Posts filtered by tags: Language[x]


I'm avoiding reading the many pundits who seem to be straining to resist the reality of the Mueller report.

I read. I don't watch the news on TV. But if I wanted to laugh at these people in their ludicrous scrambling for dignity and a way to keep hating on Trump, I'd watch it on TV. I'd do what you can see Scott Adams doing in this video, watch them on TV and laugh at them. Look at their faces! They're so unhappy! But — maybe a bit like Trump himself, with his cheerful simple tweets this morning — I don't want to get bogged down in their dismal, entropic experience. It's too time-consuming. I watched ...
Tags: TV, Law, Journalism, Cnn, Language, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Msnbc, Trump, Scott Adams, Mueller, CIA FBI, Barr, Greenwald, Paul Farhi

Oh, come on, don't go crazy. If you love "normal," as you say, you'd better observe the "served"/"fed" distinction.

I'm reading "Why are 2020 Democrats so weird?" by Michael Walther (in The Week). There's this:Meanwhile, there is Beto. I don't particularly care that in 1988 the young Robert Francis O'Rourke posted some erotic verses about cows ("Oh, Milky wonder, sing for us once more, / Live your life, everlusting [sic] joy" is one of the only bits I can quote on this family website) online. I didn't even know until yesterday that there was such a thing as "online" in 1988. Nor am I going to get all worked u...
Tags: Avocado, Beto O'Rourke, Excrement, Language, Normal

“This event is probably not unique”: On communication and metaphor in Robert Ashley’s Improvement

The opening words of Robert Ashley’s Improvement are a bit of a head-scratcher: “To continue, I must explain an idea that I am inadequate to communicate in the music.” Continue what? It’s the first line of the opera. And communicate what? If he didn’t think himself capable of communicating via music, why write an opera, of all things? Over the course of the next 88 minutes, seven voices attempt to communicate this unexplainable idea alongside an orchestral accompaniment consisting of a MIDI-cont...
Tags: New York City, Religion, Articles, Communication, Spain, Analysis, United States, Language, New York Times, Theater, Bob, Opera, Johnson, Voice, Hamilton, Bell

Why do we feel schadenfreude — and who it feels it the most?

Few words convey as much meaning as Schadenfreude, or the joy that arises from seeing harm come to others.Schadenfreude is a complex psychological phenomenon, and researchers have only begun to look into rigorously.Psychology can tell us why we feel schadenfreude, when we feel it, and who feels it the most. None Anybody would admit that they like it when an opposing sports team makes a critical mistake. Many of us also like it when a rival coworker gets turned down for a promotion that we were h...
Tags: Psychology, Personality, Language, Innovation, Emotions, Milo Yiannopoulos, SCM

Watch French people try to say difficult English words

Hitting them with "Throughout" first is pretty sadistic. But that they stumble on "choir" suggests that they are hamming it up, un peu?
Tags: Video, News, Language

Why humans struggled to make 'f' and 'v' sounds until farming came along

A new study suggests that the f and v sounds were made easier to pronounce by the change in our diets the invention of farming made possible. The idea isn't a new one, but is only now being taken seriously.Even today, many hunter-gather cultures lack labiodentals in their languages. The Neolithic Revolution fundamentally changed how humanity went about the business of surviving. With the rise of farming, humans no longer had to travel into inclement climates following the migration of animals, ...
Tags: Language, Innovation, Anthropology, Agriculture, University of Bristol, Physiology, University of Zurich, Ancient World, Sean Roberts, Human body, Steven Moran, Hockett, Charles Hockett, Balthasar Bickel Steven Moran Damián Blasi

Some pretty impressive machine-learning generated poetry courtesy of GPT-2

GPT-2 is Open AI's language-generation model (last seen around these parts as a means of detecting machine-generated text); it's powerful and cool, and Gwern Branwen fed it the Project Gutenberg poetry corpus to see what kind of poetry it would write. Pretty good poetry, as it turns out. Scott Alexander (previously) does a good job of highlighting its greatest hits (and misses). GPT-2 poetry manages some impressive accomplishments, like solid iambic pentameter ("Thou know’st how Menoetia...
Tags: Post, New York, News, America, Language, Machine Learning, Ai, Public Domain, Wu, Hector, Scott Alexander, GPT, Project Gutenberg, ML, Centaurs, Gwern Branwen

