Welcome to this week’s Language Blog Roundup, in which we bring you the highlights from our favorite language blogs and the latest in word news and culture.
The new season of Game of Thrones has begun, and the linguist who created the Dothraki language on the show explained how to create a language from scratch. Meanwhile, The Economist fretted over panflation, the inflation of everything, while at the Macmillan Dictionary blog, Stan Carey wondered if linguistic inflation was insanely awesome. Also at Macmillan, Orin Hargraves discussed adverbial modification in British and American English, and Michael Rundell explored true synonyms.
In The New York Times, Ben Yagoda delved into the comma, and at Lingua Franca answered readers who had trouble with his only placement. Constance Hale kicked back with some verbs while Geoffrey Pullum took issue with Hale’s description of passive and active verbs – “Where does she get the idea that become is ‘passive’ and wonder ‘active’?” – and Lucy Ferriss expressed concerns over the writing ability of Hale’s readership.
Jan Freeman covered hoodies, hoods, and ‘hoods; Mr. Verb noticed a new Dubya-ism, some other body; and Ben Zimmer examined Obamacare. Arrant Pedantry questioned grammar, morality, and the real George Zimmerman’s really bad grammar, while Johnson considered the memorability of Hollywood phrases as well as Sweden and gender neutrality.
At Language Log, Mark Liberman gave us a taste of evaluative words for wine, such as leesy, “descriptor of a wine that possesses a rich aroma and/or flavor that is a direct result of the wine resting on the lees,” and deliberated on baboons and word recognition. Ben Zimmer posted about cupertinos, mistakes made by autocorrect, and the first “asshole” in The New York Times. Meanwhile, Victor Mair tried to figure out the Chinglish, shut the fat fully.
At Lingua Franca, Carol Saller pondered repetition avoidance, Ben Yagoda mused on repetition compulsion, and Allan Metcalf analyzed nicknames for the heroic and divine and the value of OK. At Sentence First, Stan Carey examined unusual uses of sparse and cahoot while Arnold Zwicky discussed who(m). Jessica Love at The American Scholar explained what makes nouns and verbs sound real; Motivated Grammar wrote about the meaning of moot in American English; and the Dialect Blog looked at inmigration, “transplantation within the borders of a single country,” and the importance (or not?) of vowels.
Fritinancy was soitenly perplexed over The New York Times’ spelling of a Stoogeism, and for words of the week noted chewdaism, “the theory that chewing food slowly and thoroughly delivers health benefits,” and subsidiarity, “a Roman Catholic principle that says policy decisions should be made at the lowest level possible and the highest level necessary.”
Erin McKean’s lexical roundup included mevushal, a wine that has “been heat-treated so that [it] might be handled and opened by people other than Sabbath-observant Jews”; fungoes, in baseball, grounders served up by coaches “during the dead time between pitches”; and dark pool, “a platform that brings buyers and sellers together privately, using software to match their orders.” In The Boston Globe, Erin wrote about nounjectives, “the conversion of adjectives to nouns.”
The Word Spy spotted success disaster, “massive problems created when a person or company is unable to handle an overwhelming success,” and diarrheaist, “a person who shares too much online.” The Virtual Linguist wrote about nutmeg as a footballing term and the origin of naysayer.
We learned how this year’s full moons got their strange names (Full Strawberry Moon, a partial eclipse or Prince’s new album?); what it’s like to edit at Hustler magazine (cover babe or coverbabe?); and some valuable Seuss-isms. We discovered why puns and playful language matter, and that there is a disease that causes people to make jokes and puns constantly. It’s called Witzelsucht, which translates from the German as “laugh or joke (Witz) addiction (Sucht).”