One thousand Language Log posts

« previous post | next post »

With this post I reach my thousandth Language Log contribution. I wrote 676 posts for the old series, before the original server died in agony in April 2008. Those were written from Santa Cruz, California (between 2003 and 2005 and in 2006-2007), from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard (2005-2006), and from Edinburgh, Scotland (2007-2008) The old series posts are preserved in read-only mode here, with all their typos and the occasional broken link or missing image; they can be custom Google-searched here. A complete list of links to all of my posts in the old series can be found here.

Since April 2008 I've written another 323 posts in the current series, mostly from Edinburgh (a few from other places while travelling); they are all listed here. This one brings me to the round number of a thousand. It's a convenient point at which to stop and think about whether to write any more.

In the spring of 2003, when Mark Liberman suggested the idea of Language Log, I hadn't even heard of group science blogs. I had heard about blogs; but the earliest ones were, I knew, just individuals' online diaries, intended for family and friends, rather like postcards home. I had never explored any of them. But it took only a short time for groups of scientists to start realizing that blogging software could be redeployed to make instant small magazines that would be (i) free, (ii) incredibly cheap to run, and yet (iii) simultaneously distributed to (in principle) everyone on earth. Mark was one of the earlier scientists to see that, and to guess at the power of the idea. Certainly he was one of the very first professional linguists to do so. When he suggested that I try blogging on linguistic topics I soon got the hang of it; but I never would have thought I would end up blogging a thousand times over.

The years following the launch of Language Log saw the birth of some entirely new terminology for linguistic phenomena: eggcorns, snowclones, and crash blossoms, for example. And in 2006 I invented the much-misunderstood term linguification for another phenomenon that appeared to have no name (though my critics wrongly think it has lots of names, hyperbole being one of them). To some modest extent there has been real investigative work on such topics. There are certain kinds of idiom that we understand a bit better now than we did a decade ago.

But original research has not really been a priority for Language Log. Its primary success has been in putting linguistic topics, discussed with at least an occasional flicker of seriousness by real professional practitioners of linguistics, before a wider public than our discipline ever reached before. In 2009 the Linguistic Society of America awarded us its Language, Linguistics and the Public Award for service to the linguistic profession, and we are very proud of that.

Some say they have detected occasional signs of ill-temper in a few of my posts. I suppose they may be right. The whole Stupid Series might be thought to betoken a certain choleric or at least disdainful attitude. So might some of my posts on linguistic aspects of technology, and my scornful remarks about credulous animal-communication stories. And I may occasionally have made a few outspokenly critical references to the gentlemen who wrote that much-loved little book The Elements of Style — the shameless, pontificating, ignorant, hypocritical, incompetent, authoritarian pair of old weasels Messrs. Strunk and White.

But I wrote lots of sunny and charming and polite and constructive posts too. Really I did. You could look them up. Plus occasional very serious pieces on gay marriage and free speech and racism and Ray Charles and other things that I care about.

But now what, after a thousand posts on hundreds of different linguistic (or at least vaguely language-connected) topics? Mark and I could easily produce a book, you might suggest; but we did that already. The only reason you didn't know that is that it's not a best-seller yet. It's a bit of a sleeper. In fact it's been sleeping very soundly despite being still in print. So it's been there, seen it, done that. We have our book. We are waiting for the call about the movie rights.

The main question for me, the lure of round numbers being what it is, has to be whether to go on and write post number 1001. It's a judgment call. The pay is no good, and the hours are long, I can tell you that. But hey, I didn't get into blogging for the money.

Nor, of course, did I get into it out of any great love for the feeling of being nibbled to death by ducks in the comments area. True, some commenters are intelligent and interesting and kind, and have generously taught me many things I didn't know, and tactfully helped me fix my many errors. But there are also sour old trolls gnawing on bones of bitterness under bridges; and look-at-me show-offs promoting themselves like flashers opening their raincoats in the park; and holier-than-thou morality nitpickers ("I was so offended that you had the bad taste to mention lunatics / sick people / some ethnic group / my gender / Nebraska / underwear / pornography / werewolves / moistness . . ."); and more generally, commenters who know nothing of either the Language Log comments policy or the elementary rule of human behavior Don't Be A Jerk. One tires, one really does.

Why, then, does one blog? Or (let me snap out of the 3rd person indefinite before you start thinking that I have turned into a member of the British royal family), why do I blog? I honestly don't know. Not because I have any hope of equalling Mark's astounding achievement of publishing six or seven thousand posts in these pages (I'm not sure even he knows how many he's done); if this were a competition I would have been left in the dust.

