Archive for December, 2011

Calling Christmas Christmas

It has always been our custom on Language Log to adhere to lexicographical verisimilitude in referencing manual excavation equipment.

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The posts of Christmas past

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Seasonal linguistic pun

From quickmeme:

[Tip of the hat to Dan Scherlis.]

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Short course on grammar for language technologists

Yes, as Mark reveals, we Language Log writers sometimes leave our custom-designed luxury tower block at One Language Log Plaza (which, regrettably, exists mainly in the realm of our imagination), and get out there into what we refer to as "the real world", to teach courses. Not just in the regular linguistics programs of our home universities, but in summer schools and other events where we can lecture to a wider cross-section of the linguistically interested public. For example, are you a student broadly interested in computational linguistics and (ideally) resident in continental Europe? Quite probably not, in which case this particular post is not for you. But if you are, read on for a brief announcement about a course I'll be offering this coming January in the delightful coastal town of Tarragona in eastern Spain.

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Call for Course Proposals: 2013 Linguistic Institute

Every other summer, the Linguistic Society of America holds a sort of summer school, traditionally known as a "Linguistic Institute". The 2011 Linguistic Institute was held at the University of Colorado at Boulder; the 2009 Institute was at University of California at Berkeley; the 2007 Institute was at Stanford; and so on. The courses at each Institute are taught by faculty from around the country and around the world, and the students are similarly diverse. Enrollment is open to all.

The 2013 Linguistic Institute will be held at the University of Michigan, 6/24/2013 to 7/19/2013. Its organizers, Andries Coetzee and Robin Queen, have issued an open "Call for Course Proposals", inviting members of the public to add to the existing list of proposed courses by suggesting "exciting, dynamic courses … that are devoted to new lines of inquiry".

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The what of history?

Marin Cogan, "Payroll tax deal: Will House frosh comply?", Politico 12/22/2011, quoting Mo Brooks (R Alabama):

“It is most unfortunate that so many elected officials in Washington have a greater focus on November 2012’s elections than on sound public policy or advancing America’s interests. Both the House and Senate plans are fiscally reckless and should be deposited on the dump heap of history,” he said.

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Words for 'meh'

The current strip over at Dinosaur Comics starts with these two panels:

And Ryan's note says

T-Rex's sentence in the first panel is a snowclone! There's a bunch of them here on Language Log, which is also just about where the word originated! NOW YOU KNOW

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Transitive "disappear"? Not in this country!

The latest installment of Ruben Bolling's political cartoon "Tom the Dancing Bug" takes the form of a satirical information sheet, "So… You've Been Indefinitely Detained!" Among the "Frequently Asked Questions, Which You'll Have Plenty of Time to Contemplate," is this one:

Q. Have I been disappeared?
A. People aren't "disappeared" in America! Only in lawless dictatorships can intransitive verbs be used to make passive forms.

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A wee conventional implicature

The common view is that the Scottish English adjective wee means little. Doubtless it often does; but as I slowly make a little headway in learning the ways of Standard Scottish English (and its much more inscrutable sister language, Scots [SCO], which in general I cannot even understand), I have been noticing that (in Edinburgh at least) the word wee is more commonly used in a rather different way, one that couldn't possibly be thought to convey anything about diminutive size or cuteness.

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Don't get me wrong: I am entirely positive about octopus porn. Graphically depicted sex with our multiply-tentacled cephalopod friends is cool as far as I'm concerned.

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More "dude" lexicography

In the spirit of this, this and this (but maybe not this):

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I can't do that, Dilbert

Dilbert for 12/17/2011 suggests that we may be in more danger from smartphone apps than from autonomous warbots — not Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, but Rowan Atkinson as the Administrator:

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Kim Jong Il: did he "die" or "pass away"?

Joel Martinsen writes:

Here's a comment I came across on Sina's microblog service today from someone reading various terms used by the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese media to report Kim Jong-il's death and inferring politeness based on the Chinese usage of the terms. Is there a name for this sort of phenomenon?

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