‘We spoke English to set ourselves apart’: how I rediscovered my mother tongue

While I was growing up in Nigeria, my parents deliberately never spoke their native Igbo language to us. But later it became an essential part of me. By Adaobi Tricia NwaubaniWhen I was a child, my great-grandmother, whom we called Daa, came to live with my family in Umuahia in south-eastern Nigeria. My father had spent most of his infancy in her care, mostly during a period when his mother was preoccupied with her role as one of the founders of a local Assemblies of God church. As Daa grew olde...
Tags: Books, Education, Nigeria, Africa, World news, Language, Languages, Umuahia, Adaobi Tricia NwaubaniWhen

Geese in the Mall

This ad is hanging in Shanghai’s “Cloud 9” ( 龙之梦 ) shopping mall: First of all the repeating character is 鹅 , which means “goose.” In the circular logo, you can see a little characterplay going on with the goose head. Above that, you have “ 鹅,鹅,鹅 ” which, of course, reads “goose, goose, goose.” This is a famous first line of a classical Chinese poem. It’s famous because it’s so simple, so a lot of kids memorize it as one of their first (if not the first) classical poems committed to...
Tags: Food, Advertising, Language, Shanghai, Linguistics, Chinese characters, Characterplay

I'm just glad it's Meatless Mondays, because meatless Fridays would seem religious.

NYC Mayor de Blasio Rolls Out ‘Meatless Mondays’ In Public Schools To Combat ‘Global Warming’ — Breaking911 (@Breaking911) March 11, 2019 "And they believe in Meatless Mondays...."I mean, it still does sound like religion, just steering clear of intersection with traditional Christian religion.Anyway, I see that "Meatless Monday" has a substantial Wikipedia page. It suggests that Monday is the best meatless day because it's the day you get back to work after the ind...
Tags: Law, Wikipedia, Language, Paul Mccartney, Bill De Blasio, De Blasio, Vegetarian, PAUL, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Ann Althouse, Religion Substitutes

Put on your hock-dockies, and let's read a little more...

... from the 1869 book, "The Slang Dictionary: Or, the Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and 'Fast' Expressions of High and Low Society."(Click image to enlarge and clarify.)What do you think of the "Gipsy" origin of "hocus pocus" and the alternative explanation that it's a mockery of the Eucharist? Etymonline buys into the "sham-Latin" explanation, but the OED says "The notion that hocus pocus was a parody of the Latin words used in the Eucharist, rests merely on a conjecture...."I like these other...
Tags: Marriage, Law, Wikipedia, Shoes, History, Language, Drinking, Hodge, Hobson, John Stuart Mill, Snopes, Ann Althouse, Clowns, Gipsy

Waulking, talking and doing the necessary | Brief letters

Traditional crafts | Toilet humour | Forms of address | Consultation v engagementsIn Stuart Jeffries’ review of Arcadia (11 March) he wonders what the Scottish women are wrangling on a table. The answer is they are “waulking”, finishing newly woven tweed by soaking it in stale urine, then thumping it rhythmically to shrink and soften the cloth. In the Scottish Gaelic culture the process was accompanied by singing and clapping. Although traditional waulking is disappearing, four waulking groups –...
Tags: Fashion, Scotland, UK News, NHS, Language, Arcadia, engagementsIn Stuart Jeffries, Edinburgh Strathspey Barra, Martyn DayTwickenham London, Norman BillinghamBrighton

Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen likens Ilhan Omar (and other colleagues) to cats — saying, "The cats have to understand who provides the water and kibble and cleans the litter."

I'm reading "'Like herding cats': Pelosi struggles to unify Democrats after painful fight over anti-Semitism" (WaPo).I know Steve Cohen is wielding the old cliché, It's like herding cats, but I thought it was completely unacceptable these days to equate persons of color with animals. (Ask Roseanne.) And look how bad this is:“Being a speaker — especially on the Democratic side — is like herding cats,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). “. . . The cats have to understand who provides the water and k...
Tags: Cats, Law, Wikipedia, History, Metaphor, Noah, Language, Islam, Anti-semitism, Mice, Cairo, Omar, Democratic Party, Cohen, Muhammad, Pelosi

"A Qantas flight attendant who got blind drunk on peach martinis in a New York bar during a layover has lost his appeal to win his job back."

