John Gordon Ross

A Man for All Reasons

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Language Stuff

Almost everyone uses language, so inevitably almost everyone thinks they are an expert in it. I don’t consider myself an expert, though most of my work requires at least language competence and sometimes actual skill, but I do follow the blogs featured on this feeds page.

(If you are wondering where the translation-related feeds have all gone, I have put them on their own page.)

Most of the blogs represented here are in English, most of the time, but don’t be surprised to find other languages used. Go with the flow – I occasionally find myself pleasantly surprised at how much I can grasp in languages I have never seen before.

Language On the Net » Rout and Conversazione.

Monday 11 September 21:17:02 UTC 2017

A passage of linguistic interest from Ford Madox Ford’s Ancient Lights and Certain New Reflections (he is describing the late Victorian period when he was growing up): Across the front of another confectioner’s near here is painted the inscription, “Routs catered for.” What was a rout? I suppose it was some sort of party, but what did you do when … [Link]

Language Log » DolphinAttack

Monday 11 September 16:02:51 UTC 2017

Guoming Zhang et al., "DolphinAttack: Inaudible Voice Commands", arXiv 8/31/2017: In this work, we design a completely inaudible attack, DolphinAttack, that modulates voice commands on ultrasonic carriers (e.g., f > 20 kHz) to achieve inaudibility. By leveraging the nonlinearity of the microphone circuits, the modulated lowfrequency audio commands can be successfully demodulated, recovered, and more importantly interpreted by the speech … [Link]

Language Log » Belles infidèles in the neuroscience of bilingualism

Monday 11 September 14:20:44 UTC 2017

Following up on "Citation crimes and misdemeanors" (9/9/2017), Breffni O'Rourke sent in a link to Michel Paradis, "More belles infidèles — or why do so many bilingual studies speak with forked tongue?", Journal of Neurolinguistics 2006: This note reports misquotations, misinterpretations, misrepresentations, inaccuracies and plain falsehoods found in the literature on the neuroscience of bilingualism. They are astounding in both … [Link]

Language Log » Hurricane naming policy change

Monday 11 September 10:01:33 UTC 2017

I think it's becoming clear that alternating male and female personal names to individuate Atlantic tropical cyclones is not a good idea. These storms are becoming far too nasty. Calling a storm "Harvey" makes it sound like your friendly uncle who always comes over on the Fourth of July and flirts with your mom. And "Irma" sounds like a dancer … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » a small loan

Monday 11 September 7:30:00 UTC 2017

A million dollars. My father gave me a small loan. [Link]

Language Log » Sinitic historical phonology

Monday 11 September 4:10:34 UTC 2017

[Or, as David Prager Branner, who wrote the guest post below, jokingly calls it, "hysterical phrenology". Note that Branner uses Gwoyeu Romatzyh ( "National Language Romanization"), a type of tonal spelling, for the transcription of Mandarin.] ================ This is on the subject of Carbo Kuo's 郭家寶 performance of Shyjing "Shyi yeou charngchuu 隰有萇楚" ("In the low wet grounds is the … [Link] » The Root Of Toot-toot.

Monday 11 September 0:21:24 UTC 2017

Here‘s a fun three-decade-old piece by Jack Hurst about the name of a long-forgotten minor hit: Country music’s novelty hit of the year, “My Toot-Toot,” doubtless owes much of its popularity to the obvious question: What is a toot-toot? […] In French-influenced Cajun Louisiana, where the 47-year-old Simien lives, toot is a corruption of the Gallic word tout, meaning ‘all.’ … [Link]


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