## Mark Liberman

Website: http://ling.upenn.edu/~myl

## Philological teaser

From George Walkden on Facebook: "Syntactic Reconstruction and Proto-Germanic: Cinematic Teaser".

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## CXO

Under the Subject line "Notice of Online Survey of Higher Ed CMOs", I got an email last week from someone who described herself as the Chief Marketing Officer of the Chronicle of Higher Education. It began like this:

Dear Mark,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has partnered with SimpsonScarborough, a higher education market research firm, to study the organization and operations of the marketing unit within higher education institutions. The purpose of this study is to better understand marketing budgeting, staffing structure, responsibilities and priorities at higher education institutions.

And the next day, the Director of Project Strategy at SimpsonScarborough sent me a note, under the Subject line "Online Survey of Higher Ed CMOs",  that started this way:

Dear Mark:

The Chronicle of Higher Education and SimpsonScarborough, a higher education marketing company, would like to invite you to participate in an important online survey of higher ed chief marketing officers. The purpose of this study is to better understand the role and influence of marketing in higher education including budgeting, staffing structure, responsibilities and priorities at higher education institutions.

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## The most awkward crash blossom ever?

This:

[h.t. Omri Ceren]

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## Default reasoning

Yesterday's Tank McNamara:

For further discussion, see e.g. R. Reiter, "A Logic for Default Reasoning", Artificial Intelligence 1980; or Robert Sugden, "Salience, inductive reasoning and the emergence of conventions", Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 2011.

## Critical take-downs

Kevin Roose, "Microsoft Just Laid Off Thousands of Employees With a Hilariously Bad Memo", New York Magazine 7/16/2014:

Typically, when you're a top executive at a major corporation that is laying off more than 10 percent of your workforce, you say a few things to the newly jobless. Like "sorry." Or "thank you for your many years of service." Or even "we hate doing this, but it's necessary to help the company survive."

What you don't do is bury the news of the layoffs in the 11th paragraph of a long, rambling corporate strategy memo.

And yet, this was Microsoft honcho Stephen Elop's preferred method for announcing to his employees today that 12,500 of them were being laid off.

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## Want to get ahead as a woman in tech? Learn to interrupt.

Below is a guest post by Kieran Snyder.

This week’s earlier posting on interruptions, in which I presented data to suggest that men interrupt more than women in the tech workplace, and that women are interrupted all the time by everyone, has easily been the most viewed, discussed, tweeted, and shared jenga post so far. This is due in no small part to the cross-posting picked up by Language Log, so many thanks to Mark Liberman for sharing it and to my linguist friends who suggested it. You can take the girl out of linguistics, but it’s hard to take linguistics out of the girl.

In case you missed the first post, a quick recap. In this totally observational and directional study, separate from any other factors, men interrupt women about three times as often as they interrupt other men. In a climate where interruptions happen on average once every two minutes and fifty-one seconds, there is less than one instance per hour of a woman interrupting a man for any reason. You get the idea: big tech is not an equitable environment as far as interruptions are concerned. This makes sense, since it is not a particularly equitable environment in terms of hiring and promotions either.

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## More on speech overlaps in meetings

This post follows up on Mark Dingemanse's guest post, "Some constructive-critical notes on the informal overlap study", which in turn comments on Kieran Snyder's guest post, "Men interrupt more than women".

As part of a project on the application of speech and language technology to meetings, almost 15 years ago, researchers at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) recorded, transcribed and analyzed a large number of their regular technical meetings. The results were published by the Linguistic Data Corsortium as the ICSI Meeting speech and transcripts. As the publication's documentation explains:

75 meetings collected at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley during the years 2000-2002. The meetings included are "natural" meetings in the sense that they would have occurred anyway: they are generally regular weekly meetings of various ICSI working teams, including the team working on the ICSI Meeting Project. In recording meetings of this type, we hoped to capture meeting dynamics and speaking styles that are as natural as possible given that speakers are wearing close-talking microphones and are fully cognizant of the recording process. The speech files range in length from 17 to 103 minutes, but generally run just under an hour each.

There are a total of 53 unique speakers in the corpus. Meetings involved anywhere from three to 10 participants, averaging six. The corpus contains a significant proportion of non-native English speakers, varying in fluency from nearly-native to challenging-to-transcribe.

There's an extensive set of "dialogue act" annotations of this material, available from ICSI, and described in Elizabeth Shriberg et al., "The ICSI Meeting Recorder Dialog Act (MRDA) Corpus", HLT 2004.

