Dangerous questions about morphology

A recent short paper by Laurie Bauer ask 6 questions about the morphology of English. Bauer shows that each of them carries unhelpful presuppositions that are ultimately not likely lead to a sustainable theoretical position. 1 What is the plural of mouse? Grammars of English generally say that the plural form of mouse is mice.…… Continue reading Dangerous questions about morphology

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

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

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?

Multiple use of an inapt adjective

Every Saturday, The Times carries a Feedback column, which often discusses issues of English language style and usage. One topic covered on 3 February 2024 was the adjective multiple. A reader had objected to a report stating that Britons were buying lunchtime meal deals ‘multiple times a week’. The reader asked whether The Times has…… Continue reading Multiple use of an inapt adjective

Still using unhelpful headlines … and still talking about batsmen

I’ve complained before about the unhelpful and misleading headlines The Times uses when an inside page continues an article that started on the back page. Their style seems to be to invent a new headline for the rest of the article, rather than keep the original headline. Please keep the same headline throughout – Language…… Continue reading Still using unhelpful headlines … and still talking about batsmen

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

You can stop building

A headline in the paper last week made me stop and think about different uses of the verb stop. The headline said ‘You can stop building on green sites, councils told’. There are at least 2 ways to read that sentence: Councils can prevent other people from building on green sites. Councils themselves will no…… Continue reading You can stop building