Quantcast

Posts Tagged: language

Like, Considering the Other Side

By

Critics might believe that “like” has infiltrated and degraded American English, but John McWhorter argues just the contrary. McWhorter claims that “like” is not a marker of the downfall of spoken language, but instead, a sign of its “growing sophistication.” He explains that “like” is not necessarily a sign of hesitation and indecision; it can be used to signify consideration.

...more

We’d Rather Be Looking at Pictures of Kittens, or How We Learned to Love TL;DR

By

We’ve probably all found ourselves in the middle of reading a long internet post only to conclude we’d rather spend our time looking at pictures of kittens. Anobium examines the rise of the “Too Long; Didn’t Read” culture pervasive on the Internet:

The problem is that there are seven billion people on the planet, more than ever before, and a few billion on the Internet, all sharing the same public sphere.

...more

“Don’t Let Them Call You Anything Else”

By

Tasbeeh Herwees has a fantastic essay up at the Toast about her Libyan mother’s insistence that Americans use her given name rather than an anglicized nickname, confusing though they may find it to pronounce.

And apparently most Americans aren’t willing to remedy that confusion, a fact which used to weigh heavily on Herwees.

...more

Nabokov vs. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

By

“When Nabokov started translating [his English-language memoir] into Russian, he recalled a lot of things that he did not remember when he was writing it in English, and so in essence it became a somewhat different book,” Pavlenko says.

At NPR’s health blog, Shots, Alan Yu explores the controversial linguistic idea that the language(s) we speak helps shape how we perceive the world.

...more

“Pop,” “Soda,” or “Heaven Bubbles”?

By

You’ve probably seen this regional-dialect quiz from the New York Times making the rounds on your social networks. You answer questions about your vocabulary and pronunciation, and it tries to determine where in the United States you’re from.

But the New Yorker‘s Shouts & Murmurs blog is really upping the ante with their own dialect quiz, which asks questions like “What do you call sweetened carbonated beverages?” Do you use “soda,” “pop,” or “Coke”?

...more

When Language Fails

By

2013 has become the year of the emoji as the pictographs have made their way into iMessages, poem translations, and recently, an art exhibition. Betsy Morais’ article called “Do You Speak Emoji?” refers to emojis as “a new form of language that is, by turns, keenly expressive and cheerfully cryptic.”

The reasons for using images of shooting stars, thumbs up, and hearts instead of words to convey meaning might be difficult to understand at first, but as Morais writes, “when language poses a risk, employ a playful image whose interpretation may be negotiated upon receipt.”

...more

“Because” Has New Meaning, Because Grammar

By

Like it or not, the meanings and uses of words are constantly shifting, because language.

At the Atlantic, Megan Garber writes about how the word “because,” normally a subordinating conjunction, is increasingly being used as a preposition, with examples and possible linguistic explanations:

However it originated, though, the usage of “because-noun” (and of “because-adjective” and “because-gerund”) is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language.

...more

When Good Grammar Is Actually Bad

By

Adverbs acting as manner adjuncts “do not occur between whether and infinitival to,” you guys. Duh.

Or, in other words, you can’t say, “…decide whether unconditionally to attend the Geneva talks.” Instead, you should say, “…decide whether to unconditionally attend the Geneva talks,” because that “rule” about split infinitives doesn’t actually exist.

...more

The Evolution of Language

By

How did humans learn to talk, anyway?

Vervet monkeys use different words (or, at least, “different alarm calls to refer to different types of predators, such as snakes and leopards”) but don’t arrange them into diverse kinds of sentences. Songbirds, meanwhile, create elaborate sentences with a variety of notes, but the notes don’t act as words the way the monkey alarm calls do.

...more

#NoHomophobes

By

“Homophobic language isn’t always meant to be hurtful, but how often do we use it without thinking?

So asks NoHomophobes.com, a website “designed as a social mirror to show the prevalence of casual homophobia in our society.” The site tracks, in real-time, the Twitter usage of the terms “faggot,” “dyke,” “no homo,” and “so gay.” Last week, the word “faggot” was tweeted a depressing 218,946 times.

...more

What About the Sky?

By

According to scholars, Homer never mentioned the color blue in any of his works; neither did the Bible, nor an abundance of ancient texts. Also, linguists have found a near-universal pattern in which languages developed color in stages, and blue was always the last to be named.

...more

Stamping Secrets

By

“For all those who are in the situation of Hero and Leander, and similarly to them can only exchange secret signs about the feelings of their hearts, here we publish the secrets of the language of stamps. If the stamp stands upright in the upper right corner of the card or envelope, it means: I wish your friendship.

...more

Packaging and Nationhood

By

Here’s a reflection on nationhood through the lens of bilingualism, product packaging, and mixed vegetables.

“The French and the English cannot be made to say exactly the same thing, not even in the blunt, literal language of generics. And this unharmonizability, one fears, is but the exact linguistic reflection of the irreducible discreteness of the can’s various contents (this is not a mash, but a mix), which in turn is but the alimentary mirror of unending human conflict.”

(Via The Book Bench)

...more

On Dirty Talk

By

“To be clear: this isn’t about sexual repression; it’s about the sorry state of sexual expression. When did we forget how to talk dirty? Sexting transcripts are criminally boring. Craigslist ads read like chimp-generated remixes of the same five words. Is it the Internet?

...more

Like It or Not

By

How does a non-native English speaker figure out the proper usage and placement of “like”? Is the “like tic” nothing more than a meaningless flaw?

“Had the non-native inquirer delved further, he would have found “like” analyzed as communicating something about the speaker’s relationship to his or her statement; as a “hedge”; as more common (surprisingly!) among males than among females; as an aspect of “sluicing” or elided speech; as a presentation of dramatized dialogue; as a useful point of departure for the study of the interactions of components of grammar.

...more

Deaf Culture

By

“Hearing people should not fool themselves into thinking they can understand the Deaf experience. What we need to understand, though, is that there is more to it than not being able to hear.”

In honor of Deaf Awareness Week this article offers a glimpse into the ins and outs of Deaf culture, which was officially recognized in the 1960s.

...more