This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

by Angela Tung on June 10, 2011

It’s time again for our weekly Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite blogs and the latest in word news.

We love lists, and so does the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.  Their exhibit, “Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations,” is open now through October 2, and features lists such as “bills to pay, things undone, failings in oneself and others; lists of people to call, stuff to buy, errands to be accomplished,” as well as “lots of lists of artworks, real and imaginary.”

Another very long, very old list is “the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries,” which was finally “completed by scholars at the University of Chicago” this week after a 90-year effort, as reported by The New York Times.

Arnold Zwicky poked a bit of fun at The Gray Lady and its demure coverage of New York hot dog chain Papaya King’s suggestive marketing for its new Hollywood location.  (See for yourself.)

Speaking of, um, weiners (yes, we went there), Johnson (*sigh*), The Economist’s language blog, lauded the congressman’s real apology (as opposed to a fauxpology) but questioned his characterization of his indiscretions as “mistakes.”  Johnson also discussed the berk-wanker (sorry) language spectrum of descriptivists and prescriptivists.

Meanwhile, Language Log explored the origins of the phrase, “that’s mighty white of you” (which surprisingly did not always have to do with race); how language style matching may predict relationship attraction and stability; and the Navy SEALs of snowclones.  Language Log also took on speech-based lie detection of Russian ATM machines, and discussed more trouble with translation, Italian this time.

K International talked about some Italians who were unhappy with the Jersey Shore cast, pronouncing them supercafoni, or superboors, as well as the challenges of translating humor.  Sentence First considered the origins of a “thick” Irish expression while Dialect Blog mused on the “foreign” Welsh accent; estuary English; Pittsburghese; and objected to objections about a particular British dialect.

Bananagrammer reviewed the good and the not-so-good of the new Scrabble words in the British Collins dictionary; Online Universities aggregated “40 fascinating lectures for linguistics geeks”; and Word Spy spotted the SoHo effect, “when the artists who made a neighborhood cool and exciting are forced to move out because they cannot afford the rents after the area becomes gentrified.”

Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! uber-champion (the Navy SEALs of Jeopardy! champions, perhaps?), was so inspired by chatting with Merriam-Webster dictionary editors at last week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, he put together a list of “songs about looking words up in dictionaries.”

Finally, while we at Wordnik love words and everything about them, sometimes no words, whether spoken or texted, is better, especially during a movie.

That’s a wrap!  Remember, if you have a tip or would like your language blog to be included in our weekly roundup, let us know in the comments, via email (feedback AT wordnik DOT com), or on Twitter.

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