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July 5, 2013

Scaling Linguistic Diversity

The conference panel, “Scaling Linguistic Diversity: Language Standardization as a Scale-Making Project,” which I organized together with Sonia Das,

June 26, 2013

Kotahi Mano Kaika, Kotahi Mano Wawata 中文翻譯

學習瀕危語言(七) [Click for English version.] 作者:傅可恩/Futing; 翻譯者:施永德 DJ Hatfield. 在本系列第六篇,我對台灣原住民族語的教學方式抱怨了,好像是教死語言的模式,不像現用語言的課程:

December 21, 2012

Consider the word ‘balti’

for instance; derived from the Portuguese ‘balde’, it probably referred originally to ship’s buckets: today, no Indian

September 3, 2012

Seven Ways to Talk to a White Man

…over the years I’ve compiled a mental inventory of the various ways in which people [in Taiwan] respond to the challenge of having to talk to a

August 2, 2012

Agamben on Bandits and Werewolves

Agamben on bandits and werewoves: The medieval ban also presents analogous traits: the bandit could be killed (… “ ‘To ban’ someone is to say that

July 18, 2012

Letter from a six year old e.e. cummings

From the Wikipedia entry on e.e. cummings: The seeds of Cummings’ unconventional style appear well established even in his earliest work. At age

June 1, 2012

Associate Professor Fu

When I first came to Taiwan to teach, my colleague introduced me to a local purveyor of sweetened tofu 豆花 in the night market outside of school.

October 4, 2011

Conservative Rhetoric: Caught between Scylla and Charibdes

With regard to the economy, conservatives always preach restraint in the face of forces beyond our control, warning of unintended consequences if we

February 3, 2011

Icelandic Names

Today’s New York Times article about how Swedes are choosing new names for themselves probably belongs in the large folder of non-trend trend

January 6, 2008

Love — ING

Over at Pinyin.info Mark Swofford notices a new trend of inserting “ING” at the end of Chinese verbs. When I twittered about this, Zonble pointed me

December 22, 2007

Understatement

It bears no relation to the main point of his article, which focuses on how economic ideology led the Fed into the current “unmitigated disaster”

November 26, 2007

陸克文

I would like to congratulate Australia on finally ridding itself of John Howard. In 2002 I wrote about ““Howard’s openly racist policies” and more

November 16, 2007

KUSO

If you walk around Taipei these days you’ll be sure to see the word KUSO written in big letters all over the place. For instance, this summer there

October 16, 2007

Ivory Tower vs. Real World

[Cross-posted at Savage Minds] In our discussions about anthropologists in the military the term “ivory tower” has come up again and again, as has

April 1, 2007

Asynchronicity

I never liked team sports, I never liked playing the dozens, I never liked being put on the spot … Its not that I’m

February 19, 2007

Acronym

Worst name for a political party, ever. A newspaper headline from last year. {india}

January 25, 2007

Bhojpuri

It is already old news, having been reported in the BBC over a year ago, but I just learned that Hindi movies are on the way out. With is focus on

December 25, 2006

XMas & (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)

One of my students asked why Christmas was spelled X-mas? Here is what Wikipedia has to say: The word “Christ” and its compounds, including

December 25, 2006

XMas & (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h)

One of my students asked why Christmas was spelled X-mas? Here is what Wikipedia has to say: The word “Christ” and its compounds, including

December 23, 2006

Casualty of War

On December 12th, Stephen Colbert’s “Word” was ” Casualty of War.” You can watch it online here, but Colbert’s impeccable logic is so well crafted

December 20, 2006

Deaf Video

Teresa at Making Light has a great post about how deaf people are using YouTube: Why did it not occur to me that the signing deaf would be using

December 18, 2006

Khol

I’d like to briefly link to two great discussions about the origins of Taiwanese vegetable names: Prince Roy discusses the origins of the Taiwanese

December 9, 2006

Script Map

I love this map of South Asia, showing the names of each of the various countries and states in the local language and writing system. Image from

December 9, 2006

American Poets

I love this poem by Paul Blackburn which Language Hat found in an online poetry journal called Jacket. It seems to capture the essence of certain

November 6, 2006

Pinker vs. Lakoff

And the winner is … Geoffrey Nunberg! A lot has been said about this nasty debate, and I’ve avoided it because it seems hard to get engaged without

October 6, 2006

Vocabulary

One of the hardest things about learning Chinese is the lack of good dictionaries. I have one of the best — the ABC dictionary

September 27, 2006

Freshman Chinese

About half of the students at my college are Taiwanese Aborigines. Many of them are able to apply to the school directly, rather than going through

September 22, 2006

Milkfish

A conversation while ordering dinner: Me: I’ll have the poached fish. Waiter: Do you want milkfish or turbot? Me: No, she’s not my wife. Even

