A few days ago Oxford Dictionaries voted an emoji, ‘Face With Tears of Joy’, as its Word of the Year 2015, and the lingosphere was soon atwitter with reactions ranging from the puzzled to the outraged. Is the Word of the Year even a word? The WOTY is NOT a word! And the people at Oxford Dictionaries got their share of (not-so-)smart insults. Arguably, they were looking for trouble, and probably a bit of buzz too. After all, if they wanted to highlight the fact that ‘2015 saw [the] use [of emoji], and use of the word emoji, increase hugely’, they might as well have voted emoji as WOTY. Continue reading
Data is king. In linguistics as well as in any other discipline, no serious claim can be made without solid data. And surely the revolution of Big Data hails a new dawn for linguistics research too: the computer-assisted ability to compile humongous corpora, crunch inordinately vast amounts of data and watch previously unseen patterns emerge has some magical appeal.
Yet, big or not, data and its mathematical exploitation isn’t everything. I was reminded of this by two recent developments in language study.