Posts Tagged: linguistics

Understanding the Language of Female Breakups

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Female friendship, however necessary it is in our lives, and for all the joy it brings us, for all its love and support and kindness and generosity, can be a real mindf***k when it ends.

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The Story Is the Concepts: Philosophizing with Ryan Ruby

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Ryan Ruby talks about his debut novel The Zero and the One, the challenges of pacing and plot, and the fun of inventing a book of philosophy for the novel.

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The Sunday Rumpus Interview: Dipika Mukherjee

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Telling a human story, with individuals experiencing the effects of an actual political issue—that’s my part in shaking the ground.

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Trolls Gonna Troll

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We don’t like being told “no.” At least not according to preliminary votes from Oxford Dictionaries’ attempt to collect data on English speakers’ least favorite words in late August. Unfortunately, while the publishers of the OED did get a number of legitimate responses, they shut down the contest after one day because Internet users can’t help […]

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Women Shouldn’t Stop Saying ‘Sorry’

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At The Establishment, Amelia Shroyer pushes back against the idea that women must self-police their language in order to sound more ‘professional’ (read: like men): Society has always valued the words of men more than those of women, to the point that men have been credited for discoveries or milestones actually reached by women, and […]

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The Person to Whom Things Happen

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The question of what posture to take toward our own pain is unexpectedly complicated. How do we understand our own suffering—with what words and to what ends? For the New York Times Magazine, Parul Sehgal questions the terminology we use when talking about sexual assault: from “victim” to “survivor,” either term a kind of interpellation […]

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Losing Language

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At JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu looks at language loss in victims of trauma, specifically trauma in wartime. Luu’s case studies range from a monolingual teenaged prisoner isolated in Guantanamo Bay to POWs in Russia isolated from their native cultures and first languages for decades at a time.

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Examining the Dictionary for Sexism

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We need to know that the dictionary, as an institution, has a cultural power beyond the sum of its parts…And that does carry with it a responsibility to realize that we exist within that tension, and to not always hide behind the idea of descriptivist lexicography Over at the New Yorker, Nora Caplan-Bricker compiles stories […]

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The Art of Inventing Language

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Chi Luu writes for JSTOR Daily on the popularity of invented languages, ranging from the mystical language created by a 12th century abbess to contemporary constructed languages such as Esperanto and Klingon. Invented languages found in literature are really examples of linguistic artistry, language for art’s sake, not necessarily for real world utility or universality…. […]

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It’s Literally Fine

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At the Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance defends teenagers’ ever-maligned contributions to the lexicon, citing a recent student that examines the extent to which teens influence linguistic change: And the thing about linguistic changes is they can’t exactly be stopped in any sort of deliberate way…Even old-school grammar geeks are warming up to “they” as an acceptable […]

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The Making of the OED

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The Oxford English Dictionary, the first comprehensive catalog of the English language, took seventy years to compile. Volunteers aided the project, and one of the biggest contributors happened to be a murderer who lived in an insane asylum: Through the years, the OED’s editor had enlisted hundreds of volunteers around the English-speaking world, and probably […]

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The (Im)Purity of Language

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At JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu makes a case for emphasizing grammar rules that follow popular usage, rather than the pedantic standards set by centuries-dead classicists. Here are the plain facts: many of these pop grammar rules… were magically pulled out of thin air by a handful of 18th and 19th century prescriptive grammarians…. Often […]

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The Last of Their Words

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Chi Luu writes for JSTOR Daily on the rapid extinction of the world’s languages and linguists’ efforts to preserve these dying languages for future generations. On the surface, there isn’t anything wrong with people wanting to communicate with each other in a language they all understand. A global language certainly has its advantages…. In the […]

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Crafting a Metaphor

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One thing you learn very quickly as a metaphor designer is that your language and your culture’s resources aren’t infinite. Nor are they as versatile as you might hope. The richness of the semantic resources that a designer can muster always encounter friction from the human brain’s built-in biases and preferences, as well as cultural […]

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