They triumphs?

Farhad Manjoo, "Call Me 'They'", NYT 7/10/2019:

The singular "they" is inclusive and flexible, and it breaks the stifling prison of gender expectations. Let's all use it.

I am your stereotypical, cisgender, middle-aged suburban dad. I dabble in woodworking, I take out the garbage, and I covet my neighbor's Porsche. Though I do think men should wear makeup (it looks nice!), my tepid masculinity apparently rings loudly enough online and in person that most people guess that I go by "he" and "him." And that's fine; I will not be offended if you refer to me by those traditional, uselessly gendered pronouns.

But "he" is not what you should call me. If we lived in a just, rational, inclusive universe — one in which we were not all so irredeemably obsessed by the particulars of the parts dangling between our fellow humans' legs, nor the ridiculous expectations signified by those parts about how we should act and speak and dress and feel — there would be no requirement for you to have to assume my gender just to refer to me in the common tongue.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (63)


Making the goats dance

According to abcduvin.com ("tout sur le vin, ses techniques, son vocabulaire"), the phrase "À faire danser les chèvres" ("To make the goats dance") means "Vin trop acide, désagréable à boire" ("Wine that's too acid, disagreeable to drink").

The Dictionnaire de L'Académie Française cites the same expression: "Du vin à faire danser les chèvres, du vin très acide".

Although the metaphor is not entirely transparent, "make the goats dance" could be used in English, and indeed has been.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (13)


Corpora and the Second Amendment: "bear arms" (part 3) [UPDATED]

[Part 1, Part 2.] An introduction and guide to this series of posts is available here. The corpus data can be downloaded here. Important: Use the "Download" button at the top right of the screen. 

New URL for COFEA and COEME: https://lawcorpus.byu.edu.

From The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut
From October, 1735, to October, 1743, Inclusive

—♦—

THIS WILL BE my final post about bear arms, and it will be followed by a post on the right of the people to … bear arms and another on keep and bear arms. These posts will directly address the linguistic issues that are most important in evaluating the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller: how bear arms was ordinarily used in the America of the late 18th century, and how the right of the people, to keep and bear Arms was likely to have been understood.

As I've previously explained, the court held in Heller that at the time of the Framing, bear arms ordinarily meant 'wear, bear, or carry … upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.' In my last post, I discussed the uses of bear arms in the corpus that I thought were at least arguably consistent with that that meaning. Out of the 531 uses that I identified as being relevant, there were only 26 in that category—less than 5% of the total.

In this post I'll discuss the other 95%.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)


Emojis vs. emoticons

Here's an emoji:  😻

Here's an emoticon:  :‐)

As we will see below, the superficial resemblance of the two words is completely coincidental — even though they both have to do with the visual depiction of emotions and ideas in texts.

This post began as a comment to "Emoticons as writing" (7/7/19), but it soon became too long and too complex to fit in a comment, so it now receives separate treatment of its own.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (25)


Blizzard Challenge: Appeal for volunteer judges

From Zhizheng Wu:

We are pleased to announce that the Blizzard Challenge 2019 listening test is now live. The paid listening tests have been running in the University of Edinburgh for two weeks and will finish by 19th July. We need your help as a listener, and to help us recruit more listeners.

Speech experts (you decide if you are one! Native speakers only please!)

http://3.16.124.227/register_expert.html

Everyone else:

http://3.16.124.227/register_volunteer.html

The test takes around 45 minutes. You can do it over several sessions,  if you prefer.

Please distribute the above URL as widely as possible, such as on your  institutional or national mailing lists, or to your students.

Update: Sorry about the lack of guidance on the fact that the synthesis is all in Chinese!  I'm traveling, with somewhat erratic internet, and took a few minutes off from packing to post the appeal without checking it out — apologies again.

