Words can possibly have meanings

We have been advised that this published study possibly says something: “Contesting Essentialist Theories of Patriarchal Relations: Evolutionary Psychology and the Denial of History,” by Jesse Crane-Seeber and Betsy Crane [pictured here], The Journal of Men’s Studies, October 2010, vol. 18, no. 3, 218-237. The authors, at Widener University, write: “This essay emerges from an ongoing mother-son dialogue about contemporary gender relations […]

Words That, Taken Together Possibly Mean Something

The scholarly journal called Social Text has again published a paper that may seem to be a jumble of big words but may, conceivably be full of deep, clear, important meaning. The new study is: “S’More Inequality — The Neoliberal Marshmallow and the Corporate Reform of Education,” Bethany Moreton [pictured here], Social Text, 2014, Volume 32, Number 3 […]

“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’, […]

Potato chip authenticity in the USA

In America, potato chips carry more than grease and salt. They carry meaning. That’s the message carried by this new study: “Authenticity in America: Class Distinctions in Potato Chip Advertising,” Joshua Freedman and Dan Jurafsky [pictured here], Gastronomica, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Winter 2012), pp. 46-54.  The authors explain: “Our study uses the language of […]

Further advances in brainless writing

There’s a new advance in the effort to write prose without any direct involvement of a human brain. Until recently, writing was thought to be a skill that required at least some levels of understanding. The first giant breakthrough was Professor Philip M. Parker‘s automatic book-writing machine, which has produced several hundred thousand books (and […]

What, if anything, is crazy about this?

This month’s “What, if anything, is crazy about this?” essay poses a complex challenge. Write a clear, sensible essay telling what, if anything is crazy about the following study: “Effet de l’écoute de mots déjà hallucinés chez des sujets schizophrènes en rémission : étude de six cas par la résonance magnétique nucléaire fonctionnelle” [Effects of […]