"Luke Urso, 24, claims he drank just 'two peach martinis and three gin and tonics' at the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar in New York in 2017 but due to the bartenders 'free pouring' the cocktails, he ended up collapsing in the toilet and being rushed to hospital. Mr Urso believed that while he thought he was drinking five drinks, he had really consumed the equivalent to 14 standard drinks - resulting in him unable to work his shift the next day and Qantas having to foot the $20,000 hospital bill.... [The...
Tags: Usa, New York, Law, Australia, Language, Drinking, New Zealand, Qantas, Bristol, Thomas Hardy, H G Wells, Ann Althouse, Urso, Luke Urso, Fifth Rooftop Bar, Nipperkin

The Happy Life / The Quiet Mind

Late one night, I shared some vodka tonics with a friend. We talked about matters of great importance; life, meaning, and happiness — as one might do while getting moderately intoxicated after a hard day’s work in the propaganda industry. The next day, my friend sent me an email: “Our conversation yesterday reminded me of this poem of Henry Howard,” he wrote. “I think you might like it.” The Things that Do Attain What I read turned out to become one of my favourite poems: “My ...
Tags: Pr, Work-life balance, Language, Creative writing, Lifehacks, Career Advice, Personal Development, Stoic Philosophy, Life Design, Henry Howard, Lifehacking, Marko Blažević

Pleco Tip: Word Containing (Reversed)

Pleco is a really powerful dictionary app, and it has a lot of features many people don’t even know about, such as the Clipboard Reader. This one is simply a part of dictionary entries that many people have never noticed. Check out this entry, paying attention to the top and the bottom: Note the bottom line: it’s an example of the word that was looked up, but in reverse. More Examples I’m not going to give too many (and I’ll explain why below), but here are some relatively co...
Tags: Language, Linguistics, Pleco

Where did the phrase “yeah no” come from?

I’ve noticed myself saying “yeah no.”The expression came up in a class one day, when I had asked students to bring in examples of language variation. One student suggested “yeah no” as an example of not-quite standard California English.California, it seems, gets the credit or blame for everything. But “yeah no” is not California English and it’s not just something young people say. It’s been around for a while and is used by males and females, young and old. I began to notice “yeah no” in the s...
Tags: Books, Featured, Australia, California, Bbc, Conversation, Britain, Language, Linguistics, Dan, University of Melbourne, Evan, Vicky Pollard, Joe Penhall, Lingua Franca, Mark Liberman

The Language You Speak Predicts Your Ability To Remember The Different Parts Of Lists

By Matthew Warren. The results raise questions about theories of short-term memory based purely on Western participants.
Tags: Psychology, Memory, Language, Thought, Matthew Warren

Language Power Struggles, 9 Years Later

Probably my most popular blog post ever has been the Language Power Struggles one from way back in 2010. It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since I wrote that, and when I recently discussed the issue with Jared in our podcast, I realized that my attitudes have changed a bit over the years. The advice that I gave in that article still stands: that in a battle of wills where communication is not the goal of interaction, no one really wins. And if you’re interacting with Chinese people...
Tags: Psychology, Personal, Language, Linguistics, Jared

"... a fresh human turd — yes, a turd! — her own, one hoped..."

For the new installment of the "Bonfire" project — where we're reading passages from Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities" — I offer this, from Kindle Location 3222:Nick Stopping said he had dinner the other night at the home of Stropp, the investment banker, on Park Avenue, and Stropp’s four-year-old daughter, by his second wife, came into the dining room pulling a toy wagon, upon which was a fresh human turd — yes, a turd! — her own, one hoped, and she circled the table three times, and neithe...
Tags: Law, NYC, History, Language, Drinking, Tom Wolfe, Park Avenue, Yanks, Ann Althouse, Excrement, Stropp, the Bonfire project, Smollett Smollett, Tobias Smollett, Nick Stopping, Asher Herzfeld

"I just want to remind you that that mildly nauseous feeling you have is because for the last two years, Donald Trump has been spinning you in a tumble-dryer full of turd."

That is the level of joke told on a network late-night talk show and selected by the NYT for its "Best of Late Night" summary.I guess the network taste level is you have to say "turd" for "shit." Personally, I think "turd" is a nastier word. "Shit" is crisper, jauntier. "Turd" has that ugly "urd" sound that we find in "murder," "burden," and "absurd." And "turd," unlike "shit," calls attention to the shape of particular lumps of excrement (which makes it the less apt word for what's going on in ...
Tags: Law, Putin, Stephen Colbert, Russia, America, Language, Nyt, Colbert, The Colbert Report, Jack, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Trump, Normal, Ann Althouse, Dirty Words

Characterplay with Buttons

Spotted in Shanghai: The word is 扣子 , meaning “button” (the kind you sew onto clothing). In Chinese, the kind of button you press is a totally different word, and even has the verb for “to press” as the first character: 按钮 . (When you think about it, it seems kind of dumb that we use “button” for both of those things in English. Sure, you can say “push-button” in English, but it still feels to me like whoever decided to use the word “button” for the new kind that you press wasn’t su...
Tags: Language, Shanghai, Linguistics, English, Vocabulary, Chinese characters, Characterplay

"Smollett—if he really did stage the attack—would have been acting out the black-American component in this eschatological configuration, the role of victim as a form of status."

