Rats, heroes, and zeroes

I have received this notice from several sources in the last few days:


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FOOD & BGVERAGGS, with a focus on naan / nang

The following three items might well have been included in the previous post on Chinglish, but that one got to be rather long and unwieldy, so I'm treating these separately.  In any event, I think that they merit the special treatment they are receiving here.

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The gravitational internet

Today's xkcd:

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Poetic sound and silence

Following up on "Political sound and silence", 2/8/2016, here's a level plot of speech segment durations and immediately-following silence segment durations from William Carlos Williams' poetry reading at the Library of Congress in May of 1945:

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Sandals, Sandwiches, Sanders, whatever…

Megyn Kelly, reporting on the New Hampshire primary:

On the Democratic sides, Bernie Sandal- Sanders —
"Sandals", it could catch on —
in the summer months —
he has bested Hillary Clinton …

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Tell the truth!

It was a linguistic maneuver that had possibly never been tried before in the history of real estate: tell the straight truth about the property, no varnishing, no slathering with adjectives like "stunning". Just tell it like it is. One brave firm of real estate agents, Scott & Stapleton in England, tried it as a way of getting rid of a run-down apartment in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. The manager, Rob Kahl, wrote the copy:

Not for the faint hearted this first floor flat is being sold as seen, rubbish and all!

Having recently just had to evict some charming (not) tenants the vendors of this property have had enough and can't even face setting foot in what used to be their sweet and charming home.

I can't flower this one up or use my normal estate agent jargon to make this sound any better.

The property is full of rubbish, there is mould on the walls and I think there may even be some fleas there to keep me company when I carry out the viewings.

To conclude, the advertisement advised those viewing the property to "wipe your feet on the way out".

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The Universal Apocrypha of Linguistics and Verbal Ordnance

The first panel from today's Girl Genius refers to Traubhünd's Universal Apocrypha of Linguistics and Verbal Ordnance:

…better known these days as the Oxford English Dictionary

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Pussy and pusillanimous

Email yesterday from P.O.:

Professor Liberman, we need you. You're no doubt aware of Trump's recent comment, quoting a supporter. But now TPM has gone and printed a reader email linking 'pussy' to pusillanimous'.

I had never heard this before, and I'm fairly well-read. I did some google-sleuthing, and found that it has clearly been claimed in the past to be true and is often refuted by people who can't even

Can you help get to the bottom of this?

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Chinglish medley

An assortment of Chinglish signs and menu items from my files (I forget who sent them to me).  There are eight all together.  Before diving into an examination of them one after the other, I should note that the last two partially result from the perennial problem of not knowing how to deal with warnings involving the heart (xīn 心).  Since I've already devoted an entire post to this topic, it might be worthwhile to take a peek at that before proceeding further:

"Mind your head" (8/28/15)

xiǎoxīn 小心 (lit., "little heart" –> "[be] careful; look out")

dāngxīn 当心 (lit., "heed / regard heart" –> "be careful; watch out")

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Endowed chairs at the 2017 Linguistic Institute

Anyone familiar with academia will have noticed how often the high-prestige invited participants at conferences or summer schools and the holders of endowed professorships tend to be men. Well, not so much in linguistics, it would seem. Look at the list of the faculty members selected to hold the four prestigious endowed professorships at the 2017 Linguistic Institute, a large summer school sponsored by the Linguistic Society of America and hosted next year by the University of Kentucky:

  • Collitz Professor: Joan Bybee (University of New Mexico)
  • Sapir Professor: Penelope Eckert (Stanford University)
  • Hale Professor: Lenore Grenoble (University of Chicago)
  • Fillmore Professor: Julia Hirschberg (Columbia University

One hundred percent women for the top invited professorships! And make no mistake, they are all very distinguished senior professors, known worldwide for their research. This isn't tokenism. It's the way our discipline has been developing over the past thirty years or so. Makes a feller proud to be a linguist.

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Political sound and silence

As part of an exercise/demonstration for a course, last night I ran Neville Ryant's second-best speech activity detector (SAD) on Barack Obama's Weekly Radio Addresses for 2010 (50 of them), and George W. Bush's Weekly Radio Addresses for 2008 (48 of them). The distributions of speech and silence durations, via R's kernel density estimation function, look like this:

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Separating the modern usses from the cave usses

Dinosaur Comics for 2/3/2016:

Mouseover title: "oh wow a comic in which ryan argues the technology that gave us the word "bonertastic" is really important, WHAT A SURPRISE"

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Badly scripted

The main news from last night's Republican debate seems to be the  way that Marco Rubio walked straight into a devastating attack from Chris Christie, whose campaign has recently been focused on attacking Rubio for being "scripted" — see e.g. Charlie Spiering, "Chris Christie Releases Playlist of Marco Rubio’s ‘Scripted’ Responses", Breitbart 2/5/2016. Apparently Mr. Rubio's scriptwriters weren't able to reprogram him in time:

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