It’s been over a year since I’ve blogged. The last year has been a crazy flurry of life changes and positive self improvement, including but not limited to:

  • Dropping out of grad school
  • Joining the tech industry
  • Moving (twice)
  • Rekindling old hobbies (cycling, painting, and PC gaming)
  • Picking up new hobbies (audio books, rock climbing, and tabletop RPGs)
  • Running my first Beer Mile (in 17 minutes, tyvm)
  • Doing my first unassisted pull-up
  • Riding my first quarter century, half century, and metric century
  • Going to therapy and stopping having anxiety attacks
  • Cutting my hair short

Anyway, I’m at a point in my life where regular blogging might become a thing again. I am learning so much about bikes and computers, I want to share!

Some goals for the foreseeable future:

  • Start building stuff with Raspberry Pis
  • Go on a multi-day bike tour
  • Finally learn calculus (thanks Khan Academy)
  • Blog more, paint more, do more yoga

As far as long term goals? I’m really not sure. I recently closed my academia/linguistics chapter of my life, and am starting down this path of the tech world. I’ll do this for a while, and then see where my next “lifetime” takes me.

A while ago, I scraped the LINGUIST List job pages and made a set of graphs for the Linguistics Club here at UCSB, to give the undergrads an idea of where the jobs are in linguistics. It turns out, Language Log did a similar thing, but focusing just on academic jobs and comparing the number of those jobs to the number of fresh PhDs in linguistics.

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My friend recently asked me how I make word clouds for presentations. Wordle is definitely a good choice. WordPress automatically makes word clouds out of my tags in the sidebar. But sometimes you can’t or don’t want to upload your data to places like WordPress or Wordle and you just want to use R (because you use R for everything else, so why not? Or is that just me?).

In a typical word cloud, word frequency is what determines the size of the word. As of this writing, the word cloud in my side bar (over there ) has “linguistics” and “programming” as clearly the largest words. Tags like “video games,” “language,” and “education” are also pretty big. There are also really small words like “Navajo” and “handwriting.” This reflects the frequency of each tag. Bigger tags are more frequent, so I write about linguistics a lot but not so much about Navajo in particular.

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Let’s just get this out of the way: There are, in fact, differences in the way men and women think, speak, act, etc. How much of that difference is due to nature and how much is due to nurture is up for debate. But that is not what this post is about.

This post is about a particular language myth that, for whatever reason, will not die. There are literally dozens of peer-reviewed, scientific studies refuting this myth, and yet the popular culture clings to it.

The myth I’m referring to is the idea that women talk more than men. More »

Last week, Jennifer Lawrence and Conan O’Brien had a little spat about whether the past tense of “sneak” is “snuck” or “sneaked.”

So which is it?

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I know I promised to buy Never Alone on release day, but as it turns out, none of the gaming systems or computers I own can play it. Waiting for Black Friday sales to bulk up this thing.

In the meantime, Happy Wugsgiving!


I’m not gonna lie, I’m somewhat jealous of #thegiftofdata. This couple tracked their text messages for a whole year of dating and a whole year of marriage, and got some pretty cool word clouds out of it!

A few months ago, Linguistics Club had a arts & crafts night, and most people ended up making cute wugs!! But I forgot to blog about it! More »

One of the first things many people learn in introductory linguistics classes is that there are about 7,000 languages in the world, plus or minus 1,000, depending on whether or not you’re only counting living languages or dead ones too, and how you divide the line between languages and dialects. Counting languages is difficult, even for professional linguists. But what about for laypeople? Does average Joe even realize how many languages there are in the world? Are linguists doing a good job of educating the public? More »

Counting languages is difficult for several reasons. First, there are still uncontacted tribes who speak undocumented languages, so the number could increase. Second, language endangerment and language death is causing rapid loss of linguistic diversity, such that over 50% of the world’s languages are expected to be extinct by 2100, and there’s a good chance linguists have already missed the opportunity of documenting hundreds, if not thousands, of languages which have already died.

Politics and culture also sometimes make classifying languages and dialects difficult. For example, there are nearly a dozen distinct, yet related, Chinese languages. They’re as different as Spanish, French, and Italian. Yes, they share a common ancestor (just as the Romance languages descended from Latin), but they are no longer mutually intelligible. Mutual intelligibility is the criteria linguists use to determine whether two varieties are a language or a dialect, so under this definition they are different languages. However, the Chinese census counts them as dialects of the same language, in order to portray China as a unified country.

The opposite can happen too. Hindi and Urdu are mutually intelligible. They are dialects of the same language. However, since they’re spoken in different countries, by people who largely use different writing systems and follow different religions, many people consider them to be different languages!

All in all, most linguists agree there’s somewhere in the ballpark of 7,000 languages in the world, and @AllTheLanguages is tweeting about them all!