863 posts tagged with Language.
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On royal curiosity and language deprivation experiments

Frederick...made linguistic experiments on the vile bodies of hapless infants, "bidding foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no wise to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which had been the first), or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments." [more inside]
posted by voltairemodern on Aug 4, 2008 - 27 comments

You talk funny

Can you guess where my accent is from? A flash game from the Language Trainers' Group -- listen to lines of poetry recited by people from different countries and try to guess their origin.
posted by camcgee on Aug 3, 2008 - 72 comments

What's nu?

A linguist and a sociologist at Hebrew Union College have teamed up to track the inroads made into American English by words and idioms from traditionally Jewish languages, including Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and Hebrew. They've created an online survey and are looking for people from all religious and ethnic backgrounds to answer a few questions about their word choices, phrasing, and pronunciation. They're also trying to determine whether certain linguistic quirks usually attributed to Yiddish's influence are actually carried over from Jewish ancestors' speech patterns and accents, or whether they're merely an artifact from growing up in or near New York City. [via]
posted by Asparagirl on Jul 23, 2008 - 65 comments

Kay Ryan is the new Poet Laureate

My favorite poet, Kay Ryan has been named United States Poet Laureate. [more inside]
posted by Peach on Jul 18, 2008 - 40 comments

Wordchamp: hover over a foreign-language word and get its definition

Wordchamp lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 5, 2008 - 10 comments

Sing, Mr. Ambassador, sing!

Now that's what I call diplomacy! The US ambassador to Paraguay has become a music sensation in the country after recording an album of folk songs in the indigenous Guarani language. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 2, 2008 - 12 comments

Capitol Words - US Congress In A Word A Day

Capitol Words allows you to see what the most often used word was on any given day in the U.S Congress. [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 on Jun 21, 2008 - 23 comments

The Ethnosphere

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2008 - 12 comments

The "Humans of Hokkaidō" formally recognized.

Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Today they are a small minority group of Japan. They are a hunting and fishing people whose origins remain in dispute. Long before the people who would come to be known as "the Japanese" completed their migrations from the Asia mainland, the islands of Japan were already inhabited by a race of people known as the Ainu ("human"). On this northernmost island, (Hokkaido), in the "snow country," there still may be found remnants of this once proud and vigorous people who roamed the Japan islands long before the Japanese themselves arrived.
More links inside [more inside]
posted by dawson on Jun 6, 2008 - 35 comments

Not just for coffee shops and hair salons any more!

What, no Phở King? BWE's Top 50 Punny Store Names.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur on Jun 6, 2008 - 80 comments

I bet they hate Star Trek.

The Grammar Curmudgeon makes up for all of those snarky grammar comments we refrain from posting.
posted by sonic meat machine on Jun 1, 2008 - 31 comments

BBC's Learning English

Did you know the BBC has extensive pages on learning English?
posted by Wolfdog on May 28, 2008 - 17 comments

Errin' USA

Immediately, Herson spotted an offense—a second-floor awning outside a tarot shop that advertised "Energy Stone's." They climbed the stairs to the second floor and approached a middle-age women with a quizzical expression. "We happened to notice the sign for energy stones," Deck said, "and there happens to be an extra apostrophe. 'Stone's' doesn't need the apostrophe."

"And?" she asked, her voice flat with annoyance.

"And we wanted to bring it to your attention," Deck said.


A look inside the daring lives of Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, vanguards of the Typo Eradication Advancement League.
posted by Rhaomi on May 21, 2008 - 84 comments

A post that pops

Ever notice how some words just sound like what they mean? Like how a distant star really does seem to sparkle. Words like mumble, twist, and squeamish. Jospeh Bottum describes them well: "They taste good in the mouth, and they seem to resound with their own verbal truthfulness... More like proper nouns than mere words, they match the objects they describe. Pickle, gloomy, portly, curmudgeon--sounds that loop back on themselves to close the circle of meaning. They're perfect, in their way." But he tries to coin a new term for them when some already exist. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on May 20, 2008 - 57 comments

Gab Zamgrh?