Occasionally, when I have been asked by someone why I wrote such-and-such a post, I have perverted the standard Everest climber's riposte, and simply said: "Because it wasn't there." It's just a witty saying, not a real answer. Though there are indeed so many posts that aren't there yet but could be.

Some day I might talk about the astonishing case in this article in The Guardian (thanks to James Martin for spotting it) where the genitive ending ’s was misplaced (by a word processing error, I think) so it fell after a supplementary relative clause flanked by commas: "Sarah, whose case was widely reported in the Guardian, 's conviction came despite judges' belief that her claim of long-term abuse, intimidation and rape at the hands of her husband was true."

Alternatively, I might return to the case of my bad, and discuss Chris Hopson's recent suggestion that the phrase is a corruption of sorry, my bag among people playing the card game Spades. "A side which (over several deals) accumulates ten or more bags has 100 points deducted from its score," say the rules, so a bag really is something to apologize for.

Or I could discuss Nora Ephron's weird remark during an interview with Lawrence O'Donnell (hat tip to Gregory Wilde for this one): "I am trying very hard not to know the difference among the Kardashians" — see this video between 5:20 and 5:25. (Could it have been an attempt to comply with the old prescription about between never being correct when used to speak of more than two objects? The prescriptive rule is absurdly off-target, of course: nobody talks of having sand among your toes, even though most people have more than two; but perhaps Nora Ephron doesn't know that?)

There are any number of interesting turns of phrase to reflect on and linguistic puzzles to ponder. I might tackle a few hundred of them . . .

Or I might just rest here at number 1000. Stop blogging forever, and launch into a long, happy, and healthy ex-blogger phase of my life. Get outdoors. Take up hang-gliding maybe.

It's my call. And right now I really don't know which way I will go. You know the quotation that comes to mind here, don't you, science fiction fans?

Now he was master of the world, and he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something. (Arthur C. Clarke; last words of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.)


  1. bulbul said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    And here's to a thousand more!

  2. rootlesscosmo said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    What bulbul said.

    We are waiting for the call about the movie rights.

    Could the delay be due to disagreements about casting? I'm thinking De Niro as Supplementary Relative Clause.

  3. Brian said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    You'll be back.

  4. Jess said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    I've been reading Language Log for well over five years, and your posts, especially the bad tempered ones, are always a highlight. Sometimes you just need some erudite grouchiness with your morning coffee to keep the windbags at bay.

  5. Charles Gaulke said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    If I were to choose favourite posts on Language Log, the majority would certainly be yours.

    The blog as a whole and your contributions in particular have been instrumental in shaping my own writing, making me more conscious of language in general, and sometimes in arming me with facts to confront those who believe everything they read in magazines. Since many of the posts are as much about skepticism and empirical verification of claims in general as linguistics in particular, Language Log has done a lot to inform the way I think about everything. In addition of course it has been highly entertaining.

    So, thanks for that.

  6. Sili said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    Don't you dare stop, you … you … you Sassenach!

    Some say they have detected occasional signs of ill-temper in a few of my posts.

    What do you think it is that makes us love you? (Well, aside from the seafood juggling, of course.)

    The only reason you didn't know that is that it's not a best-seller yet. It's a bit of a sleeper. In fact it's been sleeping very soundly despite being still in print. So it's been there, seen it, done that. We have our book.

    Organise a campaign on Twitter and in the bloggisverse, and arrange for a mass buy-up (-in?, -out?) the next time Glenn Beck launches a 'book'.

    "Sarah, whose case was widely reported in the Guardian, 's conviction

    I rather like that …

  7. Greg Morrow said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

    Thank you for your service. Without you, I might never have known that prepositions could have a zero complement. I've learned how to convince people that the rules of a language are found in how people actually use the language, not in mad little books of self-contradicting prescriptivist claptrap. I have learned a lot from you and Language Log; I hope and expect to learn more from you and Language Log.

  8. Jake said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    I read occasional others, but I read all of GKPs posts for their wit and insightfulness. Please don't hang up your keyboard yet. Your contribution is very much appreciated!

  9. John Cowan said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    Well, you know very well what I think, but I'll say it anyhow. Carry on if you can.

  10. Barrett D said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

    Retire while you're ahead!

