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Fecal compounds

Donna Cassata, "Lindsey Graham: 'My Party Has Gone Batshit Crazy'", USN 2/26/2016:

Sen. Lindsey Graham is disgusted with the GOP's embrace of Donald Trump: "My party has gone batshit crazy."

In no-holds-barred remarks at a celebratory dinner Thursday night, the South Carolina senator and unsuccessful presidential candidate said the GOP has lost all semblance of sanity and predicted the party will suffer irrevocable losses in November if it backs Trump.

A set of video clips can be found here. The critical passage — which includes a dig at Hillary Clinton:

Well look how far you've come.
The most dishonest person in America's a woman.
Who's about to be president.
How could that be?
My party has gone batshit crazy.

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Jim Newell, "Is Donald Trump’s Favorite Term Bigly or Big League? You Make the Call", Slate 9/24/2015:

What is that word—or words—that Donald Trump throws into the middle of basically everything he says?

The consensus around the LLOG water cooler was "big league", but I don't think we ever wrote about it. The Federal News Service transcript of last night's verbal brawl agrees:

I will say this. Mitt Romney looked like a fool when he delayed and delayed and delayed. And Harry Reid baited him so beautifully. And Mitt Romney didn’t file his return until a September 21st of 2012, about a month-and-a-half before the election. And it cost him big league.

But lots of people are convinced it's "bigly":

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FOOD & BGVERAGGS, with a focus on naan / nang

The following three items might well have been included in the previous post on Chinglish, but that one got to be rather long and unwieldy, so I'm treating these separately.  In any event, I think that they merit the special treatment they are receiving here.

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Pussy and pusillanimous

Email yesterday from P.O.:

Professor Liberman, we need you. You're no doubt aware of Trump's recent comment, quoting a supporter. But now TPM has gone and printed a reader email linking 'pussy' to pusillanimous'.

I had never heard this before, and I'm fairly well-read. I did some google-sleuthing, and found that it has clearly been claimed in the past to be true and is often refuted by people who can't even

Can you help get to the bottom of this?

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Totally Word Mapper

Jack Grieve Twitter-based Word Mapper (see "Geolexicography", 1/27/2016) is now available as a web app — like totally:

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Three words

As I write this, I'm sitting in the middle of  intend.agree.aware. Or alternatively, cèdre.permettre.lune.

Or, if you prefer, ambara.özüne.konuyu, or эпос.стукнуть.напрасный, or geflogen.aufhält.vollkommen, or mdogo.sokoni.yapenda, or …

What is this? and maybe more important, why?

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Annals of singular "they"

Shane Hickey, "The innovators: the app promising the perfect-fitting bra", The Guardian 1/10/2015:

The sizing technology works via an iPhone app. To use it, a woman must take two pictures of themselves while wearing a tight fitted top in front of a mirror. The phone is held at the bellybutton and a picture is taken from the front and the side. Software developed by Thirdlove then draws up measurements by calculating the distance between the mirror and the contours of the body.

Maybe an editor changed "women" to "a woman" and neglected to change "themselves" to "herself". But I prefer to think that it's just another brick in the singular-they wall — and maybe a vote for "themselves" as the reflexive form?

[h/t Bob Ladd]


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ADS Word of the Year is singular "they"

At the American Dialect Society annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America), the 2015 Word of the Year selection has been made. The winner is they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. They was recognized by the society particularly for its emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by someone rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.

Check out the press release here and my full writeup for here. The WOTY vote also has received coverage from Time, the Washington Post, and Business Insider, among others.

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Chinese phrases of the year 2015

We've already had a look at the candidates for Chinese Word of the Year 2015, but apparently that is too tame and lame, so now we also have to think about the top Chinese phrases of the year.  This photograph illustrates (or perhaps I should say "spawned") one:

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Chinese characters and words of the year for 2015

China Daily has published "Top 10 shortlist of Chinese character of the year announced" (12/17/15).

Since this is only the short list, I will not describe it in detail, but will wait till December 21 (tomorrow) for the the winner to be announced.  For the moment, however, I'll just note that — after some years of confusion about the difference between a word and a character — China now seems to have settled on a clear division between Character of the Year and Word of the Year, so that they are running two contests simultaneously.

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Kanji of the year 2015

Our Language Log post on "Kanji of the year 2014", zei 税 ("tax"), was rather extensive, so it should suffice to give an indication of how the selection is made and the nature of the ritual surrounding the public unveiling of the choice.  I won't attempt to duplicate such a full treatment for the kanji that was chosen this year, but will focus on a significant difference between last year's KOTY and this year's.  For additional information concerning this year's selection, I recommend reading this report:

"2015 Kanji of the Year: 'An' Juxtaposes Security and Unease" (12/15/15)

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Bracchium to Brezel to pretzel

I'm in Frankfurt for a week, and a stroll through the Weihnachtsmarkt last night with Caroline Féry and Ede Zimmermann reminded me of something I've wondered about for a long time: Why was German Brezel borrowed into English with an initial 'p'?

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Lexical limits?

Earlier today, Victor quotes Jerry Packard quoting C.C. Cheng to the effect that "the human lexicon has a de facto storage limit of 8,000 lexical items" ("Lexical limits", 12/5/2015). Victor is appropriately skeptical, and asks  for "references to any studies that have been done on the limits to (or norms for) the human lexicon".  In fact there's been a lot of quantitative research on this topic, going back at least 75 years, which supports Victor's skepticism, and demonstrates clearly that Cheng's estimate is low by such a large factor that I wonder whether his idea has somehow gotten mangled at some point along the chain of quotation.

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