Topic : Linguistics
Even though National Grammar Day is behind us, that's no reason to stop celebrating grammar — or overturning cherished assumptions about grammar. Every year for NGD, University of California, San Diego linguistics grad student Gabe Doyle compiles a list of grammar myths that require debunking. Here's his latest roundup. Continue reading...
Books we love
February 8, 2012By Mark Peters
Richard Bailey's Speaking American is one of those books I wish I could make every prescriptivist grouch in the world read. You know the type: the kind of misinformed peever who kvetches about "kids these days" and the language going to hell while yearning to preserve English, as if it were a precious vase a teenage texter might knock over while planking, shattering it forever and leaving us all mute. Continue reading...
Behind the Dictionary
Lexicographers Talk About Language
January 31, 2012By Neal Whitman
Back in December, a small study by researchers at Long Island University got a lot of news play. Maybe you heard about it. It was about the supposed recent increase in young American women's use of vocal fry — the lowest vocal register, the one with a creaky quality to it. Continue reading...
Books we love
January 13, 2012By Mark Peters
My friend Laura knows four languages plus "bits and pieces" of six others. That's impressive, but it's not quite in the same league as folks who pick up languages the way George Clooney picks up starlets: with frightening ease. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot written, in academic or popular literature, on hyperpolyglots: people who know not just two or three languages, but six or ten or twenty. Continue reading...
Writers Talk About Writing
December 20, 2011By Dennis Baron
University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron is a regular Visual Thesaurus contributor, and we're proud to feature selected pieces he has written for his site, The Web of Language. Here, Dennis looks back on some of the top language stories that crossed his radar in 2011. Continue reading...
Inventing Languages for Fun and Profit
December 16, 2011
If Mark Peters' review of the new book From Elvish to Klingon whets your appetite for constructed languages, be sure to check out the recent New York Times article on Dothraki, the language created for the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. And also take a look at Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer's "On Language" column about the Na'vi language of Avatar, here.
Books we love
December 16, 2011By Mark Peters
When word nerdom and sci-fi nerdom collide, what do you get? A dictionary-bot that recites definitions while performing the duties of a butler? Someday, I hope that's true. For now, the answer is From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages: a thorough look at invented languages (also known as conlangs, short for constructed languages) from sci-fi and elsewhere. Continue reading...