Grammatical paradox

This is funny:

Never ask a Spanish speaker how to spell the informal second person singular affirmative imperative of ‘salirle” 

The standard Spanish rules force the spelling of that word to be “salle”, but the pronunciation of the middle consonant to be [l]; meanwhile, though, the standard pronunciation rules would force one to pronounce “salle” with a [ʝ] (this is called “yeísmo”).

Thus, two existing prescriptions for the Spanish language, as laid out by the Royal Spanish Academy, conflict in the case of this word, and the Academy’s official guidance (as of their update on spelling from 2010) is that this word may be spoken, but must not be written, as there is no correct way to spell it. Some Spanish users have been known to spell it “sal-le”, anyway.

Hat tip to Scott Alexander at Astral Codex Ten. I’m getting a kick out of the idea of an official regulatory institution with the authority to declare that particular words must never be written down.

I bet every single commenter here immediately thought of other, much more exciting reasons a regulatory body might forbid words to be written down in a secondary world fantasy or alternate history novel. This idea is ramifying in all directions for me: I’m thing of a regulatory body that cautiously allows the introduction of certain words as their meanings solidify and they become safer to write down — things like that.

Many other possibly interesting links at the Astral Codex Ten post. Let me see, let me see … okay:

The giant fly is not all that disturbing. There are plenty of giant arthropods that are more alarming when unexpectedly encountered, including this giant centipede, which I find beautiful, by the way, but would not want to find unexpectedly in my tent when I woke up in the morning; and these giant cockroaches.

Also, an argument is apparently taking place between various researchers who think getting eight or more hours of sleep per night is/is not important, which is making me roll my eyes. Seriously, let’s consider the possibility that plenty of sleep is important for some people and much less important for other people and therefore your results may differ dramatically depending on unforeseen differences in your sample population. Speaking as someone who can almost always count on getting debilitating headaches if I don’t get enough sleep, I hereby reject out of hand any conclusion that getting plenty of sleep is unimportant across the board.

Also this great anecdote:

There is a curious story how Banach got his Ph.D. He was being forced to write a Ph.D. paper and take the examinations, as he very quickly obtained many important results, but he kept saying that he was not ready and perhaps he would invent something more interesting. At last the university authorities became nervous. Somebody wrote down Banach’s remarks on some problems, and this was accepted as an excellent Ph.D. dissertation. But an exam was also required. One day Banach was accosted in the corridor and asked to go to a Dean’s room, as “some people have come and they want to know some mathematical details, and you will certainly be able to answer their questions”. Banach willingly answered the questions, not realising that he was just being examined by a special commission that had come to Lvov for this purpose.

I’ve never heard of Banach, but that’s a great story.

Click through if you’d like to follow those links or see what else is offered in this roundup.

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