2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 49 Articles
In last Sunday's New York Times, I wrote about how researchers are using Twitter to build huge linguistic datasets in order to answer all sorts of interesting analytical questions. Some are looking at the emotional responses of Libyans to unfolding events like the death of Qaddafi, while others are tracking the distribution of regional patterns in American English. This latter research area, Twitter dialectology, is just getting off the ground, but the results are already quite intriguing. Continue reading...
If we divide up the short list of English parts of speech according to status, adjectives are at the top of the B-list. The elites, nouns and verbs, seem to get everyone's attention because without them, sentences wouldn't have a job. Continue reading...
Earlier this week we featured an excerpt from the linguist John McWhorter's new book, What Language Is, in which he explains how the English language is essentially "disheveled." Here, in a second excerpt, McWhorter considers some questions that the chaotic history of English raises. Continue reading...
In his new book, What Language Is, the linguist John McWhorter takes the reader on a guided tour of language as it really is, not how we might assume it to be. One of his keys to understanding language the way a linguist does is to appreciate that it is inherently messy, or "disheveled," as he puts it. In this excerpt, McWhorter uses the history of English as his example of just how disheveled language can be. Continue reading...
In the Sunday Review section of the New York Times, I took a look at how forensic linguists try to determine the author of an e-mail by picking up on subtle clues of style and grammar. This is very much in the news, thanks to a lawsuit filed against Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg by one Paul Ceglia, who claims that Zuckerberg promised him half of Facebook's holdings, as proven by e-mail exchanges he says they had. Did Zuckerberg actually write the e-mails? Call the language detectives. Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

The Birth of a Word

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could capture every moment of a child's language development? Deb Roy, a researcher at MIT, managed to do just that with his infant son. After wiring his house with video cameras, he then analyzed "the world's largest home video collection" to show how a bit of babble became a word. See Roy's TED talk here.
This Sunday's New York Times Magazine was a special issue on education, with a focus on education technology. I used the opportunity to write an On Language column that explored new theoretical approaches to language learning that are having important practical applications in the English-language classroom. Continue reading...
2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 49 Articles

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