September 8, 2006

Gandhi vs. Hoboken

Not having lived there for a long time, I don’t much write about Hoboken on this blog, but that is where I grew up. The setting for On The

June 9, 2006

10-10 vs. The Sun

Years ago I read a paper* about politics and architecture in Taipei which pointed out (among other things) the ways in which architecture and

May 29, 2006

Da Hsueh

Earlier I identified the phonetic system used to transliterate the name of my university as Gwoyeu Romatzyh 國語羅馬字. Today I look at the official

May 27, 2006

Characters

I was going to write a short piece linking to two great Chinese-character related blog posts, one by Victor Mair (guest posting on Language Log) and

May 20, 2006

Dong Hwa

The official “English” name of my university is National Dong Hwa University 國立東華大學. I put English in quotes because, as you can see, the name is a

May 17, 2006

Indexicality

According to Wikipedia, one of the characteristics of indexicals is that “in order to successfully interpret them the hearer must know the

May 3, 2006

Uptown

One of the things I love about riding the NY City Subway is how much individual personality each of the train conductors has. They each have

May 3, 2006

Shimu

Who the hell is this “shimu” everyone is talking about? Well, not everyone — just our department’s always helpful and infinitely

May 2, 2006

Pity the Fool

On the social news site, Digg, someone with the alias “homerfink” posted a link to a story about Mr. T‘s return to television. The show is called “I

April 29, 2006

Nuestro Himno

Recently some latino celebrities recorded a Spanish language version of the American national anthem, leading president Bush to state: I think

April 29, 2006

Aggravating

Having never served on a jury, my knowledge mostly comes from the movie, “12 Angry Men“. But I’ve always found the instructions given to juries

April 28, 2006

White Matter

Although I am somehow now functioning in a Chinese language working environment, I know myself to be a very slow language learner. While many people

April 20, 2006

Zhan Tianyou

The other day I was giving a talk in which I was discussing David Byrne’s defense of Powerpoint during which I said to my students: “You know, the

April 14, 2006

Leoncie

You gotta love any singer who can sing in English, Hindi, Icelandic, Danish, Arabic, and Konkani! Leoncie makes Björk look quite dull by

April 8, 2006

Deconstruction

According to John Berger (of Ways of Seeing fame, who is now a novelist living in France), the real masters of postmodern deconstruction are not

April 1, 2006

Siraya

The Siraya 西拉雅族 are one of many “Pingpu” 平埔族 or Plains Aborigine peoples in Taiwan. Living on the West Coast, they were among the first to be

March 24, 2006

Obscure Characters

In Taiwan it is not uncommon for someone to change the character used to write their name as a means of averting a streak of bad luck. Although

March 22, 2006

MRT Blog

Now that I’m in Taiwan, I guess I should remove my listing from the NYC Bloggers subway map. Too bad I’m not living in Taipei, then I could be on

March 11, 2006

Budehan (Budhan in Chinese)

Dakxin Bajranage’s play, Budhan has been up on the web for some time. The wonderful thing about making art and literature freely available on the

February 20, 2006

Fu Laoshi

Titles are very important in Taiwanese society. It is incredibly impolite to call someone by their given name, unless you are close friends or

January 28, 2006

Aubergines

I had lunch today at a terrific Turkish restaurant in Sunnyside, NY. On the menu was “Aborigines in Olive Oil.” At first I thought perhaps they had

November 23, 2005

Declare

If the Bush administration has an ideology, it is that of executive power. John Yoo, now a Berkeley law professor, formerly a “mid-level attorney in

November 22, 2005

Dear Sir/Madam

I got this SPAM/virus/phishing scam e-mail which said: Dear Sir/Madam, we have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.

November 19, 2005

Overdetermined

The term overdetermined, as used in social theory, was introduced by Althusser, who took it from Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Wikipedia offers

November 13, 2005

Bug Vote

Do you use Devanagari on a mac? Firefox? Then please vote for this bug. Firefox 1.5 is almost ready for release and they still haven’t fixed this.

November 5, 2005

Devanagari

Although the film will be shot in Gujarat, Shashwati does all the interviews in Hindi, and in the future we are likely to be visiting North India on

November 1, 2005

Wisdom Writers

I recently told someone that I think I learned more in high school than in college and graduate school combined. So it pleases me greatly that one

October 18, 2005

Zeimo Zeiyang

賊模賊樣—以劇場對抗 That’s how Zonble translated Acting Like a Thief into Chinese on his blog. This is great — now we need more

October 15, 2005

The Creamy Layer

I love Indian bureaucratese! My new favorite term is “the creamy layer” which I came across while doing research for the film. On this “central list

September 24, 2005

Hurricanes vs. Typhoons

Hurricanes happen in the Atlantic and typhoons happen in the Pacific, it just that simple. {hurricanes, rita, typhoon}

