- Website: http://ling.upenn.edu/~myl
Posts by Mark Liberman:
From Stan Carey:
— Ciarán Ferrie (@ccferrie) August 31, 2015
Charles Pierce, "Hillary Clinton Has Run Out of F*cks to Give", Esquire 8/28/2015:
My goodness, the special snowflakes of the elite political media are all a'quiver because Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for president of the United States, has decided to talk like somebody who wants to be president of the United States, which is to say, she's started to talk like someone whose big bag of fcks to give is running very, very low.
Great material for a unit on prosody, from Ben Craw:
Yesterday, we saw that in the publications indexed by Google Scholar, phrases like "two types of hypothesis|hypotheses" and "three kinds of question|questions" run about 75% plural; and a search in the Google ngram viewer supports the opinion of some people that there may be a tendency for Brits to prefer the singular and Americans the plural ("Various types of whatever(s)").
I took a few minutes this morning to compare some similar phrases as indexed by an American newspaper (the New York Times) and a British newspaper (the Guardian). In both cases, the plural preference is much greater, and there's no sign of a British preference for singularity (93.5% overall for the NYT, and 96.5% overall for the Guardian).
A few days ago, I reprinted Richard Steele's "The Humble Petition of WHO and WHICH", where he voices their complaint that "We are descended of ancient families, and kept up our dignity and honour many years, till the jack-sprat THAT supplanted us". This item appeared in The Spectator for May 30, 1711, and Joan Maling emailed me to ask what we know about the relative frequency of various relative pronouns across time.
George F. Will, "The havoc that Trump wreaks — on his own party", Washington Post 8/26/2015:
Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance and iron will.
As documented ad nauseam in earlier posts, Obama's rate of first-person singular usage is low relative to other recent presidents (see "Buzzfeed linguistics, presidential pronouns, and narcissism revisited", 10/21/2014). George F. Will has a long history of false statements and insinuations on this point ("Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009; "Fact-checking George F Will, one more time", 10/6/2009; "Another lie from George F. Will", 5/7/2012).
[And anyhow, according to a recent large study by Angela Cary et al.,"Narcissism and the Use of Personal Pronouns Revisited" (2014), "Overall (r = .02, 95% CI [-.02, .04]) and within the sampled contexts, narcissism was unrelated to use of first-person singular pronouns". But never mind that…] Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Joan Maling writes:
The various co-authors on a neurolinguistics paper (I am one) have different judgments about the following:
a. two principal kinds of hypothesis
b. two principal kinds of hypotheses
The two British co-authors prefer singular hypothesis; two Americans prefer plural hypotheses. Curious. Has anyone looked at this variation, either as an idiolectal or a dialectal difference?
FML writes that a headline in this morning's WSJ print edition "totally garden-pathed me":
So I was reading about the Alien Friends Act, and in James Morton Smith, "The Enforcement of the Alien Friends Act of 1798", The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 1954, I stumbled on a quotation from "The Political Green-House, for the year 1798", which with a bit of extra context runs like this:
Lo! now too dismal forms* draw nigh,
And cloud the Jacobinic sky,
While awful Justice lours around,
And Law's loud thunders rock the ground.
Each factious alien shrinks with dread,
And hides his hemp-devoted head;
While Slander's foul seditious crew,
With gnashing teeth retire from view.
* The Alien, and Sedition Law.
Under current law, Donald Trump and I are both American citizens by right of birth. Donald was born in New York City in 1946, and I was born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1947. But if birthright citizenship were retroactively revoked, it would take some archival research to determine our status, and (as I understand Mr. Trump's proposals about immigration reform) we might both turn out to be undocumented aliens.
4|Website: Language Log.
Do you notice grammar gaffes, wonder about the speech styles of celebrities, find yourself curious about the origin of new words and constructions? Language Log is the place to go for commentary by people who actually know their stuff – linguists and other language scientists – as opposed to the pundits and scribblers who think that their standing as writers entitles them to present their offhand impressions and grumpy peeves as proven fact.
In Alexander J. Ellis's 1873 article "On the Physical Constituents of Accent and Emphasis", he asserted that there are "four principal matters to be considered in a sound-curve, which will be here called length, pitch, force, and form". Yesterday I quoted his oddly labored explanation of length, by which he means what we would now generally call "duration". We can skip his equally-labored explanation of pitch — it's correct, as we'd expect from the man who introduced and named the cent as a unit of measure for pitch intervals, but otherwise its main point of interest is his adherence to the rarely-used "philosophical pitch" standard, which has middle C at 256 Hz, and therefore C in all other octaves at frequencies of powers of two. What Ellis has to say about force, however, is an interesting mixture of science and error.