Archive for the ‘Language in the media’ Category

Calvin’s genre competence

January 23, 2015

A while back, we witnessed Calvin’s competence in writing tabloid headlines. Yesterday he took on talk radio:

“Imagine getting paid to act like a six-year-old!”

Taboo time in Paris

January 15, 2015

On the 13th in the NYT, a piece by Rachel Donaldo on the news from Paris: on-line, “Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue Features Muhammad on Cover”, in the print edition, “Still Mourning, but Printing a New Provocation: Muhammad on the Cover”, with a section on Gérard Biard, one of the satirical paper’s top editors:

As the newsroom sprang to life on Friday afternoon, Mr. Biard reflected. “They killed people who drew cartoon characters. That’s it. That’s all these guys do. If they’re afraid of that,” what’s their god?, he asked, inserting an expletive for emphasis.

Presumably the interview was in French, translated here for an American readership, so the inserted expletive would have been foutu and not fucking.

I tried to check how this was reported in the French press, and couldn’t find anything with a reference to the attackers’ god, with or without an expletive (though I did listen to a pretty long interview with Briard). But maybe I just missed it.

My puzzle about the NYT version is not the suppressed expletive — that’s just Timesian modesty, often commented on in this blog — but why the paper chose to mention the expletive at all, when it doesn’t seem to me to add anything to the story. So the paper ended up calling attention to the expletive they chose not to print.

Zippy in two moods

January 13, 2015

First, today’s Zippy, with Pinheads bonding over pop culture; and then a very serious Zippy, on the occasion of the Charlie Hebdo massacre:

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Peoplification at the NYT

December 23, 2014

Briefly noted, with surprise, the beginning of Clancy Martin’s review of Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (NYT Book Review on the 21st); crucial bit in boldface:

In the next life, this would be a simple happy story about a young Chinese immigrant and an American war hero who find love in 21st-century New York City.

But the real 21st-century New York isn’t a place for simple happy love stories. In “Preparation for the Next Life,” his astonishing, gorgeous and very upsetting debut novel, Atticus Lish (son of the editor, writer and teacher Gordon Lish) introduces a poor Muslim immigrant, Zou Lei, and her suicidally shellshocked boyfriend, Brad Skinner, who don’t stand a chance in the unfeeling city.

What on earth does the identity of the author’s father have to do with this book? Absolutely nothing, so far as I can see. It seems to be nothing more than a celebrity note, the sort of thing that People magazine revels in, but should have no place in the NYT.

The book has gotten very strong reviews and should have been able to stand on its own merits, without this silly puffery.

Reality-based?

December 14, 2014

Today’s Doonesbury comments painfully on journalistic practices:

The term reality-based was coined in opposition to faith-based (relying on faith, assumption, or ideology), but here we see a new version of the contrast, in opposition to fear-based.

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A Sunday quartet

July 14, 2014

Four cartoons from yesterday’s crop: a Zippy in a nameless diner; a Doonesbury on rumors; a One Big Happy on the spread of expressions and speech styles from the media; and another Bizarro collection of puns. The strips:

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Linguist in the media

May 13, 2014

In the SundayReview section of the NYT on the 11th (in print), an interview by Kate Murphy with my friend and colleague Dan Jurafsky. The lead-in:

Daniel Jurafsky is a professor of linguistics and computer science at Stanford. He teaches a popular freshman seminar course called “The Language of Food,” which is also the title of his forthcoming book.

These Sunday interviews are all a single column (on p. 2), with some fixed topics and some designed for the interviewee’s experiences, opinions, and enthusiasms.

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kick-ass news

September 7, 2013

From Ben Zimmer, two instances of ass-avoidance in the news.

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Journalese

September 5, 2013

On the TribLive website (of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) on August 30th: “Book strives to make journalese crystal clear” by Rob Kyff, about:

journalese — a bland paste of buzzwords, jargon and overused words served up by newspapers, TV stations and websites every day.

Veteran writers Paul Dickson and Robert Skole have collected and defined hundreds of journalistic cliches in their new book “Journalese: A Dictionary for Deciphering the News” (Marion Street Press, $14.95). We read and hear these terms all the time, of course, but “eyeballing” this “laundry list” provides us with “growing evidence” of a “widespread problem.”

As they tell it, Dickson and Skole are out neither to stamp out journalese nor to celebrate it, but merely to document it — though the book veers between extreme attitudes about formulaic language in the media, sometimes mocking it, sometimes noting its utility.

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NPR team and the perils of transcription

April 16, 2013

Yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition, a piece announcing a new NPR feature:

NPR Team Covers Race, Ethnicity And Culture (by David Greene and Gene Demby)

NPR this week is introducing a new team that will cover race, ethnicity and culture. Code Switch is the name of the new blog. Code-switching is the practice of shifting between different languages or different ways of expressing yourself in conversations.

Greene and Demby chat for a while about code-switching, with examples, bringing in linguist Tyler Schnoebelen as a consultant at one point. But if you read the transcript rather than listening to the segment, you might be puzzled.

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