September 13, 2005

Garrison Keillor

I can’t stand A Prairie Home Companion, but it wasn’t something I was going to blog about until Ish brought my attention to the fact that Garrison

September 9, 2005

Wars and Words

A little horn tooting: My Language in Society book review on both At war with words and War of words: Language, politics and 9/11 has finally been

September 3, 2005

Ray Nagin

If you haven’t heard it already, listen now. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s radio interview will go down in history as the most frank and direct

August 11, 2005

’Allo, ’Allo

From The Christian Science Monitor, English is increasingly the language of French businesses: In a recent survey of 26 of France’s largest

July 31, 2005

SIL vs. SLI

In the above map, the size of each country represents its linguistic diversity, as recorded in Ethnologue. It is taken from this NY Times article

July 15, 2005

Shibboleth

Via Language Hat, a New York Times article by Howard French on the complex linguistic situation in China. For China, the consequences of this

July 10, 2005

Typosquatting

Last week Bill Poser of Language Log had a post about Leo Stoller, a Chicago businessman who claims not only to have copyright over the word

July 3, 2005

Crazy English

Someone recently mentioned to me that I should see Yuan Zhang’s 1999 documentary “Crazy English.” Although the few reviews I’ve found of the film

July 2, 2005

ITV

When I was visiting Aborigine villages in Taiwan I noticed that every house had a satellite dish on its roof. Anthropologist Scott Simon explained

June 30, 2005

War of the Donuts

Two things which I thought were true, but are not: That JFK made a jelly donut of himself in Berlin. That Orson Wells caused a panic in the

June 23, 2005

Exuberant Goose Golub

All those Chinese speakers out there reading this blog, please help Rex pick a Chinese name. {Chinese, names}

June 20, 2005

ki-wi-ki

While we are speaking of etymologies, one of the most popular ones on the internet is that for “wiki.” As more or less everyone who’s worked with

June 20, 2005

Fire Carriage

China is seeking to privatize its rail system. Considering what a mess that has made of rail systems just about everywhere else, I can’t imagine

June 19, 2005

Fire Chicken

Language Log’s Mark Liberman has put his finger on a common phenomenon which drives me batty: people using (often incorrect or folk) etymology to

June 9, 2005

Tollywood

It seems that the word Bollywood derives from Tollywood. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that ‘Tollywood’, as a name for the Calcutta film

May 30, 2005

Linguistlist RSS [Feeds]

The Linguistlist now offers RSS Feeds. These are really nicely done — you can get the most recent posts, or you can subscribe to

May 29, 2005

Number 2

I’m very upset to report that I’ve been demoted. In Google’s English edition Keywords is now only the number two result for “Kerim.” I am no longer

May 16, 2005

Trailers

I’ve written before about how much the voiceovers used for foreign-language movie trailers annoy me because they try to hide the fact that these

May 14, 2005

616

It seems that Satanists have been dialing the wrong number all these years. It isn’t 666, but 616. I don’t know what area code 666 is, but 616 is in

May 10, 2005

Talkin’

About Talk is a collection of fascinating insights into language: a series of 52 little essays–conversational in tone, light and anecdotal

May 6, 2005

Spandrels

I’m a little surprised by Mark Liberman’s remark that Noam Chomsky’s “skepticism about the efficacy of natural selection makes him a natural ally

May 6, 2005

Inuktitut

You realize how far Canadian aboriginal media is ahead of the rest of the world when their biggest controversy is whether they should dub or

May 4, 2005

Grammatical Confidence

The grade school I attended didn’t believe in teaching English grammar, so I remained blissfully unaware of all those rules everyone else seems to

April 24, 2005

The Interpreter

I honestly don’t remember much about Colin Pine. He was a classmate of mine at ICLP in Taipei, where I studied Chinese for a year. Studying Chinese

April 13, 2005

Back in Print

Unfortunately, the realities of the contemporary publishing industry are such that even books which are classics in their field, and which are often

April 10, 2005

Kidnappable

Speaking to a friend from Colombia last night, I discovered a new word: kidnappable. Actually, the word she told me was in Spanish: secuestrable,

April 7, 2005

Two Face

Whether or not Liu Xiaobo’s 刘晓波 accusations [Chinese link infected with malware] are true, the concept is fascinating. He is accusing Li Xiguang

March 27, 2005

Science

I’ve been mulling over how to respond to Mark Liberman’s recent jibe at semioticians. This jibe was provoked by my claim that linguistics should be

March 23, 2005

Linguistics

Mark Liberman is correct to state that French post-structuralist theory, is not derived from what we, today, consider to be “linguistics,” and if he

March 17, 2005

… in Translation

I have to admit being completely hooked on ABC’s TV series Lost. One of the amazing things about the show is that the writers and producers have

