Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Language Links of Interest

1. How language affects math:
In English, we say fourteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen, so one might expect that we would also say oneteen, twoteen, threeteen, and fiveteen. But we don’t. We use a different form: eleven, twelve, thirteen and fifteen. Similarly, we have forty and sixty, which sound like the words they are related to (four and six). But we also say twenty, thirty and fifty, which only sort of sound like two and three and five. And for that matter, for numbers above twenty, we put the ‘decade’ first and the unit number second (twenty-one, twenty-two) whereas for the teens, we do it the other way around (fourteen, seventeen, and eighteen). The number system in English is clearly highly irregular.
2. Acronyms and Initialisms: I whiled away a good hour on the wikipedia pageAIDS and SONAR are acronyms (pronounced as one word), while FBI and USA (pronounced as individual letters) are initialisms. Things are sometimes not as clearcut. What about MS-DOS and MPEG? And what about things like FAQ, SAT, and GRE, which are can be used either way.

3. Some tips on good grammar.