3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 29-35 of 101 Articles

Earlier this week we featured an excerpt from the linguist John McWhorter's new book, What Language Is, in which he explains how the English language is essentially "disheveled." Here, in a second excerpt, McWhorter considers some questions that the chaotic history of English raises.  Continue reading...
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University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron is a regular Visual Thesaurus contributor, and we have been proud to feature selected pieces he has written for his site, The Web of Language. Today WOL celebrates its fifth anniversary, and Dennis has commemorated the occasion by looking back on some of his most notable posts.  Continue reading...
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In his new book, What Language Is, the linguist John McWhorter takes the reader on a guided tour of language as it really is, not how we might assume it to be. One of his keys to understanding language the way a linguist does is to appreciate that it is inherently messy, or "disheveled," as he puts it. In this excerpt, McWhorter uses the history of English as his example of just how disheveled language can be.  Continue reading...
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In the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, I took a look at how forensic linguists try to determine the author of an e-mail by picking up on subtle clues of style and grammar. This is very much in the news, thanks to a lawsuit filed against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg by one Paul Ceglia, who claims that Zuckerberg promised him half of Facebook's holdings, as proven by e-mail exchanges he says they had. Did Zuckerberg actually write the e-mails? Call the language detectives.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Grammatical Diversity in American English

A fascinating new site has been launched by linguists at Yale University: "Yale Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America." The site documents "the subtle, but systematic, differences in the syntax of English varieties." If you want to know where people say "The car needs washed" or "I might could go," check out the site here.
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Blog Excerpts

The iPeeve?

On the linguistics blog Language Log, Mark Liberman of the University of Pennsylvania has "a terrible idea that could probably make someone a modest fortune." What if you could combine "a speech recognizer with a style checker" to create "an app for your smartphone that will make it vibrate (or beep, or flash) whenever you indulge in any of the verbal tics that you've asked it to watch out for"? Read Liberman's reluctant proposal here.
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Blog Excerpts

The Remarkable History of "Y'all"

Ben Trawick-Smith is an actor with a deep interest in English dialects. On his Dialect Blog, he takes on a range of interesting linguistic issues. One recent post traces the history of the pronoun y'all: "One word. Two continents. Three shores. Four centuries. Five separate dialects. Wow." Read the fascinating story here.

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3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 29-35 of 101 Articles