Archive for the ‘This blogging life’ Category

A quandary

October 27, 2015

Recently I’ve gotten two requests from acquaintances to remove a posting from this blog — one from a woman I’ll refer to as F, one from a man I’ll refer to as M. Both F and M are in long-standing relationships with a same-sex partner, people I’ll refer to as pF and pM, respectively. Both pF and pM have professional lives that are significantly associated with their homosexuality; they are “publicly gay”. F and M have notable professional lives, neither associated in any way with homosexuality, and both believe that their sexuality is a “private matter” and that their professional and personal lives should be entirely separate. I’ve posted about F and about M, in each case referring (in my posting) to their relationship with their partner, with the result that my postings identified F and M as gay. F and M objected to my making their sexuality public, and asked me to delete these postings from my blog.

The cases turn out to be significantly different, however, in ways that caused me to dismiss F’s request out of hand but to worry about whether I should take M’s request seriously.


The 4 million

August 18, 2015

From O. Henry in 1906, the collection The Four Million:

The Four Million is the second published collection of short stories by O. Henry originally released in 1906. There are twenty five stories of various lengths including several of his best known works such as “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Cop and the Anthem”. The book’s title refers to the then population of New York City where many of the stories are set.

(The 2014 census estimate for NYC was 8.49 million — more than doubled in nearly 110 years.)

Meanwhile, the number of spam comments afflicting this site passed 4 million yesterday. (more…)

A thousand likes

June 19, 2015

On Wednesday, a notification from WordPress that I had achieved

a thousand likes

on this blog since it started late in 2008.


Guys in Heat

June 8, 2015

(Warning: this is a posting, often in very plain language, about gay porn flicks, the actors in them, their bodies, and the sex acts the pornstars engage in. Visually not X-rated — those images are on AZBlogX — but far from innocent. Not for the kiddies or the sexually modest. There’s a fair amount about language in there, but there’s a lot to offend the sensitive.)

Unearthed on my desktop, this playful cock-tease photo of the engaging Christopher Ash (a.k.a. Tony Bendanza and Tony Bandanza):


A word about how the photo got onto my desktop and why I’m posting about it now.

Then about Ash, body types, and sociotypes, and the porn flick Guys in Heat.


That time again

May 22, 2015

Time for Stanford to appoint me as a Consulting Professor of Linguistics for the coming academic year, so I’ve been asked to supply an updated c.v. This is a requirement that comes down from the School of Humanities and Sciences, which actually makes the appointment. But somewhere along the line, my department is involved.

Now, my c.v. is gigantic (I’ve been a university professor since 1965, after all.), but I passed it along. But, thinking that my colleagues might be concerned about what I’ve doing recently, I added a side note:

for some years, my scholarly work has been conveyed almost entirely on-line, through Language Log (since 2002), my own blog (since 2008), and the American Dialect Society mailing list. I’ve posted about 10,000 times in these places (over 5,000 in my blog alone); this work is sometimes technical, but often it’s essentially educational, making linguistic topics available to a wide audience (my blog is viewed 1000 to 1500 times a day). Some of the topics covered on a regular basis:

language play; language in the comics; the language of sex and sexuality; the language of food; grammar, style, and usage; several types of anaphora (Verb Phrase Ellipsis, so-called “dangling modifiers”, anaphoric islands); morphology (especially synthetiic compounds, back-formation, and what I’ve called “libfixes”); and some semantic/pragmatic topics (e.g., negative polarity items and implicature).

I’m hoping this will be acceptable.

The comments section

May 14, 2015

A little while ago, a comment appeared on my “Confessions of a Grammar Queen” posting that had nothing to do with that posting; instead, it was a message (since deleted) to me, suggesting that I would enjoy an “Ancient Grammar Police” cartoon the commenter had found on the American Mensa site. (The cartoon was unattributed there, but I happen to know that it’s a Non Sequitur cartoon, and I enjoyed it when Mark Liberman posted it, under the heading “Strunk and Ptah”, on Language Log on 10/6/11.)

Warning: The comments section of a posting is for comments on that posting, not for messages to the blogger (my e-mail address is very easy to find, by the way), and it’s not a space where people can write on whatever they want (that’s why people should have their own blogs, or use social media where free discussion is welcome).

(It turns out that I let this commenter get away with something similar back in 2013, after he’d posted a germane comment on an earlier posting, but then posted a link to a cartoon he thought I’d enjoy, as a comment on a posting where it wasn’t relevant. Normally I’d complain to the commenter, but though he gave me a name then, he didn’t supply a usable address for reply, and his name was so common that I couldn’t unearth such an address for him. I should have been more suspicious then.)

A blogging puzzle

April 27, 2015

Recently I got a comment on a posting of a Bizarro cartoon (“Dinosaur connoisseur”), wondering why I hadn’t commented on the space alien and the stick of dynamite in it, and I explained — as I had a number of times before, to other readers of this blog — that this was just one of cartoonist Don Piraro’s things, a little game he plays with his readers: some number of “secret symbols” are salted in almost all his cartoons (they have nothing to do with the actual content of the cartoon), and then their number is noted in the cartoon, just above Piraro’s signature.

Here’s a recent Bizarro with a pun on boot, with two secret symbols:

The eyeball and the piece of pie. The symbols are listed here.

Now the question is: How can I provide this information to my readers?


The three million mark

January 17, 2015

Earlier this morning, the number of spam comments Akismet has snagged on my WordPress account (since December 2008) passed three million; last I looked, the score was 3,002,256. On these milestone occasions I reflect some on the blogging experience.


Yesterday’s word for the day

November 3, 2014

I’ve written occasionally about my linguistics dreams; typically, I have an unshakeable dream (it keeps coming back during the night) about some point of linguistic analysis that seems very urgent because it’s such a breakthrough; or a dream about some name that haunts me; or a dream about a term that cries out for analysis. On waking, the point of linguistic analysis turns out to make no sense at all; the name is of a real person, but no one of significance to me; and the term is of interest, but it’s not news to me. Yesterday, it was the last, and the term was the very formal philoprogenitive (‘having many offspring’ or ‘showing love for one’s offspring’ — NOAD2).

I rushed to my computer to search for the word — and found there a posting by me on this blog: “Our philoprogenitive congressmen” of 4/7/12. Many sighs.

Our forgetful scholars.


October 30, 2014

My postings on this blog range over a number of topics, and they also take a number of forms. Many of them are relatively short responses to things I’ve overheard, examples I’ve come across in my reading, or linguistic phenomena in the comics. Often light in tone, but with serious linguistic content. What to call this sort of posting?

The New Yorker used to call similar columns casuals; now they appear as items in the “Talk of the Town” section of the magazine. Another label recently came to my attention: the feuilleton. Not entirely perfect, but close. In any case, that would make me a feuilletonist.



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