Harmanz ha haz b bargan ahn za MMARBG Ahban Bahb [brahbazazzah ] ar zambahz. Zambahz haz AAGHZ g!bz gab azzar zambahz: a, b, g, h, m, n, r, z. Zambahz maz hab gab, za Zambahz zgrabbarh Zamgrh, a gab grh a gab bag, a grammah, n zhranzazzaz. Habganna barbaga zaarz grh za bra!nz?
posted by xthlc on May 8, 2008 - 33 comments

The Tuynman Experiment

Art curators explain (on youtube) Luc Tuymans art and suggest how people on the street would respond to it. How correct are they?
posted by semmi on May 7, 2008 - 23 comments

Walk of Flame

Blue, green and grey must have a calming effect. Elsewhere, discussions can be...ignited. Flame Warriors. via
posted by Kronos_to_Earth on May 4, 2008 - 27 comments

Lesbians vs. Lesbians

Some residents of Lesbos are filing suit, claiming only they have the right to be called lesbians.
posted by justkevin on May 1, 2008 - 102 comments

Class distinctions in the US and UK

Social Class in the US and UK Lynne Murphy, a linguist from the US living in the UK, looks at the differences in class distinctions through the lens of the language we use to talk about them.
posted by mosessis on Apr 30, 2008 - 51 comments

Computer languages and facial hair

Computer languages and facial hair
posted by finite on Apr 30, 2008 - 19 comments

What Did We Call This Place When?

Native Names Projects by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe GIS Program and the Hawaii Board on Geographic Names are adding audio pronunciation guides to geospatial place-name datasets in several on-line mapping formats. [more inside]
posted by mmahaffie on Apr 3, 2008 - 5 comments

Exiled from his Eden

[He] kept his one copy of this book safe,... under his sleeping area so that no one could destroy it. He would just look at pictures of his New York City family, and himself, over and over again.
Elizabeth Hess discusses Nim, the subject of her book Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who Would Be Human. Also: the Great Ape Project's Declaration on Great Apes; Richard Dawkins's "Gaps in the Mind."
posted by orthogonality on Mar 31, 2008 - 32 comments

Try Spelling These

The Most Horrible English Words
posted by chuckdarwin on Mar 28, 2008 - 124 comments

The Michel Thomas Language Method

Polyglot Michel Thomas came to prominence through his work for the French resistance and the successful interrogation of Nazis (who had formerly imprisoned him). After the war he started to develop (and eventually patent) a method for teaching languages that eschewed notes, books, writing, memorisation and homework. Instead, words and phrases would be built up in lego-like constructions to provide “confidence in hours not years”. He gave private lessons to a long list of A-list celebrities including Woody Allen, Natasha Kinsky, Tony Curtis and Grace Kelly. A BBC documentary from 1997 told his story and tested him out with the less exalted audience of 16 year old London school kids pre-selected to be “incapable of learning a foreign language” by their teachers [YT pt 1, 2, 3, 4]. He was secretive about how his methods worked until the end of his life when he finally made his courses available as audiobooks. [more inside]
posted by rongorongo on Mar 20, 2008 - 24 comments

Habla Ingles or You Ain't Getting No Cheesesteak

"Speak English" sign at cheesesteak shop not discriminatory. A split three-member panel of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ruled that a sign in Genos Steaks the South Philadelphia cheesesteak shop did not convey a message that service would be refused to non-English speakers. [more inside]
posted by three blind mice on Mar 20, 2008 - 194 comments

Pyow-pyow

A troop of putty-nosed monkeys in west Africa has been found to use a rudimentary language.
posted by chuckdarwin on Mar 11, 2008 - 88 comments