    Or… retire, then later announce your triumphant return to blogging! And then, when no one expects it, retire again for no real reason! But if you return again after that, well, you'll be a shadow of your former self and suffer an arm injury and retire a final time in disgrace.

  11. Chris said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

    I've been waiting for an excuse to express my appreciation for Language Log, and this seems like a good place for it. I've always had an interest in language(s), but before I came across this blog, I barely knew that 'linguistics' was a thing. Largely thanks to you guys, I'm now majoring in linguistics as well as learning another language (though Professor Mair gets most of the credit for the latter). If part of the aim of this blog is to bring linguistics to a wider audience, it's certainly worked in my case. And it hardly needs to be said, but I certainly hope you decide to stick around.

  12. Boris Blagojević said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    I feel awkward writing this, but I guess it would be almost impolite to have enjoyed some of your posts so greatly and never to thank you for writing them.

    I hope you'll continue, and although the main reason is I'm selfish and don't want to stop being amused and informed, I also believe they can in some sense contribute. One of the most discussed topics here is how little the general public knows about linguistics, and you all are doing what you can to change that. I believe it's a cause worth fighting for, if you have the will to continue. Besides, the unique way you explain, inform, describe and complain makes the world a merrier place :)

    In any case, best of luck with whatever you chose doing!

  13. Nijma said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    The question is not whether to continue blogging, but whether or not it is possible to not blog.

    It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times.
    -Mark Twain

  14. empty said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

    You could ponder the decision a little longer and go to 1024.

  15. Vergilio said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    Don't leave us ! Stay here ! That's my command.

    In the meantime, have a merry christmas and a happy new year !



  16. Clayton Burns said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

    My vote is for continuing up to number 2000 at least: "And I may occasionally have made a few outspokenly critical references to the gentlemen who wrote that much-loved little book The Elements of Style — the shameless, pontificating, ignorant, hypocritical, incompetent, authoritarian pair of old weasels Messrs. Strunk and White."

    Here is a post from the Vermont Law School library blog on: Stopping the School Bus: How “Grammatical Analysis” got Mendez off the Hook Posted on December 6, 2010 [by cornellvermontlaw].

    Mark Lieberman posted on the Language Log Blog about the curious case in which “grammatical analysis” got John Mendez of Woodbridge, VA off the hook for passing a stopped school bus (

    The point of this short vignette is to reiterate the importance of proper grammar and also to remind you that we have lots of great books in the stacks and reference section to help you brush up, if necessary.

    The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, is a little book, which you likely recall from undergraduate days, filled with tips on usage, composition, style and form: PE1408 .S772 1999. [End]

    Perhaps an excellent indication as to why another 1000 posts will be necessary. From Geoffrey K. Pullum.

  17. GeorgeW said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

    This is such a valuable contribution to those interested in language. Don't stop. Please.

  18. Jair said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    I'd be sad to see you go, but that's your choice to make. I've found your posts to be consistently interesting, and hilarious more often than not. I don't mind your occasional snarkiness; in fact, my enjoyment of your writing seems to grow in proportion to your degree of vexation. I'd still read Language Log if you left, but I wouldn't look forward to it quite as much.

  19. T. Munro said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    You must blog until the last prescriptivist is strangled with the entrails of the last popular science journalist.

  20. Jonathan Mayhew said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

    Continue with that wicked ill-termpered sense of humor. I can't get enough of it.

  21. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

    I look forward to reading Language Log, including your posts. The less frequently people post on Language Log, the less robust the site will be. I hope you will continue posting, but if you can't bring yourself to continue, please recruit one or two people to replace you.

    Having read this post, however, I am struck by the way certain questions group themselves together in my mind when I read them. They can function as ordinary inquiries, but they can also be a way of fishing for compliments. These "loaded" questions, more than many others, require social skills in addition to verbal skills and comprehension to answer in ways that satisfy the emotions of the person asking the question. A few examples follow:

    Do you think I should retire?
    Do these pants make me look fat?
    What do you think of this new recipe?
    Why do you love me?
    What are you thinking?
    Have you read my report?
    How are you going to vote?

    Is there a technical term (other than "loaded question") for such questions — as opposed to more straightforward questions such as "When does the registration expire?" or "What night is your meeting?"

  22. Xmun said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

    It's unthinkable that "Geoffrey K. Pullum" and "stop posting to Language Log" (or any other words to the same effect) should appear in the same sentence.

  23. Andrew Greene said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

    Don't let the ducks get you down.

