Category Archives: Linguistics

King – Man + Woman = Queen

Source: MIT Technology Review blog, Sep 2015

Computational linguistics has dramatically changed the way researchers study and understand language. The ability to number-crunch huge amounts of words for the first time has led to entirely new ways of thinking about words and their relationship to one another.

This number-crunching shows exactly how often a word appears close to other words, an important factor in how they are used. So the word Olympics might appear close to words like running, jumping, and throwing but less often next to words like electron or stegosaurus.  This set of relationships can be thought of as a multidimensional vector that describes how the word Olympics is used within a language, which itself can be thought of as a vector space.  

And therein lies this massive change. This new approach allows languages to be treated like vector spaces with precise mathematical properties. Now the study of language is becoming a problem of vector space mathematics.

Today, Timothy Baldwin at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a few pals explore one of the curious mathematical properties of this vector space: that adding and subtracting vectors produces another vector in the same space.

… a vector relationship that appear in English generally also works in Spanish, German, Vietnamese, and indeed all languages.

 

Tom Swifty

Source: Wikipedia, date indeterminate

A Tom Swifty (or Tom Swiftie) is a phrase in which a quoted sentence is linked by a pun to the manner in which it is attributed.

Examples

  • “I’ll have a martini,” said Tom, drily (dryly).
  • “Who left the toilet seat down?” Tom asked peevishly.
  • “Pass me the shellfish,” said Tom crabbily.
  • “That’s the last time I’ll stick my arm in a lion’s mouth,” the lion-tamer said off-handedly.
  • “Can I go looking for the Grail again?” Tom requested.
  • “I unclogged the drain with a vacuum cleaner,” said Tom succinctly.
  • “I might as well be dead,” Tom croaked.
  • “We just struck oil!” Tom gushed.
  • “It’s freezing,” Tom muttered icily.
  • “They had to amputate them both at the ankles,” said Tom defeatedly.
  • “I wonder if this radium is radioactive?” asked Marie curiously.
  • “The Battle of the Nile? A lot of fun!” said Lord Nelson disarmingly.
  • “Hurry up and get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly.
  • “We could have made a fortune canning pineapples,” Tom groaned dolefully.
  • “I wish I drove a Scandinavian car,” Tom sobbed (Saabed).
  • “Careful with that chainsaw,” Tom said offhandedly.
  • “I’m here,” Tom said presently.
  • “Happy Birthday,” Tom said presently.
  • “Walk this way,” Tom said stridently.
  • “I stole the gold,” Tom confessed guiltily (giltily).
  • “Bingo,” Tom exclaimed winningly.
  • “Where did all the carpet on the steps go?” asked Tom with a blank stare (stair).
  • “I used to be a criminal pilot,” he ex-plained con-descendingly.
  • “I have no flowers,” Tom said lackadaisically.
  • “I know not which groceries to purchase,” Tom said listlessly.
  • “I decided to come back to the group,” Tom rejoined.
  • “Did you say to zip up my sleeping bag or the door?” Tom asked inattentively.
  • “This pizza place is great!” Tom exclaimed saucily.
  • “I dropped my toothpaste,” Tom said crestfallenly.

Related resource: Fun with Words, date indeterminate