Dancing Words: A Language Journal

Still Infiniting?


I promised a follow-up with infinitives, so here it is!

The next thing to lean is infinitive phrases. Infinitive phrases are groups of words consisting of an infinitive and a modifier and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the actor(s), direct object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in the infinitive such as;

We intended to leave early.

(to leave is the infinitive)

(early is the adverb)

*The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb intended.

Another example is the below.

Phil agreed to give me A RIDE.

(to give is the infinitive)

(me is the indirect object of action expressed in infinitive)

(A RIDE is the direct object of action expressed in infinitive)

*The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb agreed.

There are also three points to remember when going through this process:

1) An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb; it may be used as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

2) An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive plus modifier(s), object(s), complement(s), and/or actor(s).

3) An infinitive phrase requires a comma only if it is used as an adverb at the beginning of a sentence.

Thank you again, Owl Purdue!



Infinitives Times Infinity

We had just recently been talking about infinitives in class and I honestly was just sitting there with a blank stare. It was one of those days.

Nonetheless, I Purdue Owl-ed it. You know, that website that you still go to in order to make sure you are doing MLA in-text citations correctly in your research papers. No? Just me. Okay.

Anyways, the Purdue Owl site is incredible, and if you haven’t checked it out be sure to.



They had a whole section on infinitives, which is what I needed. Thus, thanks to Purdue, infinitives can be classified as the following;

An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in its simplest “stem” form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or adverb. The term verbal indicates that an infinitive, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, the infinitive may function as a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.

Plus they included examples.

To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required. (subject)

-Everyone wanted to go. (direct object)

-His ambition is to fly. (subject complement)

-He lacked the strength to resist. (adjective)

-He must study to learn. (adverb)

However, as the site states, be sure not to confuse infinitives with a prepositional phrase beginning with to. There’s always a catch. The rule is as follows:

Infinitives: to fly, to draw, to become, to enter, to stand, to catch, to belong.

Prepositional Phrases: to him, to the committee, to my house, to the mountains, to us, to this address.


Catch more on this with Infinitive Phrases soon!



Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain

Curious Wanderer

This video, while kinda long, is very informative about linguistics and language. If you have a chance, and want things explained simply, but thoroughly, then this video is for you.

The Blerb:

“How did humans acquire language? In this lecture, best-selling author Steven Pinker introduces you to linguistics, the evolution of spoken language, and the debate over the existence of an innate universal grammar. He also explores why language is such a fundamental part of social relationships, human biology, and human evolution. Finally, Pinker touches on the wide variety of applications for linguistics, from improving how we teach reading and writing to how we interpret law, politics, and literature.”

This video summarized a large portion of what I been learning in my linguistics class this semester, just is a more simple, non-homework related, and fast paced way. So, for those of you who are interested in languages, but not…

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Language-y Writing

As you may or may not have been able to tell, there has been a small gap in my language journal entries. I’ll tell you why.

I had to write a 12-15 page paper.

I know, right? Anyways, my time has thus been spent staying up late writing, researching, and formulating a somewhat intelligent opinion regarding The Difficulty in Learning New Languages: Dissecting the French Language and The Need For Language Diversity, which was my chosen topic.

Thus, through all of my work put into this paper, it is only fair that I share a few little snip-its into what I wrote about.

Lars-Gunnar Andersson, author of Myth Chapter Seven, “Some Languages are Harder Than Others” of Language Myths, edited by Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill, claims “many people speak of languages as easy or difficult, meaning that it is easy or difficult to learn these languages. However, linguists would say there is no single scale from easy to difficult, and degree of difficulty can be discussed on many levels (50).” Through looking at the components of our linguistic knowledge, and in the assumption that our knowledge of a language consists of the following three parts: grammar, vocabulary and rules of usage, it can be determined that some languages are in fact harder than others but it is difficult to determine to what extent that myth may be inaccurate (51, 57). Thus, it can be supported throughout, that in a combined effort the overall difficulty in learning new languages varies depending on which language is being learned, but also upon external factors in turn. Despite varying difficulty, the people’s overall need for a multilingual society is prominent.

With increased question into what makes languages so increasingly difficult to learn and why some are harder than others, specifically utilizing French as an example, insight was shared in a survey provided by data extracted from opinion polls on attitudes toward the language policy in the American public over the last decade. The article, “Language Votes: Attitudes toward Foreign Language Policies,” compiled information by William P. Rivers, John P. Robinson, Paul G. Harwood, and Richard D. Brecht, was published in the Foreign Language Annuals in the Fall of 2013.

The article listed results starting in the year 2000, stating 64% of respondents believed that learning a foreign language was as valuable as learning math and science in school. Slightly more respondents (68%) agreed with the same statement in the 2008 survey. Thus, the results concluded that respondents’ attitudes about the value of foreign language learning were initially strongly positive and became slightly more positive during the period under consideration. In continuation, fewer than 25% of respondents agreed that bilingual education should be eliminated.

Surprisingly enough as the questions varied across all aspects of language, 78% of individuals felt English should be the official language of the United States of America in the year 2000, while in the year 2008 the number dropped 6%. In the same 2000 study, 76% of individuals felt English united Americans, while 67% agreed with the same statement in the year 2008. It can since be concluded in the study that results from these two questions suggest slight increases in the public’s acceptance of languages other than English. The authors also concluded, “during the eight years under consideration (2000-2008), survey respondents showed relatively consistent and strong support for public policies that favored foreign language education, bilingual education, and tolerance for other languages.”

In conclusion, with the realistic difficulties one may come across in learning new languages, the need for language diversity among our society is strongly both needed and wanted. With insight given into examples of syntax structure necessary to become fluent in a foreign language, primarily French as an example, it can be considered that it is not only the language itself that makes it difficult to excel in the learning of new languages, but the individual learning the language as well.


