For your reading, listening, and viewing pleasure, here are some language-related links that have caught my eye in recent weeks, or rather months – it has been ages since I did a linkfest.
If you want a more regular supply, follow my Twitter account @StanCarey, where I often share these first.
Why writing matters.
EU English after Brexit.
Stealth marketing for editors.
The drit, or dirt, on metathesis.
Clotilde Olyff’s pebble alphabet.
Towards a new vocabulary of nature.
Emily Wilson’s radical Odyssey translation.
Editing can make all the difference to a book.
Why white people should never rap the n-word.
How Irish nature words connect us to history and place.
How the suffix -tron captured the spirit of a technological age.
What happens in the brain when an adult learns to read.
The strange language of Harvey Weinstein’s denial.
How America gained linguistic independence.
UK/US differences in optional comma use.
Ancient Greek and the relativity of colour.
The problem of naming Macedonia.
The commonest speech sounds.
How is the gun emoji used? 🔫
Babies, accents, and phonemes.
A primer on Proto-Indo-European.
Bias in automatic speech recognition.
What do you call this kitchen implement?
How deaf people ‘hear’ voice-hallucinations.
How Buffy used intensifiers for characterisation.
The aims of Unicode and the complications of emoji.
Why so many languages, and why so unevenly distributed?
Our pupils change size when we read words that refer to light.
The murky relationship between swearing and honesty.
Verbatim has given rise to the noun and verb verbate.
The Australian National Dictionary is now online.
Urban Dictionary is full of racism and sexism.
Behind the scenes at Macquarie Dictionary.
Some language evolution seems random.
Strunk & White, debunked just right.
Standard lexical sets in emoji form.
A disastrous translation into Irish.
Anthony Burgess and slang.
The science of lying.
Cher, the queen of emoji.
How to approach editing erotica.
The pragmatics of Corbynite slang.
A history of wooden alphabet blocks.
Learning linguistics by inventing a language.
Thoughts and prayers, not prayers and thoughts.
Confusion over understatement is hard to overstate.
The story of Australian clippings. (My post on these.)
Medieval manuscripts are yielding rich biological information.
The meaning of statistically significant may be about to change.
An interview with sociolinguist Sali Tagliamonte:
Want more? Try the archive of language links.
The problem with statistical significance is not the chosen upper limit on the p-value. It’s that p-values mean nothing without the effect sizes. The world is drowning in highly significant results with very small effect sizes; yes, drug A works better than placebo in a way that cannot be just the result of chance selection, but drug A only works a tiny bit better than placebo, so why bother with it?
True. The answer may lie in profit margins at a certain scale.
For all human tragedies, I say, on my FB page, “Tears and prayers. De tout coeur. :'( <3 " And I really cry with all my tears. And I really pray with a broken heart. It has never been a stock phrase for me. Somehow, I'm always taken by surprise that some innocent people, of all ages, are killed at random anywhere…. a club, a church, a rally…..by cold-blooded strangers with an angry mind and an evil plan. Thoughts help very little. Asking God to sustain the suffering world is the best that one can do.
I believe you, Claude, that it has never been a stock phrase for you. But it is for many. The expression has become notorious because after every mass killing in the US, it is a rote response from politicians who receive money from the NRA. These politicians could do more than offer thoughts and prayers – in their positions of power they could help save many lives – but it seems they prefer to accept money not to.
Nice Christmas tree, Stan. ð
Thanks, Chris! That wasn’t the specific intention, but I guess Christmas starts in October now anyway.
There’s not much point enumerating things I disagree with in the editing erotica article — being disagreed with is part of its essence. But one thing that stands out is his “alas”. The writer thinks it’s somehow regrettable that words don’t have universally accepted definitions; that the world would somehow be better if they did. I don’t understand that attitude at all.
The writer – who is a woman, by the way – makes an offhand remark about pornography not having a universally accepted definition. The use of alas in this context seems to me to say simply that if there were, it would be easier to write about how to approach editing such material. It’s not necessarily her deeply held philosophical wish; rather, it strikes me as a bit of wry humour. I don’t know how you can leap from this one case to assuming a wish on her part that all words had universally accepted definitions.
I think you’re taking my comment rather too literally if you interpret it as necessarily about “all” words. And perhaps you’re right that I took her comments too literally at that point. It would seem none of us are immune from over-literalising.