Sunday, February 08, 2009

Very good language blog

We've had snow in the UK this week (it's become relatively unusual), and the linguist Geoffrey Pullum was on the radio this morning explaining why it is not true that eskimos have 25 words for snow. He has been fighting this urban myth for many years now, and his essay 'The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax' is a good read, as is all his stuff.

Googling him to find the link to it, I discovered the brilliant blog Language Log. He has a range of co-contributors including Geoff Nunberg, another entertaining and insightful writer on language. Meeting GN at a conference a few years back I confused him with GP, and told how much I'd enjoyed his eskimo stuff. He wasn't amused and I was given to understand I had committed lèse-majesté - evidently it happens all the time. But looking at some of his writings today I realise that Nunberg is indeed the alpha Geoff. Here's a sample which includes a nice new distinction I plan to quote a lot, between 'typos' and 'thinkos'.