March 11, 2005

Spell Check

From the BBC: Typing Error Causes Nuclear Scare The Sudanese government had a nasty shock this week, when it read on a US Congress website that the

March 8, 2005

Mad Hatters

Listening to an NPR show on new legislation to regulate mercury, I heard this: Mad as a hatter. Years ago mercury was used to stiffen fur in hat

February 28, 2005

後天

One of the phrases that stumped me when I was learning Chinese was 後天 (hòutiān) meaning “the day after tomorrow.” This confused me because the

February 21, 2005

Dissertation

No need to wait for the book, the curious can download my dissertation right now: Learning “Local” Languages: Passive Revolution, Language Markets,

February 20, 2005

Encouraging

Via Ampersand, a story in the L.A. Times about a Tennassee judge who is threatening to take children away from immigrant mothers who fail to learn

February 16, 2005

Feta

I’m slightly lactose intolerant, so Feta cheese (and other goat’s milk cheeses) is one of the few cheeses I can enjoy. My favorite kind of Feta is

February 13, 2005

Martinez

This is a story that would certainly be generating much bigger waves if it involved a Democrat, rather than a pro-torture (i.e. pro-Gonzales)

February 8, 2005

Roundup

From around the web: Google Maps! (via the Map Room) How to fold a map. (Via 43 folders.) AppRocket — looks like Quicksilver

February 3, 2005

Twice

A man walks into a chip shop and requests “fish ‘n’ chips twice”. The bloke behind the counter says “it’s alright mate I heard you the first

January 23, 2005

corpus.google.com

Via Languag Log, which is mentioned in the article, a great piece in The Economist on the use of the internet to do linguistics research: Linguists

January 22, 2005

röckdöts

In a post by Jonathon Delacour, I learned about the differences between umlauts, diaeresis, and röckdöts. A heavy metal umlaut is an umlaut over

January 18, 2005

Roundup

Agencies tasked with defending America from terrorism were among the top employers of workers with phony diplomas. (via Scott Sommers) How crazy

January 16, 2005

Telugu

Before going through Customs at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, Shashwati had to stop and fill out an “embarkation” form to give to

January 12, 2005

Departure

Some random observations from the trip as we prepare to depart from India… Conversation on a street corner: Stranger: Hello sir, what country? Me:

January 7, 2005

DNT

In my last post I wrote about India’s Adivasis, or “Scheduled Tribes.” Accounting for over 85 million people, they account for the bulk of India’s

January 6, 2005

Adivasi

India is a settler state, like Australia, the United States, South Africa, Israel, Canada, Taiwan, and many other states where the indigenous

December 27, 2004

Ahmedabad

Nobody uses street names in Ahmedabad. I’ve not seen street addresses of any kind. Directions are always in relation to nearby landmarks: Across

December 15, 2004

Mandarin

On the plane to India I read a NYRB article on the history of trade (in goods and ideas) between India and China by Amartya Sen. In a footnote he

December 8, 2004

Tattoo

Right now I’m double checking all the Chinese text in my dissertation, so I was happy to see this post in Languagelog: Hanzi Smatter is a blog

November 26, 2004

Sign Language

The sign language presenter on the Ukrainian state-run television station “rejected the pro-government script and informed her viewers instead of

November 26, 2004

Blue vs. Orange

Like Red vs. Blue in the US, but Ukrainian style. And here his Blue vs. Orange in pictures. Looks like there is some kind of a settlement. (via

November 21, 2004

Chargoggagoggmanchaugg…

A wonderful NY Times story about Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (yes the sign in the picture is misspelled), and its long name.

November 14, 2004

Bollywood English

When I first met Suketu Mehta he was deep in conversation with someone who was grilling him about his experiences writing the Bollywood action

November 13, 2004

Stress

What is stress? The term was adopted from engineering for use in biology in the 1920s [Start here for the full presentation]: Eighty-some-odd years

November 3, 2004

Dissident

Welcome to the ranks! A dissident is a person that actively opposes the established order. The term is most often used to refer to political

October 25, 2004

English Teachers

In the comments on a recent LanguageHat post two of the most articulate, literate, and thoughtful members of the blogsphere, John Emerson (aka

October 24, 2004

Euro/Euras/Eurue/Eura…

Languaghat has previously covered controversies over how to spell “Euro”, but this latest one is truly hilarious: All official EU texts must be

October 24, 2004

Ownership

Geoff Nunberg has a LA Times op-ed on how difficult it is for Europeans to translate US political speech: when foreigners are scratching their

October 21, 2004

Gaydar

Two posts over at LanguageLog discuss research showing that “gaydar,” or the ability to detect who is gay and who is straight (in this case using

October 18, 2004

Gerrymandering

I was listening to Weekend Edition on NPR and heard a pollster say “gerrymandering” with a hard “G,” as in “gate.” It turns out that such a

