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June 26 2017






One of my favorite linguistic phenomena is rebracketing, which is when a word or words is/are redivided differently, either two words becoming one, one word heard as two, or part of one word interpreted as part of the other.  This frequently happens with articles, for example:

  • apron was originally napron, but “a napron” was interpreted as “an apron”
  • newt comes from ewt by the same process
  • In the opposite direction, nickname comes from Middle English nekename which in turn came from ekename (an ekename -> a nekename) where “eke” was an old word meaning “also” or “additional” (so basically “an additional name”)
  • ammunition comes from an obsolete dialectal French amunition, which came from munition, the phrase la munition being heard as l’amunition.
  • the nickname Ned comes from Ed, via “mine Ed” being heard as “my Ned” (in archaic English, “my” and “mine” had the same relationship as “a” and “an”), same with several other nicknames like Nell
  • The word “orange” ulimately derives from the Arabic nāranj, via French “orange”, the n being lost via a similar process involving the indefinite article, e.g., something like French “une norange” becoming “une orange” (it’s unclear which specific Romance language it first happened in)
  • in the Southern US at least (not sure about elsewhere), “another” is often analyzed as “a nother”, hence the phrase “a whole nother”
  • omelet has a whole series of interesting changes; it comes from French omelette, earlier alemette (swapping around the /l/ and /m/), from alemelle from an earlier lemelle (la lemelle -> l’alemelle)

Related to this, sometimes two words, especially when borrowed into another language, will be taken as one.  Numerous words were borrowed from Arabic with the definite article al- attached to them.  Spanish el lagarto became English alligator.  An interesting twist is admiral, earlier amiral (the d probably got in there from the influence of words like “administer”) from Arabic amir al- (lord of the ___), particularly the phrase amir al-bahr, literally “lord of the sea”.

Sometimes the opposite happens.  A foreign word will look like two words, or like a word with an affix.  For example, the Arabic kitaab (book) was borrowed into Swahili as kitabu.  ki- happens to be the singular form of one of the Swahili genders, and so it was interpreted as ki-tabu.  To form the plural of that gender, you replace ki- with vi-, thus, “books” in Swahili is vitabu.  The Greek name Alexander became, in Arabic, Iskander, with the initial al- heard as the article al-.

Similarly, the English word Cherry came from Old Norman French cherise, with the s on the end interpreted as the plural -s.  Interestingly enough, that word came from Vulgar Latin ceresia, a feminine singular noun, but originally the plural of the neuter noun ceresium!  So a Latin plural was reinterpreted as a singular in Vulgar Latin, which in turn was interpreted as a plural when borrowed into English!

The English suffix -burger used with various foods (e.g., cheeseburger, or more informally chickenburger, etc.) was misanlyzed from Hamburger as Ham-burger, itself from the city of Hamburg

This can happen even with native words.  Modern French once is used for the snow leopard, but originally meant “lynx”.  In Old French, it was lonce (ultimately from the same source as lynx), which was reinterpreted as l’once!  In English, the word “pea” was originally “pease”, but that looked like it had the plural -s on it, and so the word “pea” was created from it.  Likewise, the adjective lone came from alone, heard as “a lone”, but alone itself came originally from all one.

One of my favorite personal examples is the old Southern man who would come into work and ask me if I was “being have” (as opposed to the more usual “behaving”).

the word editor predated the word edit - editor was reinterpreted as edit-er, so clearly someone who edits!

when your open borders advocacy extends to morpheme boundaries

Don’t forget the Swahili kipilefti (”roundabout”), from English keep left, with a plural vipilefti - and in reverse, singular kideo (”video”) with plural video.





There are only two genders, classic Who and new Who

this is expanded universe erasure

cLassic who, Goddamned new who, big finish, That one red nose special where the doctor was a woman

Tag yourself I’m big finish

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June 25 2017


Don’t buy me drinks, buy me language books.

In the luck of the draw that is treadmill music videos, I happened upon Hansen’s Mmm bop. Not only did I somehow or other miss out on it in the 90s, now the hairdos remind me of “Ben Bernanke”

June 24 2017

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Schmeckbund, the culinary equivalent of sprachbund. (The metaphoric potential of the sprachbund has, in my opinion, been vastly under-utilized.)

June 23 2017

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star wars relationships [1/?] darth plagueis & darth sidious

This is not a chase, this is a summoning. You need to get behind the eyes of your target and become the object of its desire. The same holds true when you summon the Force: you must make yourself desirable, fascinating, addictive, and whatever power you need will be at your command.

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The prompt was: “AU, where Yoda didn`t make it to A New Hope, but Maul did.  The ghost of Obi Wan had to send Luke to Dathomir to learn“.

