"Only" games

Uncovering rules and regularities across languages

A surprisingly-popular meme of early 2010’s internet culture was the following “game”: insert the word “only” anywhere in the sentence “She told him that she loved him,” and see how the meaning changes. Little did players know that they had been tricked into doing linguistics: conducting experiments to probe the hidden rules that underly language. Linguist Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine researches the use and interpretation of words like “only” in various languages around the world. Erlewine will discuss the grammar of “only” and shares his original “only” research that uncovers surprising uniformities between unrelated languages such as German, Mandarin Chinese, and Vietnamese.

About the Speaker:
Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (mitcho) is an Assistant Professor in Linguistics at the National University of Singapore. His research investigates the logical basis of sentence structure and meaning, based in large part on fieldwork on understudied and endangered languages, as well as through the study of Mandarin Chinese and his native languages of Japanese and English. Mitcho is an alum of the University of Chicago (AB'07 Mathematics and Linguistics, AM'07 Linguistics) and received his PhD in Linguistics ('14) from MIT, and was a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan.

Event Details

6:30pm Free flow drinks and canapés

7:00pm Talk

7:45pm Desserts


Event Information

Cost: Free (registration required)


Tuesday, 10/24/17 at 8:30pm - 10:30pm | iCal


Fairmont Hotel
80 Bras Basah Road, Indiana Room (Level 4)
Singapore, 189560 Singapore

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Event Contact
Kathleen Chu