October 16, 2004

Jon Stewart

If you haven’t seen the clip of Jon Stewart appearing on Crossfire, you can find links to download it here. I wanted to comment on something Jon

October 14, 2004

Derrida Protest

Shaviro writes: I just signed the collective letter of protest being sent by university professors [and others] to The New York Times, in objection

October 10, 2004

Iterability

Derrida (1930-2004) famously argued that writing preceded speech. By this I believe he meant that the “iterability” of language logically preceded

October 10, 2004

Code

Today Kevin Drum tells us that “‘Dred Scott’ is code for ‘Roe v. Wade’“, explaining Bush’s strange remarks about being against slavery during the

October 7, 2004

Fear

This is the most scathing inditement I have seen of the Republican Party — and it is entirely constructed out of their own

October 6, 2004

Wordsworth

You got no choice that’s what you all been told to listen to. These criminals in the office want to control and limit you. All the political power

October 2, 2004

Wrong War

It was my impression that Bush’s constant repetition of the phrase “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” in an effort to discredit

September 28, 2004

Picture Language

An amazing post at BoingBoing.net: a “visual language survival guide” used by coalition soldiers. It’s a sort of show-and-tell folding map intended

September 28, 2004

Translation

This doesn’t surprise me: “The Justice Department’s translation mess has become a chronic problem that has obvious implications for our national

September 27, 2004

Debate

I only participated in a formal debate once, in high school, so I can’t really comment on the ground rules for the presidential debates; however,

September 24, 2004

Yang Huanyi

China’s last inheritress of the mysterious Nushu language, probably the world’s only female-specific language, died at her central

September 22, 2004

graphophobia

logophobia: fear of words graphophobia: Fear of writing or handwriting. A Midwest Airlines flight from Milwaukee to San Francisco was canceled

September 21, 2004

Pronounciation

LanguageLog has a post about how the World Tennis Association’s (WTA) official pronunciation guide for Russian women tennis players is mostly

September 17, 2004

Creolization

One of the most powerful forms of evidence that there is an innate “language gene” is the development of creole languages out of pidgins. Wikipedia

September 15, 2004

Natsugusa

Much ado about seventeen syllables, and a lot of fun!

September 15, 2004

禮拜

One of the embarrassments awaiting just about any student of Chinese who studies first in the US and then goes to Taiwan is being laughed at for

September 13, 2004

news.google.com.tw

A few days ago Munin posted about how Google was offering localized news in Japanese and Korean. At the time I was upset that there was no Taiwan

September 10, 2004

#1

To the right is Karim Khan Zand, the guy I was named after — in honor of being born on a holiday trip to Tehran. My parents

September 7, 2004

Arrival Day

From Jonathan Edelstein: Welcome to the second annual Arrival Day Blogburst, commemorating the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam on

September 6, 2004

Writing Systems

Having written a post here on typographic discrimination, when I read a recent article on word recognition, my first thought naturally was, “What

September 6, 2004

wrod as a wlohe

You might have seen this floating around the internet: Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the

September 4, 2004

Words v. Facts

For four years George W. Bush has used the power of words to overcome insurmountable facts. A hilarious, must-see video clip from the Daily Show,

September 4, 2004

Scale

Two excellent graphics I’ve recently come across which link size to frequency of word use (click on images for the original pages). The first is

September 3, 2004

Bouma

An excellent article about the various theories concerning how we recognize words can be found here. Rather than blogging it myself, I e-mailed the

August 29, 2004

Mazel

Via Sepia Mutiny an article on Yiddish speaking Gujaratis in Antwerp: In Antwerp, Jews and Indians are so embedded in each other’s lives that many

August 27, 2004

Mono No Aware

In September of last year Jonathon Delacour wrote eloquently about the role of “sadness” in Japanese aesthetics: It’s this “aesthetic empathy of

August 24, 2004

Cotton to It

I didn’t even realize that cotton was a verb. From The American Heritage Dictionary: To come to understand. Often used with to or onto: “The German

August 21, 2004

Whorf

I’ve been holding off writing a post about Benjamin Lee Whorf thinking that I would wait until I had time to do the topic justice; but the

August 19, 2004

Fundamentalism

I’m finally reading Mamdani’s book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (discussed previously here and here), and

August 19, 2004

River of Fire

I’ve just finished reading Qurratulain Hyder’s River of Fire. Written in 1959 in Urdu, and translated into English by the author, this sprawling

August 18, 2004

rhodolite demonstrable codfish

A poem I composed from today’s SPAM “subject” lines: rhodolite demonstrable codfish Re: Everything went giddy with Are you a loser? buddy,deal

August 13, 2004

Multiple Intelligences

I wanted to clarify a comment I left in my post on Koko, the guerilla whose learned to use symbols to communicate with humans. I wrote the

