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

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

The werewolf or who-wolf

I’ve discovered an interesting translation of the well-known poem Der Werwolf (‘The Werewolf’), by the German poet Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914). What led me to this translation was a blogpost on Language Hat about ontogeny. Someone commenting on that post mentioned a translation of this poem. The translation is by Jerome Lettvin (1920– 2011). I hadn’t…… Continue reading The werewolf or who-wolf

An English word here? Really?

English words often show up, completely unnecessarily, in texts written in other languages. I came across a flagrant example last week in the weekly literature email from the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The following extract shows the English intruder in bold:    Ein offenbar programmatisches Statement der Jury findet man dann unter den Sachbüchern,…… Continue reading An English word here? Really?

ISOs on translation

In February 2024, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published ISO 5060 Translation services, Evaluation of translation output—General guidance. It gives guidance on evaluating human translation output, post-edited machine translation output, and unedited machine translation output. I searched the ISOs online store for other ISOs dealing with translation. I have prepared summaries below from the…… Continue reading ISOs on translation

Word frequencies and Zipf’s law

There is a well-known relationship between the frequency of words in a text and the ranking of those frequencies. The relationship is known as Zipf’s law and is one example of a relationship called a power law. Power laws crop up in many other settings. For example, they arise in investigating the distribution of populations…… Continue reading Word frequencies and Zipf’s law