From Anschluss to Zyklon B

The Dictionary of Coming to Terms with the Past (Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung') examines over 1,000 German words that have Nazi connotations, such as Endlösung (Final Solution) and Selektion, It is featured in a review by der Spiegel. Such loaded words still constitute a minefield for Germans today, as the Archbishop of Cologne discovered last year in a situation analogized to Senator Biden's use of the term "articulate" when referring to Senator Obama. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Feb 17, 2008 - 49 comments

The History of Visual Communication

The History of Visual Communication
posted by Wolfdog on Jan 29, 2008 - 11 comments

This X is something you need a Y to understand

Snowclones (as you may know) are "some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames": for example, "X is the new Y," "He's a few Xs short of a Y," or "If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have Y words for Z." The Snowclones Database collects and traces the origins of lots of these.
posted by tepidmonkey on Dec 17, 2007 - 28 comments

Hi, I'm Muzzy. Big Muzzy.

Over the years millions of children have been introduced to a foreign language by Big Muzzy [wiki], a friendly, green, clock-eating monster. Here's the complete British English version of Muzzy in Gondoland on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
posted by sveskemus on Dec 16, 2007 - 12 comments

4) Don't touch me there!

The Four Essential Travel Phrases in 435 languages + 242 dialects + 49 conlangs!
Including Popculture English and more!
See also: I Can Eat Glass...it does not hurt me.
posted by sushiwiththejury on Dec 10, 2007 - 34 comments

Reflection's Edge

Reflection's Edge, a monthly fiction zine (back issues), has many resources for writers, including slang/dialect (don't miss the links to Texas Talk, the Internet Guide to Jazz Age Slang, or the 1736 Canting Dictionary), writing advice and interviews, and advice on how to sell your story.
posted by Pants! on Dec 10, 2007 - 10 comments

Inshallah

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans have endured tours of duty in Iraq. They are returning home with a new word on their lips. It will have an impact on the American Experiment, inshallah."
posted by Firas on Dec 7, 2007 - 52 comments

1898 baseball cursing policy, amply illustrated

"In terms of language, it is also the most offensive official Major League baseball document that we have ever seen." An auction house obtains a one page letter sent to baseball players in 1898, outlining the league's new anti-cursing policy. Includes lots of examples of the kind of language that is not allowed. Nervous auctioneers not sure how to exhibit it. Purely of historical interest, naturally. [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten on Dec 2, 2007 - 86 comments

A Theory of Humor | Why something is funny, why it sometimes is not, and when it crosses a line.

Theory of Humor. A scientific paper, written by Tom Veatch, describes his Theory of Humor. When is something funny? When is it not funny? When does it cross the line? Why are puns generally shitty? And the mysterious and magical powers elephant jokes have on children, revealed! A great data set to use for practice in applying the theories presented in the paper can be found here.
posted by iamkimiam on Nov 20, 2007 - 57 comments

language learning online

Mango is a new beta service offering free online language lessons. 11 languages available (each with 100 lessons). For English speakers there are lessons in French, German, Italian, Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese and Pig Latin. For Polish and Spanish speakers, lessons in English.
posted by nickyskye on Nov 7, 2007 - 35 comments

Language, biodiversity, and a story of salvation

Don Berto’s Garden. "The plants of the ancient Maya whisper their secrets to those who speak a shared language."
posted by homunculus on Oct 28, 2007 - 7 comments

The Flatter the Landscape the Flatter the Accent

How The Edwardians Spoke :: BBC documentary via Google Video, about an hour [more inside]
posted by anastasiav on Oct 19, 2007 - 23 comments

Disrespectful Cockalorum

Blackburn makes manifest a propensity for turgid language. Not content with foisting “cockalorum” (meaning, boastful talk), “froward” (willfully disobedient) and “mordaciously” (bitingly) on the reader, he may be the first judge to use both “contumelious” (scornful) and “contumacious” (pigheaded) in the same opinion. Judge Robert E. Blackburn's ruling [pdf] granting a motion for a new trial based on attorney misconduct is an interesting read for those who enjoy the use of uncommon, flowery and "big" words. [more inside]
posted by amyms on Oct 14, 2007 - 14 comments

