Dear Diarist, fun is where you find it! (part 1)

Sheila Heti collected 500,000 words from a decade’s worth of journals, put the sentences in a spreadsheet, and sorted them alphabetically. She cut and cut and was left with 60,000 words of brilliance and mayhem, joy and sorrow. These are her alphabetical diaries.

From the book jacket for Alphabetical Diaries by Sheila Heti (hard cover 2024 U.S. edition)

When I read a similar description of Alphabetical Diaries in a book review, I was intrigued about both how Heti did it and what the results were like. (You can read the “B” chapter via a link on her site.)

Continue reading “Dear Diarist, fun is where you find it! (part 1)”

Gender association of names and nouns in English

Back when I was starting to study linguistics (in the 1980s), the syntax professors (Ivan Sag and Tom Wasow) made a point of using gender neutral names in their examples, names that can be used for both males and females, like Chris (Chris Evert and Chris Columbus), rather than John and Mary, which had typically been used in examples. The other day I was curious to see if we can get an idea of to what extent a name or a noun is used for females and males using Google Ngrams. We can, and here’s what I did.

Continue reading “Gender association of names and nouns in English”