Archive for the 'Blind Item' category

Blind Item: Linguistics in the popular imagination

Dec 15 2010 Published by under Blind Item

This is a blind item, boys and girls.  Points to anyone who can tell me what famous postmodern novel this is from.  Cash money prizes to anyone who knows why I think it's so telling that this author cited Zipf (and what insight it might give us into said author).

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11 responses so far

Blind Item : A girl, a rock & a rabbit

Aug 31 2010 Published by under Blind Item

At the beginning of the last decade, a famous linguist wrote :

“To say that “language is not innate” is to say that there is no difference between my granddaughter, a rock, and a rabbit. In other words, if you take a rock, a rabbit, and my granddaughter and put them in a community where people are talking English, they’ll all learn English. If people believe that, then they’ll believe language is not innate. If they believe that there is a difference between my granddaughter, a rabbit, and a rock, then they believe that language is innate.”

Who is s/he?  +1 If you can link to the relevant Ali G episode.  +2 If you can explain why this statement profoundly mischaracterizes the rationalist – empiricist debate in language.  Hint : Scholz & Pullum may have the answer...

9 responses so far

Blind Item: The (magical?) verbal behavior of children

Aug 18 2010 Published by under Blind Item

In 1951, a renowned American psychologist wrote the following:

"What factors in a child's background and environment are associated with the rapid development of speech? Girls have a slight advantage over boys in their speed of development in nearly all the aspects of language that have been studied. ...Children in families with low incomes tend to be neglected, and their linguistic retardation is the most noticeable aspect of their generally retarded development. Children in more favored homes develop speech much faster. Children who are associated primarily with adults develop rapidly, and thus single children outstrip children with many brothers and sisters. Children from multiple births and children from polylingual homes are often retarded."

Who is he?

Hint: The title of the paper he's famous for contains the word "magical." (Dead giveaway, yes?)

Brownie points if you can identify which of these views have withstood the test of time and which have not.

5 responses so far

Blind Item: Developmental Learning Disorders

Aug 15 2010 Published by under Blind Item

Nearly everyone has heard of developmental dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by poor reading skills despite otherwise sufficient schooling. But there is another developmental learning disorder, characterized by poor achievement in mathematics, despite otherwise sufficient education. Tomorrow begins a week-long series on this lesser-known learning disorder.

One point to the first individual who identifies the proper name for this developmental (i.e. not acquired) disorder in the comments.

Image source: Scientific American

11 responses so far

Blind Item: Cookie Monster!

Aug 08 2010 Published by under Blind Item

As a child, my favorite googley-eyed muppet on Sesame Street was Cookie Monster. For those not in the know, chocolate chip cookies are his favorite kind and oatmeal cookies are his second favorite. Showing awareness of healthier habits, since 2006 he has said that cookies are "a sometime snack" and that he also enjoys fruits and eggplant.

But Cookie Monster didn't always love cookies. In one song, he revealed what name his parents had given him, before he discovered his love for cookies.

One point to the person who correctly identifies Cookie's original name in the comments of this post. An additional point for identifying the individual who first provided Cookie's voice, for over thirty years. Remember: No googling for the correct answers! The first correct answer for each question wins. Winners need not answer both questions to earn points.

As a reminder, you can keep track of all blind items and trivia questions, and keep score, by clicking on the Trivia Scorecard and Rules page, above.

16 responses so far

Don't Bite! Blind Item

Aug 03 2010 Published by under Blind Item

Which famous British author and essayist had this to say about his childhood?  +1 If you know why he's not able to follow the rules.   (And no Google searches allowed!)

"I was crying partly because I felt that this was expected of me, partly from genuine repentance, but partly also because of a deeper grief which is particular to childhood and not easy to convey: a sense of desolate loneliness and helplessness, of being locked up not only in a hostile world, but in a world of good and evil where the rules were such that it was actually not possible for me to keep them."

Photo Credit: Stumbleine

11 responses so far