August 12, 2004

Koko

Bill Poser explains why a news story about how Koko, the gorilla, used American Sign Language (ASL) to tell her caretakers that she needed a visit

July 28, 2004

Skazeetch

I’m very happy to know about the Don Martin Dictionary, having grown up on a steady diet of Don Martin sound effects. (Both LanguageLog and,

July 19, 2004

Graphology

What does it say about our society that some of our largest and most powerful firms, including financial giants such as Merrill Lynch and

July 18, 2004

Chicken

Why did the Iraqi Chicken cross the road? There are a bunch of different answers, but here is the one offered by army translators: Chicken he corss

July 17, 2004

Borjigin

Mongolians need surnames. Actually, they had surnames, but they lost them. How do you loose your surname? Well, it seems that the use of Surnames

July 8, 2004

Nationalists

Tom Engelhardt points out that only Iraqi’s are “nationalists.” Americans on the other hand, are “patriots.” Here, for instance, is a passage,

June 29, 2004

Passed

In a New York Times Op-Ed aritcle, Brent Staples says something which suggests that the use of the term “pass” to mean, citing definition “5. d” in

June 28, 2004

Telegraph

Read this hilarious series of telegraphs between British colonial officials in 1916, there is a punch-line at the end, so read the whole thing. Here

June 21, 2004

Under God

There has been great discussion of the phrase “under God” as it is used in the Pledge of Allegiance over at LanguageLog. The long and the short of

June 14, 2004

Bugs

I just had to share this amazing picture of a Copepod from the Smithsonian’s web site: “The World of Copepods” I discovered via Mark Liberman’s

June 7, 2004

Beyond Perfect

I have, on occasion, been criticized for using the construction “more perfect,” being told that it is incorrect and illogical. So I was happy to see

June 3, 2004

Re-form

This is exactly the sort of post that this blog was intended to promote: As Raymond Williams points out in his excellent little book Keywords, from

June 2, 2004

Multilingualism

Konrad writes about trying to get through security at JFK: After proceeding through security, I approached an idle officer and made a simple

May 28, 2004

Pop

Forget NASCAR moms, single Dads, disgruntled soccer players and other swing voting blocks. What we want is the “pop” vote! Those who say “soda” seem

May 20, 2004

Ebonics

Geoffrey Pullum’s scathing letter to William Raspberry about Ebonics reminds me of how hard it was for me to teach about Ebonics to undergraduates.

May 12, 2004

ah-boo GRAYB

A few days ago, Mark Liberman posted a link to this Global Security web site with information on the proper pronounciation and meaning of the prison

May 11, 2004

I am Asian™

It seems that the phrase “I am Asian”™ has been trademarked by McDonald’s®.

May 10, 2004

Blacked-out

The government is going to have to come up with new ways to block out information in public documents. Already there was a scandal when a sensitive

May 9, 2004

Are they?

Mark Liberman goes over the research on language and gender and, looking at one particular language feature, asks whether the empirical evidence

May 9, 2004

撒嬌

I’m really just showing off that I’ve finally implemented Unicode posting on my site, but I also wanted to add a footnote of sorts to my last post

May 7, 2004

Take Out

You really have to go over to Language log and read this wonderful post by Bill Poser: As a linguist and connoisseur of Chinese food it was clearly

May 6, 2004

Actions

From The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Rob Corddry: Jon, there’s no question that what took place in that prison was horrible, but the Arab World

May 3, 2004

Typographic Discrimination

In spite of advanced technology and the Unicode character convention, people are still in the habit of neglecting the diacritics of foreign

May 3, 2004

Whoopee

Call it the whoopee cushion doctrine. It is hard to believe that the government now regards flatulence jokes, the lamest staple of gag gift stores,

April 30, 2004

Romijn-Stamos

Last October, Jim, of Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey, had a post about linguists in movies which sparked a lively discussion. This doesn’t quite

April 28, 2004

Language Reform

Konrad Lawson, whom I’ve long known only as the person behind the Macintosh software company Fool’s Workshop, has an excellent blog, Muninn, which I

April 27, 2004

AFAIK

Back in March a professor complained that he couldn’t understand student exams which were hastily written in text messaging language: Perhaps I am

April 27, 2004

Taxonomy

For much of history, the science of biology was the science of classification. As can be seen by the text accompanying this image (from a web page

April 25, 2004

World Englishes

Whereas the English-speaking world was formerly perceived as a hierarchy of parent (Britain) and children (‘the colonies’), it is now seen rather

April 20, 2004

Coprophagia

I just learned a new word: Coprophagia is the technical term for eating feces. This has been studied in dogs by several people with no definitive

April 15, 2004

Jew

If you use Google to search for “Judaism,” “Jewish” or “Jewish people,” the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for “Jew”

April 13, 2004

Subtitles

I was just complaining the other day about how much the voiceovers they use in trailers for foreign language films annoy me. It is as if they are

