1. when your lecturer says some uninformed transphobic shit in your lecture >:(


  2. Reppin’ Linguistics


  3. superlinguo:

    Oh dear, Sufjan. Your open letter to Miley Cyrus pointing out the lack of grammatical correctness in her song lyrics, repeatedly shared on our social media feeds today, is making us frown.

    We’re frowning because it’s not cool to exert superiority over others by pointing out their use of…

    I’m so happy somebody did this.


  4. nietzscheisdead:

    did u know people have been proposing gender neutral pronouns literally since the 19th century. the word thon was invented in 1884 and was in funk and wagnell’s standard dictionary til the late 60s…please do not pretend that gender neutral pronouns are a wacky and grammatically unfounded recent phenomenon

    Also they totally emerge naturally in some instances.

    (Source: jesuschristofborg, via sophisgone)


  5. This article, like pretty much every one written about Esperanto, is poorly researched. If the author had actually read the entirety of Okrent’s book, they would’ve understood her point that Esperanto has it’s own subculture. This comes up pretty quickly if you actually research the topic properly.

    So the whole argument of the second half of the article is just wrong. Obviously it doesn’t have the same swathes of legend and literature as national cultures, but there are lots of great musicians and some really good literary works (cf. La Infana Raso by William Auld, translated from Esperanto into several languages, including English).

    Finally, the use of ‘doomed’ in the title, apart from being clickbait, is completely subjective. The vast majority of Esperantists today don’t think Esperanto will become completely universal anytime soon (English still isn’t), and don’t think that’s even necessarily a worthwhile or realistic goal. They enjoy using Esperanto to meet people from lots of different places and participate in a subculture.


  6. there’s nothing sexier than a vocalised nasal


  7. lesserjoke:


    I think it’s safe to say that when people are talking about “untranslatable words” what they conceptualize/mean is “formal (lexical) units that cannot be translated without periphrasis, usu. taking additional morphemes,” which is a perfectly fine linguistic observation.

    The problem, I think, is the semantics and usage of “untranslatable,” which carries different implications and meaning for somebody outside of linguistics.

    Agreed. I think the popular implication of the word “untranslatable” is that the culture of that language’s speakers has placed such an importance on the particular concept being expressed that it’s become lexicalized for them in a way that it hasn’t in other languages and cultures. Which, like Sean says, is not at all a situation that a linguist would ordinarily use the word “untranslatable” to describe… probably because we’re all fairly used to seeing translations between languages that don’t use the same amount of words to express the same concepts. But it’s still a valid observation, and may well be getting at some truth of cultural diversity.

    On the other hand, I think part of the frustration linguists have with those lists of “untranslatable words” is that they often have at least one entry from a polysynthetic language, for which it’s pretty unlikely that the word is actually stored in any speaker’s lexicon. If your language builds complicated words (roughly) like English builds complicated syntactic structures, the argument/implication that any one of those words is expressing some cultural truth becomes a heck of a lot weaker without some further evidence that people are actually using this word regularly.

    Also a lot of the time they say “this word in English means” and then give a perfectly serviceable translation. It’s overemphasis on orthographic word boundaries at best and lazy Whorfism at worst.


  8. I went to the woods yesterday and made a video. My boyfriend recorded it with his lovely DSLR and microphone. It’s about linguistic discrimination and dialects, so if you’re into social justice then give it a look.


  9. saythattomyfacefuckeridareyou:




    at what point in history do you think americans stopped having british accents


    Actually, Americans still have the original British accent. We kept it over time and Britain didn’t. What we currently coin as a British accent developed in England during the 19th century among the upper class as a symbol of status. Historians often claim that Shakespeare sounds better in an American accent.


    The Shakespeare bit isn’t strictly true. Most of Shakespeare’s plays would’ve been performed in an accent “somewhere between Australian, Cornish, Irish and Scottish, with a dash of Yorkshire - yet bizarrely, completely intelligible if you happen to come from North Carolina”. Also I doubt any historians professionally dispute one accent to be better to perform in than another.

    With accents and dialects being so politically charged in English today, it’s inevitable that we end up usually performing Shakespeare in a ‘posh’ accent.

    (via thelanguagelover)


  10. wuglife:

    Simlish is an interesting case of a conlang (constructed language). It was not intended to be a language, but rather to turn normal English (or other natural language) into gibberish that could be reused throughout the game. There do seem to be some consistencies in translation, but from what I can tell, the voice artists recorded a limited set of syllables and phrases which could be concatenated in several ways to form a seemingly full-fledged language.

    One reason this works so well is that the phonotactics of Simlish and English are the same. Phonotactics are the rules of a language that guide what sounds can occur together.

    For instance, in (General American) English, we can never have a lax vowel, /ɪ/ /ɛ/ /æ/ /ʊ/, at the end of a syllable. (The one set of exceptions is in expressions of disgust or indifference with meh/bleh/feh.) On the other hand, tense vowels and diphthongs, /i/ /eɪ/ /ɑ/ /ɔ/ /o/ /uw/ /oɪ/ /aɪ/ /aʊ/, can occur at any place in the word or syllable.

    Another set of phonotactic rules in English determine what consonants can occur together. For instance, some languages like Japanese and Hawaiian don’t allow two consonants to occur next to each other, while English can have words like “scratch” [skɹæʧ] and “trysts” [tɹɪsts]. Going a step further, though, English has no words like “vlk” [vlk] which means wolf in Czech. Or in Tashlhiyt Berber, there are words with no voiced sounds(.pdf) at all: [t-ss-kʃf-t=stt] “you dried it (fem)”.

    But we can go even more simple. In English, the word “blick” is licit (acceptable), but the word “bnick” is not. The only difference here is the “l” and the “n”, which are actually produced in very similar ways! So what prevents “bnick” from being a possible word of English? Some argue that there is a Sonority Hierarchy that every language falls on, and this hierarchy determines what kinds of consonant clusters or syllable types a language can have. (This is a topic for another day.)

    Back to Simlish. Why does it sound like English? Because it uses English phonotactics. All the syllables and words in Simlish are licit nonse words of English. That means that they are all possible sound combinations given the rules of English, even though they aren’t “real words”. When the musicians record their songs in Simlish, it can be hard to tell that the words aren’t English because they do still sound like English.

    This is also the case for the Spanish-based Simlish recordings. Spanish phonotactics are somewhat similar to English, although there are key differences in consonant clusters. This allows the Spanish-based songs to be “translated” to Simlish without having to completely reinvent the conlang’s rules! Because it’s all based on phonotactics of the source language, Simlish is a simple way of generating nonse words that sound like the languages they’re based on.

    Calling it a conlang is pretty insulting to all the people who actually spent time making a fleshed out grammar for a constructed language. I’d class it at the same level as a cipher - a cute little experiment but in no way a proper conlang.

    (Source: youtube.com, via laslanguesromanze)