Spotting essays written by AI

A few weeks ago, the press reported that ‘researchers’ at Cambridge University had complied a list of indications that student essays have been written by AI tools. The source of the press reports was a short article at https://www.cambridge.org/news-and-insights/news/does-chat-gpt-make-the-grade-cambridge-research According to the article, the researchers described ChatGPT’s default writing style as echoing ‘the bland, clipped, and…… Continue reading Spotting essays written by AI

The hadted to do it

My grandson (8 years, 11 months) and his brother (6 years, 6 months) both form the past tense of had to in an unusual and interesting way. They have both been doing this consistently and reasonably often for several months, perhaps as long as a year. I don’t know which one started doing this first,…… Continue reading The hadted to do it

Not-gormless again

As I have posted before, gormless is one of those strange inherently negative words with no positive counterpart. In that post, I included a picture of a restaurant at Copenhagen airport called Gorm’s. https://languagemiscellany.com/2021/08/can-you-negate-the-word-gormless/ I’ve recently found out a possible reason for using that name in Denmark. Denmark was ruled from about 936 to 1042…… Continue reading Not-gormless again

Writing indigenous names in Taiwan

This month, Taiwan’s legislature decided that indigenous (non-Chinese) people in Taiwan can present their names using only romanised letters. The will no longer need to use Chinese characters instead (or as well). Chinese characters no longer required for Taiwan Aborigine names | Pinyin News I first picked up this story from Language Log » A…… Continue reading Writing indigenous names in Taiwan

Endangered Alphabets Sudoku

The Endangered Alphabets project is about to publish Endangered Alphabets Sudoku. This is a book of Sudoku puzzles. Instead of numerals, it uses letters from endangered languages. Other items produced by the project include: Endangered Alphabets Word Search Puzzles Glagolitic Abbey—a clue-based board game introducing the ancient Glagolitic script in the context of a treasure-hunt…… Continue reading Endangered Alphabets Sudoku

Street names’ apostrophes

A mini-row has erupted for the umpteenth time about the removal of apostrophes from street names on English road signs. The latest belligerence revolves around St Marys Walk (a street formerly known as St. Mary’s Walk) in Harrogate. Harrogate is a spa town in Yorkshire. I would love to describe Harrogate as genteel. That word…… Continue reading Street names’ apostrophes

Sail in on a shrimp sandwich

It’s always fun to hear odd-sounding idioms and proverbs in other languages.  Anita Shenoi’s nicely illustrated book Sail in on a shrimp sandwich … and other curious Swedish sayings (2017) lists 63 Swedish sayings. Here are 5 of them, with a literal translation, followed by a description of the meaning. Segla in på en täkmacka…… Continue reading Sail in on a shrimp sandwich

Languages differ in what they MUST say

There is a popular belief that some things can only be expressed in some languages and not in other languages. The linguist and literary theorist Roman Jakobson (1896-1982) took issue with that belief in his well-known statement: ‘Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey’. That statement appears in his short essay…… Continue reading Languages differ in what they MUST say