Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Check These Out

Posted by Neal on April 27, 2008

I’ve accumulated a number of links to linguistics posts that I’ve been meaning to recommend; now it’s time to get them all out of the docket at once.

First, here’s a guy giving a demonstration of the difference between [ʌ] and [ɘ], in a language where the schwa can be in a stressed syllable.

Folk etymology meets the acronym (OK, initialism or initialization, if you insist) in this discussion of courtesy copy from Josh Millard.

When you see a page of Old English text with stuff like Forþon him gelyfeð lyt, se þa ah lifes ƿyn on it, the first thing you notice is how different the words and letters are. And if you don’t know how to read Old English, that’s all you notice, so you never appreciate, for example, how different the syntax is. Karl Hagen of Polysyllabic meets this need by taking a piece of Modern English prose (by Dan Brown!), and putting it into Old English syntax while leaving the words and morphology unchanged. Interesting fact: Hagen was a consultant on the recent computer-animated movie version of Beowulf.

Next, Greg Larson goes on one of his celebrated rants, this time on an abuse of the adjective extreme by Pringles EXTREME Screamin’ Dill Pickle potato-chip-like salted snacks.

Finally, a couple of recent items of interest from Language Log, for any readers out there who don’t already read it. Here is Geoff Pullum on a simple argument that I’ve never heard made before that puts one more nail in the coffin of the case against singular they. And here is Arnold Zwicky on a construction that you would think just has to be — has to be — a mistake, but which seems to be produced intentionally by a number of speakers.

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4 Responses to “Check These Out”

  1. Viola said

    Gotta love the visual Greg Larson gives on the salty snacks….very extreme. Rather than having nostalgia, I now have a bit of nausea when walking down the chip isle. Thanks Punkadyne. Perhaps the chip isle should be avoided altogether, but I’d really like to try the chocolate covered cheese puffs….

  2. What gets me about cc is that it’s a case of people retconning an acronym, which strikes me as really wild.

  3. Ingeborg S. Nordén said

    Amen to Greg’s literal-minded description of an “extreme” flavor; I too detest the way marketers have overused that word. As I remarked in his blog, just once I’d love to see some company label its snack food “Moderate Nacho Cheese” or “Barely Perceptible Salt and Vinegar”… ;-)

  4. Neal said

    Ingeborg, your wish has been granted! For your consideration: Frito-Lay’s “Pinch of Salt” line and their Tostitos “Hint of Lime” tortilla chips.

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