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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...
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Blog Excerpts

Inventing Languages for Fun and Profit

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.
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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...

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I've been coaching a team of three eighth-grade girls for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, as one of the co-curricular clubs that are offered at my sons' school. We've been having fun working what amounts to logic puzzles with a linguistic slant, and I've been introducing various linguistic concepts as they become relevant. A few weeks ago, as we worked our way through a puzzle whose solution depended on recognizing the length of a syllable, I decided it would be useful for the team to know the word diphthong.  Continue reading...
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In last Sunday's New York Times, I wrote about how researchers are using Twitter to build huge linguistic datasets in order to answer all sorts of interesting analytical questions. Some are looking at the emotional responses of Libyans to unfolding events like the death of Qaddafi, while others are tracking the distribution of regional patterns in American English. This latter research area, Twitter dialectology, is just getting off the ground, but the results are already quite intriguing.  Continue reading...
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English is a world language. Once an insignificant set of immigrant dialects on an obscure island in the rainswept North Sea, English is now the de facto language of multinational business, of science and technology, and of rock 'n' roll. Non-English speakers around the globe seem to be learning English as fast as they can.  Continue reading...
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If we divide up the short list of English parts of speech according to status, adjectives are at the top of the B-list. The elites, nouns and verbs, seem to get everyone's attention because without them, sentences wouldn't have a job.  Continue reading...
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 101 Articles