collocation

the node
has centre stage
as always, egotistical
to no end
handsome as a lover
heavy as a smoker
frequent to haunt joints
come keep him company
for loneliness is an eyesore

Neighbours, highlighting and hiding

Consider this conversation:

Tom: This is my neighbour, David.
David: Hi. I’m his neighbour. Call me Dave.
Harry: Harry. Nice to meet you, Dave.

David is Tom’s neighbour from Tom’s perspective. So the focus of the conversation is with Tom. But in reality we tend to forget (or in Lakoff and Johnson’s term hide) the fact that Tom is also David’s neighbour.

Any piece of dialogue must assume a perspective. If it didn’t they would be difficult to understand. It must highlight some facts and hide others. Sometimes this highlighting and hiding is deliberate. Sometimes it is unavoidable.

No Egg in Eggplant

Of course there is no egg in eggplant.

Apparently the name comes from a white egg-shaped variety cultivated by 18th century Europeans.

More interesting is the original name ‘aubergine’ which (according to Concise Oxford Dictionary) has its roots from Arabic and therefore the route (no pun intended, again) through which it made its way into Europe.

English is a crazy language

I am going to have a great time analysing these. There are either cognitive or historical bases for all of these I am sure.

The History of English in Ten Minutes (or we have a short attention span)

Here is the YouTube version of the great little podcast The History of English in Ten Minutes produced by Open University. As a matter of fact the history of English can be summarized in ten seconds with the chapter titles:

  1. Anglo-Saxon
  2. The Norman Conquest
  3. Shakespeare
  4. The King James Bible
  5. The English of Science
  6. English and Empire
  7. The Age of the Dictionary
  8. American English
  9. Internet English
  10. Global English

Enjoy.

Word Grammar

Came across a new-ish theory today – Word Grammar. Its creator and champion is Richard (Dick) Hudson at UCL.

Seems worth exploring as a theory. Considered a minor branch of cognitive linguistics.

Words

This is an old podcast about words produced by Radiolab. It features intereviews with Charles Fernyhough who about the relationship of words and spatial relationships, Susan Schaller who studied a man who literally had no words until the age of 27, Ann Senghas and Elizabeth Spelke who watched a language generate among deaf children, James Shapiro on Shakespeare and his gift to English of words like ‘unreal’ and phrases like  ‘what’s done is done’ and ‘knock knock, who’s there’, and Jill Bolte Taylor whose stroke led her into insights about the nature of thinking and language.

Beware, it is an hour long but well worth the listen.

Posters and Infobesity

Do you have an infobesity problem? Here at the Corpora Institute we have the solutions. For more information see this website or a paper app poster near you.

Language and emotions are separate

Do we really need language to have emotions?

Given some thought it should be apparent that emotions – any sort of feeling – should not depend on language. Babies do not need to know the words ‘It hurts,’ to cry in pain. And we do not need the word ‘disgust’ to be disgusted.

The role of language is therefore first and foremost communication, not thinking. However, we do utilise words for thought. The probable reason for this is because language as an abstract tool is convenient for organizing our thoughts. Labelling things make them easier to manipulate. It could be as simple as that.

I have never been a fan of any innate language faculty that some linguists believe is responsible for our language ability. More likely is that language – a bunch sounds and symbols – is really just an abstraction we as humans are really really good at.

C4N Y0U R3AD 7H15?

I came across this via an old schoolmate.

I have no idea where it comes from. If anyone knows please let me know.

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.