    And regardless of what you decide, thanks for the past thousand posts. I've learned a lot and I've laughed a lot, and isn't that what it's all about?

  24. Mark Mandel said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    zzplr… Oops, move left hand one key left and restart. Please continue.

  25. phosphorious said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

    I add my voice to those hoping you'll stay, and add a bit of practical advice: disable comments on any future posts.

    Troll problem solved, if at an admittedly steep price.

  26. Felix said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

    Before Language Log, my relationship to linguistics was limited to having read Noam Chomsky's thoughts on Palestine. Now?

    More than any other blog, this one distills the things I love most about the internet: Thoughtful, knowledgeable people, who write well, sharing their ideas unmediated by busybody editors or advertisers. Language Log made me think critically about words and communication, especially about my own assumptions and rules about words and communication. As someone who writes and edits for a living, it actually matters that I be able to think critically about these things, so it's been a valuable and real resource. But if your topic (and area of expertise) was plumbing, I bet I'd find Language Log as valuable and enjoyable, because you guys write it so well. Language Log makes me care about language because of your writing. So if you're leaving, I thank you for all the time and work you've put in here. But like everyone else here, I do hope you'll stay.

  27. McLemore said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    . Rock star disguised as professorial grammarian runs back onstage arms raised happy to give an encore. Right? haha

  28. J Lee said,

    December 21, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

    Strictly speaking, "GKP's Hits and Misses" shouldn't even count as a post, so you'll have to do at least one more to really make 1,000.

  29. Comwave said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 12:07 am

    One thOusand pOsts!
    Thank you and congratulations!
    One mOre zerO dOesn't seem excessive.
    Neither dO many mOre zerOOO,OOO,OOO…..s.

    Thank you once again, looking forward to your decision to post the first for a new thousand.

  30. Chris said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:29 am

    GKP, you're easily my favorite Language Log contributor — not because any of the others are bad, but because you're SO good. For whatever it's worth, I hope you keep it up: you have an appreciative audience. (I'm aware that that's the entirety of the compensation, but maybe that counts for something.)

  31. C Thornett said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 2:29 am

    Language Log wouldn't be the same without its GOM*.

    *Older interpretation: Grand Old Man. Early 21C BBC interpretation: Grumpy Old Man.

  32. Andrej Bjelaković said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:12 am


    If you give up on us, I promise to hunt you down and… be very disappointed with you in person! Tears may be shed, whimpers uttered, and who knows where it would all end up. So please, whatever you do, do not go gentle into that blogless night.

  33. Will said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:33 am

    "Now he was master of the world, and he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something. (Arthur C. Clarke; last words of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.)"

    Technically you need to write another 1001 posts before you're allowed to use this quote =).

    But in all seriousness, I'm hoping you continue to blog because your posts are insightful, fun, and at times sobering. But if you choose to stop, good luck in your other endeavors.

  34. a George said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:48 am

    Having come late to LanguageLog I obviously have much less seniority to speak than others. However, I have some advice that covers extrovert activities in general: only go on as long as it is fun. To go on, driven by irritation really only makes the irritation set (in the sense of photographic fixing and similar reactions). To go on because of a feeling of duty to spread the good message is only to put oneself on a pedestal-high soap box. Missionaries have an inner drive and a feeling that they let some divinity down if they do not preach, irrespective of suffering. Some of the charm wears of when an extrovert activity becomes a self-inflicted duty.
    But you have predecessors even more famous than you: A. Conan Doyle was, according to urban myth, forced by the reading public to devise a way to extricate Sherlock Holmes from the dangers of the Reichenbach Falls and to continue to supply readers. The same goes for TV series. Mostly the quality falls under such circumstances. Let your personal pleasure decide whether we shall enjoy your comments in the future. We have been fortunate in having been able to read so many in the past.

  35. Michael Power said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:50 am

    Ditto all the previous comments.

    Please go for 10,000. It is a much rounder number.

  36. Aaron Toivo said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:23 am

    I may be in my thirties, but I have decided to begin applying to universities to study linguistics formally rather than just from my armchair, thanks in part to you and Language Log. Thank you for demonstrating that there is more to linguistics… and to linguists… than fancy titles on a library shelf. You've done more than put linguistics in front of the public, you've put yourselves as scientists in front of the public, and it has been an enlightening ride for thousands to whom science may now seem less scary, distant, or ivory-towered than it used to.

