Archive for Linguistics in the comics

Some kind of strict police

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "* Mad about jorts".

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Ray Norris, "Why old theories on Indigenous counting just won’t go away", The Conversation 9/5/2016:

Last year researchers Kevin Zhou and Claire Bowern, from Yale University, argued in a paper that Aboriginal number systems vary, and could extend beyond ten, but still didn’t extend past 20, in conflict with the evidence I’ve mentioned above.  

As a physicist, I am fascinated by the fact that the authors of this paper didn’t engage with the contrary evidence. They simply didn’t mention it. Why?  

Although my training is in astrophysics, I have for the last few years studied Aboriginal Astronomy, on the boundary between the physical sciences and the humanities, and I am beginning to understand a major difference in approach between the sciences and the humanities.

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Unicode: The brontosaurus emoji

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "I'm excited about the proposal to add a 'brontosaurus' emoji codepoint because it has the potential to bring together a half-dozen different groups of pedantic people into a single glorious internet argument."

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Today's xkcd:

Mouseover Title: "The 95% confidence interval suggests Rexthor's dog could also be a cat, or possibly a teapot."

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Six year old science

Today's SMBC:

Update — Comment from a friend:

Replace “rocks” with “verbs” and you have us pretty much nailed.


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Universal journalistic clichés?

Tank McNamara for 8/8/2016:

The Olympic Games are unique in showcasing competition in so many sports by the elite athletes of so many nations. It is an amazing stew of many cultures, yet there are common experiences. For instance it is amazing to hear "at the end of the day …" spoken in so many different languages by pundits from all over the globe.

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Prescriptivism and terrorism

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PolitiFact says

Yesterday's xkcd:

Mouseover title: ""Ok, I lit the smoke bomb and rolled it under the bed. Let's see if it–" ::FWOOOSH:: "Politifact says: PANTS ON FIRE!""

Comments (1)

Pictographic English?

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "'Or maybe, because we're suddenly having so many conversations through written text, we'll start relying MORE on altered spelling to indicate meaning!' 'Wat.'"

It's unusual for Randall Munroe to get so many things wrong, starting with the implication that such things as pictographic (as opposed to logographic) writing systems actually exist. But I'll leave the discussion for the comments section.


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The Legend of Gnome Ann

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "President Andrew Johnson once said, 'If I am to be shot at, I want Gnome Ann to be in the way of the bullet.'"

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Artificial emotions again

A couple of days ago, Dilbert highlighted a problem with robot emotions, beyond the issue that Zach Wienersmith raised a few weeks ago:

The external evidence of "cognition" is sometimes obscure and ambiguous, but the Turing Test approach is especially problematic in evaluating "emotion".

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Linguistic pranks

Today's xkcd, headlined "Intervocalic Fortition":

Mouseover title: "These pranks happen all the time. English doesn't allow one-syllable words to end in a lax vowel, so writers on The Simpsons decided to mess with future linguists by introducing the word 'meh.'"

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Code critique poetry

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "It's like you tried to define a formal grammar based on fragments of a raw database dump from the QuickBooks file of a company that's about to collapse in an accounting scandal."

Comments (3)