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 it has often happened that people mistook 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 [...]

WiFi Free

When I visited the recently opened Starbucks near Horniman Circle, I noticed this on the glass door: The fact that the word free has two senses in English is often brought up because the difference in the two senses is sometimes critical/relevant. Especially in the FOSS (Free and Open Software) world, the distinction is often [...]

The Hinglish Project

I had heard about the Hinglish project back in June when Sindhu shared the link to their website on her status. I had since forgotten about it, only to be reminded of it some time ago when an Incredible India! video featuring the project was shared by many people on Facebook. The video has over [...]

Maine Basanti Ko Nahaate Huey Dekha

This cartoon appeared today in my Facebook feed: I’m posting it on Linguistrix because it’s a rather cute display of syntactic ambiguity, and for a change, it’s in Hindi. Syntactic ambiguity is when a particular sentence can be parsed in more than one grammatically correct ways, each with a different meaning. A popular example is I [...]

SciTech Majlis and Arabic Roots

The Society for Promotion for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) recently launched ‘Scitech Majlis’: Weekly group discussion session about science and technology. The name gave rise to a bit of buzz because of the use of the Urdu word majlis (مجلس, मजलिस). When I first heard it, it sounded a bit tone-deaf to me–the two words didn’t seem to lend [...]

Vanilla Sex—Female Organs and Aromatic Beans

The SMBC comic from a few days ago goes like this: Something didn’t seem right about the whole thing but SMBC is usually grounded on at least some fact, so I decided to explore, and it turned out to be more interesting than I had earlier thought. It turns out that the term vanilla (used [...]