Archive for WTF

Mystery script in a library book

We received the following intriguing note at Language Log Plaza:

Hey there, my name's Dan and I work at the Calistoga library. I found this little note in a book that was returned and I'm curious what script it's in.
At first I thought it was in Cherokee, but then looked closely and saw it wasn't.
It was returned in a Spanish-language book, if that's any clue.

A cursory look through writing systems on Omniglot didn't turn up a match. Can Language Log readers identify the script (assuming it's a script)?

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The study is also termed into many conclusion

Charles Belov was surprised by the featured story in the Health section of his Google News index. It was Chhavi Goel, "Surprising Theory About The Cats Which Make The Scientist Stunned", The News Recorder 12/26/2016:

A theory which make the scientists and major medical team shocked came in front that your cat can also become the reason of bird flu to you. The study came in front about the cats the bird flu virus can also affect a home cat which can be termed as dangerous for everyone. The study is also termed into many conclusion that tells that how strong is a bird flu virus can be.

Charles ponders:

It's bad enough that the syntax and word choices are odd, but why Google should promote this to the top is beyond me. Or am I just having a xenophobic reaction to Indian English (the domain ownership is in New Delhi and the author's name appears Indian)?

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He comfortable! He quickly dry!

A neighbor of mine, a respectable woman retired from medical practice, set a number of friends of hers a one-question quiz this week. The puzzle was to identify an item she recently purchased, based solely on what was stated on the tag attached to it. The tag said this (I reproduce it carefully, preserving the strange punctuation, line breaks, capitalization, and grammar, but replacing two searchable proper nouns by xxxxxxxx because they might provide clues):

ABOUT xxxxxxxx
He comfortable
He elastic
He quickly dry
He let you unfettered experience and indulgence. Please! Hurry up
No matter where you are. No matter what you do.
Let xxxxxxxx Change your life,
Become your friends, Partner,
Part of life

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Mystery modal window error message

Almost every day, when looking through the headlines on Google News, I see one or two stories where what's meant to be a snippet from the first paragraph of the story contains not a single word from the story but instead says this:

This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. Close Modal Dialog. This is a modal window.

modalwin

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No cussing in the operational campus environment?

On the fence around a construction site that I walk past every day is this sign:

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What's in the sachet?

At my hotel here in Brno, Czechia, the shampoo comes in small sachets, manufactured in Düsseldorf, labeled with the word denoting the contents in a long list of suitable European Union languages. I can't tell you which languages they picked, for reasons which will immediately become apparent. Here are the first four:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Shampoo
  3. Shampooing
  4. Shampoo

Just so you're sure.

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"Donald Trump lives, works, eats…" what now?

Donald Trump supporter Sean O'Loughlin sent out a pro-Trump press release ("Dear America") with this bizarre passage:

When people on the news call Donald Trump a racist, I find that statement difficult to believe. Like myself, Donald Trump is a life-long New Yorker. Donald Trump lives, works, eats and employs people of all races and religions.

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"Fortuitous indeed"

Is there some pop culture reference I'm missing here? Or has the Washington Post turned its advertising outreach over to Monty Python?

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Rogue Finnish weatherword intrusion

Cameron M. sent in a screenshot of his weather report from a couple of days ago, in which the current weather in New York City is described as Pilvistä:

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Cymascope: a new form of pseudoscience?

I have just learned of what is either a remarkable development with implications in many fields or, more likely, a new form of pseudoscience. It is a device called the Cymascope. Information about it may be had at the Cymascope web site. The Cymascope is a device for visualizing sound by causing a membrane to vibrate and shining lights on the membrane. It is claimed that this new method of visualizing sound has already led to marvelous new insights in fields ranging from Astrophysics and Biology to Egyptology and Musicology.

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An Interesting Press Release

This press release ("At the Flick of a Switch"), from the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, is apparently for real. Here's a direct quote:

Since the page was taken down a few hours after I posted this, the content can be found here. This is exactly what was on the Judiciary Committee website earlier, shorn of the header and footer and sidebars giving lot of juicy Judiciary Committee links.

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Trump's future conditional head-scratcher

After Pope Francis suggested that Donald Trump's plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border makes him not-so-Christian, Trump fired back with a written statement that begins with a remarkable pile-up of conditionals:

If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.

All of those would haves! On Twitter, @vykromond asks if Language Loggers have any insights into "the possibly unprecedented 'quadruple conditional' of the first sentence." Here's my tentative analysis.

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Correlated lexicometrical decay

This is a brief progress report on "The case of the disappearing determiners", which I've continue to poke at in my spare time.

As the red line in the plot below shows, the proportion of nouns immediately preceded by THE decreased over the course of the 20th century, from an average of 18.9% for books published in 1900-1910 to 13.5% for books published in 1990-2000.  The blue line shows that the proportion of adjective+noun sequences immediately preceded by THE was higher, overall, but followed a remarkably similar falling trajectory, from 29.1% in 1900-1910 to 21.2% in 1990-2000:

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