Language

Category archives for Language

So, a while ago, Ben Zvanwas talking about doing something with the Bible, which would involve processing the text through some filters and recompiling it. This sort of thing has always interested me: Not recompiling the bible, but rather, textual analysis in general using the basic material stripped of intended meaning by classifying and ordering…

The Queen’s got a point: (Hat tip, Jennifer Ouellette)

Or … What I had for breakfast. I just got the Caribou Coffee trivia question wrong. I got it so wrong that the Barista stared at me in disbelief for a moment, then blurted out the correct answer with audible snark and disappointment. If I told you what the question was (and that is not…

I’m very please that my discussion of the “we can’t ever know what a word is” Internet meme has elicited a response from Mark Liberman at Language Log. (here) Mark was very systematic in his comments, so I will be very systematic in my responses.

I am looking at the question: How many words are there in a language? I’d like to know for languages in general, comparatively, and for pedagogical reasons, in some well known western language which may as well be English. What I found quite incidentally is a hornets nest of curmudgeonistic pedanticmaniacal jibberishosity. (There. Whatever the…

Effect Measure has an interesting take-down of a post on The Global Language Monitor (GLM), which brings up an interesting point or two. The GLM is a very strange site which has, as Revere points out, declared itself to be an important go-to place to find out about language trends across the world. I have…

Don’t worry, it is not as bad as it sounds, but it is somewhat contagious.

Did you ever notice how some verbal expressions have an extra meaning for you, just you, because of history? In reflecting on this, it is impossible to not consider such lofty topics as memes, cultural transmission, and … well, meaning. A particular expression might invoke a memory of an event, or of a person who…

Knowing More Languages = Good

American politicians, some parents, and a few others have previously expressed the concern that learning more than one language muddles the mind. This is, of course, absurd, and it is hard to believe why anyone really thought this. In fact, it could be said that having more than one language under your belt makes it…

Framing the Language Gene: FOXP2

You can now read the Krause et al (2007) paper from Current Biology regarding the FOXP2 variant found in Neanderthals in an open-access on-line form at Current Biology Online. Here is the summary of the article: Although many animals communicate vocally, no extant creature rivals modern humans in language ability. Therefore, knowing when and under…