The Barry White Effect

Language Log is a great linguistics blog I have been reading, and I thought that Metafilter might be interested in these posts about sex differences in language use. The (less-technical) articles to which the bloggers are responding are all within the responses, so I didn't link to them. The Barry White Effect (voice pitch seems to correlate with reproduction) - Gabby Guys (men talk more than women) - Young Men Talk Like Old Women (usage of certain words) - Gender and Tags ("Certainly we don't seem to find real women and men as sums of the characteristics attributed to them") Are any of these differences actually caused by the speakers sex? The really fascinating thing, to me, is how unbelievably hard it is to study such a distinction.
posted by MNDZ on Oct 1, 2007 - 18 comments

Translation can be hard.

A Wicked Deception (youtube). A fun look at (multi) round-trip machine translation. Sadly, it is a simple fattening of Verbindungsyoutube. Of course, humans, as Jules Verne might tell you, can have problems with translations too. [more inside]
posted by skynxnex on Sep 27, 2007 - 13 comments

Well Said, English.

Increase your pronunciation skills and your vocabulary by checking out 6000 English words recorded by a native speaker. Not enough for you? Then would you believe 20,000 English words recorded by a native speaker?
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 25, 2007 - 55 comments

The Sumerian Language

Sumerian is the first language for which we have written evidence and its literature the earliest known. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, a project of the University of Oxford, comprises a selection of nearly 400 translated literary compositions recorded on sources which come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and date to the late third and early second millennia BCE. Not enough for you? Why not impress your friends (and confuse your enemies) by translating some english words into Sumerian?
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 20, 2007 - 39 comments

language endangerment

every two weeks a language becomes extinct. there are ~7,000 human languages on earth, but that number is estimated to halve by the end of the century. swarthmore hosts extensive information about endangered languages, and the mission of the living tongues organization is to preserve and revitalize such languages.
posted by brooklynexperiment on Sep 19, 2007 - 51 comments

Cheers | Prost | Gayola | Na zdraví | Skål | Slainte | etc.

Multicultural toasting as an accoutrement for Gunther Anderson's guide to making liqueurs at home [ Principles | Science | Materials | Example recipe | and more... ]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Sep 19, 2007 - 10 comments

Is your sensei leading you down a zen garden path of humiliation?

Tips for expressing gender in Japanese. Or, how to avoid becoming a "gaijin peto". Plus: obligatory wikage.
posted by Laugh_track on Sep 17, 2007 - 76 comments

Is Philosophy a Language Game?

§7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein is such a contradictory figure that there are, in professional philosophical usage, two of him. Wittgenstein I had solved every philosophical problem in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921); having nothing else to do, he went home to Austria and became, unsuccessfully, a schoolteacher. In 1929, Wittgenstein I returned to Cambridge, where he began his transformation into Wittgenstein II. He was no longer confident in the Tractatus, his certainty in any answers less firm. Wittgenstein II's great, posthumous, work was the Philosophical Investigations. But Wittgenstein the living man was one, not two: musician and architect, reader of mysteries and engineer. "If philosophy has anything to do with wisdom," he once wrote, "there's certainly not a grain of that in Mind, and quite often a grain in the detective stories."
posted by nasreddin on Sep 7, 2007 - 52 comments

This story is about something called Radical Honesty. It may change your life. (But honestly, we don't really care.)

I appreciate you for reading this article. I resent you for snarking in the thread without reading it.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Sep 5, 2007 - 293 comments

Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì

Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den (See also: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo). Via this thread about the opening to William Gibson's new book.
posted by delmoi on Sep 2, 2007 - 27 comments

Ventiçello is a miniature ceramic village sculpted by Steven Travis, who also invented a language and script called Tapissary, which appears on the images.

Ventiçello is a miniature ceramic village sculpted and photographed by Steven Travis, who also invented a language and script called Tapissary, inspired by American Sign Language, which appears on the images.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 24, 2007 - 5 comments

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