The uses and meanings of “Um” revisited

Back in 2010, we partially examined the oeuvre of Emanuel A. Schegloff, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles. Specifically his work on the meaning of “Uh(m)”s. Perhaps now’s the time to revisit “um” in academia? So may we also recommend the following papers, all of which can be read […]

Watch and hear as “Improbable” spreads to every country

On the Wordmap web site you can listen as the word “improbable” is mechanistically translated into many languages, and then see which countries commonly use each of those translated words. The translations are performed by Google Translate. The country associations are performed using data from Wikipedia. It’s not just “improbable”. Wordmap will translate and map pretty much any word […]

Turgid and Obscure Language, from Roger Bolas

Turgid and obscure language impinges on the realm of medical ethics, apparently: “Turgid and Obscure Language,” Roger Bolas, Journal of Medical Ethics, vol. 2, 1976, p 151. The author writes: SIR, My reactions on reading ‘obverted contrapositive’ and ‘presuppositionless characterization’ (page 103, volume 2, number 2), were to sigh deeply and to reach for the […]

The promiscuous use of promiscuous in zoology papers

Watch your language about promiscuity, suggest Elgar, Jones and McNamara — and watch out for other people’s language. Their study explains: “Promiscuous Words,” Mark A Elgar [pictured here , above left], Therésa M Jones [pictured here below, right] and Kathryn B McNamara, Frontiers in Zoology, 2013, 10:66. (Thanks to Ed Yong for bringing this to our […]

Huh here, Huh there, Huh everywhere?

It is universally appropriate to respond to news of this study by saying aloud the word “huh”, a close reading of the study suggests: “Is ‘Huh?’ a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items,” Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, N.J. Enfield, PLoS ONE, 8(11), 2013, e78273. The authors, at Max Planck Institute […]

Gender in student caving (just saying)

Sophie Hentschel sends forth this message: “I will give a lecture with the title ‘Gender in student caving’, which will summarize my findings from my Master’s research.  I researched a specific phonological feature that is used among student cavers of a particular club and found how its use differs between males and females.” The lecture will […]