Ling wars in Dingburg

September 30, 2014

Today’s Zippy has Dingburgers, drawn into camps on issues of linguistic variation and usage, slinging lots of technical terminology:

Most of these features — the glottal stop, NG coalescence, like, awesome, uptalk, whatever, vocal fry (creak, creaky voice) — have been discussed on Language Log or here, because they are associated with a collection of geographic or social dialect characteristics (region, age, sex, class, etc.) or particular styles and registers; they are socioculturally significant, usually in quite complex ways. The remaining three — strident voice, slack voice, and falsetto — are phonation types that have, I think, escaped attention on these blogs

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Today’s spam publication

September 29, 2014

From someone using the name “Tomas Kant”, to a huge number of groups (including the linguistics faculty at Stanford), a call for papers for a “journal”:

International journal of science, commerce and humanities (IJSCH) is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed multidisciplinary journal published by post academic publications. The objective of (IJSCH) is to provide a forum for the publication of scientific articles in the fields of science, commerce and humanities. In pursuit of this objective the journal not only publishes high quality research papers but also ensures that the published papers achieve broad international credibility.

Yes, it stinks of spam; note the absurd breadth of the fields covered, and the absence of capitalization in the names of the “journal” and its “publisher”.

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Wichita is falling

September 28, 2014

In The Economist of 8/16/14, a piece on guitarist Pat Metheny on the occasion of his 60th birthday, “Guitar hero: A giant of the jazz world just keeps on innovating”, which gives me an excuse to mention his 1981 album As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, because of its linguistically playful title and because of its role in my own life.

On the title, from Wikipedia:

As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls is a collaborative album by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, released in 1981. The title makes reference to Wichita, Kansas and Wichita Falls, Texas.

(Both phrases in the title have inverted word order, with the verb falls preceding the subjects — Wichita and Wichita Falls, respectively — rather than following them.)

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Speaking late

September 28, 2014

Just now, New Yorker cartoons (from Zach Kanin and Joe Dator) on linguistic subjects. And along comes today’s Bizarro, on the development of language in the species and in the individual:

The strip shows the origin of language in male humans substantially lagging that in females, as if the sexes were different species — a preposterous idea when you examine it with any care. But the strip plays on a real phenomenon, that the acquisition of language in boys tends to lag somewhat behind that in girls. Boys speak later, and less, than girls, common wisdom has it. Well, common wisdom isn’t exactly wrong, but it treats, inaccurately, what is in fact a small statistical difference between the sexes (which largely overlap with one another) as an absolute gap.

And there’s certainly no reason to think that phylogeny recapitulated what we know of ontogeny.

Two linguistics cartoons

September 28, 2014

… in the latest (9/29/14) New Yorker: a Zach Kanin on writing systems and a Joe Dator with a snow cone snowclone:

(#1)

(#2)

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Slush Puppies

September 27, 2014

In the NYT on the 23rd, an obit by Paul Vitello, “Will Radcliff, 74, Creator of the Slush Puppie, Dies”, beginning:

Flavored ice drinks had been around since the Romans, and machines had been churning them out under various brand names for almost as long, it seems, when Will Radcliff, a peanut salesman, had the ice beverage inspiration that made him rich.

He called it a Slush Puppie. Thirty years later, when he sold the company he had founded to make and market the product, the Slush Puppie had become a staple among aficionados of brain-freezing supersweet drinks all over the world.

(“brain-freezing supersweet drinks” is a nice turn of phrase). The product mascot:

(#1)

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Roost Lake Trout

September 26, 2014

Yesterday’s Zippy:

(#1)

Three things: the location of this scene; lake trout; and what “happens” in the strip.

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hedgehogs

September 25, 2014

In a sale on the Mental Floss site, this delightful t-shirt:

N + N compounds are notoriously interpretable in many ways, so they lend themselves to (perfect) puns, as here, where two different senses of hedgehog are both at play.

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Banned comics

September 24, 2014

For this year’s Banned Book Week, the focus is on comics. From a story today on NPR by Lynn Neary, “Too Graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week Celebrates Challenged Comics”:

Comics and graphic books are flourishing these days — writers and illustrators are taking on increasingly sophisticated topics and children’s authors are finding just the right balance between naughty and nice. But a number of the books have come under fire from critics who would like to see them banned from schools and libraries. That’s why comics and graphic books are the focus of this year’s Banned Books Week, an annual event that calls attention to challenged titles.

Two books catch most of the attention: Jeff Smith’s Bone and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants.

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Spam journals, spam conferences

September 24, 2014

From the scholarly Martin Haspelmath on Facebook a few hours ago, a report on a spam conference, the Global Summit on Languages & Linguistics, June 16-17, 2015, in Alicante, Spain, with a glossy website calling for papers. Martin noted that the sponsoring organization, OMICS, “is well-known as a spam publisher, and now seems to be moving into organizing spam conferences”; on OMICS, see this Wikipedia page.

(Spam publishers make money by collecting fees from authors, and spam conferences make money from registration fees.)

As Martin’s posting was arriving on Facebook, not one but two messages in my e-mail solicited submissions to spam journals in linguistics.

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