A Wee We Problem

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona does not mince words, in its pronouncement about what to do about a linguistics question: What exactly happened? The formula (or words) Fr. Andres was accustomed to using during the Rite of Baptism in English and Spanish for both children and adults was the phrase, “we baptize you in […]

Orgasms in 27 Languages: “Behold, I Am Coming Soon!”

Linguistics is a sometimes exciting discipline. Behold this newly published study: “Behold, I Am Coming Soon! A Study on the Conceptualization of Sexual Orgasm in 27 Languages,” Anita Yen Chiang and Wen-yu Chiang [pictured here], Metaphor and Symbol, vol. 31, no. 3, July-September 2016, pp. 131-147. The authors, at National Taiwan University, explain: “languages tend […]

Intimate exaltation in Japanese, in English

How does one come to understand the concept and role of  intimate exaltation — especially intimate exaltation in Japanese — if one does not speak Japanese or live in Japan? One place to start: “Speech-style shifts and intimate exaltation in Japanese,” Yoko Hasegawa, Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 269-284, […]

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 […]

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 […]

“Willy-Nilly” (the evolution of)

The Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: General Session and Parasession on The Role of Learnability in Grammatical Theory (1996) featured one of the very few scholarly investigations into the origin(s) of the expression “Willy-Nilly” Author Paula Kadose Radetzky (University of California, Berkeley) notes that although “Willy-Nilly” originally meant ‘unwillingly’, […]

A confusing study: Chinese Sports Reports

Non-specialists may find the following study to be delightfully confusing. Here’s the citation, and a snippet from the whole thing. (Click on the image to see an enlargement of it. Click on the title link to obtain a copy of the entire article.): “A Study of Chinese-English Code-switching in Chinese Sports News Reports,” Chun-xuan Shen, […]