Archive for October, 2017

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Fact: Dictionaries describe, not prescribe.

Yin Liu Fallacy: Dictionaries regulate language. Because I am the U of S English Department’s default ‘language’ person, questions by the general public about dictionaries usually get passed on to me. Once I was interviewed by a reporter about the latest edition of some dictionary — I think it was Merriam-Webster’s — and the words […]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Fact: Nonstandard English is grammatical.

Yin Liu Fallacy: Some very commonly used English words or structures are ungrammatical. What a linguist considers ungrammatical English and what a lot of other people consider ungrammatical English are often very different. Here, for example, is a sentence (from the opening of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) that a lot of English speakers […]

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Fact: Humans have been using technology for a lot longer than you have been alive.

Yin Liu Fallacy: Technology is the latest electronic gadgetry. I’m going to save myself some extra work here and simply direct you to a blog post on my research project website: . Here’s an excerpt: So this is a plea to hold on to that broader definition of technology and that broader view of […]

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Fact: All natural human languages are complex.

Yin Liu Fallacy: Some languages are more complex than others, or harder to learn. One of the basic ideas of modern linguistics is that all natural human languages are equally complex, or at least that you can’t measure complexity in a way that would allow you to rank languages from most to least complex. By […]