Link love: language (22)

You might have seen some of these links before — especially if you’re  following me on Twitter, where I’ve shared a few of them already — so please overlook any repeats and enjoy whatever’s new.

Different languages’ words for family members.
Keep your crotchets under control.
Ten myths of English usage.
The long tail of language.
How do you pronounce scone, zebra, delirious, nuclear, garage…? (PDF)
Slash: a new English coordinator?
Pundite (v).
Pronouncing phth.
Hou tu pranownse Inglish.
The longest word in Shakespeare.
Microsoft Word’s grammar checker is not your friend.
Recursion and the claims for language infinitude. (PDF)
A world without words (Radiolab podcast).
Aluminum and aluminium.
Two Three more entries, three four more links:
Ben Zimmer, then Johnson, on ‘man up’.
Great post and discussion at Language Hat about the word gyp.
The Brain Speaks!

Thripshaw’s Disease:


[links archive]

12 Responses to Link love: language (22)

  1. Val Erde says:

    Microsoft’s Word grammar checker is definitely not my friend. The spellchecker isn’t either – not since it kept glitching on parts of my home address as though they were swear words!

    By the by, A-Z and more wordages are now on my blog!

  2. Tim says:

    An excellent list, yet again. I am still reading through them, but so far the pronunciation one is my favourite.

    Though, any discussion on language gets me excited, as you well know by now. XD

    I’d love to fill out a pronunciation survey. Some Kiwis choose to pronounce things in a way that peeves me right off* – the crotchets I have with “lower-class” pronunciation fume just below the surface of my psyche. The one thing I truly hope for the New Zealand accent is that the upcoming generation does not allow it to slip to the point of accepting such poor choices in mainstream speech.

    English evolving and changing I can deal with – and bending the rules and having choices of syntax and structure are just fine, as I have a fair understanding of when (a) is right and when both (a) and (b) are acceptable. But what I can’t abide is children picking up bad habits in pronunciation from uneducated role models.

    I love other accents and cultures, and appreciate different pronunciations of words that are questionable. But when there isn’t choice and yet a group of people still choose to mispronounce words, then we have a problem.

    Who knows how people will sound two generations from now, with such a slip in standards of language practice and so many misconceptions surrounding even educated speech and choices in written language.

  3. Tim says:

    Forgot to put the footnote to my asterisk!

    * For example, pronouncing says as /seIz/ (like daze), which is wrong. It is correctly pronounced as /sez/ (like fez). I fear that eventually /seIz/ will become the norm in NZ, with the frustratingly increasing amount of people in influential positions mispronouncing such a commonly (mis)spoken word.

  4. Stan says:

    Val: I don’t think it’s anyone’s friend, alas. There are many rude home addresses in Ireland; no grammar checker could withstand them!

    Tim: Glad you liked them. Yes, your enthusiasm for language is obvious, and welcome! Pronunciation drifts, inevitably, especially with vowels. I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. You could do a survey quite easily if you had the time to prepare it and aggregate the data. For example, send it out by email, ask friends and family to forward it selectively, and wait a few months to gather a statistically significant sample.

  5. Sean Jeating says:

    Phew. Again, where to start? With my grandfather’s aunt-in-law who married (how shocking!) the great-grandnephew of the very Professor Thripshaw?
    This would be as indiscrete as to just write ‘Another great collection, Stan. Thanks’ would be extraterrestrial boring.
    Seriously, after bookmarking the longer ones yesterday, tonight I can say, I followed all links, found each interesting, and therefore think (latest) after the 22nd ‘link love’ you are in the state of being able to achieve honours, Stan.

    End of the beforegoing.

    Re the discussion at Language Hat: Some weeks ago, waiting at a cashier with one ear I heard a couple, foreigners obviously, behind me talking in a language I could not exactly identify. Turning round I asked (in German):
    – May I ask what language you are speaking?
    – Romani.
    – Ah, so you are Rumanian.
    – No, we are Zigeuner (gypsies).

    Minutes later, on the car-park.
    – Sorry. You said ‘We are Zigeuner’. We are taught that to call a Roma or Sinti ‘Zigeuner’ – is politically not correct.
    – [He, smiling] Well, I am allowed to call myself Zigeuner, hm? After all, I am one.

  6. Stan says:

    Full marks, Sean! A few of them were very long, but no less interesting for that, I trust. Thanks for reporting back, and for recounting the anecdote. I think your gypsy friend from the shop summed up the general rule quite well.

  7. Claudia says:

    Hahaha! I love Sean’s story. Hou tu pranownse Inglish is my problem because I’m a frog. Et comme Cyrano de Bergerac a dit de son nez: Ces vérités,
    Je me les sers moi-même avec assez de verve
    Mais je ne permets pas qu’un autre me les serve

    Thank you, Stan, for an interesting Link love. As always.

  8. I invented a regular spelling system for English once. It was completely unworkable, because I was doing it for fun and therefore workability was not a priority. I wanted it to have a completely alien feel. It was very specific to my own dialect and involved a convoluted scheme for marking the stressed syllables of a word.

    To my surprise, though, I don’t seem to have a record of it. I thought I had a folder full of my old language stuff, but I can’t find a copy anywhere, either on file or in print. I’ve managed to find some sample text (and that was well buried), but not the rules that explain how it works.

  9. Stan says:

    Claudia: You’re welcome, as always! Merci pour les lignes de Rostand.

    Dragon: I hope it shows up eventually. Things have a way of disappearing almost but not quite completely. I never invented a spelling system, but I used to enjoy creating codes. Some were based on simple letter-swopping; others were more ideographic.

  10. Stan, I should be able to reconstruct most of it from the sample text that I have, combined with what I remember. I don’t think it’s worth a blog post all to itself, but seeing as you mention codes, I could perhaps write a post encompassing the spelling scheme plus one or two codes of my own. Definitely a possibility for the week to come.

    I’d give away a few details right here, but even a crude summary would be rather long and technical for a comment…

  11. Stan says:

    I look forward to reading it, Adrian.

  12. […] systems and codes 13 Sep 2010 — Flesh-eating Dragon In a comment on Stan Carey’s blog, I mentioned a regular spelling system that I once invented for my dialect of […]

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