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Punctuation

Brian Hutchinson, "UBC student writes 52,438 word architecture dissertation with no punctuation — not everyone loved it", National Post 5/8/2015:

There was Patrick Stewart, PhD candidate, defending his final dissertation before a handful of hard-nosed examiners at the University of British Columbia late last month. The public was invited to watch; two dozen curious onlookers saw Stewart attempt to persuade five panelists that his 149-page thesis has merit, that it is neither outlandishly “deficient,” as some had insisted it was, nor an intellectual affront.

Unusual? It is definitely that. Stewart’s dissertation, titled Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge, eschews almost all punctuation. There are no periods, no commas, no semi-colons in the 52,438-word piece. Stewart concedes the odd question mark, and resorts to common English spelling, but he ignores most other conventions, including the dreaded upper case. His paper has no standard paragraphs. Its formatting seems all over the map.

The National Post story suggests that the document is a translation from Nisga'a:

He wrote his first draft in the Nisga’a language. That failed to impress at least one senior UBC professor, a powerful figure who would eventually have to sign off on the work, or all would be lost. Stewart was called on the professor’s carpet and told his work was not acceptable. He was asked to translate “every word” of his dissertation into English. “So I did that,” he recalls. “There was still no guarantee it would be approved.”

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Chinese WOTY 2014

Three years ago, Language Log covered what we referred to as the "Morpheme(s) of the Year" (12/17/11).

Two years ago, we advanced to "Chinese character of the year: mèng 梦 ('dream')" (12/25/12).

And last year, we looked at "'Words / Characters of the Year' for 2013 in Taiwan and in China" (12/26/13).

Toward the end of last month, the tension began to build in the selection process for this year:  "APEC Blue, Tigers and Flies: What Chinese Phrase Best Describes 2014?" (11/28/14).

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Posts of Thanksgiving Past

"Same-sex Mrs. Santa: 'The semantics are confusing'", 11/27/2003
"Thanks giving", 11/25/2004
"Life in these, uh, this United States", 11/24/2005
"A linguist's Thanksgiving", 11/23/2006
"A Thanksgiving discussion", 11/22/2007
"Thanksgiving variation", 11/23/2007
"In the wake of Thanksgiving", 11/27/2007
"Thanksgiving: The Greek influence", 11/28/2007
"Giving thanks", 11/26/2009
"Thanksgiving weekend quiz", 11/27/2010
"Black Friday", 11/22/2012

What's on your mind, this last Thursday in November?

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Envisioning Real (-ity TV) Utopias

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Metaphors and the brain: check it out

"Your Brain on Metaphors", at the The Chronicle of Higher Education's site, is interesting non-technical reading for anyone interested in the idea of experimentation on metaphors, idioms, and the way the brain processes them. I recommend reading the whole thing.

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ICYMI: Globe summarizes Harvard report on Hauser

Those who have been following the Marc Hauser case, on LLOG or elsewhere, may have missed this: Carolyn Y. Johnson, "Harvard report shines light on ex-researcher's misconduct", Boston Globe 5/30/2014:

When former Harvard pyschology professor Marc Hauser was found solely responsible in a series of six scientific misconduct cases in 2012, he distanced himself from the problems, portraying them as an unfortunate consequence of his heavy workload. He said he took responsibility, “whether or not I was directly involved.”

But a copy of an internal Harvard report released to the Globe under the Freedom of Information Act now paints a vivid picture of what actually happened in the Hauser lab and suggests it was not mere negligence that led to the problems.

The 85-page report details instances in which Hauser changed data so that it would show a desired effect. It shows that he more than once rebuffed or downplayed questions and concerns from people in his laboratory about how a result was obtained. The report also describes “a disturbing pattern of misrepresentation of results and shading of truth” and a “reckless disregard for basic scientific standards.”

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Travel notes

At the site of ICASSP 2014 to register yesterday evening, this is what I saw:

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Five and ten years ago in LLOG

Brett Reynolds wrote:

It occurred to me that now that LL is (well) over 10 years old, it would be a nice feature to recycle old but still relevant posts, like BoingBoing does. So, each week you could pick out a couple of great posts from a decade earlier.

As an initial experiment, today I'll link to the posts from five and ten years ago — and then update one post from 3/11/2004.

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Cantonese as Ebonics

Such a proposition is preposterous on the very face of it.  Yet a commenter to this blog has repeatedly made this claim in all earnestness, and even attempted to back up his claim with various types of evidence.  I asked some friends and colleagues what they thought of such an assertion, and many of the more temperate responses I received have been included in the comments to "No character for the most frequent morpheme in Taiwanese", where the comparison was made; see also the earlier "Spoken Hong Kong Cantonese and written Cantonese", where the same commenter made the identical claim.

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Bad Science

There's an article in the current issue of The Economist that you should read carefully: "Trouble at the lab", 10/19/2013.  If you're a regular reader of Language Log, you'll be familiar with the issues that it raises — lack of replication, inappropriate use of "statistical significance" testing, data dredging, the "file drawer effect", inadequate documentation of experimental methods and data-analysis procedures, failure to publish raw data, the role of ambition and ideology, and so on.

But all the same, I'm going to push back. The problems in science, though serious, are nothing new. And the alternative approaches to understanding and changing the world, including journalism, are much worse. In fact, some of the worst problems in science are the direct result, in my opinion, of the poor quality of science journalism. One of the key reasons that leading scientific journals publish bad papers is that both the authors and the editors are looking for media buzz, and can usually count on the media to oblige.

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Something in the water?

During last night's vote on reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling, the official House Stenographer apparently decided to make a speech about Freemasons and had to be escorted out:

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Çapuling

(Apologies for being slow in taking account of this important neologism.) Connor Adams Sheets, "What Is Capuling? 'Everyday I'm Çapuling' Turkish Protest Video Goes Viral", International Business Times 6/4/2013:

"Everyday I'm Çapuling!" is quickly becoming a rallying cry of sorts for the so-called "Turkish Spring" protests that have swept across Turkey since police violently broke up a protest camp in Istanbul's Taksim Square on Friday [May 31] with water cannons, tear gas and brutal violence.


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