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Random Linguist Humor

December 15, 2006

Great joke just posted on linguaphiles

Q: How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?

A: Two: one to decide what to change it into, and one to figure out what kind of bulb emits broken light.

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Fun with ambiguity

November 17, 2006

There was a headline in one of the papers today:

Plan for big mercury cuts advances.

So, naturally this reads 2 ways. Either the plan for substantial mercury cuts is advancing, or the plan is cutting substantial mercury advances (monetary or somesuch).

Me though, my first thought on glancing the headline was “I didn’t know there was a lobby big enough to be called Big Mercury.” Really, this lead me to the less likely second reading, but still. It amused me.

Also, why aren’t these shirts available in something better quality than Cafe Press shirts? Maybe their quality improved since the last time I saw one of their shirts, but damnit, I want a Wug shirt. I kinda want the Liquids Only mug as well.

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From one big nerd to another…I think I love you.

November 6, 2006

I may have found my soulmate

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I love the smell of reference books in the morning.

September 24, 2006

There is a book out there called The World’s Writing Systems. It’s supposedly one of the best and most complete books on the subject out there. One of my professors in college, when I was taking my Writing Systems class, had a copy and told us as much himself, he also basically said if we could ever afford to get it, we should, but it runs about $175-$200.

Well, Oxford University Press is doing it’s fall sale right now, and it is FORTYFUCKINGFIVE DOLLARS!.

I ordered it so fast I didn’t even see anything else on the site (just as well, because I would have spent a TON had I). But yes, there was a happy linguist dance going on here (it’s like flailing, only less coordinated).

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Even if I am lost in conversation and useless at scrabble…

October 5, 2005

SOMEONE GET ME THIS!.

I don’t understand my sudden (as of a few years ago anyway)*, fascination with Welsh, but that’s just nifty.

I’d love to see a IPA scrabble, though I’d suppose you’d have to limit it to phonemes from the language it’s meant for. And avoid all the pitfalls of playing scrabble with Linguists. Poor Z would really drop in value too…

Now if I could just find scrabble in Basque.

*Actually, my fascination with Welsh probably stems from getting an MP3 of Dimbran by Catatonia, and that Cerys Matthews is pretty damned hot.

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Ahh, Conflict

June 22, 2005

I forget which of my many linguistic LJ communities posted this, but on the BBC Website there is an article about Kate Burridge’s statement against the possessive apostrophe.

I’m really torn about this. One one hand, I do firmly believe in a descriptive grammar that fluctuates with usage over time. On the other, I recognize that some prescriptivism is necessary to keep a language from changing TOO fast.

Also a lot of this breaks down into a difference between spoken and written languages. Allowing massive changes to the graphalect based on people taking shortcuts, leaves us with illegibility. Anyone who’s ever hung out in an AOL chatroom or attempted to read a text message full of gibberish knows this.

I think the major problem I have (and this may just be my interpretation) is that she didn’t just observe that it’s dropping from the informal language. She formally stated it should be dropped altogether.

No, bad linguist. You lose your descriptivist license. You broke the holy rule: we do not state how language SHOULD function, we state how it DOES.

However, I should state that I sort of agree with her on the hyphen. No one really knows how it’s supposed to be used. Hell, I don’t really, I just muddle by as best I can. But we can’t fully get rid of it; I’d have trouble writing my last name.

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Mmmm, Satire

May 5, 2005

I found myself enjoying this article on Language Log.

I enjoy satire very much, particularly with a linguistic twist.