Does "splooting" have an etymology?

In the summer of 1990, I spent a memorable five weeks at the outstanding summer institute on Indo-European linguistics and archeology held by DOALL (at least that's what we jokingly called it — the Department of Oriental and African Languages and Literatures) of the University of Texas (Austin).  The temperature was 106º or above for a whole month.  Indomitable / stubborn man that I am, I still insisted on going out for my daily runs. 

As I was jogging along, I would come upon squirrels doing something that stopped me in my tracks, namely, they were splayed out prostrate on the ground, their limbs spread-eagle in front and behind them.  Immobile, they would look at me pathetically, and I would sympathize with them.  Remember, they have thick fur that can keep them warm in the dead of winter.

I assumed that these poor squirrels were lying with their belly flat on the ground to absorb whatever coolness was there (conversely put, to dissipate their body heat).  At least that made some sort of sense to me.  I had no idea what to call that peculiar, prone posture.  Now I do.

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Character-shape wordplay

[This is a guest post by David Moser]

I happened to notice the following bit of character-shape play on a YouTube site called "Wen Zhao tangu lunjin" 《文昭谈古论今》。 He's talking about the tourists on Hainan island who were stuck there after a sudden Covid breakout.  In expressing the observation that these sudden incidents occur time and time again, he used a four-character phrase that is evidently a new Internet slang, 又双叒叕 yòu shuāng ruò zhuó, in which each subsequent character adds another 又 component, a visual representation of the concept "over and over again".

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More BS from the BBC

Earlier today, Victor Mair was naive enough to believe a BBC "No word for X" story, and spread some of its misinformation in his post "No 'no'". He cited "The language that doesn't use 'no'", by Eileen McDougall, BBC (8/9/22); and at least in the aspect that Victor (and the headline) featured, that article is apparently nonsense. As David Eddyshaw pointed out in a comment on Victor's post, "Kusunda has negatives."

David gave a link to David E. Watters, "Notes on Kusunda Grammar", Himalayan Linguistics 2006. Here's a link to the relevant section of Watters' paper, 5.5.4 Negation.

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Cornell Linguistics: IPA in action

I was pleasantly surprised to see this banner on the Cornell campus:

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"…direction…"

The word direction is common in the English versions of the "operational updates" from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine . For example, from the August 6 update:

In the direction of Bakhmut, the enemy from tanks, barrel and jet artillery shelled the areas of the settlements of Bakhmutske, Toretsk, Bilohorivka, Krasnopolivka, Pivnichne and Vershyna.

It led offensive battles in the direction of Yakovlivka-Vershyna and Kodema-Zaitseve, it was unsuccessful and left.

Leads an offensive in the direction of Bakhmut, hostilities continue.

It led an offensive in the direction of Lozove-Nevelske, was unsuccessful, withdrew.

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No "no"

When I lived in Nepal (1965-67), I heard of the Kusunda, but never had a chance to go visit them.  Now they are in the news, because their language — an isolate that linguists believe is unrelated to any other language in the world — is on the verge of extinction, with only one remaining speaker, 48-year-old Kamala Khatri.

"The language that doesn't use 'no'", by Eileen McDougall, BBC (8/9/22)

Selections from the article:

The Kusunda are highly marginalised and impoverished within Nepali society. Today, most live in west Nepal's Dang district, a sleepy region of yellow mustard fields and misty, wooded hills. It is here the Language Commission of Nepal has been running Kusunda classes since 2019 in an effort to preserve the language.

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Copper and tin: a reassessment of basic terms in ancient Chinese metallurgy

During the recent decade and more, we have had dozens of posts dealing with the importance of archeology for studying the spread of ancient languages.  A major subtheme of this research has been the accumulation and assessment of archeological and linguistic evidence for the dissemination of metallurgical technology (see "Selected readings") below.

A new study of an early Chinese text sharpens our understanding of key terms relating to the composition and smelting of bronze during the first millennium BC.  Here is a popular account of this pathbreaking investigation:

Researchers decode metal-making recipes in ancient Chinese text:  Study identifies mystery elements in Kaogong ji, shedding light on how early bronzes were produced

Sascha Pare, The Guardian (8/10/22)

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Complex vowels

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "Pronouncing [ṡṡċċḣḣẇẇȧȧ] is easy; you just say it like the 'x' in 'fire'."

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Wilkes-Barre: how do you you say it?

The city of Wilkes-Barre is only about a hundred miles north of where I've been living in the Philadelphia area for the past half century, but I've never had the slightest clue about how the name should be pronounced.  My guess has always been that it is something like "wilks-bare", but I've always been uncomfortable with that stab in the dark.

Now we have a thorough accounting of the toponymic pronunciation problem from "The Diamond City" by the Susquehanna itself:

"How should Wilkes-Barre be pronounced? Are you sure about that?" By Roger DuPuis, Times Leader (8/5/22)

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"High-energy linguistics"?

Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title — "Massage: Theoretical (10), Quantum (6), High-energy (2), Computational (1), Marine (1), Astro- (None)"

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Les raids du MAL

The FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago is featured in the news this morning,– and also of course on Twitter, with the difference that many tweets abbreviate "Mar-a-Lago" as "MAL" or "MaL", e.g.

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Free Tibet!/?

From Charles Belov:  seen on a street-sign pole in the Mission District of San Francisco:

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Biblical Hebrew Computing

Three years ago, we visited a proposal for "Classical Chinese computing" (12/19/19).  The post began thus:

Several colleagues called this article to my attention:

"Programming Language for the ancient Chinese"

Here's the introduction:

文言, or wenyan, is an esoteric programming language that closely follows the grammar and tone of classical Chinese literature. Moreover, the alphabet of wenyan contains only traditional Chinese characters and 「」 quotes, so it is guaranteed to be readable by ancient Chinese people. You too can try it out on the online editor, download a compiler, or view the source code.

The home page then goes through "Syntax", "Compilation", and "Get (Source Code; Online Editor; Reference".

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