Link love: language (44)

It’s about a month since my last linkfest on language, words and books, so here’s a bumper new batch. Most are articles or blog posts, and there’s a few talks as well. Happy reading and listening.

Semicolons: a love story.

Why we swear (radio show).

Can synaesthesia be learned?

The rise of the tweet.

Text play in the N+7 Machine.

Nice post on linguistic tails, this.

On subtitling vulgarities in Hindi films.

Puns and sound symbolism in Dickens’s character names.

When languages reject speakers.

Alphabet rhyme from 1850s London.

The JR family’s problems with language processing.

Why ahead of is fine for sequencing events.

Notes on the linguistics of lolspeak.

A new peeve: the plural of vinyl.

The silence of Trappist monks.

Can we prepone acceptance of Indian English?

The importance of good book editing.

Infeasible or unfeasible? Experts disagree.

Podcast on invented languages: Esperanto, Lojban, Klingon et al.

How geography may shape cultural and linguistic diversity.

Linguistic analysis of should of.

The politics of bilingual greetings (“Bonjour, hi”) in Montreal.

Kate Burridge talks about euphemisms.

A short introduction to Old English from the OED.

More carved book landscapes.*

Who and what is responsible for sound changes?

The evolution of human cognition (PDF).

How do Metafilter users say MeFi?

The changing role and design of book covers.

David Crystal chats about language and his interest in linguistics.


[Links archive]

* Guy Laramee’s earlier book sculptures appeared in Link love 39.

6 Responses to Link love: language (44)

  1. joy says:

    Why is an article about teaching yourself synesthesia related to language? I think it would be wonderful to have synesthesia! But I don’t quite believe training yourself to associate colors with letters or numbers is the same (though I do have some color associations with numbers – can’t decide if I’ve made them up or they are just “there”). True synesthetes don’t pick the colors, for one thing.

    But this isn’t a language issue, it’s a neurology issue!

  2. Stan says:

    Joy: The study in question examined grapheme–colour synaesthesia, which has to do with colour perception of numbers and letters; participants read books with coloured letters. It’s closer to neurology than linguistics, but it’s not unrelated to language. (Synaesthesia has popped up in Link love posts before: 32 and 35.)

  3. Back in 2000, I took a subject at university called “Advanced Professional English”, and I remember the lecturer pointing to “ahead of” for “before” as a common example of journalese. I think that was the first time my attention was specifically drawn to it, although I recognised instantly how common it was. Personally, on this one, I’m with the people who don’t like it.

    I listened to about half of the language construction podcast. It didn’t really sustain my attention, but it was convenient to listen to in between reading other articles on your list. What’s striking to me is the emphasis it places — particularly in the introduction — on language construction for the purpose of “improving” languages, with purely artistic creations relegated to something of an afterthought.

    I don’t understand people who think digital books are overtaking physical ones. In my experience, very few people have digital books, and those who do are still looked upon as somewhat eccentric. And I think blaming bookstore collapse on online purchasing is just a convenient excuse (the real problems owe more to bad management, from what I understand). I wonder if you would agree that ordering books online is often adequate for non-fiction, whereas for fiction it’s more important to inspect the item (because in fiction, aspects of a book that cannot be summarised are more paramount).

    The night after I watched the David Crystal video, I think a character loosely based on David turned up in my dreams. A guide on a bus tour of the Himalayas, promising encounters with remote peoples. Completely implausible, but that’s dreams for you.

  4. John Cowan says:

    This comment belongs at the Grauniad article on editing, but they’ve closed comments there

    After all, some musical works would probably be all the better for an editor. Here’s Leonard Bernstein describing Beethoven:

    And the orchestration is at times downright bad, especially in the later period when he was deaf. Unimportant trumpet parts sticking out of the orchestra like sore thumbs, horns bumbling along on endlessly repeated notes, drowned-out woodwinds, murderously cruel writing for the human voice.

    Sounds to me like a good editor could have fixed all that.

  5. Stan says:

    Adrian: Sounds like a fun dream. My experience of e-readers is similar to yours: I know very few people who use them. But sales figures suggest a strong shift towards them. I buy most of my books in local second-hand stores; when I buy online, I usually go to the Book Depository, which unfortunately was bought by Amazon recently. I haven’t used Amazon in many years. I don’t know if I would agree about ordering fiction online, as I’m not sure what aspects you might mean.

    John: I’d certainly try to avoid using “sore thumb” clichés in the context of trumpet-playing.

    • joy says:

      I don’t know anyone with an e-reader either, but I see a lot of them when I’m flying. They would be convenient for travel.

      Re buying books on line – definitely! Re fiction on line – only if I know it’s a book I want to buy, since browsing isn’t so easy.

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