Oy, I deserve some cake.

Speaking Science – A Language I Can’t Comprehend

A couple of friends and I made our way to the 15th Annual Student Scholarship & Creative Achievement Conference this past Wednesday.

First, a little history.

“The annual event represents the achievements of our students as demonstrated through the scholarship of discovery, creativity, and application. The conference also reflects the university’s ability to create a learner-centered environment. This event celebrates our students’ excellence in both original scholarship and artistic endeavor. Their presentations represent the range of academic disciplines and aesthetic pursuits that are the life of the university.”

We trekked into the Crying Wolf Room of Bemidji State University and browsed the several poster topics. We landed on Ephippia Production in Daphnia When Influenced by Environmental Stress.

Quite obviously something we three knew nothing about.

After talking with the three researchers of the topic, we found out that despite all of the work they had done thus far in the semester, their hypothesis had not come true.

Post talking about their poster, I realized something. The thing about college is this; everyone has a major. Duh, I know. But every major has its own language, and by being enclosed in the spaces of the same classrooms, in the same buildings, in the same departments, we all become privy to our own majorial language.

This one just happened to be something I knew nothing about. Science. And more specifically than that, aquatic biology.

Right over my head.

However, I did learn that this is what Daphnia look like (see below), and that it is a crustacean. Ugly little things.



I also learned that I will be sticking to English.


The Artificial Language of Programming


So, my best friend, Amanda, is going to school for Video Game Application and Development at the Minnesota School of Business. How rad is that?

Anyways, she recently just started a new quarter and is now taking all new classes than the ones she just completed a week ago. So now she is in adjustment mode, as we all continuously tend to be with the weather and the 80 feet of snow we just received. It’s April. … Just let that sink in.

One of her classes is a programming course, one of which I am completely dense about. When I asked her to explain she said, “Programming is like a whole different language. Not one of which you speak, but perhaps a more artificial language that communicates using code and instructions to run a machine, which is usually a computer.”

Still lost.

She continued though.

“Besides running computers, the programming language is what makes up different programs or controls the behavior of how things run, etc. And there are certain commands too,” she said. “It’s complicated to learn, but I guess any language kind of is. I guess programming defines how something works, it explains and puts things into context when it comes to computers and computer programs.”

The language part, I get. The computer part however, no thank you. I’m interested in what she will be learning this quarter though, and what she will be excited to share with me about. Stay tuned for more on this in my Language Journal. In addition, if you want to read more about Amanda and her trek through the “Video Game Design World of College,” check out her blog, So here’s the deal, as well as her latest post on school, programming, and her long term goals.


I recently found out, and by recently I mean yesterday, that I was recommended and named an Honorable Mention for the Creative Writing Scholarship we have here on campus.

I wrote a ten page nonfiction piece last semester about a family tragedy that had taken place just over a year ago. While I wrote this about what happened and primarily for the people we lost, I also wrote it to cope with what the tragedy itself. In receiving this honorable mention, I feel like what I wrote was meant for something, and that I accomplished that something without knowing I needed to. Not a bad feeling.

Thus, my word is “woot.” But not just “woot,” more like “WOOOOOOOTTTT!”

Mirriam-Webster Online says the word “woot” is an interjection, and is an exclamation of joy or excitement. They also claim “woot” is a new word as well as a slang word. Their example of using it in a sentence is;

“I aced the math final — woot woot!”

Except, we don’t talk about math here, so here is my example:

“I received an Honorable Mention — woot woot!”





Personal Dialect Mapping

I found this fun little do-dad as I was cruising the net Sunday night in the library. … I know. Me in the library? I almost can’t believe I made it here. I’m majorly a dorm-studier, but I am right next to the kitchen and that surprisingly gets a tad noisy at night. So here I am.

Anyways, I came across this quiz from the New York Times Journal, which is supposed to tell us the correlation between how we speak and where we are from. After answering a series of 25 questions my results concluded that I talk most like a Californian. More specifically one from either Fremont, San Jose, or Oceanside. In contrast, I differed greatly with how people talk in Jackson, Mississippi and Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.

Below the quiz it states that most of the questions used in this quiz were based on those in the Harvard Dialect Survey, a linguistics project that was conducted in 2002 by Bert Vaux and Scott Golder.

Now you try, How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk.

Language of Love

I recently found an article that was mind-boggling, slightly hilarious, and downright fun to read.

Molly Ireland, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology who studies human dialogue, said people who use the same kinds of function words are more likely to find a match. Function words are words that include personal pronouns such as; he, she, it. Also articles such as; a, an, or the. In addition to conjunctions such as; as, and, but, or and nor.

“People aren’t very good at predicting ahead of time what they’ll find attractive on a date. So in a way, language predicts what people want in a partner better than they do themselves,” Ireland claimed.

Thus, a study was done to highlight the importance of language and language style with social behavior. Ireland and other participants believe language-style matching reflects attention to one’s conversation partner as opposed to oneself or the surroundings and similarly between partners’ thinking styles.

Read the entire article and about the study that was conducted here.

The Art of New Technology

I recently found an article, which was actually published close to a year ago now, focusing on how a medical scanner is being used to reveal how the brain processes languages.

Set in Abu Dhabi, the magneto-encephalography machine was unveiled at the inauguration of New York University Abu Dhabi’s Neuroscience of Language Laboratory. The hope for the machine was to be able to help “researchers to further understand people with linguistic challenges, including those who develop speech impediments after a stroke or brain tumor.” The research team is able to look at the brain’s activity while a subject is given language tasks.

The machine is the first of its kind in the Gulf and one of only a handful in the entire world.

Read up on the magneto-encephalography machine here.

In addition, see a visual of the MEG machine here.

Heard about this machine? Feel free to comment!