February 9th, 2020

(no subject)

I don’t know whether the third (2018) edition of David Crystal’s The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language has been pirated yet (a quick search says that it hasn’t), but luckily, Cambridge University Press made electronic resources for this book openly accessible; so that you don't need a password to hear Crystal read in "original" (i.e. reconstructed) pronunciation fragments of texts representative of different historical periods traditionally identified in the development of the language.

Also, here’s the recording of Crystal at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas from last November talking about the developments in English reflected in the third edition. The talk is addressed to the general public, and as such contains very little of what he hasn’t said before. Among things I haven’t heard him say before are: 1) the rate at which English spreads throughout the world is falling; 2) he thinks "slash" is a new coordinating conjunction, and he credits the Internet with introducing it into the spoken language (not sure I am convinced); 3) the number of words thought to be first used by Shakespeare is falling as more texts from the period are digitized and analyzed.

(no subject)

This is a great example of why the demands that social media take down "fake news" posts is rubbish.

1) Trump performs his state of the union ritual
2) Pelosi does what she does
3) Trump tweets a video compilation from the ritual implying that Pelosi is anti-American
4) Someone gets very upset:

5) But is politely reminded by a Facebook communications representative that the statements made by the video are actually factual, and this is all that they are expected to check:

I guess the next step would be to insist that apart from being factually true, the posts must also not insinuate incorrect interpretation of facts, but give me a break!

(no subject)

A forgotten page on Amazon suggests that before Neal Stephenson came up with the title Seveneves, he intended to call the book Bomblight:

Curiously, Bomblight is the name of the series under which his next book is being teased on Amazon: