I did an interview for the New York Times about the vocabulary of covid times. Here’s a portion of it:
Looking ahead, linguistic changes are yet to come, Ms. McCulloch said. She explained the concept of a retronym — assigning a new name for a default now dated by technology or social change; for example, with the rise of cellphones, non-mobile phones became “landlines.”
“We are still in the phase of naming the new things we’re encountering, but eventually we’ll get to the stage where we need names for what things were like before the virus hit,” she said. We’re still assimilating to “the new normal” and its accompanying word bank, while longing for “the before times.”
But when we return to the life we knew, forever altered as it may be, we may need new qualifiers: first dates that aren’t over FaceTime; IRL hangouts, unmasked and less than six feet apart; to-stay drinks at bars.
I also did an interview in Archiletras, a Spanish-speaking literary publication, about Because Internet and internet language in general (it was very fun to get to read my words translated into Spanish!)
I was on an impromptu panel about linguistics in science fiction/fantasy at the online version of WisCon (#WisConline) with a fun group of linguists!
The main episode of Lingthusiasm was about schwa, the most versatile English vowel and the bonus episode was about counting systems across languages. Lingthusiasm was also featured on the big Patreon accounts as part of #MadeWithPatrons and we released new schwa-themed merch with the (admittedly aspirational these days) slogan Never Stressed.
I hit my eighth blogiversary on All Things Linguistic, and it is frankly pretty absurd that I’ve been blogging this long. Here’s the traditional year-in-review roundup post, featuring some of my favourite posts of the past year.
Two new Language Files videos came out: the Hidden Rules of Conversation (about Grice’s Maxims) and schwa, product of the ongoing collaboration between me, Tom Scott, and Molly Ruhl. (It is, uh, maybe not a coincidence that Everything Was Coming Up Schwas this month, when you have a good idea you might as well just roll with it.)
Full media list:
- Archiletras – feature – Issue 6 (in Spanish)
New York Times/ Style – mention – 5/4
Geist – review – Summer issue
InsideHook – mention – 5/16
Wall Street Journal – feature – 5/14
Lifehacker – feature – 5/28
Design Confetti (newsletter) – mention – 5/8
1 Way To Make an Emoji (podcast) – interview – 5/2
- quarantimes progress tweets: modern versions of “how now” and “we’ll compare that kettle of worms to a pot once we’ve watched it boil” and quotidian/covidian
- Structural ambiguity and literal stock photo memes
- the buzzfeed quiz we didn’t know we needed
- “your brain is not an onion with a tiny reptile inside”
- I would like to attest that if you’re on a group call with friends, Romeo and/or Juliet (Ryan North’s choose-your-own R&J) is an extremely fun thing to do
- i just wanna know what google docs spellcheck THINKS it’s trying to help me write
- that’s it, we’ve found the best animal name, all the other animals can go home now
- unconsciously hearing an arm movement
- a deliciously inaccurate baby name etymology list
- i knew that some parts of Because Internet were going to age quickly, because that’s what happens when you write a book about the internet, but i confess i wasn’t expecting this particular one
- the lingthusiasm discord has an extremely good emoji set
- A thread about why waving is such a clever solution for bridging the awkwardness at the end of a video call
- Channels that show up again and again on various slacks/discords
- the best part about reading things in old languages is the casually bloodthirsty example sentences
Selected blog posts:
- Gricean Humour: how did you find your meal?
- Which Indo-European Subfamily are you? (Buzzfeed quiz)
- the best animal species name, featuring very small frogs
- When people move their hands and arms while using their voices, listeners are able to hear it
- How the pandemic threatens Native Americans
- adult emailing culture is overthinking how polite you sound and forgetting to send the attachments
- Cuneiform and not quite having enough space at the end of a line
- An episode of the Unstandardized English podcast about “Karen” as a generic term
This month’s image is of the new schwa sticker pack, with art which we commissioned from Lucy Maddox of the schwa + Never Stressed slogan in multicoloured floral and black and white geometric designs.