Archive for May, 2014

Neologizer wanted

Paul Ford, "It is Impossible to Believe How Mindblowing These Amazing New Jobs Are!", The Message 5/30/2014 ("Our venture-funded vertical-driven content prosumer phablet platisher is rapidly growing and we need to add some Ninja Rockstar Content Associates A.S.A.P. See below for a list of open positions!"). One of the openings:

Are you a native full-stack visiongineer who lives to marketech platishforms? Then come work with us as an in-house NEOLOGIZER and reimaginatorialize the verbalsphere! If you are a slang-slinger who is equahome in brandegy and advertorial, a total expert in brandtech and techvertoribrand, and a first-class synergymnast, then this will be your rockupation! Throw ginfluence mingles and webutante balls, the world is your joyster. The percandidate will have at least five years working as a ideator and envisionary or equiperience.

 Some of the better nonce blends I've come across recently: derptastrophe, triangutards. You?


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Steamed native

Commenting on Facebook about Ben Zimmer's Language Log post on the Iraqi "Paul is dead" buffet sign, Anne Erdmann shared this buffet sign from China:

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Breakfast experiments in THE

Matthew Reisz, "Big data serves up linguistics insights", Times Higher Education 5/29/2014:

Meaningful research into linguistics can now be conducted in the time it takes to have breakfast, thanks to the “transformative” impact of “big data” on the field.  

That is the view of Mark Liberman, Christopher H. Browne distinguished professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, who told a panel discussion that “datasets are no longer the exclusive preserve of the scientific hierarchy” and that “any bright undergraduate with an internet connection can access and interpret the primary data”.

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Spam comment of the month

Among the approximately 15,000 spam comments directed at LL over the past 24 hours, this is one of the few that made it past the filters to be dealt with by human moderation:

Ginger ultimately struck North Carolina on September 30 as a chinese culture massive disappointment.

The resulting embryo is afterward transported to tissue may occur, either acutely or chronically, over hundreds of times, sometimes with a little more.

I killed it anyway, of course, but I think it deserves some recognition.

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Mutual intelligibility


Assuming no prior, formal study of or contact with the opposite language in a given pair (i.e., one is coming at these languages completely cold), roughly what degree (percentage) of intelligibility would exist between the spoken forms of the languages in the list below?  Naturally, you are not expected to comment on all of these pairs, but knowledgeable assessment of any of the pairs would be both valuable and appreciated.  Feel free to add any other pairs not listed, or to combine a language from any of the given pairs with a language from any other pair.  Unless otherwise noted, the languages listed are the national standards.  If the name of a city or region is given, the reference is to the language spoken in that area.

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Paul is dead

From Ajam Media Collective's Facebook page, a surprising buffet sign at Erbil International Hotel in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

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Warm Notice

A Hong Kong friend of Jeff DeMarco posted this photograph on Facebook (it's probably from Beijing, but he's not sure about that):

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North, south, east, west

Bill Watkins, who teaches Chinese and science at a small independent high school near Baltimore, asks three semi-related questions about directional words.

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Peak Friend

Today's Bobbins — another "peak X" sighting:

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For May 21, China Real Time Report, the China blog of the Wall Street Journal, featured an article entitled "Do You Dare Try the Devil-Language? China’s 10 Hardest Dialects" by Isabella Steger.

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Schwa Fire

Michael Erard's Schwa Fire is now live:

The golden age of language journalism begins now. In this inaugural issue, Arika Okrent tells the story of 5,700 hours of Yiddish recordings that were almost lost ("Ghost Voices"), and Russell Cobb writes about Americans' fondness for the Englishes we used to speak and what that fondness obscures ("The Way We Talked"). Michael Erard describes and defends "language journalism," and Robert Lane Greene provides a lesson on the languages of love ("Wooing in Danish"). Also included: an English homophone puzzle.

You can subscribe for $6.99 a year, or buy individual articles for $0.99. For more background, see Jennifer Schuessler, "New Online Magazine Honors the Mighty Schwa", NYT 5/23/2014.


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Tilting at hashtags

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Checking some predictions

Tom Friedman is merely the latest commentator to turn a claim about conceptual change into a claim about word frequency. Thus Amanda Stoltzfus, "The Way And The How Of Teaching Domestic Economy In The County Public School", Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Session of the Texas State Farmers' Institute, 1914:

This is the day of the farmer. The vocation of farming is being dignified and respected by everybody. The Bankers' Association has recognized the importance of this industry to the rest of the country and is striving to help put agriculture upon a sound basis through a special agricultural committee. The term "hayseed" has been dropped from our vocabulary since a worldwide interest in country life has been awakened by the farm life commission. The word "farmer" is" becoming a synonym for intelligence, because today the man who succeeds on the land must work along scientific lines—more and more intensively, and less extensively. The world is realizing that the study of agriculture includes a bigger combination of sciences than any other study unless it be domestic economy; and that it requires more brains to be a farmer than it does to be anything else unless it be the farmer's wife, who presides over the farm home without which the farmer might as well go out of business.

Google Books doesn't have a "Texas" corpus, alas, but checking the general run of English-language books suggests that Ms. Stoltzfus got the pre-1914 direction of change pretty much backwards:

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