April 7, 2004

Scooter

One thing about almost any large city in a developing country — you’ll see everyone riding around on scooters. One of the

April 6, 2004

Viagra

Using standard spammer substitution-techniques on the word “viagra” yields 600,426,974,379,824,381,952 possibilities: Viagorea ViagDrHa V l a g r

March 30, 2004

Infoganda

Definition: The act or acts of using public information networks such as newscasts or newspapers in a misleading, devious, or mischievous way, to

March 30, 2004

Lepcha

Thanks to my friend Ann, I just found a web site devoted to the Lepcha language: The Lepcha language is spoken in Sikkim and Darjeeling district in

March 23, 2004

Text

I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between text and image. I even taught a course about it (PDF download) a few years ago. Many artists

March 21, 2004

Pronounciation

LanguageHat deconstructs Dr. Language’s list of supposedly “mispronounced” words: … this list is useless, because its few worthwhile nuggets … are

March 11, 2004

Corea

Although I’ve read some Korean history, and I’ve watched Korean soap operas when I was in Taiwan, I still know very little about Korea. I’ve always

March 11, 2004

Thumbs

In an interesting post on Japanese cell-phone e-mailing (not instant messaging, it turns out), Mark Liberman said something which made my thumbs

March 10, 2004

A-N-W-A-R

It sure is a shadowy world out there when you’ve got the wrong damned name.

March 4, 2004

Tallywhacker

If you’ve missed the wonderful thread over at LanguageLog about the number of Eskimo words for snow then you should check out Mark Liberman’s latest

March 3, 2004

Shluukh

A useful aramaic phrase: Shluukh kleelaa d-kuubayk, pquud. Laa meshkakh naa d-ekhzey l-ketaan tsuur- aathaa. Which translates as: Could you take

March 3, 2004

Skinship

A discussion on an e-mail list made me aware of a new word: “skinship.” Feelings of relatedness and affection between two people, particularly a

March 3, 2004

WordSpy [Feeds]

My first “feeds” post is an unusual use of RSS feeds. Thanks to a website called WordSpy, you can be immediately notified of new words entering the

March 2, 2004

Sinews

Although the NY Times occasionally has excellent stories, I never expect much from it. So I wasn’t surprised to learn that neither does the staff at

February 29, 2004

Much Ado about Nushu [an Invited Post]

This is the first of what I hope to be many such “invited” posts. by Laura Miller [invited author] The recent Washington Post article by Edward Cody

February 13, 2004

Recovery

I’m doing OK after my operation. I’m not taking any pain killers, and I even went for a short walk around the block this afternoon. Physical trauma

January 29, 2004

Igry

Do your friend’s get uncomfortable and embarrassed when you use the word “blog” in a sentence? I have noticed that mine do, and so I sometimes try

January 25, 2004

Lunch

When I was studying Chinese the school had a policy that we had to speak Chinese all the time, even during our lunch breaks. A well intentioned

January 21, 2004

Activities

I was shocked that Bush still had the nerve to refer to weapons of mass destruction in his state of the union address last night. Calpundit notes

January 19, 2004

Guotie

As an anthropologist, I’m embarrassed to admit that I still get very confused by Chinese kinship terms. So I felt better reading about the the

January 18, 2004

Crore

The word “crore” is Indian English for 10,000,000. (One crore = 100 lakhs.) I first encountered this word in articles about the Bollywood film

January 12, 2004

Um

Though a bane to teachers of public speaking, people around the world fill pauses in their own languages as naturally as watermelons have seeds. In

January 12, 2004

Chinatown

I had noticed the increasing use of Mandarin Chinese in New York City’s Chinatowns, but this article says that this is true even of San Francisco:

January 7, 2004

Proton

This is the Chinese character for “proton” as in what is in the nucleus of an atom, pronounced “Zhi4zi3″. But my Chinese dictionary tells me that

December 22, 2003

Recherche

This chart shows the Languages Used to Access Google from March 2001 till November 2003. There isn’t much explanation of what this means, but I

December 16, 2003

Spider

Of course, “spider hole” was not concocted to describe Hussein’s hideout. According to two historians, the term goes back at least to World War II,

December 15, 2003

Endangered

Back in June I wrote something on my old blog about a New York Times article, by David Berreby, entitled “Fading Species and Dying Tongues: When the

December 12, 2003

Translation

NY City Government isn’t just for English speakers anymore: In a reversal, the Bloomberg administration is expected to announce its support today

December 8, 2003

Pareve

I’ve never been overly picky about my vegetarianism. I eat seafood, eggs, and often eat food cooked together with meat dishes as long as I can’t

December 1, 2003

Speech

I totally missed this brilliant post from Nathan Newman, written about three weeks ago. He discusses allegations of liberal censorship of

November 25, 2003

Accent

An American woman has been left with a British accent after having a stroke. Now I’d be really impressed if she could speak in Cockney Rhyming

November 12, 2003

Compensation

Watch him squirm: Q: Why won’t you spell out what your position is? Read the whole exchange — it gets even better.

