Tag Archives: Linguistics

Linguistics on Stack Exchange!

“Stack Exchange is that tiny asterisk in the middle.”

I’ve always liked Stack Exchange. They have beautiful websites with an excellent community-edited system for asking questions and getting answers that puts the focus on the best contributions.

So far, there’s never been a Stack Exchange site I could really participate in – until earlier today, I discovered the new Linguistics – Stack Exchange, “a free, community driven Q&A for professional linguists and others with an interest in linguistic research and theory”. Check it out!

Three-quarters two

Flag of the Free State of Saxony (Federal state of the German Federal Republic)
Flag of the Free State of Saxony

I got some odd looks today for using the local dialect’s way of phrasing the time.  But I don’t care for Standard German and don’t think I should be expected to use it.

I have to go back a few years first.  I started learning German in 2004.  Most of it I learned at the Goethe Institute in Jerusalem and on my visits to Germany.  I learned very quickly, and by the time I moved here in 2007, I spoke fluently, but with a bunch of mistakes. Continue reading Three-quarters two

New blog discovered: the “because” charade

I was recently delighted to discover that Daniel Harbour, one of the linguistic theorists I’ve most enjoyed reading, has a blog – about language and also other interesting topics. It’s called the “because” charade, and here’s how he explains that curious name:

My blog is called the “because” charade because what follows the word because (in a lot of discussion of science, ethics, politics, religion, …) is rarely a reason, or reasonable, or rational. And I believe that we’d all be better off if reason(ableness) played a bigger part in public life.

Recent topics have included the Pirahã controversy – an important linguistic debate, which he explains in terms a layman can understand – and the theory of evolution. A pleasure to read!

Semi-electives: a university paradox

For the BA degree in linguistics, me and my classmates are required to choose some courses from outside of the core linguistics curriculum. This is, in theory, a good thing – it gives undergraduate students a chance to see what’s going on in other departments, and particularly gets us acquainted with some fields related to our own. However, these semi-electives are simply the introductory modules that students in other programs take in their first semesters; this can cause a lot of frustration.

Over the past days, I spent several frustrating hours doing homework in such a course. I remember seeing what must have been the same frustration in students from outside of linguistics in the introductory courses I’ve taken and the one in which I tutored. I think this frustration is an indirect result of the Bologna Process, which creates a basis on which courses from different departments, universities, and countries, across Europe, are evaluated for accreditation. The problem, I think, is that it’s very hard to evaluate a course and the effort that goes into it outside of context. Continue reading Semi-electives: a university paradox

Links: Harry Potter and Terrorism, Apes and Englishes, and more

I’m in Jerusalem with my family right now, and we’ve just returned from the annual extended-family vacation. I used the past days on the seaside to catch up on my feed reader, and I have a bunch of goodness to share which might help tide an eager reader over until I actually write something again.

PEACE: Harry Potter and the Politics and Terror

Dan Nexon over at The Duck of Minerva took two stabs at analyzing the last installments of the Harry Potter series. Both are an amusing and interesting read:

The Duck also points to a piece on Foreign Policy about the post-conflict reconstruction that must be done after the fall of Voldemort.

On the lighter side, there’s a trailer for Harry Potter as a teen comedy and the plot of the series in a 99 second song (both on TastefullyOffensive, both via Dubi Kanengisser).

LANGUAGE: Pullum on apes and (possible) racists

Over at Language Log, Geoffrey K. Pullum has two excellent and characteristically sharp posts:

Other fine links

  • Charlie Brooker makes some necessary comments regarding the commenting on the Norway right-wing terrorist attacks (Comment is Free, via Dubi)
  • John Oliver spreads the word about the Florida couple that foreclosed on Bank of America (Daily Show, via Yuval Pinter)