Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interesting LingLinks

I've been meaning to write a post for a while now that provides some interesting links to linguistic-y articles. My original intention was to do a post on each, but since I waited so long, I'm going to provide them all in one post. The first three are all English-specific:

1. "Acquitted by heavy NP shift?" on the Language Log is an article about how dangerous it is to drop function words out of sentences--especially when that sentence is a part of a law. You be the jury: Should the driver have been acquitted for sloppy legal writing?

2. "Cannot Be Underestimated" by Ben Zimmer (for the New York Times 'On Language' column) focuses on that very phrase in English and its misuse. It's similar to the debate on how "couldn't care less" should actually be used--many American speakers say "I could care less" to mean they actually couldn't care less about something (because if they could care less, then they care at least a little bit, which isn't what they meant to say in the first place). On the flip side, you might say this article is about how English idiomizes entire phrases so that they mean something different as a whole from what they should logically mean if you add up the meaning of the parts. (Yes, I do believe I just made up a word--should it have been 'idiomify'? 'Idiomaticize'? 'Idiomaticalize'?)

3. "The Passive in English" by Mark Lieberman (on the Language Log) provides a description of the English passive--a construction that is often misunderstood.

And, finally, the last article is not so language-specific:

4. "Typing vs. Longhand: Does it affect your writing?" by Livia Blackburne investigates the possibilities that writing something out longhand will leave you with a different product than if you had typed the same thing from the get-go. As a person who loves to write things out longhand (at least in note form) before typing, it's an interesting question. I often find it difficult to go straight to the computer to type, especially if it's near the beginning stages of the writing process. My brain almost requires the connection of pen and paper to be able to get things going. Once they're going, I can often move to a keyboard and type away. I now want to experiment on my writing to test it for any differences that might result from relying on each writing process. If you know there is a difference when you use one or the other when you write, I'd be interested in hearing it (and I'm sure Livia would, too).

Have a "ling-tastic" time reading through those articles!

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