Archive for Linguistics in the comics

Adverbial bravery

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Linguistic tools for the supervillain

In celebration of Geoff Pullum's 700th LLOG post, "World domination and threats to the public", we'll be meeting for a quiet (virtual) drink this evening. But meanwhile I'll quietly suggest that Geoff has been too hasty in joining Randall Munroe at xkcd in assigning to the field of Linguistics a "low likelihood of being a crucial tool for a supervillain, and low probability of anything breaking out of the research environment and threatening the general population".

In fact LLOG posts have described at least two fictional counter-examples  over the years, and I expect that commenters will be able to suggest some others.

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World domination and threats to the public

Linguistics is in the most desirable quadrant according to today's xkcd: low likelihood of being a crucial tool for a supervillain, and low probability of anything breaking out of the research environment and threatening the general population.

But I'm not at all sure that everything is positioned correctly. Molasses storage should be further to the right (never forget the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919); dentistry should be moved up (remember Marathon Man); robotics in its current state is too highly ranked on both axes; and entomology, right now (October 18, 2017), in addition to being slightly too low, is spelled wrong. Lots to quibble about, I'd say. But not the standing of linguistics as a safe thing to work on.

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Crisp

Today's Frazz:

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The category boundary paradox

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The comforts of literature

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Too cool to care

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "It's hard to train deep learning algorithms when most of the positive feedback they get is sarcastic."

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Han

Pearls before Swine for 7/23/2017:

A couple of Generation Z language consultants confirm the accuracy of the translations. Or as one of them put it, "Haha right".

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Real life

Today's SMBC:

For a more complex but pointed analogy, see "The Pirahã and us", 10/6/2007.

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Analogous spaces

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "If you draw a diagonal line from lower left to upper right, that's the ICP 'Miracles' axis."

[The ICP reference, if you don't get it…]

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Communication games

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "You're saying that the responsibility for avoiding miscommunication lies entirely with the listener, not the speaker, which explains why you haven't been able to convince anyone to help you down from that wall."

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Swearing in

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Discourse analysis

Today's Frazz:

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