Link love: language (63)

For your weekend reading and viewing pleasure, a selection of recent language-related links from around the web:

Love letters to trees.

How to design a metaphor.

Two medieval monks invent writing.

The United Swears of America, in maps.

On the political power of African American names.

Asperitas: the first new cloud name since 1951.

The emerging science of human screams.

Telegraphic abbreviations of the 19thC.

Secret language games, aka ludlings.

Managing weight in typeface design.

Zodiac signs for linguists.

A stone talking to itself.

A world of languages (infographic).

Argotopolis, or, a map of London slang.

Discussing Chicago style and subversive editing (video).

Linguistic errors are a routine part of cognition.

Women and men use hashtags differently.

On resurrecting a childhood language.

Name signs in the Deaf community.

Anglo Saxon London map.


Who ‘flaunts’ what?

The science of word aversion.

On the functions and future of emoji.

How English is changing German grammar.

Accent tagging – YouTube’s citizen dialectology.

Allen Ginsberg on censorship and the politics of language (video).

Is there a shift from writing back towards orality?

How new words are spreading across the US.

A sociolinguistic history of cup and mug.

Sarcasm on the internet is srs bsns.

The case for lowercase internet.

The evolution of profanity.

How did we get the heebie-jeebies?

A handy list of bogus grammar rules.

How sign languages make use of the feet.

Merriam-Webster’s index of backwards words.

What exactly is Universal Grammar, and has anyone seen it?

Temperature and tone: how climate may affect language.

Why Indian-Americans dominate spelling bees.

The phonetics of pop-punk singing accents.

On the ‘supremely leisurely’ start of writing.

A giant corpus of Reddit comments.

And finally, phonological illusions:


(Lots more in the links archive.)

6 Responses to Link love: language (63)

  1. Ever since I was a child watching imported TV and reading imported books, I’ve always thought of spelling bees as quintessentially American. Along with communal singing on buses, they’ve always struck me as the epitome of American weirdness. Now there are ads on TV for an Australian spelling bee, and I feel like the walls have at last been breeched…

    I’ve decided not to pursue the links containing ten-minute videos (subversive editing and phonological illusions). There isn’t enough of a hook for the effort to seem worthwhile.

    • Stan Carey says:

      I think of spelling bees as characteristically American too, though I don’t see them as weird. I imagine they foster interest in etymology and morphology, for some participants at least.

    • astraya says:

      We had occasional class spelling bees in Victoria in the 1970s. Maybe I had a vague thought that the Americans did it bigger and more seriously than anyone else, but I had assumed that all school students everywhere did spelling bees. One documentary on the history of English (?Melvyn Bragg) traces US spelling drills to one-room classrooms.

      • Stan Carey says:

        I don’t think of communal singing on buses as quintessentially American, but I can see how the perception might arise. In my case (in Ireland) we used to sing in the bus sometimes on the way to and from football matches and other sporting events we were participating in, and maybe school tours, but it was an occasional impromptu thing rather than habitual.

    • I agree about the spelling bees, but I’ve always thought communal singing on buses to be a Slavic thing. So Yanks do it too?

      • I’ve seen it on American TV shows from time to time, especially where the characters are school-age children going on a camp. I have no idea how common it is in real life.

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