    Please don't stop!

  37. Anthea Fleming said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:30 am

    I have greatly enjoyed Language Log – an outpost of civilisation – over the last four years or so, and your contributions in particular.
    Please persevere (unless of course you are seriously bored – but I don't believe you are). Be as curmudgeonly as you like.

    Such a lot of interesting topics have appeared here, particularly the eggcorn, for which we keep our ears open here in Australia.

    My only regret is that I never made a copy of the Anglo-Saxon translation of 'Rudolf the red-nosed Reindeer' which was in the proper epic Beowulf metre, alliteration, and even began correctly with 'Hwaet!' I have had no success in my search for it and will be extremely grateful if anyone can point me to it. Unfortunately I cannot recall the title of the original entry.

    Merry Christmas and other seasonal greetings to all.

  38. bbleeker said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:45 am

    I'd hate to see you stop, but I think a George is right: don't continue if it isn't fun for you anymore.

  39. Camilla said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:51 am

    Please keep it up.
    Your language log posts are a glimmer of light in the sometimes scary dark of the internet.

  40. maidhc said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:52 am

    I am not at all a professional linguist, but I have been interested in languages since I was young. Professionally I use Chomskian concepts as they relate to computer programming languages.

    Congratulations on your millennium. I find this a very entertaining site, and in appreciation of the seriousness found within, I make an effort to restrict my comments to what might advance the topic under discussion, or else to provide a cheap gag related thereto.

    I have a serious issue with one of the posts on your old server, which I attempted to address a few years back, without result. But I am letting it slide until it becomes relevant again.

    To speak sincerely, I think there are quite a few people like me who have a more than usual interest in language. But we may not often have the opportunity to interact with real professional linguists. This blog provides such an interaction, so I find it very valuable. Also perhaps it has some value to the linguists in getting some basic concepts out to the unwashed masses.

    In summary, keep up the good work!

  41. richard howland-bolton said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 7:20 am

    "Get outdoors. Take up hang-gliding maybe."

    Surely there is no alternative to continuing.
    I mean have you looked out of your Edinburgh window recently?

  42. Mary Bull said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    GKP, you know that I want to keep on reading you forever. But, since that's not going to happen, at least so far as I can understand the properties of time and of life, we'll just have to wait and see which comes first: your retirement from LL or my demise. Oh, well, if you want to pin me down, my demise or my impoverishment to the point that I've lost my mind or my financial ability to afford the means to access the Internet.

    Now! Is that wordy and confused and self-involved enough for you? Reckon it has to be, and requires another blog post aimed at straightening me out.

    Discovering LL and you in my old age has been one of the highlights of my life.

  43. S. Norman said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    I read while at work. If you stop, I'll actually have to do work.
    Don't be selfish.

  44. Susie Lorand said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Anthea Fleming, is "Hrodulf Readnosa Hrandeor" what you're looking for?

  45. Jens Fiederer said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 9:09 am

    The need to communicate is very human (and, possibly, monkey and dolphin as well, I suppose).

    Here is hoping you are human…..but if not: "Thank you for teaching me, sensei."

  46. Jens Fiederer said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    By the way, the "stupid bank transfer scam email" rant reminded me of a hypothesis I heard recently: there is actually an outfit somewhere that advertises "You, too, can make millions of dollars by sending out scam emails….", and the caliber of the people who fall for THAT scam directly contributes to the caliber of the scam spam we all get.

  47. Eli said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 10:28 am

    First, congratulations on your one-thousandth post and thank you for the nine-hundred and ninety-nine that came before it. Seeing a new post with your byline always makes me smile.

    Please keep writing! You are one of the voices that shapes the tone of this blog, and one of the most well-known voices on linguistics out there. Your posts are a force for intelligent independent thought and your unique wit (acerbic or not) and style is what makes much of the denser portions of linguistics that you tackle accessible and interesting to those not trained in linguistics.

    I majored in linguistics in college and am currently on a break before continuing to study, and this blog – and your posts – have shaped my goals as a linguist. You've been a personal inspiration. Count me among those who have said that a light will go out if you stop writing.

  48. Sarah said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Aspire to rounder numbers! Please…

  49. chris said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 10:37 am

    You must blog until the last prescriptivist is strangled with the entrails of the last popular science journalist.

    ISTM that renowned author Dan Brown should fit into that sentence somewhere, too. Nevertheless, I second the sentiment. Someone has to defend the walls against the people who think that English infinitives consist of two words that ought not have any other words inserted between them.

