How much are AI tools writing out in the wild?

A recent paper suggests that between 6% and 16% of the text of peer reviews for some major recent conferences on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) may have been written with substantial help from Large Language Models (LLM), such as ChatGPT. The paper makes these estimates in illustrating a method for estimating how…… Continue reading How much are AI tools writing out in the wild?

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?

Adjectives boldly going to the stars

Even the most inspirational orators (and their speechwriters) slip up sometimes. Last week, I was at Moon Walkers, an immersive experience about the moon landings by the crews of Apollos 11, 12 and 14-17. It also previews the planned return to the moon by the Artemis programme. The film includes an extract from John F…… Continue reading Adjectives boldly going to the stars

Back to Earth

On the radio this morning, someone was talking about an uncrewed mission that has just collected samples from the asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft bringing the sample came back to Earth in September in the Utah desert. Nasa is distributing fragments to researchers across the world, including the UK. The interviewer started to say ‘bring the…… Continue reading Back to Earth

When intonation affects word order

Can intonation constrain how syntax determines word order?  Jackendoff (2002) suggests that it can. As examples, he cites sentences (1), (1a), (2) and (2a). Normally, English syntax insists that the direct object precedes a time adverb, as in (1). The reverse order, as in (1a) is unacceptable. (1) John bought a computer yesterday.(1a) *John bought…… Continue reading When intonation affects word order

Obstructing vision with a transparent adverb

One of life’s great mysteries is the offside law in football. It causes a lot of discussion and controversy among football fans and commentators, as well as among players and managers. A comment on a recent controversial decision about offside made me look at the wording of the offside law. I discovered a surprising (and,…… Continue reading Obstructing vision with a transparent adverb

Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

Here is a summary of some things I learnt about the Mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian) a couple of years ago, when I was carrying out a self-imposed language challenge. http://languagemiscellany.com/2021/09/scandinavian-challenge-how-did-it-go/   I am commenting here only on those 3 languages, not their relatives, the insular Scandinavian Languages (Icelandic and Faroese). For an…… Continue reading Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

Answer the questions based on the text

I was listening to a language learning CD the other day. After every passage, there were some exercises, preceded by the instruction ‘please answer the questions based on the text’. The intended meaning is: ‘please answer the question and base your answers on the text’. But read literally, it seems to be saying: please answer…… Continue reading Answer the questions based on the text

More on early talking

I wrote in April about the progress our youngest 2 grandchildren were making in learning to talk, when they were 20 months and 13 months. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/early-words I wrote an update in September about how the older one was getting on, just after her 2nd birthday. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/09/into-the-2-word-stage Here is a further update. They are now 26…… Continue reading More on early talking

Cabinet of grammatical rarities

A Raritätenkabinett (cabinet of rarities) is a collection of things, living or dead, which are considered worth collecting (and perhaps exhibiting) because they are rare. An online collection of grammatical rarities is available at https://typo.uni-konstanz.de/rara/ The site classifies the items it contains into the following categories: rarum (plural rara): ‘a trait (of any conceivable sort:…… Continue reading Cabinet of grammatical rarities