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## Some constructive-critical notes on the informal overlap study

The following is a guest post by Mark Dingemanse, commenting on Kieran Snyder, "Men interrupt more than women", 7/14/2014.

Although I understand the interest of the topic, and although Kieran Snyder clearly did a lot of work for a substantial blog posting, I think the results are given too much credit, almost inevitably now that they are featured in news media everywhere (in her defense, she does note some methodological problems herself that should lead to a more cautious interpretation).

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## Scheduled power outage

The building where the current LLOG server sits will be without power this evening, due to a construction project, and as a result, LLOG will be unavailable for several hours.

We should be back by early morning, if all goes well.

## Men interrupt more than women

Below is a guest post by Kieran Snyder, taken with permission from her always-interesting tumblr Jenga one week at a time.

About a month ago at work I overheard one woman complaining to another woman about a man’s habit of interrupting everyone in meetings. Then they went further. “That’s just how it is around here. The women listen, but the men interrupt in meetings all the time,” one of them summed it up.

As a moderate interrupter myself – I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted you, I just get excited about what you’re saying and I want to build on it and I lose track of the fact that it’s not my turn and I know it’s a bad habit – I started wondering if she was right. Do men interrupt more often than women?

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## When half of a quarter is all, or at least mostly

Steve Connor, "Nature rather than nurture governs intelligent behaviour in primates, scientists discover", The Independent 7/10/2014:

The vexed question of whether intelligence is inherited from birth or acquired through education seems to have been answered – for chimpanzees at least.

Scientists have found that being a smart primate is down to genes rather than upbringing, suggesting that nature rather than nurture governs intelligent behaviour in our closest living relatives.

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## Micropolitan (statistical area)

Of course I'm familiar with the concept of a "metropolitan statistical area", defined by Wikipedia as "a geographical region with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area". The United States Office of Management and Budget is responsible for the official list, which comprises 388 MSAs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

What I didn't know, until I learned it this morning while following up on the Beaver Dam Grammar Brawl, is that there are also 536 "micropolitan statistical areas".  Since micropolitan has the same initial letter as metropolitan, an acronymic conflict arises, which has been resolved by using the Greek letter mu for "micro", so that there are MSAs and μSAs.

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## Grammar wars

This doesn't happen very often — Terri Pederson, "Them's fightin' words: Grammar dispute becomes brawl", Beaver Dam Daily Citizen 7/8/2014:

A 27-year-old Fox Lake man was charged with battery stemming from a fight that occurred at Tower Lanes in April. [...]

According to the criminal complaint, an employee of Tower Lanes had pointed out Gubin and another man who had been allegedly fighting in the business. The 35-year-old victim had facial injuries and injures to his hand.

He said the fight began over a disagreement over grammar as well as their views on sports teams. He said Gubin had kicked over his chair and then struck him with a closed fist several times and kicked him. The victim originally did not press charges but called police a few days later to say he had received substantial injuries during the fight. When he was kicked on the left side of his face, he suffered three tears to his retina that needed surgery to fix.

Gubin was ordered to not have any violent or abusive contact with anyone. A review hearing was scheduled for July 23 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21.

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## Flabbering

Peter Mucha, "Lottery legend Joan Ginther bet flabbering sums on scratch-offs", philly.com 7/6/2014:

For years, people who dream of beating the lottery have puzzled over the amazing case of Joan Ginther, who made headlines around the world by scratching off “10MILL” on a $50 instant ticket in June 2010 to win her fourth multimillion-dollar prize. Skeptics wondered if she cheated or had an ingenious system for pinpointing winners. After all, Ginther received a Ph.D. from Stanford and has lived for years in Las Vegas. News reports at the time, citing mathematicians, fueled the fire: They put Ginther's chances of four such wins at 1 in 18 septillion. Remarkably, all four of her winners were purchased in or near her tiny hometown of Bishop, Texas. [...] Finally, answers have been found. A series of discoveries based on painstaking analysis by Philly.com of newly obtained Texas Lottery records, with the help of experts, has led to a surprising conclusion: Basic gambling principles — like card counting in blackjack, money management in poker, and timing in progressive slots — may have inspired Joan Ginther to buy a flabbergasting number of$20 to $50 tickets, perhaps 80,000 worth$2.5 million or more.

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## Helpful label

The lack of circumstantial details makes me suspect it's a fake, but it's still an amusing one.

Update — As X notes in the comments,  it's not fake as in "created by photoshop", but it IS fake in the sense of being added as an ironic joke by a company known for such things.