Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The New York Times has a new "On Language" Columnist

He's a linguist.  Check him out.

Update:  As of February 2011, "On Language" is dead.  Ben Zimmer now writes a column for the Boston Globe. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homophone Trouble

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Meaning of Sharks

Some words have an actual concrete item or concept (idea, action, or state of being) that the word refers to--its referent.  The referential meaning of a word is its definition.

See, for example, shark at left.







Some words refer to prevaricated things such as the Land Shark.  (Click here to see a clip from the Saturday Night Live Sketch.)

Some words take on an entirely different meaning when they are combined in an idiomatic expression such as "jumping the shark."  (See the video below at left, which shows the Fonz jumping the shark.)

The Meaning of Sloth

Some words have an actual concrete item or concept (idea, action, or state of being) that the word refers to--its referent.  The referential meaning of a word is its definition.

See, for example, the sloth at left.







Some words refer to prevaricated things such as Sloth, the Manga character in the image at left.  






Some words refer to abstract concepts, such as "sloth" (as in, laziness, represented in the image below at left).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vocaliz

I'm still looking for an academic rationale for including this video on our little linguistics blog.  Let me know if you come up with any.  In the mean time, enjoy the vocal stylings of this 1970s Russian TV performance by Edward Anotolevich Hill, which I just came across.  A song with no words.  This is how I imagine myself walking into class each day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

No Title #3

A young couple is sitting at a nice restaurant. The boy is planning on proposing after dinner. He is very nervous and it doesn’t help that the waiter has just spilt his water on him.

Elizabeth: lollerz. I cant bl33v the w8ter nocked yur water on u.
Greg:  =/ I just wish it didnt look lik I wet maself.
Elizabeth: LOL! Hes such a n00b.
Greg: im going to the bathroom 2 see if i can dry off. BRB
Elizabeth: kk

(He walks away, returning a few minutes later)

Greg: Sombody brok the towl dispenser.
Elizabeth: Hax!
Greg: w00t. the f00d is finally here.
Elizabeth: w00t!
Greg: short ribs ftw.
Elizabeth: lol Napkins ftw. I no how y r with ribs.
Greg: stfu
Elizabeth: JK babe so wats teh suprise
Greg: resend
Elizabeth: wats teh suprise U havent takn me here n months
Greg: u’ll c.
Elizabeth: hint
Greg: profeser plum
Elizabeth: /glare  That doesnt help tis place is 2 purple alredy
Greg: 2bad. w8 til desrt
Elizabeth: /doom fin
Greg: lqtm howz teh samon
Elizabeth: roxerz
Greg: /p0k ch33r up j00l b glad u w8td
Elizabeth: k
Greg: =/
Elizabeth: [getting up from the table with a sour look on her face] brb
Greg: liz!
Elizabeth. AFK1
Greg: fml

Elizabeth returns 10 minutes later

Greg: /dance?
Elizabeth: no u hate 2
Greg: but u luv it. /dance
Elizabeth [smiling]: /dance

They begin to dance and Elizabeth is surprised. Greg is much better than he used to be.
Elizabeth: hax
Greg: wat
Elizabeth: you r a n00b at dancin
Greg: plz i hav 1337 f337
Elizabeth: lol gift time
Greg: w8 I hav 2 say sumthin Liz b4 1 met u 1 thot 1 wz pr pwnge that 1 was as g00d as 1 c00d get. But u cam an raizd teh lvl cap 2 80 Liz w/out u im just a 1 armd n00b
Elizabeth: Greg ur so sw337
Greg: Liz will u m4rry me
Elizabeth: OMG!!1 YES GREG YES!1 U R0X0RZ M4H B0X0RZ I WiL 4B50LUT7LY M4RRY U
Greg [showing her the ring]: I had 2 farm for months 2 by this it was teh most 3pic ring 1 c00d find.
Elizabeth: I luv it but u no teh ring doesnt mater. I luv you.
Greg: I love you 2

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A linguistic joke: Artists' Canvas

Contributed by Jim Brockman:

I used to work in an art supply store. We sold artists' canvas by the yard, and you could get it in either of two widths: 36 inches or 48 inches.

Customer: "Can you please cut some canvas for me?"

Me: "Certainly, what width?"

Customer: (confused and slightly annoyed) "Uh, Scissors?"