"We are, within this hierarchy, persecuted prophets, ever attesting to the harm that white racism does to us and pointing to a future context in which our persecutors will be redeemed of the sin of having leveled that harm upon us. We are noble in our suffering."Writes John McWhorter in "What the Jussie Smollett Story Reveals/It shows a peculiar aspect of 21st-century America: victimhood chic" (The Atlantic).What is "this eschatological configuration"? The antecedent sentence is:Racial politics ...
Tags: Law, Abc, Wikipedia, America, Atlantic, Language, Angela Davis, Jussie Smollett, Don, Buckley, Robin Roberts, William F Buckley, John McWhorter, Smollett, Ann Althouse, Racial Politics

Cthulhu in China

It’s always fun to discover cultural tidbits from home unexpectedly implanted in China, whether it’s Marvel superheroes, Steve Jobs, or even potatoes. So it was fun to make these two book discoveries in my local bookstore: Snow Crash Snow Crash ( 雪崩 ) is a classic cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson ( 尼尔·斯提芬森 ). 雪崩 simply means “avalanche,” so it’s a shame that this translation seems hardly nuanced. But still… it’s Snow Crash! Cthulhu H. P. Lovecraft‘s Cthulhu Mytho...
Tags: Translation, Books, Steve Jobs, China, Language, Linguistics, Neal Stephenson

How Would You Feel Having Your Emoji Messages Read Out in Court?

Our online conversations are riddled with emoji, and while the amusing characters can be a creative way to express certain concepts between friends, how they’re interpreted can be a giant legal headache.Read more...
Tags: Science, Language, Emoji, Emoticons, When Confused Face Emoji Use Words

Phonetically consistent English

English is a dragon of a language, dozing atop en enormous mountain of phonemes. What if they were all melted down and minted into something more consistent? And then we tried to speak it? The results sound a bit like a Welsh accent. [YouTube]
Tags: Video, News, B-side, Language

"We take your privacy and security seriously" is the "thoughts and prayers" of data-breaches

Writing on Techcrunch, Zack Whittaker (previously) calls out the timeworn phrase "we take your privacy and security seriously," pointing out that this phrase appears routinely in company responses to horrific data-breaches, and it generally accompanied by conduct that directly contradicts it, such as stonewalling and minimizing responsibility for breaches and denying their seriousness. "We take your privacy and security seriously" is really code for "Please stop asking us to take your privacy a...
Tags: Security, Post, News, Privacy, Language, Infosec, Bullshit, Breaches, Zack Whittaker, Debullshitification

Try Something New: 10 Amazing Courses & Workshops in Berlin

When you’ve got your life somehow vaguely figured out in Berlin, it is very easy to fall into a weekly routine. You see the same people, eat at the same restaurants and go after your favorite hobby. And somehow, this routine becomes dangerously comfortable, until boredom dares us to try something new. Personally, I fear and love my comfort zone. Love it, because Netflix & Angry Chicken with my hubby is fricking amazing. Hate it, because it keeps my mind from expanding. So, I challenge you and me...
Tags: Coffee, Fashion, Learning, Berlin, Painting, Dance, Yoga, Workshop, Language, Stories, Venezuela, Course, Kreuzberg, Ca Va, Netflix Angry Chicken, Kambiz Rahmati

"Suppose that instead of one shepherd boy, there are a few dozen. They are tired of the villagers dismissing their complaints about less threatening creatures..."

"... like stray dogs and coyotes. One of them proposes a plan: they will start using the word 'wolf' to refer to all menacing animals. They agree and the new usage catches on. For a while, the villagers are indeed more responsive to their complaints. The plan backfires, however, when a real wolf arrives and cries of 'Wolf!' fail to trigger the alarm they once did. What the boys in the story do with the word 'wolf,' modern intellectuals do with words like 'violence.' When ordinary people think of...
Tags: Law, Lying, Language, Wolves, Wolf, Ann Althouse, Philosopher Kristie Dotson

Dialect quiz tracks down where you grew up

I was easy to locate because the term "Had" for the game "Tag" puts my childhood very precisely in Worthing, England, right by Brighton in this map. But it also knows I spent two years in Essex. The NYT's British-Irish dialect quiz is a sharp application of science. The U.S. version was published a while back.
Tags: Post, News, Language, Brighton, Essex, Worthing England