Link love: language (40)

Below is a batch of language-related links (my 40th!) — some short, some long, mostly recent, a few from the archives.

Feel free to skip what’s familiar, ignore what doesn’t appeal, share what you like, or go off on a tangent in the comments.

Tarantula punctuation mark.

Does slang belong in school?

“Get your X on.”

Purposeless eye dialect.

Plagiary and plagiarism.

On the medieval origins of bookmarks.

Does your silent reading voice have an accent?

What countries are the most linguistically diverse?

Etymology-Man on tidal wave and tsunami.

A pronunciation pronouncement.

Is the subjunctive mood disappearing, and does it matter?

Cowslip: cow’s lip or cow slip?

The heartbreak of Random Capitalization Syndrome.

Erin McKean on arm party and other fashion vocabulary.

Inside the mind of a synaesthete.

How Charles Dickens helped shape the lexicon.

Why click consonants sound so different in English and African languages.

Zadie Smith on flexible accents.

Two-item sentence comprehension by a dog.


[previous links]

11 Responses to Link love: language (40)

  1. languagehat says:

    The English word would be better as paraprosdokia, using the root form of the noun.

    I disagree. That would be the case if there were a Greek word paraprosdokia, but there’s not (and such a form would be unintelligible to a Greek). Instead it comes from the Greek phrase para prosdokian, where the -n is required by the para, and if you’re going to mash it together and call it an English word, you have to keep the elements intact. If English were to take it into its head to borrow the Spanish phrase por favor ‘please’ and make it a single word, that word would be porfavor — it wouldn’t be changed to “porfavo” because -o is a more natural-looking ending.

  2. Excellent round up as ever Stan

  3. Cassie says:

    Wow, awesome. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Stan says:

    LH: Quinion writes:

    Paraprosdokian looks odd to us because the -ian ending is more commonly found in adjectives in English than in nouns (though a few, such as comedian and tragedian, do contain it).

    I think it’s more than a few, and in many cases a word ending in -ian can be both a noun and an adjective (Bostonian, Canadian, Christian…). Paraprosdokian looks odd to me not because it’s a noun with an -ian ending but because it’s Greek; the -osdok- part in particular is an unusual string.

    Jams: Thank you; glad you enjoyed it.

    Cassie: You’re very welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. John Cowan says:

    This has nothing to do with the above links, but I thought you’d like it. The speaker is a fictional character named Daniel Lyam Montross, who in 1906 moves from a small town in Vermont (though he was born in Connecticut) to a small town in North Carolina:


    Our difficulties sharply underline
    Their way of speech, or maybe it was mine.

    I loved the lilt with which their voices sang,
    Their ears were grated by my nasal twang.

    My road as “rud”, my four-syllable “cow”
    Would make them snort and laugh, I don’t see how.

    “I wonder——” I would say in accents stiff,
    Whereas those folks would sing, “I wonder me if.”

    “How are you?” was just “Hwarye?” on my tongue.
    “Heigh-ho! God-proud to see ya!” they all sung.

    My cow had “loo’ed”; a cow of theirs now “moo’ed.”
    But “Bossie” gave our tongues similitude.

         —Donald Harington, Some Other Place. The Right Place.

  6. John Cowan says:

    On the question of the reading voice: I think that the voice that reads poetry doesn’t generalize to prose, which is the great majority of all reading for anyone. I myself cannot read poetry much faster than I can speak it, whereas I can read prose hugely faster than I can speak — they are almost completely decoupled. I have found that this is not true of other people, such as my wife: she is a fluent and enthusiastic, but not a fast, reader.

  7. Stan says:

    I do like that poem, John. Thank you. And that’s an interesting report on your different poetry- and prose-reading voices. My experience would be similar, I think: very slow for poetry, and sometimes very fast for prose, though of course it varies a lot on the text’s form and content. To take an extreme example: not long ago I read Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, which is written almost entirely in an original dialect that forces the reader to slow right down. In this style certain of its rhythms come more to the fore.

  8. Cheers for the linking, Stan :-)

  9. Stan says:

    My pleasure, Dan.

  10. Marc Leavitt says:

    I was grazing through a website this morning where the phrase “the watching of it” was queried.The answer was keyed to comparison with other phrases of a similar construction and the opinion that this use was poetic, as opposed to the alternative “watching it.” My first thought was that the first construction was common in Irish English, as in “The wearing of the green.” but perhap not restricted to it. Your thoughts?

  11. Stan says:

    Marc: It’s not uncommon here, but I don’t think it’s a particularly Irish English idiom. Grammarphobia examined it yesterday.

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