Karl Hagen's blog

27 Feb 2011

Linguistic Quote of the Day

Submitted by Karl Hagen
From Mark Liberman at Language Log:
[T]he narratives of real children are typically full of detail. The use of appropriate summarizing abstractions develops later, as I understand it; and the ability to speak at length without saying anything concrete at all is mastered fully only by mature politicians and their speechwriters.
26 Jan 2011

Is being evolved

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I was watching an old PBS documentary, Life Beyond Earth, with my son tonight when the narrator quoted the famous ending of Darwin's The Origin of Species:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

6 Mar 2010

Predictably

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I just got a new laptop (oh frabjuous day!) to replace my 4-year-old antique, which was on its last legs. It's a very slick Asus model and so far I'm very happy with it, but while creating a recovery DVD, I encountered a very interesting usage of predictably to mean "it is predicted that": "Predictably, four blank writable DVDs are needed to create the recovery DVD." When I first saw this, I did a double-take, since as a sentence adverb, I take "predictably" to mean "as could be/have been predicted." It sounded like the computer was expressing frustration: I should have known!
16 Feb 2010
Many people are deeply insecure about the difference between who and whom, resulting in hypercorrect insertions of whom where it doesn't belong. So it's interesting to find a writer using whom in the correct case while simultaneously falling into a different error, one that my intuition tells me should be much easier for native speakers to spot.
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