November 10, 2003

Grammar

Languagehat has a post about Berlusconi’s bad grammar in Italian. He quotes from a recent New Yorker article: His grammar is dreadful. He gets the

November 9, 2003

McJobs

Am I allowed to title today’s entry “McJobs”? Not according to McDonalds. What interests me about this story is that although McDonalds raises legal

November 2, 2003

Spin

There has been a lot of discussion of late about the Lakoff interview on how the left needs to learn how to better “frame” issues, in order to

October 23, 2003

Eminem

Calpundit brought my attention to this post by Matthew Yglesias, where he points out that the New York Review of Books article on Eminem fails to

October 17, 2003

Untruths

Back in September Calpundit used the phrase “technical lie” to refer to Bush administration statements which are “carefully constructed to leave an

October 17, 2003

Gummy

FYI: Soft and chewy candy is generally categorized by the industry as either “gummy” if it has a primarily gelatin base, or “juju,” if it has

October 13, 2003

Trademark

The Redskins football team can keep its trademark name and logos, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, because a group of activists didn’t provide

October 6, 2003

Intimigate

From Cursor.org, the naming of a scandal: Time notes that some have christened the scandal “Intimigate.” While the term has yet to gain widespread

October 4, 2003

Austronesian

There is a lot of talk about languages in Taiwan these days, especially since the announcement of a draft of a proposed “national languages

September 29, 2003

Frog-march

FROGMARCH verb [mid-19th century and still in use] to carry someone face down, one person holding onto each limb; used on drunks or recalcitrant

September 25, 2003

Said

Edward Said, the world-renowned scholar, writer and critic has died aged 67, it was announced today. Here is one of the last things he published

September 23, 2003

Revision

This is amazing. There have been lots of lists of lies told by the Bush administration, but Sam Smith has actually edited together all these lies

September 18, 2003

Newspeak

David Neiwert’s excellent essay, Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis is now up at Cursor.org, with photos! (NB See my own post on Fascism.) One

September 15, 2003

English

I was at a wedding this weekend and was telling some relatives how I live in Jackson Heights, Queens where I have language difficulties because I

September 9, 2003

Objectivity

David Greenberg has an excellent article discussing why reporters enjoy exposing “small” lies about personal matters more than big lies about issues

September 1, 2003

Codpiece

Back in May people were discussing how enlarged President Bush’s genitalia looked in his famous “Top Gun” photo-op. It seems that this was a result

August 28, 2003

Babel

Amptoons is right, Pedantry’s series of posts about language policy is one of the most interesting things in the blogsphere right now. (Right up

August 28, 2003

Toothfish

The BBC reports: A trawler suspected of fishing illegally for the endangered Patagonian Toothfish in the Australian fishing zone off Antarctica is

August 27, 2003

Meetup

I was reading Daily Kos who reports that Clark is now second only to Dean on Meetup (although Dean is still way ahead). But what is Meetup? Meetup

August 22, 2003

Evidence

I’ve been following an excellent series of posts over at Alas, A Blog about the Kobe Bryant Case (1, 2, 3). In particular, a link to this article by

August 21, 2003

Bushiban

Anyone who has lived in East Asia knows about bushiban. That’s the Mandarin word used in Taiwan for these “cram schools” which have their

August 13, 2003

Schwarzeneger

Ah-nold is on the board of U.S. English: While media reports in recent days have focused on Schwarzenegger’s support for Proposition 187, the

August 11, 2003

Bilingual

Opposition to Bilingual Education is popping up again in yet another state — this time its Florida: The unfortunate reality is

August 6, 2003

SPAM

Taken from a Monty Python skit were vikings sing a tribute to the canned meat, the word is no inextricably tied to junk e-mail and even Hormel Foods

July 29, 2003

Fuck

There goes my site’s “G” rating! Probably means you won’t be able to visit my site from a school or public library web site anymore! Oh well… The

July 27, 2003

Kirov

Last night I went to see the Kirov Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. This was part of a series called “Petersburg on the Hudson”

July 18, 2003

Fascism

In response to the rising tide of people using the “F-word” to describe the Bush administration’s numerous tactics for dividing the world into those

June 30, 2003

White

With the vice president attending the funeral of one of America’s most famous civil rights opponents, I think it is worth while taking a look at the

June 29, 2003

Blog

The word “blog” is listed in the March 2003 draft of the OED. It is listed as both a noun and a verb. Both uses are first dated as appearing in

June 29, 2003

Irony

The Guardian UK has an excellent post today on Irony. Not only addressing a “number of misconceptions” about the word, especially the one that