Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

May Linkfest

Posted by Neal on May 30, 2010

Wow, it’s almost the end of May. If I want to put out a batch of language and linguistics links for this month, I’d better hurry. I missed April entirely. It’s not that there hasn’t been interesting language-related stuff to read (or watch) online. I blame my smartphone.

Back when I did all my Internet surfing at a computer, I could immediately put links to interesting blog posts in a draft post for that month’s link collection. But now that I’ve installed an RSS app on my phone and subscribed to my favorite linguistics blogs that have feeds that way, it’s harder to grab the URLs and put them in a blog draft. There’s actually a WordPress app for the phone, but it’s so buggy and hard to use as to be almost useless. As a result, I have about 20 blog posts that remain undeleted in my RSS reader that I’m going to clear out now.

Another reason I blame my cell phone is that I installed a Twitter app on it, and now many of the language-related things I read, I find because someone tweeted them. What I like, I retweet. I think in my last link collection, I collated these tweets, but that’s a hassle and I’m not going to do it now. If you find that you like reading the stuff I recommend, you can follow me on Twitter, or just glance at the latest tweet, which should appear in the Twitter widget on the left (though I am frustrated to see that it doesn’t always update in a timely manner). Or, follow @StanCarey or @hyperlingo, the source of many of these retweets.

And now for the links. First of all, I was glad to finally find where the New York Times kept their link to the index of On Language columns. Here it is; it’s also now in the blogroll as “Zimmer On Language”. His latest is on the history of the word cool in its non-temperature-related sense.

And while I’m talking about newspaper (or newspaper supplement) language columns, I’ll remind readers that Jan Freeman’s column “The Word,” which is now co-written by Erin McKean, is in the blogroll, too, as “Freeman and McKean’s The Word”. One recent entry was particularly interesting was on the word untracked, which was new to me.

Another word that was new to me, unce, is the subject of a Language Log post by Mark Liberman.

Glen put me onto this article on the plateauing of improvement in automatic speech recognition.

And now to clear out the blog posts saved in my RSS reader:

  • Bradshaw of the future on the etymological connection of grammar and crayfish
  • Brett Reynolds muses on backshifting (what I learned to call “sequence of tenses” in Latin II): They thought the earth {is? was?} flat.
  • From Russell Lee-Goldman at Noncompositional: Take a sentence like I didn’t do the job because he told me to. (I did it because it was the right thing to do.) In other words, the negation in the first sentence scopes over the because: “It’s not the case that X because Y…” Now, make X itself a negated clause, and look what happens!
  • Also from Lee-Goldman: We know what it means for something to have a long shelf life, but what does it mean to have no shelf life?
  • From Ryan’s Linguistics Blog… oh, forget it, I’ve saved too many to talk about conveniently. I’ll do them next month, when I clear out the entries for Sinoglot, Throw Grammar from the Train, and Polysyllabic.

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