Yet another woe of non-phonetic writing systems

I was in Mexico last week and was quite excited to try my Spanish there. I studied some Spanish 3–4 years ago using Michel Thomas courses, and did a few levels on Duolingo, and combined with my French, I can get a general sense of simple written Spanish, but I had literally zero on-ground speaking experience. There are plenty of Spanish […]

Movie Review: Arrival

Arpan suggested that I review Arrival, a SciFi movie that has as its lead character… wait for it… a linguistics professor. I first thought of writing a review without spoilers but realized that it’d be impossible to write about the linguistically relevant parts of the movie without giving it all away, so I scrapped that plan. This […]

Book Review: Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher

RVC recently told me about Through the Language Glass, a book by Guy Deutscher (GD), an Israeli linguist, that is based around the premise of ‘linguistic relativity‘. Ordinarily, hearing those two words together evokes a bit of a fight / flight response in me, so I read the excerpts he sent with some trepidation. I realized that, far from being […]

What should be India’s common script?

I have a lot of interest in writing systems, which is why you will find a lot of posts on this blog around them. A few years ago, I wrote about the Bharati script, which was touted as an attempt to create a universal script for Indian languages. I had expressed measured skepticism about the idea, […]

Hindi Cryptic Crosswords

I recently set the ‘question paper’ for the Hindi Word Games General Championship (GC)* at IIT Bombay. Here are the links to the question set and the solutions. As part of the competition, I decided to put in a round of Hindi Cryptic Puzzles. Cryptic Crosswords are very popular in English, but haven’t got much of […]

Pranav Mistry and our problem with accents

Pranav Mistry was one of the speakers at IIT Bombay’s Techfest this year. He rose to fame in 2010 for his TED Talk on Sixth Sense, which is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with it [Description sourced from […]

One script to bind them all

A couple of days ago, I came across a few news reports that a professor from IIT Madras  (Professor V Srinivas Chakravarthy) has developed a script (called Bharati) to “unify 22 Indian languages”. As a script-enthusiast, I was of course slightly interested. There is a lot of self-congratulatory rhetoric in India about how Indian scripts […]

Could better science reporting standards at the BBC improve the quality of their articles?

I just came across this article on the BBC Website (Could a new phonetic alphabet promote world peace?) because it was posted in the /r/badlinguistics sub-reddit, and for good reason. It is such a fulsome mix of bad linguistics and general cluelessness that I would have thought that even with BBC’s abysmal standards of science (especially language) […]

Orders When Pizza Yoda

A comic that was doing the rounds a few months ago keeps getting revived every once in a while when it gets discovered by a new bunch of people. The comic shows Yoda ordering pizza over the phone, but unable to get his order across because of his mangled word order. It’s difficult to not […]

We have App!

The Onion (American news satire organization) routinely produces, among other things, spoof news videos and bulletins. Their work is very professionally done, and people often mistake their news articles and videos for real news. A few days ago, I saw an Onion Tech Trends video: HP Offers ‘That Cloud Thing Everyone Is Talking About Seeing the ‘HP […]