Friday, January 31, 2014

The Uncooperative Principle

Paul Grice (1913-1988)
Violate a maxim--without damaging a relationship!--and let us know how it went.

More Games People Play

Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker
So you've read pages 388-408 of the chapter titled "Games People Play" in Steven Pinker's How The Mind Works.  What did you learn?

Share and respond.

And click here to read a whole lot more about conversational implicature.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Politeness or deception?

Can anyone make a case for the value of this way of communicating with someone, described here as British politeness?  Would the world be a better place if we all just said exactly what we mean?  (Stay tuned for Steven Pinker's views on this question.)


Thanks for sending this in, Tori.

Although I'm an SNL fan, I'm a "Wh-" snob, and Mr. Samberg blows it by pronouncing "will" and "weird" and at least one other "w" word with a "wh" sound. It did not get past me. In short, he is clearly a "wh" faker, and he needs to raise his game.

"May I have one crack please?"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dictionary Drama

Think the life of a dictionary writer is devoid of controversy?  Click here and here to disabuse yourself of this notion.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where are ya'll from?

Click here to find out what your word choice says about where you are from.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Click it

Monday, January 20, 2014

How do you do?

"Famine" by Ivan Vladimirov (1869-1947)
Don't like the vacuousness of this daily hallway and sidewalk exchange:  "How are you?" "Fine."
Move to Russia. Or read this Op Ed in today's New York Times.