When ‘irrelevant’ cannot replace ‘not relevant’

A recent short post on Language Log pointed drew attention to sentence (1): ‘The patch is irrelevant, but the events that follow are.’ (1) Language Log » When “irrelevant” is not “not relevant” (upenn.edu) Although the post didn’t say so explicitly, sentence (1) is clearly odd in some way. The title of the Language Log…… Continue reading When ‘irrelevant’ cannot replace ‘not relevant’

Non-meant or intended

On some tickets we bought the other day, the terms and conditions say: ‘Tickets are non-refundable or transferable’. Now, I know what they meant to say, but they didn’t achieve it. They intended to say (1). (1) Tickets are not refundable and not transferable. They could also have expressed that meaning with (2). (2) Tickets…… Continue reading Non-meant or intended

ULEZ, uljez, izlaz

London has just extended the boundary of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Drivers of motor vehicles causing heavy emissions must pay to drive in the ULEZ. The word ULEZ has the shape and feel of some Croatian words. The common prefix u- means ‘in’ or ‘into’ and is derived from the preposition u. (In other…… Continue reading ULEZ, uljez, izlaz

How many nouns are there in Finnish?

How many nouns are there in Finnish? A paper by Fred Karlsson investigates that question. The paper also considers their sound structure. Karlsson used a machine-readable version of the Reverse Dictionary of Modern Standard Finnish (RDF, Suomen kielen käänteissanakirja). This lists 72,785 entries. Of those, 34,673 (47.6 %) have the code ‘S’, short for noun…… Continue reading How many nouns are there in Finnish?

More on the language with ‘only 3 verbs’

I’ve written before about press reports that the Australian language Jingulu has only 3 verbs. A language with only 3 verbs? – Language Miscellany I’ve now found some discussion of that idea in Mark C Baker’s book Lexical categories: verbs, nouns, and adjectives. In section 2.10 of his book, Baker discusses whether there exist any…… Continue reading More on the language with ‘only 3 verbs’

Not-the best place for-a hyphen

I was reading yesterday about a football club that has 2 ‘co-sporting directors’. That is an odd place to put the hyphen. People do often put a hyphen after the prefix co. Indeed, I often do that myself, to make it easier for readers to see the structure of the word. But in this case,…… Continue reading Not-the best place for-a hyphen

Unsocially distanced: a bracketing paradox?

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson allegedly told a staff meeting in 10 Downing Street that they were at ‘probably the most unsocially distanced gathering in the UK right now’. That comment not only raises political questions but also illustrates an interesting linguistic point. What does the prefix [un-] negate in that phrase? The spelling…… Continue reading Unsocially distanced: a bracketing paradox?