Muriel Spark, born 1918, in her 1992 memoir Curriculum Vitae, antedates discourse-particle like to the early 1920s. And J.L. Austin, in his posthumous work Sense and Sensibilia, defends it as "the great adjuster-word, or, alternatively put, the main flexibility-device by whose aid, in spite of the limited scope of our vocabulary, we can always avoid being left completely speechless."
China's netizens are endlessly resourceful in coming up with clever terms to refer to almost anything that can evade the omnipresent censors — at least for awhile. We're all familiar with the "Grass Mud Horse" and the "Franco-Croatian Squid".
Strange as it may seem (!), they sometimes feel the need to say something critical about China, but to do so they have to evade the censors who will catch them, invoking the wrath of the almighty government. So now they have figured out various ways to refer to China without using the name of their country, Zhōngguó 中国 ("Central Kingdom, i.e., China") or Zhōnghuá rénmín gònghéguó 中华人民共和国 ("People's Republic of China").
Linguists today received a misleading email from Elsevier sent to everyone who has ever submitted to or reviewed for Lingua, the journal whose editorial board has decided to not work with Elsevier anymore and restart the journal as the open-access journal Glossa. Here is Elsevier’s email:
In addition to the evergreen list of things to be thankful for — family, friends, health, worlds full of wonder — I'd like to make a plug for the internet, that connects us to all of them. Less directly than we might sometimes wish, but much more easily.
And for anyone interested in speech, language, and communication, the internet and the virtual universe behind it offer an extraordinary opportunity to make voyages of discovery, and to share what we find.
From the annals of Improbable Research, Marc Abrahams posted "Patent application of the day: six God toilet water itching" (11/24/15)
This is for Chinese patent application CN301200531 S, filed August 7, 2009 and published May 12, 2010.
The inventors (bless their souls!) are Yú Fāngfāng 于方方 and Shī Yì 施翼.
The internet has been working hard at providing Deborah Cameron with material for a book she might write on attitudes towards women's voices. (Background: "Un justified", 7/8/2015; "Cameron v. Wolf" 7/27/2015.)
To see what I mean, sample the tweets for #JeopardyLaura, or read some of the old-media coverage, like "Is this woman the most annoying 'Jeopardy!' contestant ever?", Fox News 11/24/2015:
"Jeopardy!" contestant Laura Ashby is causing quite a stir on social media. The Marietta, Georgia, native isn't getting attention for her two-day winning streak but instead the tone of her voice.
Ashby first appeared on the competition show on Nov. 6 and when she returned this week the Internet went crazy over her voice.
Several tweeters went out of their way to exemplify Cameron's observation that "This endless policing of women’s language—their voices, their intonation patterns, the words they use, their syntax—is uncomfortably similar to the way our culture polices women’s bodily appearance":
— Alive In Philly (@AliveInPhilly) November 25, 2015
Over the years, we've presented some surprisingly consistent evidence about age and gender differences in the rates of use of different hesitation markers in various Germanic languages and dialects. See the end of this post for a list; or see Martijn Wieling et al., "Variation and change in the use of hesitation markers in Germanic languages", forthcoming:
In this study, we investigate cross-linguistic patterns in the alternation between UM, a hesitation marker consisting of a neutral vowel followed by a final labial nasal, and UH, a hesitation marker consisting of a neutral vowel in an open syllable. Based on a quantitative analysis of a range of spoken and written corpora, we identify clear and consistent patterns of change in the use of these forms in various Germanic languages (English, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese) and dialects (American English, British English), with the use of UM increasing over time relative to the use of UH. We also find that this pattern of change is generally led by women and more educated speakers.
For other reasons, I've done careful transcriptions (including disfluencies) of several radio and television interview programs, and it occurred to me to wonder whether such interviews show accommodation effects in UM/UH usage. As a first exploration of the question, I took a quick look at four interviews by Terry Gross of the NPR radio show Fresh Air: with Willie Nelson, Stephen King, Jill Soloway, and Lena Dunham.
From Bob Bauer:
A couple of days ago I discovered one of your Language Logs from last year that had a very interesting and very long back-and-forth discussion on the distinctive characteristics of Hong Kong's Chinese language.* I noticed.one commenter with initials HL** mentioned some particularly interesting things about the use of the term Punti 本地話*** to mean "Cantonese" in HK's law courts. Historically, Punti had referred to the indigenous Cantonese in contrast to the more recently-arrived Hakka immigrants. (By the way, for what it's worth, in the first half of the 19th century 地 was pronounced [ti], and then in the late 19th/early 20th century it diphthongized to [tei]).
Funny headline on a Yahoo news story: "Ford stops using Takata air bag inflators in future vehicles". To me that says that they used to use Takata air bags in future vehicles. How did that work?
An article by Nick Vivian in USA Today informs us:
The person wielding the megaphone speaks into it in Japanese and the megaphone amplifies her messages in three languages, one after another: English, Korean, and Chinese. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Several people have written to ask whether phonetic analysis can settle a Canadian political controversy, described in a November 19 CBC News article "Sask. MP Tom Lukiwski denies callng female politician a 'whore'":
Saskatchewan Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski has denied that he referred to a female politician as a "whore" — and interim party leader Rona Ambrose says she accepts his explanation.
"I did not say 'whore,'" Lukiwski told CBC News on Thursday. "I said 'horde,' as in NDP gang."
Lukiwski's comment came after Saskatchewan journalist Mickey Djuric blogged about Lukiwski's victory speech at the Eagles Club in Moose Jaw, Sask., on election night, Oct. 19. […]
"This is a very important election provincially," Lukiwski said. "We got to get Greg back elected."
"He's too important of an MLA to let go down to an NDP" — and at this point Lukiwski says either "whore" or "horde" —"just because of a bad boundary."
From last summer's pilot episode of What The Fox, put together by Zach Fox and a group of other Penn undergrads: