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Far from the Madding Gerund and Other Dispatches from Language Log

by Mark Liberman, Geoffrey K. Pullum

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1493169,266 (3.97)3

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I haven't actually ever laid hands or eyes on a copy of Far from the Madding Gerund, but I'm pretty sure I've read everything Language Log, the blog from which these "dispatches" are drawn, has ever posted, so unless they really fricativized the selection process (little phonetics humour for you there), I can recommend this with a reasonable degree of confidence. Liberman, Geoffrey Pullum, Arnold Zwicky, Victor Mair and the rest of their crewmates run a generally diverting and welcoming ship, and one that has profitably mined the intersection between "real linguistics" and "the shit that people think is interestingabout language", often applying one to the other with productive results. They have coined what now seem to be the scholarly and gen-pop go-to terms for several phenomena:

-the snowclone: "If Eskimos have forty words for snow, then surely Republican senators must have two hundred words for 'gay airport bathroom sex scandal'"

-the eggcorn: "baited breath", "hone in", "on tenderhooks", "for all intensive purposes"

And lots of funny attacks on prescriptivists, and investigation of taboo language, and crosslinguistic perception (one great post I remember about how speakers of different languages understood the way an Uyghur pronounced the word "Uyghur", and uptalk, and furthermore and suchlike. This book is probably worth a look. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Mar 18, 2010 |
I haven't finished, but I am loving it. The humour and passion shared herein are fabulous. Down with Strunk and White! ( )
  KouWainohia | Jul 4, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mark Libermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pullum, Geoffrey K.main authorall editionsconfirmed
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