Link love: language (55)

July 4, 2013

The number of subscribers to Sentence first has doubled in the last few months. If you’re new here, welcome, and if you’re a veteran reader, thanks for your endurance. The blog placed respectably in bab.la’s recent poll/competition of top language professionals’ blogs. Thank you to bab.la and all who took time to vote.

My Twitter page also placed well. Its focus is on language, mixed with books, chat, general and specialist links, and miscellany. If you tweet, feel free to follow or say hello. I pop in and out most days. Blog and Twitter both made bab.la’s overall list of top language lovers, which you might like to browse for a random assortment of linguaphiles.

And so to business, or rather fun: a roughly monthly set of language-related links I’ve enjoyed in recent weeks. There’s a lot here, but I try to be picky. Some I’d have blogged separately about were I not so busy editing, so hopefully they’ll make up for the relative scarcity of new posts here at the moment.

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Does grammar matter? Stop asking silly questions.

English is no longer the language of the web.

What’s wrong with the passive voice?

How emo got political.

Suffix-ception.

A homonyms quiz.

The Ogham stones of Scotland.

Not all distinctions are equally valuable.

Unsent emails from a lexicographer.

Think similar; or, the nouning of adjectives.

The coupling of speech and gesture appears to be ancient.

Are you incentivized to avoid incent?

A bleisurely look at our fondness for blends.

The secret history of cracker.

Is the Voynich Manuscript structured like written language?

Female doctor or woman doctor? How about neither?

A brief history of swearing (podcast, 25 min.).

Çapuling: the swift rise of a new word.

Medieval pet names.

In polite defence of ‘No problem’.

Where does the phrase nest egg come from?

What is an accent?

Cyber’s new life as a standalone noun.

Standard English is a continuum, not an absolute.

The new language of social media photos.

The etymology of goblin.

Shitstorm in a (German) dictionary.

Since vs. because: on clarity and made-up rules.

Light Warlpiri, a (relatively) new language in northern Australia.

Samuel Johnson’s notes on the letters of the alphabet.

Teenage hyperpolyglot: an interview with Timothy Doner (9½ min.).

Dissecting the meaning of Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

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[archive of language links]

Bab.la top language lovers

May 23, 2013

Language portal bab.la is holding its annual competition of top language lovers, and Sentence first is honoured to appear in the Language Professionals category.

Click the image below to see the 100 shortlisted (if that’s not an oxymoron) and vote for Sentence first or another blog of your choice:

Vote the Top 100 Language Professional Blogs 2013

My Twitter page (@StanCarey) was also selected, so if you’re feeling generous you can vote for me here:

Vote the Top 100 Language Twitterer 2013

Though I placed respectably last year (see the badges in the sidebar), my expectations in these contests are modest; tireless self-promotion is not my strong point. But they’re a good way to find new language writers, and they’re also an opportunity to welcome new visitors.

Finally, if you’re in a voting or browsing kind of mood, there are also polls for Facebook pages and language-learning blogs. The latter includes Macmillan Dictionary Blog, to which I contribute regular posts.


New language blog: Caxton

May 10, 2013

Caxton is a new blog about language from Barrie England, an Oxford graduate who has studied English literature, foreign languages, and older varieties of English. It is named after printing pioneer William Caxton, who, as Barrie writes, “by using technology to reach a wider public . . . can be seen as the progenitor of the digital age”.

Barrie wrote Real Grammar before its host pulled the plug; I’ve linked to it here in the past, most recently to his post on the rise of Swiss German dialect. Some of you may also know him from his insightful comments at Sentence first.

Since setting up Caxton and importing his old posts, Barrie has been blogging regularly, offering astute and balanced observations on such subjects as the value of linguistics, the early shapers of English, education, reflexive pronouns, dialects, grammar, and Jacques Brel. Rummage around and you’ll find all sorts of good material.

If you’re interested in the usage, history, politics, and beauty of English – or language generally – I recommend visiting and bookmarking Caxton. I’ve also added it to the links in the sidebar of this blog.

Updates: More thoughts on Caxton: Language Hat wishes it a “long and prosperous career”, while You Don’t Say celebrates “a new voice of sense and informed judgment”.


“Some superb entropy” in the language of spam

April 6, 2013

A recent post by Mark Liberman at Language Log showcased the following fine spam comment:

1. What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious knowledge on the topic of unexpected emotions.

It reminded me of one in my own collection (yes, I have a collection):

2. What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience regarding unpredicted emotions.

The parallels are blatant, and confirm my supposition that spammers (or the algorithms they employ) often use thesauruses to auto-replace words and generate variation, if only superficial, perhaps the better to avoid being blocked. Here’s another congruent pair:

Read the rest of this entry »


Winter sunset and a seasonal note

December 21, 2012

A scene from Salthill, Galway, a few weeks ago. It was a bitterly cold evening but the Prom was full of people, many of them like me unable to take their eyes off the changing sky and its play of light on the bay.

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To regular readers and occasional passers-by: Happy Christmas and a peaceful new year, and thanks for your visits and comments during 2012 – there’d be no Sentence first without them. See you in a couple of weeks, or sooner if you’re on Twitter and I pop in over the break.

Stan

P.S. Feel free to use the comment form to pose queries, suggest ideas for future posts, tell me what you’re reading, and so on.


Jumbling, tumbling

December 23, 2011

Between this blog and other active online haunts, I’ve been spreading my internet self a bit thin. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ve started a Tumblr blog, provisionally titled Books & bits asthore.* So far it’s an erratic series of book excerpts, poems, and images from films.

Sentence first has been nominated in Macmillan Dictionary’s inaugural Love English Awards. You can vote for it, or for another language blog, on this page until 31 January. My expectations are non-existent, but I’m honoured to be in such great company, and I found a few new websites to explore. (Disclosure: I write for Macmillan Dictionary Blog.)

It’s a mild and sunny December day in the west of Ireland — Pseudocember, I’ve been calling it — and this is likely to be my last post before 2012. Thank you for your visits, comments, and innumerable kindnesses all year, and have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

moss on a wall in county Galway this morning

* I wrote about the Irish English word asthore here.


Plus another thing

October 27, 2011

I joined Google+ recently, and after a few private posts to suss it out, I’ve been posting everything publicly. The service hasn’t exactly taken off yet – a lot of people I initially followed have dormant accounts – but I see plenty of potential there, and some people are making excellent and busy use of it.

So far I’ve been using Google+ to share (and find) links, commentary, bits from books, poetry, photos and miscellany. Some of this overlaps with my Twitter account, but Google+ enables longer quotes and thoughts. It’s also another way to chat to people online. (Just as well I’m not on Facebook.)

I don’t expect it to affect my blogging time, which is constrained anyway by the demands of freelancing, among other commitments. But if I go a while without blogging, you’ll have one more place to find me. For convenience, there’s a new link in the “Elsewhere” box at the top right of this blog.

Feel free to visit, follow, offer tips, point and laugh, or disregard.