Archive for Announcements

Language & Communication: Request for Information

This is a guest post by Bill Badecker, Linguistics Program Director at the National Science Foundation.

Subject: Language & Communication:  Request for Information

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The silence of Language Log

Our much-valued readers will all be wondering why Language Log has so far said nothing about the result of the US presidential election. That is an understandable question. Most of the newspapers seem to have managed to get out editions for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; but not us.

The answer is that we are in the position of Jack Benny in an old, old radio comedy program long ago, in a sketch where a highwayman demands of him: Your money, or your life!

There is no answer. So the highwayman repeats his threat: Your money, or your life!

And the legendarily stingy protagonist cries out, "I'm thinking it over!"

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Green's Dictionary of Slang goes online

Today, Green's Dictionary of Slang (GDoS for short) launches its online version. This is excellent news, coming more than five years after Jonathon Green published the print edition of his exhaustive three-volume reference work. As I wrote in the New York Times Book Review at the time,

It's a never-ending challenge to keep up with the latest developments in the world of slang, but that is the lexicographer’s lot. Green plans to put his dictionary online for continuous revision, which is indeed the direction that many major reference works (including the O.E.D.) are now taking. In the meantime, his monument to the inventiveness of speakers from Auckland to Oakland takes its place as the pièce de résistance of English slang studies. To put it plain, it’s copacetic.

Despite some tough sledding along the way, GDoS now sees the light of day online. Below is Jonathon Green's announcement. (For more, read the coverage in Quartz, and also see the dictionary's blog.) The good news is that headwords, etymologies, and definitions are freely available through online searches, while the full entries, with voluminous citations for each sense of each word, are available for an annual subscription fee.

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Eurasian eureka

After reading the the latest series of Language Log posts on long range connections (see below for a listing), Geoff Wade suggested that I title the next post in this series as I have this one.  If there ever was an occasion to do so, now is as good a moment as any, with the announcement of the publication of Chau Wu's extraordinary "Patterns of Sound Correspondence between Taiwanese and Germanic/Latin/Greek/Romance Lexicons, Part I", Sino-Platonic Papers, 262 (Aug., 2016), 239 pp. (free pdf).

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"Enter the Dangal"

Earlier this year, Language Log readers contributed to the elucidation of "South Asian wrestling terms" (3/1/16).

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Sino-Japanese

I recall that, as a graduate student in Sinology, one of the most troublesome tasks was figuring out how to romanize the names of Japanese authors, the titles of their works, place names, technical terms, and so forth. Overall, Japanese Sinological (not to mention Indological and other fields) scholarship is outstanding, so we have to consult it, and when we cite Japanese works, we need to be able to romanize names, titles, and so forth to reflect their Japanese pronunciations.

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Pinyin literature contest

I wish to call your attention to the Li-ching Chang Memorial Pinyin Literature Contest.  The purpose of the contest is to commemorate the life and work of Li-ching Chang (October 5, 1936-June 20, 2010), who was an outstanding teacher of Mandarin at the University of Washington, the Oberlin center in Taiwan, Middlebury College Summer School, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and Swarthmore College.

The contest will offer more than US$13,000 in prizes for works in the following categories:

  • novella
  • short story
  • essay
  • poem

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LinDOLL

There's an announcement here for CPFEST, the  first speech corpus produced by the joint US-EU funded LinDOLL program (Linguistic Documentation of Over-Looked Languages). I have only a few minutes between a student meeting and a presentation on "Simplified Matching Methods for Causal Inference in Nonexperimental Data" at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, plus there's simultaneously the Mid-Atlantic Student Colloquium on Speech, Language and Learning (MASC-SLL), so I don't have time for more than a link here, but I'm sure that there will be useful discussion in the comments.

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Endowed chairs at the 2017 Linguistic Institute

Anyone familiar with academia will have noticed how often the high-prestige invited participants at conferences or summer schools and the holders of endowed professorships tend to be men. Well, not so much in linguistics, it would seem. Look at the list of the faculty members selected to hold the four prestigious endowed professorships at the 2017 Linguistic Institute, a large summer school sponsored by the Linguistic Society of America and hosted next year by the University of Kentucky:

  • Collitz Professor: Joan Bybee (University of New Mexico)
  • Sapir Professor: Penelope Eckert (Stanford University)
  • Hale Professor: Lenore Grenoble (University of Chicago)
  • Fillmore Professor: Julia Hirschberg (Columbia University)

One hundred percent women for the top invited professorships! And make no mistake, they are all very distinguished senior professors, known worldwide for their research. This isn't tokenism. It's the way our discipline has been developing over the past thirty years or so. Makes a feller proud to be a linguist.

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Chinese proverbs

A frequent topic of our Language Log posts has been about how best to learn Chinese, e.g.:

"How to learn to read Chinese " (5/25/08)

"How to learn Chinese and Japanese " (2/17/14)

"The future of Chinese language learning is now " (4/5/14)

Two things I have stressed:  1. take advantage of properly parsed Pinyin or other phonetic annotation and transcription; 2. utilize the full resources of digital, electronic, hand-held, and online dictionaries and other devices to assist and enhance the learning of reading and writing.

Whenever a well-designed, efficient pedagogical tool appears, I am always pleased because it means more rapid acquisition and less suffering for students.

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Free digital books

All Synthèse books published before 2005 appear to be free to download in .pdf form from Springer. I haven't verified that this is true for IP addresses outside of universities with a subscription, but I think it is.

This include the series Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy, but there are likely to be other titles of interest to some LLOG readers.

[h/t Kai von Fintel]

 

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*The Haystack's Painting

Appearing in The Paris Review, Winter 2015:

From “A New English Grammar”

Jeff Dolven

*The Haystack’s Painting

The haystack’s painting hangs in the Met;
the painting of the haystack, that is,
the one by Monet, not by van Gogh,

the rose-blue, snow-lit one with the haystack
in it. The haystack has this deal
with many painters, also Millet,

appearing not for a fee, nor a stake,
exactly, but for the sovereign right
to have your eyes back whenever it wants.

 


*By convention, an asterisk indicates an instance of improper ­usage. All ­titles are drawn from such examples of bad grammar in Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

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Bad sex writing: really really bad

I'm pleased to be able to announce on Language Log the winner of the Literary Review's 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. The award went to the singer Morrissey for his debut novel List of the Lost. And it seems to have been honestly earned. The judges cited this sentence:

Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza's breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra's howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza's body except for the otherwise central zone.

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