- Website: http://ling.upenn.edu/~myl
Posts by Mark Liberman:
Emily Cahn, "Sanchez Stumbles Prompt SoCal Angst", Roll Call 5/20/2015 — Linda Seebach writes "I lived in LA for a couple of years, and can readily believe that SoCal angst is unusually prompt to appear."
"Beautiful Illustrations of Words with No English Equivalent",Twisted Sifter 5/16/2015.
As usual, many of the translations seem to be somewhat more specifically evocative than the words they translate.
Thus Spanish duende is rendered as "The mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person", whereas the WordReference dictionary gives simply "spirit, magical creature; elf, imp, goblin; magic, charm", and the Collins dictionary gives "goblin, elf; imp; magic; gremlin".
Melissa Holbrook Pierson, "What Is Your Dog Telling You? They may not use words, but dogs say a lot more than we realize with their body language", WSJ 5/11/2015:
For the same reason that Eskimos purportedly have 50 different words for snow, dogs have a vast repertoire of gestures for appeasement and propitiation. The Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas has identified some 30 “calming signals”—movements offered to deflect trouble (which may also relieve stress in both giver and receiver). Supremely subtle, sometimes so quick we don’t notice them, these appeasing signals include a flick of the tongue; turning the head or gaze away; suddenly sniffing the ground or sitting; yawning; shaking off; or approaching on a curve.
[h/t Amanda Seidl, who is planning on getting a dog]
I recently learned that Adam Kilgarriff died on Saturday May 16.
The weblog-journal that he maintained since his cancer diagnosis last fall gives a sense of the kind of person he was. The links on his homepage will tell you more about his work as a linguist, from his insights about word meaning (e.g. "I don't believe in word senses", Computers and the Humanities 1997), to his creation of the Sketch Engine, an interactive online system that "lets you see a concordance for any word, phrase or grammatical construction, in one of the corpora that we provide, or in a corpus of your own", and also provides "word sketches, one-page, automatic, corpus-derived summaries of a word's grammatical and collocational behaviour".
The Cambridge Dictionaries Online entry for the pronunciation of parmesan (cheese) in American English is a fine example of broad-transcription IPA style:
But the button labelled with an audio icon and a blue "US" leads to
which is an interesting surprise:
A headline writer is apparently economizing on punctuation: Nomaan Merchant, "Police: 9 dead in Texas shooting all members of biker gangs", MyFoxDetroit (AP).
John Gertner, "‘Elon Musk,’ by Ashlee Vance", NYT /17/2015:
He is now, quite arguably, the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world.
Matt Hutson writes:
“Arguably” is often used to temper an argument, so “quite arguably” should temper it even more. But here “quite” has the effect of strengthening the argument rather than strengthening the tempering of the argument. Seemingly paradoxically, “quite arguably” approaches the meaning of “inarguably.” In essence, by adding “quite,” we suddenly see a proposition’s being arguable in contrast to its being untenable, rather than in contrast to its being undeniable. A neat sleight of word!
[TRIGGER WARNING: Harsh Quantitative Evaluation of a Facile Generalization]
Posted in front of a government building in Sheffield, UK:
A recent conversation with Didier Demolin about animal vocalizations motivated me to return to a an issue discussed in "Finch linguistics", 7/15/2011. (See also "Markov's heart of darkness", 7/18/2011, "Non-Markovian yawp", 9/18/2011, and "The long get longer", 12/4/2013.)
The point is this: In modeling the structure of simple repetitive behavior, considerations from (traditional) formal language theory can obscure rather than clarify the issues. These threats to insight include the levels of the Chomsky-Schützenberger hierarchy, the "recursion" controversy, and so on.
What follows is an attempt at a simple illustrated explanation.
We've been highly skeptical, in general, of usage mavens' often-mistaken disdain for what they call "passive voice". The objects of their animus are often not grammatically passive at all, but merely vague about agency — or sometimes just weakly phrased in some not-very-clear way.
But Jerry Friedman points out a case where vagueness about agency poses real-world problems — and here it really is a passive-voice construction that is at fault.
Jen Chung, "CT High School Slut Shames Students Over "Inappropriate" Prom Dresses", Gothamist 5/12/2015:
Female students at a Connecticut High School are furious that dresses bought for this weekend's prom are being banned because they have exposed shoulders, backs, sides and legs. One mother—whose daughter had two dresses rejected—said, "They've suggested the girls wear T-shirts under their dresses. My daughter won't wear a T-shirt. She would be mortified."