 

Comments (6)


The battle of the airports

Donald Trump's July 4 speech included this puzzling passage:

In June of seventeen seventy five
the Continental Congress created a unified army
out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York
and named after the great
George Washington commander in chief
The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter
of Valley Forge
found glory across the waters of the Delaware
and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.
Our army manned the air((ports))
it ranned [sic]
the ramparts
it took over the airports it did everything it had to do
and at Fort
McHendry [sic]
under the rockets' red glare
it had nothing
but victory.
and when dawn came
their star spangled banner
waved defiant

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (35)


Emoticons as writing

This morning I received this card from a friend:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (21)


The "Mosquito" in Philadelphia

Michaela Winberg, "Sonic Devices Target Teenagers In Philadelphia", NPR 7/5/2019:

WINBERG: If you look at the rec center building at Philadelphia's East Poplar Playground, you'll see a small beige speaker screwed into the wall. Every night at 10 p.m., that tiny speaker activates. And for eight hours, it plays nonstop. Here's what it sounds like.

(SOUNDBITE OF STATIC)

WINBERG: Didn't hear anything? If so, it's likely you are not between the ages of 13 and 25. That's the age group this sound is targeted toward. As we age, some of the cells in our ears start to die off. So when we get older, we have trouble hearing higher-frequency noises like the one that this device plays.

Philadelphia resident Lamar Reed is 17, and he hears the noise loud and clear.

LAMAR REED: It's so loud. Like, it can – like, what if it damages our ears or anything like – something like that?

WINBERG: It's called the Mosquito, and it's an acoustic deterrent device, technology used to keep humans or animals away from a designated area. It's usually used by law enforcement or the military. The Mosquito was manufactured by Vancouver-based Moving Sound Technologies. Michael Gibson is the company's president and says he has worked with about 20 parks departments in cities around the country to install his devices.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (32)


The causes of myopia

Comments (20)


Beyond within

Matt Wilstein, "Kathy Griffin Calls CNN's Jeff Zucker a 'Pussy' for Caving to Trump", Daily Beast 7/2/2019 [emphasis added]:

Griffin tells 'The Last Laugh' podcast that the CNN president tried to limit her to one Trump joke per hour during 2016's New Year's Eve special before firing her the next year. […]

They had such a good relationship at one point that Zucker even hired Griffin to roast him at an event where he was receiving an award. But as soon as President Trump tweeted that she should be "ashamed of herself" for posing with his mock-severed head, Zucker kicked her to the curb.

"I guess the part that sort of stuns me to this day is, number one, that photo, whether you like it or not, was absolutely beyond within the parameters of the First Amendment," Griffin says. "So people that think I broke the law are misinformed. Jeff knows that."

"And I know this is going to sound silly, but I kind of think Jeff owes me an apology," she continues. "Seriously, I didn't do anything wrong."

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)


Mycological meandering: vernacular variora

The surname of the mayor of Prague is Hřib (Zdeněk Hřib [b. May 21, 1981]):

"Zdeněk Hřib: the Czech mayor who defied China"

By refusing to expel a Taiwanese diplomat, the Prague mayor has joined the ranks of local politicians confronting contentious national policies

Robert Tait in Prague
The Guardian, Wed 3 Jul 2019 01.00 EDT

The surname Hřib, though unusual, struck me as familiar.  Jichang Lulu observes:

Hřib is the regular Czech reflex of the Proto-Slavic source of, e.g., the Russian and Polish words for "mushroom" (гриб, grzyb). The Czech form, however, has a more specific meaning (certain mushrooms, e.g., Boletus). On the other hand, the further origin of Slavic gribъ has long been a matter of much debate, and I'm not aware of a generally accepted Proto-Indo-European (or other) etymology.

That set me to wondering whether there are cognates in other IE branches.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (34)


Quotation query

The following English-language quotation is widely (though vaguely) attributed to Montaigne –see also here. But as far as I can tell, he never wrote the French equivalent:

Whenever a new discovery is reported to the scientific world, they say first, 'It is probably not true.' Thereafter, when the truth of the new proposition has been demonstrated beyond question, they say, 'Yes, it may be true, but it is not important.' Finally, when sufficient time has elapsed to fully evidence its importance, they say, 'Yes, surely it is important, but it is no longer new.'

Can anyone provide a citation to the original, whether from Montaigne or someone else?

 

Comments (16)


Profiteer rolls


Seen on a buffet table in Glasgow: "Profiteer Rolls" for "Profiteroles".

There are a fair number of other examples Out There, but not enough to merit a separate dictionary entry, much less to eclipse the original, as in the case of Jerusalem Artichokes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)