Archive for WTF

Really weird sinographs

Scott Wilson has written an entertaining, and I dare say edifying, article on "W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 strangest kanji ever 【Weird Top Five】", SoraNews24 (10/6/16) — sorry I missed it when it first came out.  Wilson refers to the "Top 5 strangest kanji", but he actually treats nearly three times that many.  The reason he emphasizes "5" is so that he can stick with his theme of W.T.F., cf.:

Scott Wilson, "W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 most difficult kanji ever【Weird Top Five】", SoraNews24 (8/4/16)

Scott Wilson, "W.T.F. Japan: Top 5 kanji with the longest readings【Weird Top Five】", SoraNews24 (4/20/17)

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Mandarin phone spam

Yesterday I got two phone calls from an unknown but allegedly local number (267 area code). I was in meetings so I let the calls go to voice mail, and the message turned out to be in Chinese. It seems to be someone claiming to represent FedEx with information about a package that I need to negotiate for:

Calling back yields a message in English "The subscriber you have dialed is not in service. If you feel you've received this message in error, please hang up and try your call again later. Message MN13856". The two letters and the first three digits of the "Message" code are different on each repetition.

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Nonfiction?

For several weeks, the "Kindle Store" panel of the Kindle app on my cell phone has been presenting Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale at the top of its version of the New York Time Nonfiction Bestsellers list:

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"…but only despite…"?

I have a feeling that I'm coming at this sentence wrong, somehow — Laurie Garrett, "Meet Trump’s New, Homophobic Public Health Quack", Foreign Policy 3/23/2018:

Outside of his work with the military, [Robert] Redfield, a devout Roman Catholic, was associated with Americans for a Sound AIDS/HIV Policy (ASAP), a Christian organization headed by W. Shepherd Smith Jr. ASAP backed the idea of mandatory testing for HIV and isolation or identification of those infected with HIV. […]

H.R. 2788, sponsored by arch-conservative Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.), would have revised many aspects of the Public Health Service Act, allowing for testing, loss of licensing, and quarantine of HIV-infected individuals. It ultimately failed to pass but only despite Redfield’s advocacy.

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Hey Geoff (Pullum),…

In MS Word, buried deep in File|Options|Advanced|Compatibility Options|Layout is the option to check 'Do full justification the way WordPerfect 6.x for Windows does'". If you use full justification, your document will look ugly unless you check that box.

Does that qualify as a form of nerdview?

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Toward a recursive meta-pragmatics of Twitterspheric intertextuality

A few days ago, I posted a post consisting of…

a screenshot of a tweet (by me) consisting of…

a screenshot of a Language Log post (by me) consisting of…

a screenshot of a tweet (by me) consisting of…

a screenshot of a tweet by Lynne Murphy, a linguistics professor, quote-tweeting* an earlier tweet by Benjamin Dreyer, who is (although I didn’t know it at the time) a vice president, Executive Managing Editor, and Copy Chief at Random House.
* retweeting and adding a comment

A screenshot of the post is provided below the fold—but I hasten to add that I am providing the screenshot solely as a convenience to the reader, to save them the trouble of having to leave this post in order to look at that one, should they be so inclined.

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Illiterate phishers

I've recently noticed an uptick in spam with good graphical quality but terrible proofreading. A few random examples are below.

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Wait, what?

At some point in the recent past, after a few long and fuzzy quasi-days checking annotations for the DIHARD challenge, I found myself dozing off while re-reading a random e-book that turned out to be Charles Stross's Halting State, and was caught short by this sentence:

They call this place the Athens of the North — there’s got to be something you can do by yourself on a summer night, hasn’t there?

I thought to myself, "That's got to be wrong, doesn't it?"

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Decreasing definiteness in crime novels

In a series of posts over the last few years, I've documented gradual declines in the frequency of the English definite determiner "the" in a wide variety of text sources: State of the Union addresses, Medline abstracts, the Corpus of Historical American English, Google Books (from both American and British sources), and so on. Both in conversational speech and in informal writing, we see the kind of correlation with sex and age that we expect for a language change in progress; and there are surprisingly systematic geographical differences. (See the links below for details.)

For reasons discussed in a couple of recent posts ("Proportion of dialogue in novels", 12/29/2017; "Ross Macdonald: lexical diversity over the lifespan", 1/13/2018), Yves Schabes and I have been analyzing variation over time in the writing of some prolific 20th-century authors, so this morning I thought I'd take the opportunity to look at longitudinal changes in "the" usage in the two authors whose books I've processed so far, Agatha Christie and Ross Macdonald.

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Plain as what on your face?

David Smith, "Trump Tower meeting with Russians 'treasonous', Steve Bannon says in explosive book", The Guardian 12/3/2017:

Bannon has criticised Trump’s decision to fire Comey. In Wolff’s book, obtained by the Guardian ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England, he suggests White House hopes for a quick end to the Mueller investigation are gravely misplaced.

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

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Wireless Robert Johnson

Looking for something else, I stumbled on this unexpected Google Books description of Peter Guralnick's Searching for Robert Johnson:

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Seven double-plus-ungood words and phrases

Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, "CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity", Washington Post 12/15/2017:

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

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tbh or tbd?

Tara Golshan, "Republicans are following the same strategy on taxes that doomed Obamacare repeal", Vox 11/1/2017:

“I think it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that if we had had a bunch of wins on a whole bunch of items at this point, we perhaps would have been a little bit more deliberate in our negotiations,” Meadows, who chairs the Freedom Caucus, said.

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