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’

Schock prize for linguists

The 2024 Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy has been awarded jointly to Hans Kamp (University of Stuttgart, Germany) and Irene Heim (MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It as awarded ‘for (mutually independent) conception and early development of dynamic semantics for natural language.’ The laureates are selected by collaboration between three Swedish royal academies: the Royal…… Continue reading Schock prize for linguists

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

Accounting is not a language

It has become a cliché to say that accounting is the language of business. That metaphor is helpful because it emphasises that accounting conveys vital information about business. But the metaphor can be unhelpful because, although accounting is a system for conveying information, accounting lacks most features of real human languages, such as Arabic, Chinese,…… Continue reading Accounting is not a language

Does your first language affect the structure of your brain?

There are some differences between the brains of German speakers and Arabic speakers. Why do those differences arise? It seems to be because these 2 languages place different processing demands on some parts of the brain. Those conclusions emerge from a recent paper Native language differences in the structural connectome of the human brain, by…… Continue reading Does your first language affect the structure of your brain?

A pause can change syntax and meaning

Trying to write something concisely, I came across a quirk of English. I ran into an example where inserting a pause changes both the syntax of a sentence and its meaning. Here’s the context. Sarah Wells married Joseph Randall, but Joseph died within a few years. After that, Sarah remarried. Her second husband was Louis…… Continue reading A pause can change syntax and meaning

Theta in an index

Here is an oddity: a foreign character appearing in an English book index as the first letter in an indexed phrase. The character is the Greek θ (theta). It appears in that index as the first letter in 5 phrases: θ feature; θ position; θ identification; θ position(s); θ role; θ structure. Where can you…… Continue reading Theta in an index

Users of this car park do so at their own risk

A couple of times recently, I have seen disclaimers saying ‘Users of this car park do so at their own risk’. The meaning is clear, but this is an odd usage. Why is that usage odd? Usually, ‘do so’ is used only to replace a verbal phrase that repeats the same verbal phrase used earlier…… Continue reading Users of this car park do so at their own risk

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

The language of Contract Bridge?

In the card game Contract Bridge, players transmit information by making bids. So, is bidding in Contract Bridge a language? Bidding systems used in Bridge: are like language, because they use a vocabulary of words that convey meanings. But there are important differences between the 2 types of vocabulary.are not like language, because they have…… Continue reading The language of Contract Bridge?