Monthly Archives: July 2015

....the word "blog" has now lost all meaning and I might never use it properly again.

Okay, so my goal has been to have something (preferably a Mystery Linguistics Theater something) posted every Wednesday, but this week has been really busy, so I don't even has a short prepared for you.  Instead, please accept this list of other really awesome linguistics-related blogs!

(I'm working on some pretty cool MLT posts, but I need to do a bit more research before they are ready. Please stay tuned!)

Awesome blogs that I learn stuff from:

Language Log -- I don't really know what to say about this blog, because I've been following it for years and it covers such a wide variety of topics in a very in-depth way.  In some ways LL inspired my MLT posts... except for the part where the contributors to LL are actual linguists and all my degrees are in Computer Science.

The Lingua File is another source for really interesting linguistics news and research, with an added bonus of some nice "Intro to Linguistics" posts.  I also enjoy their "Get it Right" posts, which address common errors in English.

Speaking of getting things right, i adore Grammar Girl.  While it's true that language is always changing, this site is an awesome resource for checking common errors in formal writing.  I still go back to it when I'm not sure about passive voice or who vs. whom.

Heather Froehlich researches linguistics and gender, and has some really interesting findings.  Her blog hasn't been updated in a few months, but the archives are worth checking out, especially if you are interested in corpus linguistics.

Lynne Murphy writes the "Separated by a common language" blog, which examines the differences between American and British English.  While certain differences between them are fairly well known (e.g., pants versus trousers), this blog gets into some of the nitty-gritty that you might not be aware of, (ir)regardless* of what side of the ocean you are on.

Kevin B. Cohen posts interesting things about other languages (mostly French and Chinese lately over at his Zipf's Law blog. Kevin also does research in Biomedical Text Mining, so he's the only person on this list I've actually met in person (that totally makes me basically famous now, right? Because I know someone from the Internet?)

*just kidding, never use irrergardless.  I mean, language changes and all but COME ON.**

** I bet there is a really interesting paper somewhere on the phrase "come on".


While out for a walk the other day, I passed a house with this sign in the yard:

A sign for "Lawn Doctor" with a hand giving the thumb's up sign. The thumb is colored black
Clearly, the lawn in the background is in need of a doctor

This one might not even qualify as a linguistics mystery, since all the meaning is in the symbol of the hand/thumb and its color.  Mostly this is a reminder to not use the black and white printer if your logo relies on color to convey meaning.  What I'm getting from the black thumb (and the juxtaposition with the dead lawn) is that this company is the Doctor Kevorkian of lawns, which probably isn't what they are going for...

...unless this company is actually selling a modern-day way to cut back on water consumption by getting rid of your grass?!  But a quick check of the Lawn Doctor website shows that no, the logo should have a green thumb after all.

Quote from Mindkiller (Ace, 1982) by Spider Robinson:

"If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron."

Whether or not you believe that God indulges in irony -- though I would argue that the existence of platypus is strong supporting evidence to the claim -- this is some pretty sweet wordplay.  So let's take a look under the linguistic hood and see how it works.

...continue reading

I saw this rather unusual list of apartment features on Craigslist a few weeks ago:


In case you can't read it, this is a posting for an apartment with a list of amenities, and the important part (in context) is:





I don't know how one goes about de-leading a cat.  For that matter, I'm not sure if this refers to "lead" the element, "lead" as in a leash, or "lead" the verb.  All the options sound pretty uncomfortable for the cat, though.

Note the first: this was originally posted on, on a blog that no longer exists.  Republished here for posterity, and also because I still think it's kinda funny -- AS

Note the second: I am given to understand that Lush is fully aware of the implications of their slogan, but that won't stop me from overanaylzing it for fun.

Episode 2: Fighting Animal Testing Fighting Animals

Disclaimer: I really like Lush cosmetics.  Their products are really gentle, smell amazing, and they are committed to being eco-friendly.  More importantly, they have a bath bomb that’s shaped like a rocket ship, and it zooms around the tub while it dissolves.  (Priorities: I have them.) (Note: that bath bomb has been discontinued since I first posted this. Sadness. -- AS)

I’m not here to peddle Lush products, I just want to make it clear that the rest of this post isn’t coming from a desire to tear the company down.  I just can’t ignore this any longer.

Here is a picture of a bag I recently got from Lush:


Yes, that’s a picture of two rabbits trying to smack each other, with the words “Fighting Animal Testing” underneath.  Unfortunately for Lush, there are two possible interpretations here:

...continue reading