    (P.S. In case anyone is alarmed by the ghoulishness of the expression, it's a historical reference. The original, by a French revolutionary, had "king" and "priest" respectively — the church of the time being an instrument of state oppression, or arguably vice versa.)

  50. Craig Tyle said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 11:44 am

    I have not commented before, but will join others in expressing my hope that you will continue to contribute. I discovered this blog a couple years ago, and it has become a highlight for me. Your posts have been a big part of that.

    I will call out a favorite — when my younger son (then age 12) was complaining about the need to diagram sentences, I showed him your "Van Morrison" post, which he enjoyed greatly. (As did I, especially as I share your views about said performer).

  51. Rob Grayson said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    Hi Geoff,

    I'm a professional translator who graduated in Linguistics almost 20 years ago. I'm still fascinated by language in all its aspects. I only started reading Language Log a couple of months ago, and yours are the posts I enjoy most. Not only do you provide interesting insight; you do so with consummate wit, style and panache. It would be a crying shame if you were to stop.


  52. Theodore said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

    If you do decide to blog on, my vote is to hear more about the 's conviction construction. I've heard this construction in speech occasionally where the speaker decided to add that clause after they'd already started off on the sentence.

  53. James said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    Your posts are the highlight of my favorite blog. I'm grateful for all the work you've done, with long hours and no pay, to educate and entertain me- usually both.

    When I visit LL, I skim through the new posts. Typically, I'll skim a post and if it looks interesting I'll start reading it more closely. But first I look for the author: if the post is by GKP, I'll always read it closely.

  54. fiona hanington said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

    I have to add my voice to all the others here — please, continue! Yours are among my favorite posts on this site.

    If disabling comments is what it might take to make continuing a more enjoyable experience for you, then — by all means — do that. We will understand.

  55. Adrian Bailey said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    First Iain Dale (, now you? Does this herald the dezeitgeistifcation of blogging? I don't blame you if you have a break for a while, or turn comments off for a while, but it'd be a shame to see the LL team weakened by your retirement. Although now and again I take issue, from my layman's perspective, with your and Mark's comments, I probably wouldn't read LL so regularly if you hid your personaliites.

    As far as the book's concerned, I'm sure that a FFTMG mark 2 (with a snappier title perhaps?) would do well – it's almost 5 years now since the first one and there's even more interest in language now than there was then. A couple of months off, editing?

  56. Adrian Bailey said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    Damn, better spell dezeitgeistification right or Google will never forgive me! Happy Yuletide, A

  57. Colin said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    This is one of only four blogs I check daily, and my field is nowhere near linguistics. You and your co-bloggers entertain and edify, sometimes at the same time. But nobody would grudge you some time off!

    Also, choleric is good.

  58. Ian Preston said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

    Happy hang-gliding. I'd miss you though. The world's a better place for your contributions.

  59. a George said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

    @Ian Preston: yes, but pompousness suffers! Every time. Or is pomposity?

  60. kaelsleeps said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

    I've been reading since about 04. It makes my life happier. Keep it up.

  61. Faith said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 12:11 am

    This is the most manipulative post you've ever blogged. You know perfectly well you are going to keep writing.

  62. Rose said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    GKP, I suspect that this is a little exercise to enable you to see whether your blogging efforts, and the efforts of LL in general, actually make a difference – will the commenters rail against the very suggestion of your blogging retirement, or will they just sigh and wish you well? I rail against it. Your posts are incisively informative, clearing up many linguistic issues which are clouded by fuzzy or bigoted information in other sources. You don't mince words, which is refreshing, regardless of the topic – sometimes it's necessary to be a little blunt, to really hammer the point home, but even on topics which are not so rife with controversy, it's nice to read discussion which is direct and clear. Who ever said one needs to be nice all the time? The way of the future for academic writing is to embrace online media as an additional but also alternative method of publication – where you are free from the restrictions imposed by journals – and LL has always been at the forefront of this. More people are better informed because of your posts, even if they don't always like it. GKP, if you leave, who will 'keep the bastards honest?'
    I'm with Eli – you've shaped my personal goals as a young linguist, in the field and outside of it. I'll always be trying to find ways that non-linguists can live a life more informed by linguistic knowledge, and i'll always be trying to coax others into the field by being an example of engaging, accessible and interesting research (as i said, i'm a young linguist, so i haven't become embittered enough to feel silly saying that!). The importance of Good Science has been made abundantly clear in your posts, and the value of a bit of DIY fact-checking (and not just for pseudo-linguistic crap spouted in popular media).
    If you leave, it will be a sad loss for the next generation of linguists. It's hard to find such diverse, lively and up-to-the-minute linguistic discussion anywhere else, and you are a driving force. You don't have to be prolific, but please, keep making the world a better place!

