This Week’s Language Blog Roundup

by Angela Tung on May 4, 2012

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.

Margaret Atwood played ambassador to the Martians this week, and used literature to tell them about America. In The Boston Globe, Christopher Muther wondered if email and text have driven people to overuse the exclamation point; Erin McKean reviewed invented languages and “From Elvish to Klingon,” a new collection of essays edited by Michael Adams; and Ben Zimmer unraveled the history of a very long, fanciful word.

At Language Log, Ben Zimmer noted a 50 Cent Malaysian mistranslation; Victor Mair examined a new non-stigmatizing Chinese word for epilepsy; and Mark Liberman considered Noam Chomsky and anticipation. Geoff Pullum discussed ongoing lexical fascism, a couple of rare words, and at Lingua Franca, the foolishness of hopefully. Also at Lingua Franca, Carol Saller wrote about writing “by ear” or “by eye”; Ben Yagoda quizzed us on modern proverbs; and Lucy Ferriss pondered word lovers hating on certain words.

At Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Orin Hargraves broke down compound fractures, and Stan Carey showed us the unreality of real estate language, and on his own blog, commented on the problem with banning words. In the week in words, Erin McKean noted particularist, “those who adhere to particularism, a term used to refer to several different ‘particular’ behaviors”; hotelling, when employees reserve work space in advance rather than having a permanent desk; and actigraphy, the monitoring of motion.

Word Spy spotted tweet seats, “a section in a theater set aside for people who want to tweet during a performance,” and schtick lit, “a writing genre in which the author undertakes an odd or stuntlike project with the intention of writing about the experience.” Meanwhile, Fritinancy served up copypasta, “text or data (such as lines of code) copied and pasted from one website to another”; N.R.A. mottos, then and now; -kini words; and vowel-free restaurant names.

Sesquiotica gave us a hand with chirality; the different meanings of expletive; some acoustic phonetics; and the etymology of vamp. Lynneguist explained the difference between tidbit and titbit, while the Virtual Linguist explained the history of the word luddite; the origin of omnishambles; and words that will be banned during the Olympic Games in London. The Dialect Blog dialogued on idiolects and the other American dialects, such as Pennsylvania German. Oz Words conversed on the billy can; that other c-word, convict; and the very scary skullet.

LA Weekly told us about some phrases that originated in our home state of California, while Brainpicker let us know about this book on the whimsy of words. In plant news, we would like to nominate Gozillus as the best prehistoric cactus name ever.

We loved this letter from Benjamin Franklin to Noah Webster, and this one on spelling reform. But to have spelling reform, one must first be able to spell, unlike these guys.

That’s it for this week. Se u neks taim!

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