Tags » Morphosyntax

How can you be 17 years old and 4 months old?

One of the properties of every known human language is that they are ambiguous.  Being “ambiguous” means that something can have more than one interpretation.  Humans are so good at “resolving” ambiguities (i.e., figuring out the intended interpretation) that we rarely notice them, but in fact almost everything that you will hear/read or say/write today will be ambiguous in some way or another. 331 more words

Go ahead, end this sentence without a preposition--if you can...

Of all of my students, this is the one on whom my work habits rubbed off. 

Déteindre sur: to rub off on. Ton pull à déteint sur ma chemise–il ne fallait pas les mettre ensemble au lavage.   12 more words

On being stared at

It’s 1981, and my ship has pulled into Istanbul for a week.  Being a stupid young sailor, I’m wandering around alone.  I pass some old men sitting on a stoop drinking tea (a common pastime for old men in Turkey).  

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Once a year I spend a week in Antigua, Guatemala, where I interpret for a group that does free surgeries for people for whom even the almost-free national health care system is too expensive.   916 more words

White House leak template for journalists: You speak more English/French/Spanish than you think you do

For me, it became clear that we had crossed some horrible line between sanity and madness when journalists started laughing during news stories.  Leaks of stories of hallucinatory misbehavior, treason, criminality, and just plain evil have been coming out of the Trump government so fast that it’s become surreal.   1,586 more words

Being gay in Chechnya: the conditional of uncertainty

One of the disorienting things about being in a foreign country is that you often find that you’re incapable of doing the simplest things–things that you could do without really having to think about them in your country of origin.   996 more words

Microchips and lexical semantics

I’m not necessarily that crazy about people, but I like animals.  (Except for man-eating rabbits–I hate man-eating rabbits.)  Seriously, when was the last time you saw a dog or a cat sell a teen-ager drugs, or… 726 more words