Interactive map of pronunciation and use of various words and phrases differs by region in the US. Based on Bert Vaux's online survey of English dialects, the program allows you to see results for individual cities, as well as nationwide (though inexplicably it does not include Alaska or Hawaii).
English singer-songwriter Keaton Henson's video for Small Hands, directed by Joseph Mann. [more inside]
Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by. Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting. - The Economist, Unlikely parallels (via)
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore - Anne Curzan writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a new slang word that she learned from her undergraduate students in a History of English course slash analyzes how it fits with traditional parts of speech.
The Englishman and the eel is a photo essay of 93 images (thumbnails here; 2 pages) and article by London photographer Stuart Freedman that "attempts to look at (amongst other things) the significance and the decline of the eel and its fading from the changing London consciousness" with snapshots of "those palaces of Cockney culture, the Pie and Mash shops." [more inside]
Dale Askey is a librarian. He blogs. In August 2010, Dale was a tenured associate professor at Kansas State University, where librarians are granted faculty status. There, Dale blogged about the quality, and prices, of publications from Edwin Mellen Press. Edwin Mellen Press has served McMaster University (Dale's current employer) and himself with a three million dollar lawsuit, alleging libel and claiming aggravated and exemplary damages. [more inside]
folkinfo.org is a database of English-language folk songs. Each song is listed with its respective lyrics, sheet music, Roud Index number, midi file, and historical information. The database also provides song information in abc notation. Placed into an abc converter, one can generate sheet music in a variety of forms and scales.
Complex scientific concepts explained using only the thousand most used words in the English language. In the spirit of xkcd's Up-Goer Five comic. (Previously.) Use the Up-Goer Five Text Editor to make your own contributions.
Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language, and 470 million to over a billion people speak it as a second language (to varying degrees). Even so, there are some words that do not exist in English, even with new word entries periodically being added to the Oxford Dictionary. 25 words that do not exist in English. [more inside]
"So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?" -- The Chronicle talks to two professors, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg and philospher Aaron James, about their recent work on, well, assholes. [more inside]
This unassuming, feel-good spice "has been one of the saddest stories of history," from the gruesome, grisly tale of how the Dutch tortured and massacred the people of the Banda Islands in Indonesia in an attempt to monopolize the nutmeg trade. [more inside]
Conceived as sort of a companion to Longreads, Longform, Pocket, Byliner, etc., Nieman Storyboard's Why's This So Good? series looks at why some great long-form journalism and narrative nonfiction pieces are so great. There are over 60 installments of writers talking shop about writing. [more inside]
What ho, dearest cousins in the Western Colonies. You appear to be increasingly using the vernacular of the mother country. Splendid! [more inside]
Are you the type of person who, when flipping through a book or scanning a website, immediately searches for the diagrams or charts because you'd rather absorb the information visually than have to read a bunch of text? If so, then you are probably a visual learner and you may find Useful Charts helpful. The goal is to present useful information in the form of study charts so that students, teachers or simply those interested in increasing their general knowledge can absorb the information quickly and visually.
While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar. [more inside]
English that looks like Chinese. "At first glance, Square Word Calligraphy appears to be nothing more unusual than Chinese characters, but in fact it is a new way of rendering English words in the format of a square so they resemble Chinese characters. Chinese viewers expect to be able to read Square Word Calligraphy but cannot. Western viewers, however are surprised to find they can read it. Delight erupts when meaning is unexpectedly revealed." (Britta Erickson, The Art of Xu Bing.) [more inside]
A girl upon the shore did ask a favour of the sea;For nearly 20 years, Newfoundland group Great Big Sea have been creating acoustic Celtic folk-rock covers and interpretations of traditional Newfoundland and Labrador sea shanties, folk, fishing and party songs, which draw from the island's rich 500-year-old multicultural (Irish, English, Scottish and French) heritage. [more inside]
"Return my blue eyed sailor boy safely back to me.
Forgive me if I ask too much, I will not ask for more,
but I shall weep until he sleeps safe upon the shore."
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
...it's true that the progressive passive first appeared in the English language in the second half of the 18th century, replacing what historians of English grammar call the passival.
"Not since Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella thundered against conserving natural racehorses and protecting endangered feces has a polemicist been so incensed by her own misunderstandings." - Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker responds to Joan Acocella's New Yorker piece, The English Wars [more inside]
The myth of English as a global language One would have to say that English, far from being a pure maiden, looks like a woman who has appeared out of some distant fen, had more partners than Moll Flanders, learned a lot in the process, and is now running a house of negotiable affection near an international airport
Li Yang, founder of the most popular English-language school in China, Crazy English, (previously on MeFi) is now found to have beaten his American wife multiple times. Domestic violence is found in some 25% of Chinese marriages (!) but the actions of Li's wife Kim Lee to publicize the abuse has raised the profile of spousal abuse in a country where this was not often publicly discussed previously.
Is the English language becoming another factor of inequality? How English shaped the academic world? (pdf). Is this linguistic imperialism?
The Mind is a Metaphor. A database of thousands of metaphors organized by category, like 18th century, Liquid, or Jacobite. It's maintained by University of Virginia English Professor Brad Pasanek.
The Lonely Planet has come up with a list of thirty travel terms that aren't in the dictionary.
The Beatles and the Bolsheviks. An excellent essay on the decline of the college student. How much of the professor's frustration can be linked to selective memory?
The Corpus of American Historical English is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour.
"If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud."
Here are fan-translated Game Center CX (previously) Episodes on YouTube: #1: Atlantis No Nazo, #2: Challenger, #3: Ghosts 'N Goblins, #4: Konami Wai Wai World, #5: Metroid, #6: Solomon's Key, #7 & #8: Prince of Persia: Part 1 - Part 2, #9: Mega Man II, #10: Super Mario 3. Much more after the break.... [more inside]
George Whitman, founder of the Parisian landmark bookstore Shakespeare And Company, has died at the age of 98
American Woman: Vocal fried. On the partial glottalization of speech in young English speaking American women.
How new words are created - just one section of a site that charts 'How English went from an obscure Germanic dialect to a global language'.
It has long been noted that style manuals and other usage advice frequently contain unintended examples of the usage they condemn. (This is sometimes referred to as Hartman's law or Muphry's law - an intentional misspelling of Murphy.) Starting from this observation, Joseph Williams' paper The Phenomenology of Error offers an examination of our selective attention to different types of grammatical and usage errors that goes beyond the descriptivism-prescriptivism debate. (alternate pdf link for "The Phenomenology of Error") [more inside]
Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein (previously) argues that the majority of research by literary academics has no meaningful value. [more inside]
Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
The Awl takes a look at how Twitter has allowed local slang to go global, and the unhappiness this causes for some.
Skwerl is a short film in which the dialogue sounds like what a person who speaks very little English might hear. Be sure to turn on the closed captioning and choose "Transcribe Audio". (Previously)
"The Beatles and the Rolling Stones rule pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world...and me and my brother ruled London." Reginald "Reggie" Kray and his twin brother Ronald "Ronnie" Kray were the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in London's East End during the 1950s and 1960s. [more inside]