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

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 the machines started hallucinating

The Cambridge Dictionary—an online dictionary for learners of English—has added a new meaning to its definition of ‘hallucinate’ and has picked ‘hallucinate’ as its Word of the Year for 2023. Cambridge Dictionary names ‘Hallucinate’ Word of the Year 2023 | University of Cambridge Hallucinating ‘false information’ This year has seen a surge in interest in…… Continue reading When the machines started hallucinating

Even I wouldn’t use a plural verb here

On the tail end of a radio interview a couple of days ago, I heard someone say ‘agriculture are playing an important part’. ‘Agriculture are’ combines a singular noun with a plural verb and sounded very odd to me. Not a slip of the tongue All of us sometimes get distracted in the middle of…… Continue reading Even I wouldn’t use a plural verb here