A young psycholinguist confesses her strong attraction to pronouns. (The American Scholar)
‘Welcome to the new website of the Endangered Language Alliance. We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to further the documentation, description, maintenance, and revitalization of threatened and endangered languages, and to educate the public about the causes and consequences of language extinction. You can read more about us here.’
- Oh, we got endangered languages / right here in New York City (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
- The Lost Languages, Found in New York (nytimes.com)
- The death of a language | David Shariatmadari (guardian.co.uk)
- Sahaptin Dictionary (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
- So many languages, so much technology… (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
My friend Julia Suits, New Yorker cartoonist, just sent me a copy of this book by Jag Bhalla, of which she is the illustrator. I don’t know if Julia knows of my fascination with linguistic curiosities but this is right up my browsing alley. It is a delightful book, all about idioms from other cultures. I recall one of my favorite browsing books, Howard Rheingold‘s They Have a Word for It, about untranslatable concepts other cultures embody in native words. Bhalla turned my head when he pointed out in the introduction to the present volume that idioms are essentially expressions that are untranslatable in their own language!
And Suits’ wonderful illustrations, with their absurd and at times surreal literality, are perfect amplifications of the incongruity Bhalla sets out to depict.
‘A Language Log reader named metanea points out to us that the Urban Dictionary claims aibohphobia is a technical term for the irrational fear of palindromicity. The etymology will raise a smile. Just stare at the word for a few seconds, and it will reveal itself to you…’ (Language Log)
Hours—nay, days—of fun can be had with the University of Chicago’s Make Your Own Academic Sentence widget. You select four theoretical terms from a pull-down menu, it generates a delightfully meaningless string of words. One of mine appears in the title. That’s right: read it and (try not to) weep.
via The New Yorker.
The surprising ways that metaphors shape your world: “Drawing on philosophy and linguistics, cognitive scientists have begun to see the basic metaphors that we use all the time not just as turns of phrase, but as keys to the structure of thought. By taking these everyday metaphors as literally as possible, psychologists are upending traditional ideas of how we learn, reason, and make sense of the world around us. The result has been a torrent of research testing the links between metaphors and their physical roots, with many of the papers reading as if they were commissioned by Amelia Bedelia, the implacably literal-minded children’s book hero. Researchers have sought to determine whether the temperature of an object in someone’s hands determines how “warm” or “cold” he considers a person he meets, whether the heft of a held object affects how “weighty” people consider topics they are presented with, or whether people think of the powerful as physically more elevated than the less powerful.” (Boston Globe)