about politics or sport; but on the topic of language they all will.

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"Salacious but iffy?"

In the Washington Post recently, Michael Miller covered the life and death of James Jeffrey Bradstreet, a doctor with controversial ideas about causes and treatments of autism ("Anti-vaccine doctor behind ‘dangerous’ autism therapy found dead. Family cries foul.". 6/29/2015). The treatments Bradstreet favored included intravenous secretin, "intravenous immunogloblin" [sic],  chelation therapy, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and stem cell therapy.

The reader who sent me the link noticed a strange word choice in the article:

But as the National Enquirer coverage suggests, some of these treatments were salacious but scientifically iffy.

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Way more ways

Patricia Cohen and Ron Lieber, "It's summer, but Where Are the Teen Workers?", NYT 7/3/2015:

Ice cream still needs scooping, beaches still need guarding and campers still need counseling. But now, there are way fewer teenagers doing it all this summer.

This passage surprised me — but not because of the content, which seems consistent with my own experience. What surprised me was the fact that a relatively formal piece of writing used way as a scalar intensifier, a construction that I associate with informal or conversational registers.

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Outsiders and hard drives

It's a bit of a mystery how and why "outsiders" (wàidìrén 外地人) are referred to by Shanghainese as "hard disks / drives" (yìngpán 硬盘).

Intrigued, I asked around, and here are some of the replies I received.

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Using Sinitic characters in Korea

S. Robert Ramsey is professor of East Asian linguistics at the University of Maryland and author of the excellent book titled The Languages of China.  I often consult with Bob on matters pertaining to Korean and Japanese; he is a reliable source of information on these languages as well as on Chinese in its many varieties — both in their current circumstances and with regard to their historical evolution.

In a recent communication, Bob described a ceremony he attended in Seoul.  Since it touches on a subject that we have often discussed on Language Log — digraphia — I thought that I'd share it with colleagues here.

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Ask Language Log: pronouncing apoptosis

From AB, MD (CPT, MC, USA):

I have an odd inquiry that I'm hoping you'll oblige. My question is about the preferred pronunciation of apoptosis. I believe the scientist who originally described this phenomenon asked a linguist to invoke an image of an Autumn tree shedding a leaf. We are now in an intense debate about the most accurate pronunciation of this word. As a long time language log reader, I was hoping you could help us settle this fiery debate. How do you pronounce apoptosis? Thank you very much! 

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Ancestors

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ICD-10

Fred Pelzman, "The Craziness of ICD-10", MedPage Today 7/2/2015:

At our faculty meeting last week, representatives of the medical college and the hospital came to update us on the changes coming into effect with ICD-10.

The compliance officers went through the changes in regulations — for inpatients and outpatients — which we've all heard before, the changes in the rules, and how ICD-10 leads to greater specificity for billing. Almost to the point of ridiculousness.

Medical websites, articles, and blogs have been full of examples of hilarious insane ICD-10 codes, new ones that many of us will (hopefully) never use in a lifetime of practice. 

If there exists one for fall from nonmilitary spacecraft, does that mean that there are military spacecraft? Are we sending Marines into space?

I'm sure someone has a practice where their patients are frequently coming in after being bitten by Orcas, and it's nice to know there's a code to bill for that if I need it, but all of this leads to a level of mental exhaustion, that we're all being put upon, asked to do something else that adds no real value to our care of patients.

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Rodent spigot

This one almost drove me nuts.

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Multiscriptal graffiti in Berlin

Gábor Ugray took this photo last week outside a Turkish-run Italian restaurant in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, a diverse mix between run-down and hip:

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Revivalistics

Ghil'ad Zuckermann writes:

A free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on language revival will begin on 28 July 2015. All are welcome. Details are here.

 

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The Greek ballot measure

Below is a guest post by Jason Merchant.

With the eyes of the world on the developments in Greece this week, the exact form of the question that will be put to Greek voters this coming Sunday, 5 July, in the referendum that Prime Minister Tsipras announced this past weekend is of no small importance, and almost every commentator in the past two days has been wondering just what the question would be. Just released here is a photo of the ballot measure.

In my translation:

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Goldensmell salt and milkfish balls

Jackie and Mimi, Toni Tan's daughters, spotted two interesting products at the Asian supermarket near their home.

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