Link love: language (29)

Some language-related articles and links that caught my eye recently:

Writers and kitties.
The rules for long S.
Is conversate a word?
Why we need hyphens.
Varieties of final element -s.
Aitch dropping and restoring.
The field of linguistics (diagram).
Can you “fall between the cracks”?
The, um, usefulness of, uh, disfluencies.*
Gender stereotypes in toy ad vocabulary.
How long should we cling to a word’s meaning?
Listening to rap for the first time, with a book critic.
The language of food: macaroons, macarons, and macaroni.
Hypophora, chiasmus, and isocolon – you hear them all the time.
More like St. Smellmo: derogatory nicknames for places: one, two.
Words are food & weapons, words are a liquid, language is a tongue.
Dan Everett on linguistic fieldwork & the Pirahã language (PDF, 327KB).

Finally, two recent publications generated a lot of discussion (So I might add more links):

New findings in word-order universals: summaryreport from the Max Planck Institute; paper; discussion.

Phonemic diversity and language origins: abstract; discussion and criticism from Language LogRichard Sproat, Language Hat, The Economist, and Nicholas Wade.

* See also: Well, you know, it’s how we talk.

[archived language links]

10 Responses to Link love: language (29)

  1. Jonathan says:

    I like the sloping format. But it raises the question: should I start at the bottom and work up, or ski down from the stop?

  2. Stan says:

    Whichever you prefer, Jonathan, so long as you look out for the overhanging asterisk-boulder halfway up (or down). Or you could close your eyes and prod the screen, or hop from one link to another as the fancy takes you.

  3. Claude says:

    At my age, it’s easier to go down than to climb up! I’m half-way on the ladder, although I started by it’s how we talk. My son has an answering service. When I call him at home, during his day work, I carry the monologue on, and on, and on…Sometimes the answering service buts in, and says (among other things), “If you wish to listen to your message, press 1.” I usually do and I’m always surprised at the amount of you know I insert in my long talk. I don’t think I do it in a regular face to face conversation. But then, how would I know?

    I thoroughly enjoyed the writers and their cat(s). What a great idea! Now I still have to listen to the rap videos. It should be fun!

    I’m rather impressed by the great number of commenters (or commentators?) some of the posts, you sent us to, are receiving. People are really interested in the subtleties of the English language.

    Thank you again for the variety of your links. Your posts are always fascinating, Stan. Cheers!

  4. Hey — as far as the phonemic diversity story, how about some link love?

  5. Stan says:

    You’re very welcome, Claude. I think most people would be at least a little surprised at how often they use you know or other conversational fillers. I use them myself, and though I try not to overdo it, it’s fair to see them as an inevitable part of much communication. Significant in their own right, but potentially annoying when relied on excessively!

    In specialist areas, it often seems that the more subtle the point, the greater the interest. In any case, I am grateful for yours, and for your enthusiasm and time. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog of writers and cats; it has some marvellous portraits.

  6. stuartnz says:

    I read and enjoyed the Yagoda piece on Slate a few weeks ago, but am still trying to find out if one of the words he discussed, “momentarily”, has changed its primary meaning in all major English variants. Here in NZ it still seems to have the sense of “for a moment”, rather than “in a moment”, on those rare occasions when I hear it. Does anybody have any data on how widespread the shift has been?

  7. Val Erde says:

    I am liking this post, not to be confused with licking this post, though if I were a cat, I’d lick it.

  8. Stan says:

    Stuart: “For a moment” still seems to be the primary sense in BrE, but I expect the “in a moment” sense is gaining ground. That’s a hunch; I haven’t investigated it systematically. Someone probably has, though, so if I come across any data I’ll link to them here. In Ireland, I hear both uses of the word. Thank you, by the way, for adding my blog to your marvellous collection of references.

    Val: Not to be confused, for sure, though there is some overlap between liking and licking. So long as your screen is clean and you know where it’s been.

  9. Stuart says:

    A wonderful collection of interesting reads, thank you! The one that amused me most was the article about falling between the cracks. The article, and especially the comments on it, made me wonder why so many people look so hard for, and worry so much about the absence of, logic and sense in idioms. It reminded me of my favourite analysis of an “idiotisme”, David Mitchell on “could care less”

  10. Stan says:

    You’re very welcome, Stuart. There’s plenty more in the links archive, if you ever take a notion and have some time on your hands. (There’s another curious idiom.) David Mitchell’s rant amuses me, though I can’t muster strong feelings about the illogic of “could care less”. As you say, people are strangely bothered by the lack of (formal) logic in English. The dreaded double negative is a familiar example and a perennial favourite among peevers. In this case, as in so many others, logic is just an excuse to complain about a usage that’s disliked for whatever reasons.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, you might enjoy this recent post at Motivated Grammar on logic and idioms.

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