It's been interesting to observe the changes in blogging over the years. When I started in 2005, the "blogosphere" was still new enough to be vaguely trendy. The term had apparently caught on in 2002, and that's also when linguistics blogging started to be a thing; Language Hat was started in 2002, and Language Log in 2003. Blogs tended to link to each other a lot, and you could follow the links back to see who was discussing what you had posted and in what context. However, that gradually changed sometime around 2011 or so, as Twitter and Facebook took over (a phenomenon that very much struck Hossein Derakhshan upon his release). For a long time now, most of my inbound links that aren't Google searches have been those shortened URLs habitually used by Twitter, or Facebook pages accessible only to somebody and their friends. Blogs are probably more numerous than ever, but I'm barely seeing a blogosphere any more, in the sense of an ecosystem of blogs interacting with one another; rather, most of it seems to be feeding into two big private aggregators, and a lot of the conversation is taking place there directly, with no blogs involved.
In case you were wondering: the pageview records only go back to 2010, but over the past five years, my top ten most popular posts have apparently been:
- Does Arabic have the most words? Don't believe the hype (2013 - almost 3 times as many views as the next one)
- Kabyle dialect geography and the Kutama-Zwawa divide (2006)
- How different are Egyptian and Algerian Arabic, really? (2013)
- Gaddafi Jr's speech (2011)
- Who has more than 40 words for camels? (2007)
- No, Berber isn't descended from Arabic (2009)
- A little mystery: an unidentified Indic language in the Genizah collection (2013)
- Wikileaks and Algeria's "language crisis" (2011)
- Language use in Tunisian politics (2011)
- Beni-Snous: Two unrelated phonetic forms for every noun? (2009)
All but two of these posts feature Arabic; apparently, rather more Internet users are interested in Arabic than in Berber or Songhay, understandably I suppose. Most of them wouldn't be anywhere near my own top ten; indeed, two of them are just quick and dirty passing comments on current events, with no further relevance. However, the Beni-Snous one seemed important enough to me that I gradually ended up developing it into an article: Syntactically obligatory code-switching? The syntax of numerals in Beni-Snous Berber. Of wider interest are several posts addressing popular conceptions and misconceptions: No, Berber isn't descended from Arabic and Does Arabic have the most words? Don't believe the hype remain fairly accessible debunkings of myths that unfortunately remain popular, while How different are Egyptian and Algerian Arabic, really? takes a step towards quantifying a question usually discussed much more impressionistically. Wikileaks and Algeria's "language crisis" also kind of fits this category, addressing misconceptions about Algerian sociolinguistics that seem to affect quite a few decision-makers.
So if I wanted to make this blog more popular, it seems that the way to do it would be to start posting regularly about popular myths about Arabic as reflected in current news stories. Needless to say, that's not in my plans - as long as I have anything to say about it, most postings here will continue to be esoteric, eclectic, sporadic, and of limited interest.