Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally


Posted by Neal on February 19, 2005

Several times recently, I’ve read a particularly interesting post at some linguablog, and figured I’d link to it when I had a thought to add. But that hasn’t happened, so it’s time to just link to them, with only the thought that if you like the kind of stuff you read here, you’ll probably enjoy these posts.

At Semantic Compositions, one post recounts some outlandish geopolitical doings because of the semantics of rock vs. island, and another talks about one guy’s troubles saying he’s sorry for what he’s done at the same time as he must (for legal reasons) avoid saying what he actually did.

At C. Callosum, there’s an interesting discussion on how many phonemes vs. phones the average language has. For a recent project I did as a favor for a friend, I needed to identify all of the latter for English, and came up with 75-80, though I’m sure I missed a few. And just before that post, there’s this one on forming the past tense for a verb whose past tense you haven’t encountered yet, but which you know must be irregular.

There have also been a few on Language Log I wanted to link here, but I can’t connect to it right now to get the links. I’ll have to do it later.

And most recently, Tom W. Bell at my brother’s blog claims that the widely ridiculed misunderestimate, attributed to George W. Bush, is a straightforward portmanteau word, a blend of misunderstand and underestimate, meaning “to simultaneously misunderstand and underestimate.” Actually, I did have some thoughts to add to this post, but Glen read my mind and put them in a comment on Tom’s post, so read all about it there.


One Response to “Linkfest”

  1. Given that you think Glen echoed your own response, Neal, you might want to see what I offered by way of a counter. Please see the comments over at Agoraphilia. Briefly, I argue that both efficiency and humor argue for my interpretation. And, closer to home, I invoke your name as the fellow who might know whether linguists have a label for words constructed in the form of AB+BC=ABC, a formula I claim underlies the meaning of “misunderestimate.”

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