June 22 2017

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Heartbreaking scene from the film

Schindler’s List (1993)


 Everyone knows the story, right? His protected workers?  How none of his ammo worked?  The full story is a lot more complex and a hell of a lot more breathtaking.

He wasn’t a saint. in fact, he was a bit of a douche, all things considered. Whored around on his wife, worked for the Abwehr, he was a member of the nazi party - not a particularly devout follower, but because he was a big fat remora fish who realised this particular shark could give him business opportunities, and if he wined and dined the upper crust that scored him even better ones.  He realised very quickly he could make an absolute killing on the black market and dove in headfirst with the profiteering.  Hell, he initially hired Jews in his factory because nazi strictures made them much much cheaper labour than hiring normal Polish labourers.  

But the thing is, once you start surrounding yourself with a particular, persecuted demographic, you begin to notice things.  You hear things, things you aren’t insulated from.  You begin to realise something.

And Oskar Schindler began to dimly grasp what was happening and he realised that it was not something he could countenance.  And his whole gameplay changed.

He no longer wined and dined for business opportunities, but to protect his workers.  He went flat out fucking balls to the wall to rescue a group of his workers from the jaws of Auschwitz, and built them a “camp” that offered at least the barest of human comforts, right under SS supervision.  He moved his entire fucking factory to save his workers, he realised an SS-provided list of names was left with blank spaces and just started filling in more.  He blew everything he had made profiteering and scheming to protect 1200 people because he found that there was a fucking line and it had to be drawn. He arranged for three thousand Jewish women to be moved to textile factories in the Sudetenland to give them a chance of surviving the war.   He blew all his money, resources and time on feeding, caring for and trying to protect as many Jews as he could.

After the war he failed every business venture he tried.  He became a raging alcoholic, surviving on donations sent by Schindlerjuden.  According to some, he traded the ring gifted to him by his workers for Schnapps.  He died in relative obscurity, almost penniless.

He wasn’t a great man, or a saint. He was an average schmuck, and spent most of his time fucking around until he abruptly found himself in a situation where he couldn’t.  He almost stumbled into his decency.  But once he had, he absolutely took hold of it,  and directly because of him 8,500 people are alive today.

Never, ever doubt the ability of a single human to RISE.

June 21 2017

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A chart of how common different phonemes are in languages around the world, from a paper by Suzy J. Styles. (Larger version of image.)

June 20 2017

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sheev palpatine   │   moodboard

A youth with no desire to enter politics, and yet born for it.

star wars: underworld script be like


darth plagueis: why is it your wish to become a sith lord?
palpatine: bruh, there was this woman. this hardcore gangster woman. she fuckin wronged me, man. like, just totally destroyed me as a person. this fuckin heartless woman. i used to be a good person but now i’m bad and it’s all a woman’s fault. this is me, palpatine. lightning out the fingers palpatine. you should feel sorry for me. and this is why i want to be a sith lord.
darth plagueis: *sniffs*………damn sheev. i almost cried while hearing this. that’s something magical. 

new tumblr discourse





is 75 degrees Fahrenheit too cold, too hot, or just right?

Also tag where u live

24 celsius for those wondering

wee bit chilly 26 is perfect


no language is “ugly”, the only thing that’s ugly is your attitude towards it

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“Plagueis the Wise, who forged the most powerful Sith Lord the galaxy has ever known, and yet who forgot to leave a place for himself; whose pride never allowed him to question that he would no longer be needed.”

…there was something about reading one of The Strangest Discworld books (Thief of Time) as my first one, but also just the series in general

because you don’t have to, or even necessarily want to, be “normal” on the Discworld.

somehow that really stuck with me then, going into high school, and ?? I like to think maybe it made starting coming to terms with the fact that my brain has its oddities and issues a little…softer

thanks, Pterry.

June 19 2017

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im accepting constructive criticism on this post

its good

It’s good

it’s good

June 15 2017

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This may be the best book I have ever purchased. It is definitely in the top 10


To Be or Not to Be by Ryan North.  Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book.

I own this book and it’s about 600 pages and it’s ALL this good. You can play as hamlet, Ophelia, or hamlet sr, who is a ghost. You can murder everyone in the play. You can fire yourself out of a cannon and use your uncle as a skateboard. There are dozens of endings and places where you can diverge from canon and do something wacky instead. 10/10 would recommend

June 14 2017

…informationally, a certain political group that’s quite literally the English translation of that genocidal German party, (however much they object to connection with the supposedly Bavarian derived common abbreviation) has replaced their s-w-a-s-4-armed-symbol-t-i-k-a with what’s called an O/dal rune last year. It looks pretty much like an angular representation of an awareness ribbon, optionally (and possibly more closely associated, historically) with the feet folded upward and outward.

Because I saw a list of identifying characteristics that didn’t mention this.

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