  63. Rose said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    And I know Faith is right, but I was compelled to post against the idea on the sliver of a chance you might actually stop. So, we'll hear from you after you keep us in suspense over your Christmas holiday break, then.

  64. Ben Hemmens said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 6:01 am

    I'm a natural scientist turned translator, writer, editor. I also worked as an English teacher for a well-known international company for a couple of (intense) years.

    At the beginning of my self-employment, I also taught a few company courses on my own. I found that gradually, the teaching methods – and the things we told people were right and wrong – that I'd inherited from the well-known international company's famous method gradually disintegrated on more open-ended reflection.

    Also, as a translator or writer for customers who speak a different language, a central business problem is that you are doing something your clients, by definition, don't understand. Yet it's essential to explain to them what you are doing, so they understand why you need extra information, why something is taking so long, why they should be with you instead of one of the many cheapo competitors, why you have turned the information structure of a passage of text on its head, etc.

    Coming from the class of people who can write decently without first being able to describe how and why, I can either resort to making up my own rules, which would end up, as many of the attempts of otherwise able journalists and editors do, being mostly empirically wrong and fairly illogical, aka prescriptivist poppycock, or I can use the output of real linguists to help me reflect on the issues.

    What did I know about English usage? Like a lot of people I supposed what I knew was based upon Fowler and The Complete Plain Words, having been given/recommended these by relatives who were a) a scientist and b) a subeditor. On reflection, very little of what I know was actually learned from those sources. Various personal tips from lecturers and supervisors were probably more important; but most important was just my own urge to write.

    Ten years ago, I would have said a linguist is someone who knows everything about language except what it's for. What English is for, in my world, is Bosnian engineers based in Austria negotiating parts of development projects with Chinese counterparts. Sometimes it's for Austrian fashion designers presenting their collections at international shows. Etcetera. The first trained linguists I encountered were a self-important little jerk who had inserted himself into aforementioned language teaching corporation (I suppose only mediocre linguists are likely to be attracted to that particular enterprise) and was throwing his weight around; and Chomsky, who for some reason by me unfathomed is probably the best known living name in linguistics (he gets my goat in so many ways I wouldn't know where to begin).

    So: bad start.

    Thankfully there are more accessible and more scientific bits of linguistics. I've finally found some reasonable works on comparisons between German and English (tips: Christian Mair, Monika Doherty aka Judith Macheiner, Ekkehard König & Volker Gast), collected a few books on copywriting which essentially confirm things I already had a feel for, had the obvious dose or two of David Crystal, and become a LL reader.

    So thank you for being part of the linguistics world that people who work with language can relate to.

    On the other hand, I suggest that blogs get written out of two very basic human urges: playing games and scratching itches. You may have better things to do, but don't we all ;-)

  65. bodywallet said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 9:19 am

    Keep on writing, please!

  66. W. Kiernan said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

    Don't write another post! Until, you know, you wanna.

  67. Erik Zyman Carrasco said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

    GKP, if you decide to stop, I'll understand; but if you decide to keep at it, I'll be thrilled at the opportunity to keep reading your solid linguistic analyses and wonderfully snarky diatribes.

    (Sidenote: @ Aaron Toivo: you're a badass. Major kudos.)

  68. TonyK said,

    December 23, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    I have never seen such blatant fishing. Shame on you! But it seems to have worked rather well.

  69. F. Escobar said,

    December 29, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

    I'm still waiting for post 1,001. Thumb-twiddlingly, nail-bitingly, table-tappingly waiting. Honestly. It's verging on cruel by now.

  70. Cy said,

    January 3, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    In all fairness, there was only one book. I would happily buy a book with nothing but #Nerdview posts, or the anti-Strunk -and-White, if you were to stay and produce more… I feel like, especially in your posts, that every tagged category constitutes a short seminar by Geoffrey K. Pullum, a seminar that I would otherwise never have the opportunity of attending. That has a high-value for me.

  71. John Smith said,

    January 21, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

    We haven't forgotten you!

RSS feed for comments on this post